Apple Pecan Cronuts with Apple Cider Caramel Frosting

Apple Pecan Cronuts with Apple Cider Caramel Frosting

Hey there, friend.

Do you know that I think about you a lot?

I think about what you might want to make for brunch on Sunday. I’m thinking something with blueberries and cinnamon. Scones, maybe?

I think about your daughter’s third birthday party and what flavor her Princess Cinderella cake should be.

Apple Pecan Cronuts with Apple Cider Caramel Frosting

I think about the two dozen cupcakes your son needs for his fourth grade class by tomorrow…and that you just found out about today.

I think about how sometimes you just don’t have the time to make an intricate dessert for your Saturday night dinner party because the 3-year-old has gymnastics on Thursday and the 5-year-old needs a costume for the school play and the baby hasn’t slept in what seems like months.

I think about the hours you spend perusing recipes on Pinterest to find that perfect chocolate souffle for your fifth anniversary dinner.

Apple Pecan Cronuts with Apple Cider Caramel Frosting

I think about how excited you were when I told you that you could make French macarons and then you did. And they were awesome.

I think about you because I know that you come here looking for delicious, beautiful desserts. For inspiration. Maybe even for a laugh or a little encouragement, depending on the day. And I love giving that to you.

I make pie. And then you make pie. It’s a beautiful thing.

Apple Pecan Cronuts with Apple Cider Caramel Frosting

This is my 100th blog post. Wow. And I just thought that I should celebrate this milestone by letting you know just how much you mean to me.

I started this blog back in 2010 because I wanted a project to keep me busy while my husband was away. I’ve never been incredibly consistent with my posts. I blog like I bake: whenever the mood strikes. Over the past few years, I’ve been MIA for long stretches of time. Like that time I had a baby and then my husband deployed for nine months. But despite my inconsistency, I truly do love this project. And I love you, my readers.

Apple Pecan Cronuts with Apple Cider Caramel Frosting

I don’t know why you come here, but I’m so glad that you do.

So thank you.

Thanks for sharing this journey with me. Thanks for listening to my rants and ramblings. Thanks for eating cookies with me at 2 a.m. Thanks for baking my favorite cake for your best friend’s birthday. Thanks for sharing my muffin recipe with your neighbor.

Apple Pecan Cronuts with Apple Cider Caramel Frosting

Thank you for coming here and baking with me. I’m so excited to see where the next 100 posts take us.

In honor of this milestone, I give you cronuts.

The cronut is, by far, my favorite foodie takaway from my time in New York. Yes, I stood in that line at the crack of dawn for hours to get a cronut from Dominique Ansel Bakery. And yes, it was absolutely worth it.

Apple Pecan Cronuts with Apple Cider Caramel Frosting

If you’ve never heard of the cronut, you are in. for. a. treat. Think croissant-meets-donut-meets-awesome. And I promise that you need these in your life.

Dominque Ansel shared his secret cronut recipe with the world a couple years ago, and guys, I’ll be frank: it’s, in a word, involved. It takes three days to make eight pastries. You’ll definitely need to visit a baking supplies store. And you’ll need a whole lot of patience. I haven’t tried his recipe yet. It’s on my list, but I doubt I’ll get to it while my kids are preschoolers (because #momlife).

Apple Pecan Cronuts with Apple Cider Caramel Frosting

But because I love you, and because we’re celebrating 100 posts together after all, I give you my simplified, “I actually have things to do in a day but still love delicious pastries” version. Yes, it still takes some time to put these together. But it’s a lot of hands-off time (read: time to fold the laundry and feed the babies). And yes, you will most likely dirty every dish in your kitchen making them. But these babies do not disappoint. Save this for a weekend project. And then invite all of your friends over for brunch. Because cronuts are definitely meant to be shared.

Apple Pecan Cronuts with Apple Cider Caramel Frosting

Apple Pecan Cronuts with Apple Cider Caramel Frosting
Recipe modified from Half Baked Harvest
Croissant recipe courtesy of PureWow

Start to finish: 6 hours
Makes 2 dozen cronuts*

For the croissant dough
4½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon instant yeast
Pinch of salt
1½ cups whole milk
3 sticks (12 ounces) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1″ cubes**
1 quart of oil for frying (I used canola)

For the apple cider caramel
2 cups apple cider
1/4 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup cream
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the apple pecan topping
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups honeycrisp or pink lady apples, cored and chopped into 1/4″ pieces
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the apple cider caramel frosting
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened to room temperature
2 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 2/3 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider caramel sauce
1 tablespoon milk

For the croissant dough
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, mix the flour, sugar, yeast and salt on low speed to combine, about 30 seconds. Add the milk, and mix on medium speed until the dough forms a loose ball, 3 to 4 minutes.

With the mixer running on medium speed, gradually add the cubed butter. Continue to mix until the butter is evenly incorporated, about 3 minutes. The butter should be in pea-sized pieces (think pie dough).

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a 3-by-6-inch rectangle (doesn’t have to be exact).

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough is chilled but pliable, about 30-60 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 1-inch-thick rectangle (about 9 by 12 inches). Fold the left third of the dough in toward the center, then fold the right third over the left side (like you’re folding a business letter). Turn the dough 90 degrees. Repeat the process again, rolling out the dough and folding in the outer thirds. (All this rolling and folding is what makes the interior of the croissants light and airy.) Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate another 30-60 minutes.

Once the dough has chilled again, repeat the rolling and folding process two more times. Chill one last time for 1 hour.

Roll out the dough into a 1/3-inch-thick rectangle. Using a 3-inch round cutter (I used a biscuit cutter), cut as many rounds as you can. Transfer circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet, placing them about an inch apart. Knead the dough scraps into a ball, and then roll out the dough again to a 1/3-inch-thick rectangle and cut as many rounds as you can. I got about 2 dozen cronuts total. Using a 1-inch round cutter (I used the large end of a frosting tip), cut holes in the middle of your pastry circles so that they look like donuts. (Don’t throw out the small circles! Put them on your baking sheet and make cronut holes!)

Cover baking sheet with a large towel and place in a warm place in your kitchen (like your oven with the light on). Allow to sit for one hour.

While the cronuts rest, make the caramel and topping.

For the apple cider caramel
Pour the apple cider into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high. Boil for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cider has reduced to about 1/3 cup and is thick and syrupy. Reduce the heat to low; add the brown sugar, butter, cream and cinnamon. Bring the mixture back to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes or until the the caramel has thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Set aside to cool and thicken.

For the apple pecan topping
Add the butter to a large skillet over medium heat. Add the apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until apples have started to soften. Add the pecans and cook another 5 minutes or until the apples are caramelized. Add the vanilla and cook another minute. Remove from heat and set aside. Keep warm.

For the cronuts
Heat a large pot (I used my dutch oven) of oil to 375 degrees F. Fry the cronuts in the oil for about 30 seconds on each side, until golden brown. (Make sure you test the temperature of your oil occasionally; it should always be at 375 degrees). Place fried cronuts on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Cool.

While cronuts cool, make the frosting.

For the apple cider caramel frosting
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and cream cheese. Mix on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and caramel sauce; beat until smooth and combined. Beat in the milk. Add more powdered sugar (to thicken) or milk (to thin) until desired consistency is reached.

Once the cronuts are cool, spread with frosting and top with the apple pecan topping. Drizzle with the apple cider caramel sauce.

These are best the very same day they are made. If you happen to have leftovers, store in the refrigerator and reheat in the microwave. (They won’t be crispy, but they’ll still be delicious!)

*This croissant recipe makes approximately 2 dozen croissants. I do not recommend halving the recipe. If you’d like to make fewer cronuts, go ahead and make the whole batch of croissant dough. Roll out the dough, but only use half of it for your cronuts. Form the other half into croissants, and freeze them for later.

**Use the best-quality butter you can. I highly recommend any European-style butter (I used Plugrá).

Apple Pecan Cronuts with Apple Cider Caramel Frosting

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