Even if you live deep in the woods on some remote mountain top far far away, chances are you have not been spared the hype over the cronut. Whether you've waited in hour-long lines to get your hands on one or got to work in your kitchen making your own we have something to tell you: the creator of the cronut makes an even better pastry and it's called kouign amann. (It's worth so much more hype than that croissant-donut hybrid.)
The kouign amann is not actually Dominique Ansel's invention -- though he is said to make the best available in New York City (so if you live in the area, you might want to brave the cronut lines to get your hands on one of these.) No, kouign amann is a traditional French pastry made in the Brittany region of France. Brittany is renowned for its richly-flavored and brightly-colored butter, so you had better believe that this pastry is as buttery as it gets. And that's exactly why its so good.
Kouign amann is the Breton word for butter cake. (This is how you pronounce it.) It's typically a round cake, made with bread dough that has been layered with butter and sugar -- a lot like puff pastry, but with fewer layers. The cake is slowly cooked until it puffs up, the butter melts and the sugar caramelizes. It's simple, but it will change your life for the better.
We know not everyone has access to a kouign amann, which is why we're suggesting you make them yourself. We're not going to pretend that this is an easy pastry to make. It takes time. And patience. But at the end of your efforts you get to eat one of the most buttery creations of all times. And that makes it more than worth it. To try your hand at the best pastry to come out of France, we suggest trying David Lebovitz's recipe. If you'd prefer to make individual sized ones like Dominique Ansel does, give this recipe a try.
Watch the video above to see how Ansel makes them, and then get to work.
Also, give these other French Pastries a try.