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A Complete Guide to Getting A Cronut

A brave dessert aficionado’s pursuit of all things fried, glazed, and sugary.

When you first move to New York, your first thought isn’t usually about food. It’s about finding an (reasonably priced) apartment, taking advantage of the cultural meccas, or visiting the famous sights before it becomes socially unacceptable to act like a tourist, and you’re too jaded with the frantic sight-seeing. You scope out a sufficient local café where you can become a regular, and drink black coffee like a grumpy New Yorker.

When I moved to New York, my first thought was, “Where can I find the food?”, and more specifically, “Where are the doughnuts?” I love food in all forms, but I have a special place in my heart for desserts, especially doughnuts. They’re the queen of basic desserts: acceptably eaten at any time of day, easily manipulated to fit any palate or diet (think vegan, paleo, or gluten free), and perfectly portable.

Coming from Massachusetts, I am accustomed to two types of doughnuts.

  1. The slightly stale, typically flavored doughnuts from Dunkin’ Donuts, which you can buy at the chain on every corner (there were seven in my town alone, and several more in the near vicinity).
  2. The quintessential New England doughnut: the apple cider doughnut, best enjoyed hot out of the fryer and coated generously in sugar. This doughnut is a staple of apple picking and pumpkin patches; the constant companion of hayrides and cool fall mornings.

But I expected New York to be different, and I was right. This is the homeland for all foods ordinary and obscure. There’s representation from every culture and country, good, bad, and just plain ridiculous. And of course, in a city well known for it’s cozy cafes and excessive coffee consumption, I knew there would be a strong selection of coffee’s best friend, the doughnut.

I started my NYC doughnut journey with the pinnacle of doughnut bastardization, the cronut. For those of you who live under a rock, let me welcome you to the extreme of an already excessive dessert. French pastry chef Dominique Ansel developed his infamous cronut in 2013, and as the name suggests, it is the lovechild of a croissant and doughnut. But that’s barely scratching the surface.

What makes a cronut different than a simple fried croissant dough is the way the dough is handled. The dough is laminated, which is what causes the flaky croissant layers, and proofed, so the dough rises before it is fried. After the dough is fried in grapeseed oil, the cronut is rolled in flavored sugar, filled with ganache, and topped with a glaze and decoration. It is an extensive, laborious process, with high risk and low reward.

Continue reading A Complete Guide to Getting A Cronut


New York’s Delicatessen

This week, I took a trip with a big group of friends downtown to New York’s Delicatessen. Delicatessen, in short, is upscale comfort food. You should make a reservation beforehand due to this place’s popularity.

The Truffle Spinach and Artichoke Dip check out that cheese crust on top being pierced to unveil the cheesy goodness inside.

For appetizers we ordered the cheeseburger spring rolls and the truffle spinach and artichoke dip. The cheeseburger spring rolls were crispy on the outside. On the in the inside there was ground beef with melted cheese – and yes I had a whole order to myself. The truffle spinach and artichoke dip had the melted cheese on top that slightly hardened – the amazing part was when you open it up and even more cheese would ooze out. The starters were small enough not to make us completely full as we waited for our entrees.

For my entree, I ordered the “Fresh Kale Salad” (from the appetizer menu), and I must admit that I had low expectations as in the case whenever one orders a salad for dinner. However, the salad had an amazing dressing and exceeded my expectation. It had golden raisins, cashews, shitake mushrooms, and sprouts. If you’re looking for a vegan meal at Delicatessen, I would highly recommend this salad.


The “Mac Lobsta'” and the “Mac Quack” right behind it

Because I ordered a salad, my loving friends took pity on me and allowed me to taste their entrees. And I must say that nothing could beat the macaroni and cheese, not even the kale salad. The two kinds of “Macs” we ordered were the “Mac Quack” and “Mac Lobsta’”, containing duck confit, white cheddar & fontina, caramelized onion, and tender chunks of fresh lobster, cognac, tarragon & marscapone, respectively. I’m not a huge fan of duck, so saying that I loved the “Mac Quack” should convince you to go try it. Even when not chewing on a piece of lobster or duck, the flavor was infused into the macaroni, so that every bite was full of flavors.

The “Mac Lobsta'” and the “Mac Quack” right behind it


The Korean Skirt Steak & Spinach Salad.

You would think we would all be full by this time, but NOPE! I have not been able to find the name of the dessert we ordered – it was chocolate pudding with pieces of chocolate cake in it and whipped cream. I have never been a fan of chocolate pudding, but this pudding had great consistency and the bits of cake won me over. There were chocolate balls on the surface which added a crunch. The combination of the crunchiness of the balls, the softness of cakes, and the smoothness of the pudding worked well together to make this dish the best part of the meal.


Behold: the anonymous dessert that won me over.

If you’re not convinced to go try Delicatessen, I’m not sure what will. It is definitely worth the trek downtown.

Cookie Shot at Dominque Ansel

Today I tackled one of the most talked about places in New York: the infamous Dominique Ansel bakery. Located in Soho, but not on Broadway – you would think Dominique Ansel would be the prime location to avoid flocks of tourists…wrong. Even when it isn’t serving its most popular items, the bakery is still packed with a long line and has no seats to be found.

Unfortunately in this post, you will not find a review on the holy cronut. Cronuts sell out in the morning, and to stand in line in the cold at five in the morning did not sound very appetizing. Beware though, I did stand in line, but no longer than a half hour.

I went with my sister, and we were on a mission to try the cookie shots, which start selling at three. We got there at about 2:50 with a short line outside of Dominique Ansel. Immediately, I made my sister wait in line, while I went inside to purchase frozen s’mores. The wait for the frozen treats was extremely long, and by the time I got the s’mores, my sister had purchased two cookie shots.

Now that we both had treats, our next mission was to find a place to sit. Of course, all the seats were taken, so we sacrificed ourselves and sat in the cold outdoor seating area, where we huddled to keep warm. We then began to devour the food. First came the frozen s’more. It was torched right before consumption, which created a thin layer of crispness. The texture of a frozen marshmallow layer was unexpected. The marshmallow was soft and hard at the same time. Biting through the marshmallow, a layer of chocolate was then found to ultimately reveal a custard ice cream center. Again, I’m not a very big ice cream fan, so the frozen s’more did not knock me off my feet, and would probably be much better in the summer.


Moving on to the cookie shot. The milk inside was nothing special, but the cookie itself was great. The cookie was lined on the inside with chocolate to avoid the milk seeping into the cookie, and when biting into the cookie, the chocolate lining added greater flavor. My favorite thing about the cookie shot, which may sound gross, was the slightly soggy bottom of the cookie shot that had been inevitably soaked in milk. It reminded me of dipping chocolate chip cookies into milk – but already done for me. And since not the whole bottom was soaked in milk, there was still a crunch.

Overall, I would recommend going to Dominique Ansel. Perhaps it was because I was cold, but the famous treats wouldn’t be put on my favorite desserts list. I’d recommend Dominque Ansel – even though the desserts I got happen to be slightly disappointing, the bakery has a plethora of treats that are still worth trying. As for myself, I would go back for the items that I don’t have to wait outside for.

From Georgetown to NYC

Today we ventured off to the faraway land of Soho which brought us a taste of an even farther away land: Georgtown Cupcakes. Located on 111 Mercer Street, Georgetown Cupcake avoids the hustle and bustle of Broadway shopping, while still allowing access to it. While being in a very busy area, Georgtown surprisingly does not get overwhelmingly busy, but remains steady with a line that moves pretty quickly (unless you’re there in the December, when everyone decides to come to New York, and the city turns into a tourist battle zone).

Beware, Georgetown has daily flavors, which may vary slightly everyday, so if you’re going for a specific flavor make sure to check beforehand. Georgetown also has seasonal flavors with seasonal decorations, which are always a plus.


Let’s get to taste. Georgetown cupcakes are not only pleasing to the eye, but also delicious. The frosting is as creamy as it can be, and the cake is moist. The only drawback to this is that eating a Georgetown cupcake on its own could be challenging. Its richness can be too much for amateur cupcake eaters, so a drink and a partner to share are advised.


As for flavors, there are vegan and gluten-free options, signature options that are available everyday. To be honest, I haven’t had a single bad cupcake from Georgetown (and yes, even the eggless milkless vegan ones are amazing).

The peanut butter fudge is my favorite, and the banana split and red velvet come as close seconds.

Pricing for cupcakes are $3 for a single cupcake, $16.50 for half a dozen, $32 for a dozen.

Chocolate and the City

I, like many of us, had some false expectations about going to school in the big apple. From Gossip Girl to Sex and the City, New York has this cosmopolitan, sophisticated, and worldly reputation that grabs people from all over the world. Eventually I came to realize that college is not really those things. But New York still has its moments.

So when I told my friend from home, who currently goes to school in the middle of nowhere, that I really wanted to go to this chocolate place to try their black sesame truffle, her response was “Wow. That’s so New York.” College is one of those experiences that is what you make it. Everyone I know here is adventurous in some aspect, and goes out into the city (or just past Morningside Heights) for something. My something happens to be chocolate.

I may be adventurous in chocolate, but I am not the type who loves every flavor in the box. Weird fruit flavors, spicy, or just overpowering truffles are not for me. But at Kee’s Chocolate I have never had one I didn’t like. From the unexpected, like kaffir lime or blood orange, to the normal yet exceedingly delicious, like champagne or tiramisu, every single bonbon I had was one of the best ever. And I don’t know how to describe the black sesame other than the most unexpected combination of crunch and sweet. Kee’s is also well known for their French macaroons and bars of chocolate, but I think I’m going to stick to the truffles for now.

There’s no doubt that everything at Kee’s is delicious – but is it super practical? No. With a box of six chocolates for sixteen dollars, it’s not really an everyday kind of thing (although they do give you a free sample with every purchase). But every time I feel like I need a bit of New York sophistication, or feel like showing off my New York style to friends from out of town, this is the place. And you can bet, that I will be getting the black sesame truffle every single time.

Check out Kee’s Chocolates in Midtown, Midtown West and Soho

The Chickpea Incident

If there’s one thing my mother taught me to be picky about, it would most definitely be cornbread. My mom uses her grandmother’s recipe, makes it on top of the stove in a cast iron skillet, and it comes out perfectly each time: mealy with some corn kernels left in. It tastes nothing like a corn muffin, nor should it. I find the notion that cornbread should be sweet to be highly offensive.



So, when I took my first bite of cornbread at The Dutch, a restaurant in Soho that my roommate Susan had been raving about since the moment we met, I knew it would be a restaurant I would like. It wasn’t my mom’s cornbread, but it certainly came in second place. It wasn’t sweet, except maybe for a little hint, almost like an aftertaste. In fact, it was kind of spicy, with chopped jalapeños cooked in. It came in a little loaf and despite my best efforts at self-restraint I ended up eating almost the entire thing.

I’ve been to The Dutch four times, twice to celebrate the end of classes, once for my birthday, and most recently for restaurant week. They’re hailed as an American restaurant but I’d call it American with a twist; their ever-changing and eclectic menu features a wide variety of dishes. I’ve tried a steak with kimchi fried rice and had a bite of a chicken mole Susan ordered. But then I’ve also had more traditional dishes like fried chicken with honey glazed biscuits and a light and spicy coleslaw, a side of wonderfully salty French fries, and a perfectly cooked hamburger with lettuce, tomato, pickled onion, and a spicy sauce. And then, of course, there are the pies. I’ve never been the biggest pie person; I’ve always been more in favor of a brownie sundae or molten chocolate cake, but suffice it to say I’ve been converted. Each slice I’ve had, chocolate, cherry, shoofly, and key lime, has been unbelievably delicious, quite unexpected and unique, and bursting with a variety of flavors and textures.

Each trip to The Dutch has left me with a different set of delicious memories. Obviously, I’m completely gaga over the food and I’ll always remember that first bite of cornbread, but I’ll also remember getting lost on the way there, accidentally tripping Susan on the way back, a long and in depth conversation about what I would do and where I would go if I could spend one month in Europe. I’ll always remember how hard my friends laughed when one of them got fluff in her hair and I stared horrified, watching as it slowly started to fall into her lap. Tongue-tied and far too panicked given the situation all I could do was shout “Catherine!” with increasing urgency as she stared at me in utter confusion until the fluff finally fell onto her leg. As she wiped it off she chuckled and said, “A simple ‘hair’ would’ve done the trick.” And then there was the time Susan picked the toasted chickpeas out of a side of spinach so fast that when she turned to me on the subway and asked, “Weren’t the chickpeas in that spinach so good? Didn’t they just make the dish?” I stared at her rather alarmed and exclaimed, “What chickpeas?!” I guess I’ll just have to go back and find out.












Review: Gourmet Hot Chocolate {MarieBelle’s}

There are very few college students who will turn down hot chocolate on a cold, snowy day in Manhattan.  The few students who do are either allergic to chocolate or are robots that are concerned about ruining their circuit boards.  Luckily, my friend Christina and I do not have either of these problems.  We were patient as the subway broke down and we stayed strong after falling into at least three slush piles on our way to get our hot chocolate fix.  Our destination: MarieBelle’s at 484 Broome Street in Soho.

Now, if you’re from Manhattan, you’ll know that from Columbia, that’s over 100 streets away.  If you’re not from Manhattan, you now know that Culinary Society is committed to delicious explorations in taste.  For the chocoholics and the adventurous, MarieBelle’s is an exploration you’ll want to try soon.  MarieBelle’s is a wonderfully charming chocolate boutique and cafe in Soho.  A simple, cerulean sign juts out onto Broome Street.  There is a casually underplayed window display – the real treat is the visual preview of MarieBelle’s before entering.  When you first enter MarieBelle’s, you are greeted by the barista at the “Express” bar.  It sells small to-go versions of its menu.  Greet her kindly, but keep moving into the store.  You don’t want to miss out on the cafe, or the literal eye candy that fills MarieBelle’s. Continue reading Review: Gourmet Hot Chocolate {MarieBelle’s}