When Dominique Ansel Bakery opened in November, the New York Times hit the nail on the head by calling it “not your everyday bakery”. The chef was the first in Manhattan to offer the Breton-specialty, Kouign Amann, which he calls DKA (“Dominique’s Kouign Amann”). Ansel has had to quadruple the production of these caramelized croissant-like pastries, and has been selling out every day since opening.
Following the buzz behind his Kouign Amann, Chef Ansel also helped fuel the cannelé craze. His recipe for these small flan-like “brownies” enriched with rum and vanilla received high reviews from various publications that have deemed cannelé the “new cupcake”.
“It’s all about change,” says Chef Dominique Ansel. In January he expanded his menu with more French classics that are seldom found outside of France, and a few of his own unique creations.
“There are many items I miss from the bakeries back in Paris that haven’t made it over here to the United States,” says the chef. “The only way to get them is to make them myself.”
While many of the signature items for the bakery – the DKA, cannelé, Paris New York (a twist on the Paris-Brest), Cotton-soft Cheesecake, Mini-Me Cake, Perfect Little Egg Sandwich, and made-to-order madeleines – remain on the menu, here are few of fresh new highlights:
Salted Pistachio Religeuse: “The religeuse is a French double-decker cream puff and one of my favourite desserts,” says Chef Ansel. Classically made with two custard-filled pate à choux rounds -- a smaller one atop the big one – the religeuse is said to be named after a nun’s head. “I do mine differently because I fill the top choux ball with a different filling than the bottom, and you get a more complex mix of flavors.” The top is filled with an airy white chocolate pistachio ganache and the bottom is filled with a creamy pistachio mousseline.
Arlette: Imagine a cinnamon roll-flavored palmier. This sweet puff-pastry cookie is seasoned with cinnamon and spices, but has the signature crunchy and flaky texture of a palmier. Rolled in a big spiral and flattened when baked, they look like large slices of caramel-colored leaves.
Chouquette: Highly addictive, these small pearl-sugar speckled choux balls have the soft chewy texture of a popover, but are bite-sized. “I’d rather eat these than popcorn at the movie theater any day,” says Chef Ansel.
Claudette: A Colombian-coffee and mascarpone-filled cream puff, this dainty dessert is a pure Dominique Ansel invention, not found anywhere. The flavors are inspired by an Italian tiramisu.
Liquid Caramel Chocolate Tart: Made with a soft caramel in the center of this chocolate ganache tart, the secret to this treat is a small cube of espress-soaked chocolate sponge cake. “It does three things,” explains the chef. “It keeps the cake moist, balances out the sweetness from the caramel, and enhances the chocolate-y flavor.”
Also On the Menu:
Five new sandwiches
- Spicy Turkey Panini with sundried tomatoes and red chili-spiked pesto, fontina cheese, and flautta bread
- Tuna Bagnat with Kewpie mayonnaise tuna salad, hardboiled eggs, celery, quick-pickled cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, and a homemade sesame brioche
- Truffle Grilled Cheese with mozzarella, gruyère, fontina and garlic rosemary sourdough
- Cucumber Tartine with yogurt and cream cheese
- Winter Vegetable Tartine with roasted piquillo peppers, artichokes, roasted eggplant spread, calamata olives, and ricotta on pizza bianca
Two new salads
- Crispy Chicken Niçoise with Bibb lettuce, crispy pan-fried chicken thighs, haricots verts, potatoes, and green goddess dressing
- Spinach Gorgonzola Salad
With thanks to Thomas Schauer for the wonderful photos.