The Crookie Delights Paris – The New York Times

All it took for the crookie to take shape was a baker looking for a diversion, his time-tested croissant recipe and a few cookies for inspiration. It took TikTok to make it go viral.

Stéphane Louvard created the crookie almost a year and a half ago when he came up with the idea of putting cookie dough into a croissant and then baking it again. But demand for his crookies has exploded in recent months after TikTok videos flaunted his creations. On one day in February, Mr. Louvard sold 2,300 of the pastries at his bakery in a bustling Paris neighborhood.

“The entire planet is talking about us. Someone told me he even made the trip from Madrid only to get a crookie — it’s crazy,” Mr. Louvard said as he prepared a baking tray of croissants, ready to be cut in half and stuffed with chocolate chip cookie dough.

The crookie — Mr. Louvard’s son Nicolas, a business school student, came up with the name — has not just taken social media by storm. It has also spread to other bakeries across France and around the world.

The croissant has long been a favorite in the French capital — legend has it that Marie-Antoinette first brought it from Austria in the late 18th century. But fusion baking has become more common in Paris and across France in recent years, with bakers embracing one trend after another, like the brookie (fusing a brownie and a cookie), the cronut and the cruffin (which marry croissants with doughnuts and muffins).

Mr. Louvard, 51, who has made his own croissants from scratch for decades, got the inspiration for the crookie one morning in October 2022, when he was preparing croissants and saw his team making cookies beside him and decided to mix them together. He continued making crookies mostly for fun during his long shifts, which start at 4 a.m. every day.

He managed to sell a dozen or two a day, and then abandoned them last summer when temperatures rose and sales of the heavy pastries declined. The following fall, he started baking crookies again at the request of regulars, but sales never exceeded 30 a day.

“This is literally food porn,” said Mr. Papz in his video, brandishing the pastry at the camera. As he bites into it, a look of pleasure spreads across his face.

New customers crowded into Maison Louvard, Mr. Louvard’s bakery in central Paris. “We started doubling quantities, we were reaching 600, 700 pieces a day, but it was never enough,” he recalled.

At the height of the crookie frenzy, Maison Louvard had to reorganize its entire production to satisfy the crowds. Mr. Louvard said demand had fallen a bit during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and as the weather warmed up. But the bakery is still selling about 1,000 a day, and tourists and locals alike are still flocking to try them.

This week, the five-star George V hotel in Paris called the bakery for a special delivery. “A guest wanted the original crookie in his room at 1 a.m.” Mr. Louvard said.

Jessie Leworthy, who was visiting Paris from Devon, England, with a friend, recently took a selfie of her first bite of a crookie by the entrance of the bakery. “We didn’t know how these two different textures would come together, but it’s delicious,” she said.

Still, the crookie has its detractors.

“I’m choking on it right now, I wish I had a bottle of water,” said David Iemolo, a tourist from Philadelphia, who said he heard about the pastry mash-up from social media. “Both individually are great, put them together you’re probably going over the top for me.”

On social media, comments describing crookies as too oily, too heavy or too “American” abound. There is also the price, 5.90 euros (about $6.30) — roughly three times that of a typical croissant — for takeout, and 7.10 euros to eat in.

“It’s the price of a croissant added to that of a cookie,” Mr. Louvard said in his defense, citing the high quality of the butter, flour, and chocolate he uses and the long hours put in by his staff.

Creating the perfect “viennoiserie” — pastry that is soft and airy inside, and crispy and buttery on the outside — for his croissants takes Mr. Louvard and his team 36 hours. The dough must rest at a certain temperature for hours before it is filled with a large piece of butter, folded, pressed, folded again — a dozen times — to achieve the desired puff of the pastry.

This is why so many French bakers have given up making croissants themselves, preferring to buy them frozen.

“We don’t make our own croissants in France anymore,” said the chef and author Jean-Marie Lanio, who regularly travels across Asia to teach people how to make the staple of French cuisine.

According to the French federation of bakeries, industrial companies account for over 70 percent of total pastry production in the country, supplying bakeries, supermarkets and cafes.

Some bakers now hope that social media trends, like the one driving demand for the crookie, could help encourage more people to make more items themselves.

“It gives the younger generation a renewed appetite for baking pastries,” Mr. Lanio said.

Amaury Guichon, a pastry chef, made his own crookie on TikTok last month; the video was viewed nine million times. That was in staggering contrast to the number of likes that Mr. Louvard’s son received when he first posted a picture of a crookie on the bakery’s Instagram in 2022 — a little bit over a hundred, he estimated.

Crookies have popped up on the shelves of bakeries around the city, and are now even being advertised by France’s main frozen food manufacturer as well as sold by a large industrial bakery chain — where it has been rebranded as the “crookiz.”

Crookie mania has also spread around the world. “My followers are sending me messages about crookies in Sydney, in Dubai, in Singapore or in New York,” Mr. Papz, the influencer, said. “It’s everywhere.”

Mr. Lanio himself was first introduced to the crookie while visiting Bali two weeks ago.

Didier Chaput, who teaches at the Ferrandi cooking school, said he was happy that the crookies had put freshly-made pastries in the spotlight.

He encourages fusion baking in class so that his students can find their own styles and tastes. But at the end of the day, he said, “while crookies might be entertaining, the ultimate question is always where to find the best croissant in Paris.”

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