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Chicago Cronut Craze Continues, Alliance Bakery Gets In On The Action

 Alliance Bakery debuted its take on the croissant-donut mashup over the weekend.
Cronuts Hit Chicago
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WICKER PARK — Chicago bakeries are rushing to cash in on the cronut craze that has taken New York by storm, and Wicker Park's Alliance Bakery got in on the action this weekend.

Cronuts, an inspired mashup of croissants and donuts created by chef Dominique Ansel, have had New Yorkers lining up for hours and even scalping the treats online for months.

"I kept getting asked by everyone I know. It was just peer pressure," said Alliance pastry chef and owner Peter Rios.

"I was curious. It's such a basic dumb idea that's actually quite genius," he said of the hybrid concoction.

"[Ansel] took the basic premise of a croissant and turned it into a doughnut," said Rios, who played around with his own croissant recipe to achieve the desired crispy-yet-tender end result when deep fried.

For now, cronuts will only be available at Alliance on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, though based on their initial reception, Rios is already considering adding a part-time baker help to crank out more of the pastries. Making cronuts essentially triples his croissant production — an already labor-intensive time-consuming process.

"I was surprised how quickly they went," he said. Even limiting customers to two cronuts per person, at five bucks a pop, Alliance sold out of the pastries within an hour each day.

"Not that many things cause such a craze — to have a product you can't even meet the demand," said Rios.

Some Wicker Parkers headed to Alliance early Sunday to see what all the fuss was about.

"I was very excited — I've heard of the craze," one Alliance customer said. "I just like sugar."

Another customer said the pastry, which was filled with cream and topped with a raspberry rose glaze, was "better than a doughnut," but didn't plan to "wait in line for hours and hours" to get another.

"This past weekend was a trial," said Rios. If cronuts move past the curiosity phase, he may add more flavors.

"It's refreshing," he said. "Everyone's really sick of the cupcake — it's great to see something new."

For Rios, who spends most of his time these days handling administrative chores, cronuts provided an opportunity to step out of the office and back into the kitchen.

He'll be up to his elbows in dough on the Fourth of July, when Alliance will turn out a special batch of 200 cronuts for the holiday.

"It's going to be fun," he said. "I'm going to get down and dirty on the the Fourth."