I love doughnuts, and shamelessly so. There’s nothing ethnic, hole-in-the-wall, or quirky about them – but they’re sweet, deep-fried and squishy enough to be utterly lovable. The Boston Crème doughnut from Dunkin has been my fritter of choice since I can first remember sinking my teeth into a tender custardy cushion glistening with melted chocolate. The cinnamon-flecked Coffee Roll ties for second place with the cream-filled Bavarian, the latter being perfect for that blatant binge which leaves your lips snowy white with the kiss of powdered sugar. The original glazed from Krispy Kreme comes in at third place, only when picked piping hot and fresh off of the doughnut conveyor belt (something that KK shops in Dubai once had, until they caved into the box-and-go format).
Cronuts are the next big doughnut fad, invented and trademarked by Dominique Ansel in New York when he conceived a doughnut-shaped fritter with the flaky layered insides of a croissant. If that wasn't naughty enough, those insides also oozed out a heavenly light Tahitian vanilla cream. The whole deep-fried flaky cream-oozing operation sounds really over-the-top, but my sense is that the execution was refined and delicate enough where it’s just not the same as stuffing your face with one of those warped hybrids from Pizza Hut (remember the crown crust cheese burger pizza invasion? Shudder.) Please read Cronut 101 and the art of enjoying a cronut to fully appreciate my point.
And even if it wasn’t refined and delicate, I’ll admit that the doughnut-loving damsel in me would still have to have a taste. But sadly, New York isn’t next door.
Now before you continue reading this post, I beseech you to view a cross-sectional photograph of the Cronut on Serious Eats. If like me, you haven't tried the real deal, you will at least be wiser about what to expect if Dubai attempts to do a copycat version. Which of course, it already has.
A sweet angel on a recent food tour tipped me off about a café in Uptown Mirdif that sells cronuts. With its exposed ceilings and walls painted in a soothing sunbathed tones, Yellow Mellow attempts to display a sort of personal character which evades most mass-market coffee chains. It is exactly the sort of place I can see myself hiding away, curled up with a book and coffee on one of their psychadelically upholstered chairs when my email inbox becomes too hairy-scary to deal with.
Mellow Yellow serves two kinds of cronuts, one glazed with chocolate and piped with coffee cream on the insides, while the other combines a cinnamon glaze and mango cream filling. I picked the former, which emerged as this pudgy scone type structure with the appropriately tantalizing chocolate drip-over down the edges.
The insides were the critical test of this cronut copycat. And while I’ve never had Ansel’s original version, I’m disappointed to say that this cronut…failed. It was far from the flaky, angelically delicate fritter that I had psyched myself up to expect. Instead of flakes, I got a spongy mass of dry-ish mediocre cake.
The only redeeming factor in this un-croissant cronut was the coffee cream and melted chocolate, only because those melty substances almost have the power to redeem even the most cardboard-like of culinary creations. Almost.
All is not lost though. Mellow Yellow’s core baked competence is actually their ‘choose-your-own’ cupcakes. I usually steer away from cupcakes because we’ve had a glut of subpar, over-iced and unspectacular ones flood the local market. But a fill-your-own cupcake deserves at least one chance.
My chosen combination: A vanilla cupcake whose core was piped with a white chocolate ganache and swirled with raspberry icing. Had Mellow Yellow not run out of the childishly playful vanilla pop rock candy, those would have found a place on my cupcake too.
The result? A bearable cupcake. Small enough where you can consume it in three to four mid-sized bites, each bite moistened with a melted white chocolate filling that tasted more sour cream-ish than white-chocolaty…potentially because I tasted it at home after the cupcake had been left out for about 2 hours?
The icing was not one of those over-sugared clumps that you need to chip away from the cupcake, but a lighter creamier one with the grain of real raspberries and the mild sour tinge of softened cream cheese. Yellow Mellow definitely wins cupcake points for taking the trouble to core out a cupcake and pipe its insides with gooey fill-in's. And cream cheese rather than buttercream icing always stands a better chance in my dessert books.
If not for:
(a) the hefty price tag of AED 15.00 for my self-inflicted cupcake,
(b) an icing that laughably costs a dirham more than the cupcake itself (AED 7.00 vs. AED 6.00 respectively. darn those raspberries.), and
(c) the fact that I’d crave a banana before I’d ever crave a cupcake,
I’d go so far as to say that were I to ever find myself in a situation where the world would fall apart without a cupcake at its helm, then the drive to Mirdif might be in order.
Also, true its name, I’d beseech Mellow Yellow to offer a lemon cupcake, a lemon curd filling, lemon icing and candied bits of lemon rind on their DIY cupcake menu. I strongly believe that having lemon in a cupcake – not all of the above ingredients in the same collective cupcake being, but a selection of any two – has the power to convert even the most apathetic of cupcake atheists.
Uptown Mirdiff (in the semi-circle facing the main road)
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