Entrepreneurs

How one wacky NYC donut went viral

The creation of the next viral food, Macaron Donut
The latest pastry craze mixes macarons and donuts   

Known better for his desserts, one well-known pastry chef thinks he's also cracked the recipe for something else in New York's cut-throat food scene: survival.

"You have to reinvent yourself," said French pastry chef Francois Payard.

Enter Payard's latest invention: the already buzzed-about Macaron Donut, which he will officially launch Sunday at his NYC patisserie locations for $5 each.

Dubbed the "macaronut" by some, the colorful treat has been featured widely on television, food blogs and Instagram, promotion that has helped the dessert go viral. To encourage the news to spread faster, Payard sent free samples to online influencers.

Macaron Donut also known as the Macaronut!
Photo: Felipe Coronado
Macaron Donut also known as the Macaronut!

"That's the best free press. All those foodie accounts, they all were infatuated with it," said Kaylee Dopkins, Payard's executive assistant.

So what is the macaronut? It's a strawberries and cream ganache sandwiched between a pink macaron shell top made from almond flour and a strawberry dough bottom and confetti sprinkles.

This is not Payard's first foray into food mash-ups and creative treats. During the summer, the shop typically sells thousands of macaron ice cream bars. He also sells macaron kits.

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To create the Macaron Donut, the team paid attention to hybrids food trends that have done well in NYC — namely bagels and doughnuts. Think Dominique Ansel's cronut or Macaron Parlour's cheese Cheeto-flavored macarons.

"It sounds so gross, but I found myself first in line for it," Dopkins said.

With the macaron donut, the chef says the intent was to be a little more "childish" and incorporate flavors and components his customers might have grown up with, like strawberries and cream.

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Once the idea was conceived, the actual recipe took weeks of tweaking. A macaron the size of the Macaron Donut, which is about three inches wide, would be too sweet to savor. That made the team experiment with different types of dough that would resemble a doughnut.

Despite Payard's success, the path to creating new ways appeal to the American sweet tooth, has always been a complicated process for him.

"To tell you the truth, I don't eat too many crazy things," he said. "When you're French, everything you do has to be a brand name."