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Trend Watch: Cronuts at Illinois Street Food Emporium

Given New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s crusade against junk food and super-sized sugary drinks, it’s a bit surprising that the latest artery-clogging pastry trend originated at SoHo’s Dominique Ansel bakery and not at the Indiana State Fair. But the “cronut” (a trademarked portmanteau of croissant and doughnut) has a sophistication—and a quasi-French pedigree—that makes it a tad classier than the deep-fried Snickers bars and Twinkies popular at summer festivals. Hoosiers still have to wonder at trend-loving New Yorkers waiting in line for over an hour to pay $5 or more for a hunk of modified croissant dough fried and rolled in sugar. But we didn’t have to wait long before a couple of local bakers started making them right here in Indianapolis. Cindy Hawkins of Circle City Sweets (222 E. Market St., 317-632-3644) has been frying up her interpretation, the “doissant,” for several weeks now, and the Illinois Street Food Emporium (5550 N. Illinois St., 317-253-9513) recently started offering their own daily versions for the folks in the Butler Tarkington neighborhood.

We stopped in to pick up a couple of the Food Emporium’s cronuts—one rolled in cinnamon sugar and the other glazed and filled with strawberries—to see what the fuss was all about. These hefty confections ring up at a cool $4.50. But are they worth it? They’re definitely a notch richer than a Long’s doughnut or a Krispy Kreme from your local gas station, with a savory undertone of butter a pre-scandal Paula Deen would have approved of. But they’re not a lot different from the best danishes and breakfast pastries that morning bakery customers of bygone days would have loved. The cinnamon-sugar version lets the crispy, chewy edges of the well-browned croissant dough shine through, while the thickly glazed strawberry cronut wears the sweet perfume of spring fruit and a decadence worthy of such a diet-wrecking treat. Just be warned: you may need a mid-morning nap after you eat one of these.

A graduate of IU’s Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing, Terry Kirts hails from a town in Illinois so small it didn’t have a restaurant until he was in the 8th grade. Since 2000, he’s more than made up for the dearth of eateries in his childhood, logging hundreds of meals as the dining critic for WHERE Indianapolis, Indianapolis Woman, and NUVO before joining Indianapolis Monthly as a contributing editor in 2007. A senior lecturer in creative writing at IUPUI, Terry has published his poetry and creative nonfiction in a number of literary journals and anthologies, including Gastronomica, Alimentum, and Home Again: Essays and Memoirs from Indiana, and he’s the author of the poetry collection To the Refrigerator Gods, published by Seven Kitchens Press in 2011.

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