Shortly after chef Vanarin Kuch announced his new EaDo bakery Koffeteria, one pastry immediately stole the show: a giant croissant that’s crusted with crunchy bits of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and stuffed with a dollop of spicy nacho cheese.
To be sure, the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos croissant’s debut was polarizing. Some pastry purists criticized Kuch’s decision to bastardize this legendary French snack, while others were intrigued at the prospect of how exactly he’d combine the intensely spicy crunch of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos with delicate, flaky croissant dough. But for anyone who’s made the trek to EaDo and bitten into one of those surprisingly subtle croissants, it’s easy to see that Kuch has managed to pull off this absurd combination of high-end and low-end in truly stunning fashion.
“Hot Cheetos, Takis, all those spicy-ass chips, they’re just so good to me. I had a bag of Hot Cheetos with a can of Coke for lunch like every day growing up,” Kuch says. “It takes me back to high school, back to the days when you could eat whatever you want without actually having to think about it.”
The process of making the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos croissant begins more than a day in advance of when they’re actually served, which is a really short window for making something as labor-intensive as croissants. “A lot of people take a couple of days to make their croissants, but we just can’t do that, it doesn’t work for us,” Kuch says. “We can do it in 24 hours.”
First, Kuch and his team prepare the pastry dough, then set it aside to rest. From there, the team prepares “folding butter,” or the giant, half-sheet-pan sized slabs of butter layered into croissant dough that make them super flaky. The dough and folding butter is passed through a pastry laminating machine, or dough sheeter, twice for a double-folded lamination, which produces more layers in the finished croissant.
After the dough is laminated, it heads back into the refrigerator for another rest. When it’s fully rested, that dough is then rolled out one more time so that it’s just thin enough.
Once rolled out, the giant sheet of pastry is cut into triangles that will eventually be shaped into croissants, and spritzed with egg wash to both encourage browning of the dough and help the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos stick.
Next, Kuch’s “super-top-secret” Cheetos mixture is sprinkled on top of the dough, and the croissants are rolled upside-down to ensure that the outside of the croissant is thoroughly crusted.
The croissants then head to the oven, where they’re baked to crispy, Cheeto-y perfection. Once the croissants are out of the oven, they’re left to cool for a bit before Kuch injects each croissant with a dollop of spicy nacho cheese that he makes at the restaurant. “It’s not Ro-Tel and Velveeta, that’s for sure,” he says. “Not that I don’t love it, but this is the real thing.”
The resulting pastry is ridiculously flaky, with a slightly spicy flavor that’s somehow nuanced despite the completely over-the-top nature of its ingredients. The croissant is also structurally sound, with tons of airy layers and a crisp exterior.
Now that he’s figured out the Hot Cheetos croissant, Kuch has another childhood favorite chip in mind for his next pastry: Funyuns.