Cookbook Review

Come for the Cronuts, Stay for the Peek Inside Dominique Ansel's Brain

Image Credit: Sarah E Crowder

Cookbook: Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes by Dominique Ansel
Overall impression: The Secret Recipes is both a peek into the mind of a culinary artist and a collection of recipes for delicious treats ranging from easy to challenging.

I was drawn to Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes by the siren song of the Cronut, the croissant-doughnut hybrid that people wait in line for hours to buy. I was happily surprised to find the book stands on much sturdier ground than just the hype of a fad. Ansel is an artist who, in this book, demystifies the masterpieces you could previously only get at his bakery.

Stunning photography and stories behind the recipes.

Creator of the famous Cronut.

More gorgeous photos.

Advanced recipes, like a chocolate egg crafted to look like an Angry Bird.

The At-Home Cronut Pastry p. 201

Chocolate Pecan Cookies p. 112

Perfect Little Egg Sandwich p. 150

Recipes I Tried

Image Credit: Sarah E Crowder

Cooking From Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes

It feels a little like walking through an art gallery to thumb through the pages of The Secret Recipes. The photography is sharp, eye-catching, and incorporated into nearly every page. The recipes themselves don't begin until over a third of the way into the book, as Ansel spends the first 100 pages sharing his inspiration and the thought process behind the culinary treats he chose to include. This glimpse into the artist's process is by far my favorite part of this more-than-a-cookbook and made me even more excited about executing some of the recipes.

Image Credit: Sarah E Crowder

The recipes are divided into Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced, and really do match up to the difficulty level I would expect for each category. Based on what little I knew about Dominique Ansel's bakery (Cronuts!), I had expected that all the treats would be exceptionally difficult, but the range is actually generous.

The ingredients and instructions are as exact as I anticipated, with only a few deviations. (The egg sandwich recipe calls for 1/4 bunch chives, which seemed strangely nonspecific.) Aside from my chocolate pecan cookies inexplicably coming out a different shape from Ansel's, I was happy with all the results. Of the three I tried, my favorite recipe was the famed Cronut. Like Ariel, mine didn't rise to the heights of Ansel's, but everyone with whom I shared them genuinely gushed over the flavor and texture.

Image Credit: Sarah E Crowder

What Could Be Better

While a third of the recipes are approachable enough for anyone who's spent a little time in the kitchen, this cookbook is made for people who get excited about and are willing to invest the time to make these fancy treats. I was glad to finally tackle homemade brioche in the name of the perfect egg sandwich and truly enjoyed making Cronuts, but my kitchen was a scary sight following the project — sheet pans, parchment paper, and flour all over the place.

The recipes sometimes call for specialty ingredients, like glazing fondant or cocoa paste, or specialty equipment, like a blowtorch or a siphon with a carbon charger(!).

Final Takeaway

This gorgeous cookbook is inspiring and a good choice for an amateur-but-adventurous home baker, or anyone who wants to get a behind-the-scenes peek at the recipes that make the Dominique Ansel Bakery a premier NYC destination.

Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes by Dominique Ansel

Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.