I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who doesn’t love croissants. And so to call these twice-baked croissants a crowd-pleaser is an understatement.
It’s a bakery dessert that I discovered when I went to pastry school in France back in 1979.
I walked into a shop and in the case were a lot of things I recognized and a few things I didn’t recognize, among them croissants aux amandes.
Actually, I didn’t know it was a croissant at the time, but it was pastry that was covered in almonds and dusted in powdered sugar. It wasn’t beautiful in the French sense of a perfected, precise-looking dessert, but it was homey and rustic, and I could just tell it tasted delicious.
Since then, I’ve been making these twice-baked almond croissants and actually turned very small versions of them into a composed dessert on my menu at Campanile, the restaurant I opened with Mark Peel in 1989, and now at Osteria Mozza, where I pair the warmed croissants with fruit compote and a little gelato.
Of course, when I first started making these desserts, I did the difficult task of making my own croissants. If you look at a croissant, it’s not an easy thing to make at home. You need a kitchen with a lot of space where you can roll out a yeasted dough and incorporate the butter, then roll up that dough, fold it, roll it out again, and do that three to four times, depending upon what style of croissant you’re making. And then you need to shape it, proof it and refrigerate it and then bake it. It’s an intimidating thing to make.
So when I decided to add twice-baked croissants to my new cookbook coming out in November, “The Cookie That Changed My Life: And More Than 100 Other Classic Cakes, Cookies, Muffins and Pies That Will Change Yours,” I realized that I don’t need to do the most difficult part of this dessert anymore. Neither do you.
There are plenty of bakeries out there that will do the work for us. I use croissants that I purchase from République Bakery, one of my favorite bakeries in Los Angeles. It’s actually the bakery that took over my original bakery, which was La Brea Bakery at Campanile. Margarita “Marge” Manzke is a terrific baker — and shout out to her because she finally won the James Beard Award for best pastry chef in the country this year. She makes fantastic croissants.
But actually supermarket croissants or plain croissants from your favorite bakery will work well too, because we are going to soak them in a very flavorful orange blossom syrup, and we’ll slather some almond cream into the croissants that have been sliced horizontally before rebaking them with sliced almonds.
Nancy Silverton’s twiced-baked croissants are filled with almond cream and topped with sliced almonds, baked until toasty and golden.
After I came to love the twice-baked almond croissants, I started to see savory croissants. At first they were mostly like a ham-and-cheese sandwich. Shops would fill a sliced croissant with ham and cheese, put it back in the oven and serve it warm. Then I noticed that people started to bake that ham and cheese into the croissant, and I liked that even better.
But several years ago I was visiting one of my favorite bakeries in San Francisco, B. Patisserie, and its ham-and-cheese croissant just transformed the whole experience.
These cheesy croissants make a delicious brunch or supper dish. Because they make use of day-old store-bought croissants, they’re easy to put together.
I tried to figure out what made it so different and I realized that adding béchamel to the filling completely changed it. From then on, I changed the way I made my ham-and-cheese croissant.
Which do I like better, the sweet or the salty, savory croissant? People always ask me and I’ve got to say, I can’t decide. I love them both.
NANCY SILVERTON and her Mozza team will be making twice-baked croissants on the final day of L.A. Food Bowl’s Night Market, the Backlot Brunch session at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, Sept. 24 starting at noon. Get tickets at lafoodbowl.com
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