The other day, a writer for Eat, Drink Boulder did a review of local chocolate croissants and, of the three she tried from various bakeries, she rated ours the best. Yea!!!… well, maybe. However, this lady was a tough customer! After having read her review several times, over and over, as this is what we do when a food critic criticizes our babies, I still am not all that convinced that she even liked our chocolate croissants.
She revealed a very fine metric as to how she arrived at her judgement – Oh, how I agreed with that (applause!, applause!)! However, she then described how laminate dough is made and that is when I found myself becoming the critic because she described only how croissants de patissier (akin to phyllo dough) are made with melted butter and NOT, at all, how laminate doughs (croissants de boulanger) are made; a very different method, indeed. I keep reminding myself not to allow my feelings to be hurt, because she was describing taste and not giving instruction. But, the part where she refused to come into our shop based solely on our name alone (too “punny” for her), really? How unfortunate! What’s in a name… “a rose by any other name…”
Please read her very entertaining and well written article and weigh both of our very opinionated opinions on this subject… http://eatdrinkboulder.com/2012/07/19/le-tour-des-patisseries-2/
… a day in the life of PL&C: Chocroissants
Our Chocroissants are not our biggest sellers, and for the life of me, I cannot figure out why! The business owner in me is saying to just drop them from our menu and move on already, but they are just tooooo good – we all love them! We have worked so hard for so long to develope them to this point. So, being a stubborn person, I am determined to get the word out on these lovely pastries. Surely, it is a matter of marketing and display! Anyone who has tried them, and we have sampled them often, has come back for more!
How do we love them? – oooh! oooh! Let me count the ways!
1. Well, first of all, the housemade dough itself is infused with chocolate; most “pain au chocolat” only has a pocket of chocolate in the very middle. Our Chocroissants are a rich, dark brown because they are chocolatey, chocolate croissants – inside and out! We use both French made Valrhona chocolate and their superior high-fat cocoa (24%) to create a very chocolately taste, but not at all sweet.
2. We use only fresh yeast (not instant or active dry) – a very small amount – and cold ferment the dough for three days – YES! 3 DAYS!!!, letting those fresh little yeastie beasties grow and propagate themselves. This is so exciting and I feel the most important part of the production process, because with a long cold ferment, the finished pastry is blessed with such a rich and complex flavor with a hint at “sour”, unmatched by any quicker method. Michelle, our beloved “Cocoa Confectionista” who is in charge of this beautiful process, affectionately calls this mass her “dough baby” and lovingly nurtures it to fruition.
3. Butter – this is the real deal – no skimping here. Because the primary flavor profile of a good croissant is butter, it has to be of a superior quality. Butter is also a crucial mechanical component to proper baking. Because butter is not all fat, 10% or more is H2O encapsulated in the fat and not at all absorbed by the flour, during the high temperature baking (425′ F), that small amount of water is what creates the steam pockets between the layers of dough keeping them autonomous from each other
4. We use our sheeter, “Sheila” (think huge, mechanical pasta roller), to roll out the dough. This is necessary because, unless you are a huge Olympic shot-put thrower, there is very little chance of being able to roll all the folds/turns into the dough by hand without over developing the gluten strands and heating up the butter layer thereby creating a bread-like consistency rather than a flakey, layered wonderland of 729 alternating “leaves” of butter, dough, butter, dough, butter, dough…aaahhhh! I lost myself for a moment!
R & D… Last Wednesday when Genny and Michelle walked in, Bev, Tracie, Sam and I had five different butters splayed out on the display kitchen prep table. Although we are currently using a beautiful butter from France, I am not convinced it is the best we can do, so I requested a taste trial of other butters. I had everyone try each butter sample at room temperature; Yes!, straight up on a fork! It was a veritable butter buffet! We had butters from Vermont, Wisconsin, Oregon, and two from France. I had everyone take a small sample and allowed it to melt on their palate. Butter is primarily about taste, but it is also about mouth-feel. Although some of the butters we tried were salted, I cautioned against being romanced by the saltiness and focus on the promenance of the taste and feel… just another day of research at PL&C!
So you see, although I whole-heartedly believe that taste is entirely subjective, please take a moment and reflect on what went into one of our (not so simple) offerings, our Chocroissants, and know that on some level, we go to this extreme with EVERYTHING we make!
After all, we love you and we only want to present you the very best that our love and expertise has to offer.
I am grateful to you all for allowing me this pleasure…