12.30.2013

ALMOND CROISSANTS: the best possible way to end, or start a year

photo by Yunhee Kim

On the morning we brought Greta home from the hospital, November 4, 2010, we went straight to our neighborhood bakery, Astor Bake Shop. I know, lots of mothers don't leave the house with their newborns until they are solidly three months old, but I was not only very hungry, but way too excited to sit at home (don't worry, she's as healthy as an ox).  

I remember everything about that day: how teeny Greta was, all 7 pounds of her, in her fleecy white coat, curled into my chest; the way everyone at the bakery pointed and stared (look, a brand newborn); the way the air felt, cool and sweet and full of possibility; and, every enormously delicious morsel of my almond croissant – the first real food I had eaten for nearly 48 hours. 

If you've never had the pleasure of enjoying an almond croissant, here's what you should know: they’re like manna from heaven. Though almond croissants are generally a pastry chef's trick to make day-old-croissants new again (split the croissant, spread it with almond crème and bake until golden brown and intoxicatingly fragrant), they're always my number one pick in a pastry counter. I can think of no greater food with which to end, or start, a brand new year.

A good or even amazing almond croissant is easy to come by in Paris or New York, but elsewhere, say, in the tiny upstate New York town where we're spending our New Years, you have to make your own. Believe me, it is well worth the tiny effort.

Here’s my recipe, bar none one of my favorites from Feast (p.s. if you don't have croissants, this works on day-old bread, too).

ALMOND CROISSANTS | SERVES 6

1 recipe almond cream (see below)
6 day-old croissants, halved crosswise
Skin-on sliced almonds, for sprinkling
Powdered sugar, for serving

Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide all but 1/3 cup/75 ml of the almond cream over the bottom halves of the croissants. Cover with the top halves, using your hand to flatten the croissants just slightly. Spread more almond cream over the top of the croissants with an offset spatula, leaving some of the edges bare. Sprinkle with almonds. 

Bake on the prepared baking sheet until the cream is cooked through and the top is golden brown, about 20 minutes, covering the top with foil if needed to prevent overbrowning. Dust generously with powdered sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.

ALMOND CREAM | aka frangipane 

Almond cream, or frangipane, is a sweetened ground-almond or almond flour base for desserts, pies, tarts, and more.

1/2 cup unsalted room-temperature butter
1/2 cup unbleached sugar 
1 cup ground almonds or almond flour
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons oat flour or all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt 

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add ground almonds or almond flour and beat together. Add in the egg and egg yolk, one at a time, and then the vanilla extract. Stir in the flour and sea salt, scraping the bottom for any dry or unmixed bits, until the mixture is evenly fluffy and smooth. 

Store in a container with an airtight lid in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. (Makes enough for 6 croissants or 6 almond toasts)

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite 


7 comments:

Kate Ramos said...

Almond croissants are my absolute favorite and I can't believe how simple this is! At first I thought you were going to have me make the croissants from scratch (which I admire, but probably won't get around to doing) but this I can do! Happy New Year to you!

momskitchenhandbook said...

Among my duties at the specialty food shop where I worked in high school was unloading and arranging the almond croissants. It was always a good day when one turned up damaged. So fun to know how to "make" my own. Thanks Sarah.

Alyssa Werbela said...

Sarah,

Do you happen to have the nutritional facts with each recipes?

Thanks Alyssa

Sarah Copeland said...

Alyssa, thank you for writing! I don't include nutritional facts on my recipes here--but, I don't think you'd want to know them for this one. It's a sometimes treat, one I don't advocate eating every day but deem worthy for holidays. :)

Katie, let me know if you end up making these for your girls! They are a great beginning pastry chef job and enjoyed having three much littler girls around my countertop new years day making these with me.

Kate, I have made my own homemade croissants exactly three times in my life. Fun, but not likely to happen again anytime soon here, either. Happy New Year!

Sarah Copeland said...

Alyssa, thank you for writing! I don't include nutritional facts on my recipes here--but, I don't think you'd want to know them for this one. It's a sometimes treat, one I don't advocate eating every day but deem worthy for holidays. :)

Katie, let me know if you end up making these for your girls! They are a great beginning pastry chef job and enjoyed having three much littler girls around my countertop new years day making these with me.

Kate, I have made my own homemade croissants exactly three times in my life. Fun, but not likely to happen again anytime soon here, either. Happy New Year!

curlygirlpress said...

Oh, oh, now I have a use for the almond flour I picked up on a whim! Darn you! = )

Joyti said...

Yum! Love almond croissants, but I've never made my own. Bookmarking :)

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New York City, United States
Sarah Copeland is a food and lifestyle expert, and the author of Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, and The Newlywed Cookbook. She is the Food Director at Real Simple magazine, and has appeared in numerous national publications including Saveur, Health, Fitness, Shape, Martha Stewart Living and Food & Wine magazines. As a passionate gardener, Sarah's Edible Living philosophy aims to inspire good living through growing, cooking and enjoying delicious, irresistible whole foods. She thrives on homegrown veggies, stinky cheese and chocolate cake. Sarah lives in New York with her husband and their young daughter.