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In Search of the Perfect Croissant

In Search of the Perfect Croissant

Blog 10 image - CroissantBefore beginning the search, you should know that most French women don't start every day with a croissant; it's an indulgence, a special, buttery treat.

But when we do indulge, it is with only the most worthy of croissants… one that leaves us soulfully satisfied, for the French croissant is so much more than a simple piece of bread.  The pursuit of the perfect croissant is a cultural, personal and indulgent journey that most of us consider simply part of being French.

Of course, this task is far easier in France where you are surrounded by delicious boulangeries and patisseries. In the US, I’ve found that it requires a bit more effort. Here are a few bits of advice in helping you find the perfect “American” croissant:

  • Start with French-owned spots.   Though I’ve found some very good croissants at random cafes, it’s always a good idea to start with the experts. Even if they don’t make their own croissants, they can probably tell you who does!
  • Just say “non” to grocery store croissants… they are always truly disappointing.
  • Look beyond the bakery.  In the US, coffee shops oftentimes have excellent croissants.  Don’t hesitate to ask where they get their croissants from, if they aren't made in-house.
  • Arrive in the morning, when croissants are at their freshest.
  • Take a good look.  A good croissant should seduce you with its crisp-looking ends, puffed center, crescent shape and crisp, golden color.  A “mauvais” (bad) croissant will look soft, stale or flat, with a greasy finish or pale finish.
  • It shouldn't be a sandwich.  A true French croissant should be enjoyed in its simplest form, adorned only with the occasional jam or honey.  It is not meant to be eaten with chicken salad, or as a ham and egg sandwich… “Ce n’est pas possible," it’s just unthinkable!”
  • If it comes from a tube, it's not worth it. Though you may have dabbled in the grocery store variety of refrigerated dough in a tube in a moment of desperation, it is far from meriting the name of “croissant.” You deserve the real thing!

Finally, become a croissant connoisseur.  A good croissant should crackle with every bite. It should flake, leaving a glorious mess of crumbs in its wake.  It should be ultra-light in weight compared to its size.  It should seduce you with a creamy, buttery scent.  The inside should be soft and tender, with large air pockets and gently unfolding layers.  And finally, the flavor should be buttery and salty, not sweet or yeasty.

Don’t be afraid to broaden your search to non-local places. A croissant can actually be frozen and gently reheated in the oven… so there's no reason to ever suffer through a bad croissant!

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