With French Broad Chocolate from Nicaragua
By Ari Weinzweig
Looking for a lovely taste of the 10th Arrondissement without having to fly to Paris? The chocolate croissants from Zingerman’s Bakehouse could be just the ticket. Made with the Nicaragua bean-to-bar dark chocolate from the folks at French Broad Chocolate, they are one of the best breakfast pastries available from the Bakehouse that we sell at the Roadshow.
We have done next to nothing since the Bakehouse opened to promote our croissants, yet managing partner Amy Emberling says that they have quietly grown into one of our top sellers. The world is sending me a message—we would do well to more actively appreciate the complex flavors and craftwork that goes into each croissant. The “plain” Butter Croissants, the Juliette’s Almond Croissants, and these super tasty classic Chocolate Croissants as well.
More about the classic croissant!
The Chocolate Croissants are one of the richest ways to enjoy the classic combination of bread and chocolate. As Patricia Wells once wrote: “Croissant-like pain au chocolat was the preferred after-school snack for the more bourgeois Parisians.” Unlike so many other morning pastries, the Chocolate Croissants are really not sweet. Buttery, rich, and wonderfully tasty. Full-flavored bread and dark chocolate come together in the best possible way.
One thing I’ll warn you about is that they are, I say smiling, almost impossible to eat without making a mess. A good croissant, I learned years ago, should “shatter” when you bite into it. (If it doesn’t, the croissant is too doughy.) You could, I suppose, go at them with a knife and fork, and napkin tucked into the collar of your shirt, but that sort of takes the fun out of the eating experience. My vote is just to take a good look, appreciate the craft work of the pastry crew who carefully laminated the croissant dough, hand-placed the duo of dark chocolate batons side by side in the center, get grounded, and then take a nice big, appreciative bite. I’ve come to believe that eating a pain au chocolat like this is best approached as you would a great burger—accept up front that it’s going to be a bit messy. And marvelously delicious. Buttery, rich croissant dough and dark (and not very sweet) bean-to-bar chocolate are an amazing combination. Complex and beautifully balanced as the butter, chocolate, and wheat, come together with just enough salt to bring out the flavors of the other ingredients. The finish I will add, as I appreciate it right now ten minutes after my last bite, is lovely, with lots of surprisingly wonderful low notes from the dark chocolate.
How to enjoy our Chocolate Croissants
How good are they? Because I like to have what I’m writing about on hand when I’m describing it I picked one up to work on this piece. I figured I’d eat one bite, maybe two. Fifteen minutes (and just as many napkins—it’s hard to type with chocolate all over your fingers) it was almost gone! The Chocolate Croissants pair up beautifully with the 2022 Holiday Blend I wrote about last week. If you like chocolate and oranges, put some great orange marmalade in! Or if you want to create an in-the-moment version of chocolate-covered strawberries, add on a spoonful of strawberry preserves!
Swing by the Bakehouse, Deli, or Roadhouse and enjoy the flaky all-butter croissant dough wrapped around this carefully crafted dark chocolate. The famous 20th-century French singer Charles Aznavour said it best: “like a gift from heaven, exquisite delicacies, the little pains au chocolat …”