Dominique Ansel, the mastermind behind the sought-after Cronut pastry, has earned a prestigious reputation for his fanciful hybrid desserts. (Another Ansel hit: the deliciously convenient chocolate chip cookie milk shot.)
On Wednesdy, Ansel presented his latest venture: Dominique Ansel Kitchen, a restaurant that serves made-to-order savory and sweet dishes that are whipped up in lightning-quick speed—as in, 1 to 2 minutes. And in grand Ansel tradition, patrons began lining up at 6 a.m.—two hours before the doors officially opened—just to get a taste.
“A lot of people told me it was impossible or too hard to do,” Ansel tells TIME (in the video below) of his new New York City bakery in the West Village. “It will require us to change the entire organization of the business, but I believe it’s possible.”
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Seventy percent of the menu will be assembled to order. While planning his menu over the past few months, the timing of each dish has been an important consideration—to Ansel, time is an ingredient, in that the time that passes between a pastry’s completion and the customer’s first bite should be treated as essential. The chocolate mousse will be folded to order, for example, and vanilla beans will be scraped fresh directly onto ice cream.
“To me, having a dessert assembled when you order it, there’s nothing better than that,” Ansel tells TIME. Some of the treats on his new menu will include a lemon yuzu butter tart (with the filling made in a milkshake machine), Guinness baba au rhum and mini matcha beignets. (Note: the new location will not be serving the Cronut, so don’t bother asking.)
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But you can get a taste of Ansel’s other croissant-type hybrid: a flaky Croissant Garlic Bread. At the bakery, croissant dough is folded with thin layers of garlic butter and baked fresh, then slathered with an aromatic rosemary-garlic confit. And you can get a taste at home! The chef shared an easy, adapted version with PEOPLE using store-bought croissants. Trust us: It’s a game-changer.
Croissants with Confit Garlic, Rosemary & Thyme
1 whole head of garlic
High-quality olive oil
½ sprig of fresh rosemary
1 small bunch fresh thyme
Small wedge of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 250°F degrees. Peel a whole head of garlic, and place cloves in shallow pot or pan. Cover with olive oil until cloves are fully submerged. Add rosemary, thyme and black pepper to taste.
2. Cook in oven for 1.5 hours or until garlic cloves are tender and aromatic. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool, allowing the garlic and herbs to steep in the olive oil.
3. To serve: On a warm toasted croissant split open lengthwise, place a few confit garlic cloves and a drizzle of the garlic olive oil from the pan. Finish with salt to taste and grated Parmegiano Reggiano cheese.
—Maria Yagoda @MariaYagoda