Last week I decided to splurge and went to my favorite local bakery Artisan Boulanger Patisserie, in the East Passyunk neighborhood of Philadelphia, and found they had their own version of the ubiquitous Cronut! Having had the original I would say that this was quite different. Artisan Boulanger calls their product a croissant beignet. The structure was made up of layers of fried croissant dough and sandwiched with vanilla pastry cream. It was delicate and crispy, and I ended up deconstructing it to make sure I got the vanilla cream in every bite. It was a lovely mix of chewy and crunchy, flavorful and filling, not at all greasy and all in all pretty wonderful!
This croissant-beignet wasn’t my reason for visiting the bakery. I was there to get a small baguette, and an almond stick, and in fact had paid and was on my way out when I spied this confection. I though it was something made with apricots, so I asked, and then was told what it really was (no apricots) and felt it was my obligation to get one, eat it and tell you about it. (Please don’t feel sorry for the things I endure in the name of research.)
This is a great bakery, that not that many folks know about. They have amazing bread, and authentic, lovely french pastries. The almond sticks have to be one of my favorites! What they do is take an almond croissant, and roll it our long and thin, before baking, and it becomes crunchy with great caramelization on the bottom. I love almond croissants, I still recall the first one I ever had—I couldn’t even imagine what that flavor was, and ate it as slowly as I could to savor every little bit! These almond sticks are that and more! When you buy one they break it in half so it will fit in a bag. I usually polish off the fist half before I am home.
A few years ago when I was newly single I stopped in at just the right moment, and they had croque monsieur, so I had to try one. I recall sitting in my car eating it and crying because it was so good I wanted to be sharing it with someone; it seemed wrong to be eating something so wonderful alone. In all the times I’ve gone back, they are always out of them, or they aren’t ready yet. Like with so many things, at Artisan Boulanger timing is key.
If you live in the Philadelphia area, and love authentic French bread and pastry you should stop by some morning for a cappuccino and croissant beignet. Maybe if you’re lucky they will have croque monsieur, and you can share one of those, too. Make sure to get some bread for later; it is just as good (in a different way of course) as the patisseries!
Artisan Boulanger Patisserie had no knowledge that I was writing this post, nor any influence over my opinion, though I did call to ask a few clarifying questions.