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Almond croissant taste test

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dreamsicle Apr 1, 2007 10:49 AM

Ever since I've eaten those croissant aux amandes at Bay Bread (fresh out of the oven and still warm!), I've become addicted to them. After seeing all those rave reviews of Delanghe's croissants, I decided to do a taste test to compare Bay Bread's and Delanghe's version while I was in the area a few days ago. (One of the attached photos show Delanghe's on the left and Bay Bread's on the right.)

Delanghe's croissant tasted kinda stale, and the almond paste was cold and thick. Maybe it was just my poor luck that I didn't get a fresh one (I was there at about 1PM). The raspberry almond croissants did look good though, and the mushroom meringues were divine.

Tartine's frangipane croissant is ok, but nothing spectacular and way oversized - just not worth the $3.25 for me. I think my fave is still the Bay Bread one, especially when they're warm with the almost liquidy almond filling and the crispy topping (heh :P). Oh, and they have two new flavors of macarons (passionfruit-mango and vanilla) at Bay Bread now ... both are splendid!

 
 
 
  1. e
    eric.hope Nov 24, 2007 08:37 AM

    I went back to Boulange de Cole (Bay Bread) the other day, with the express purpose of trying their almond croissant again, and possibly changing my opinion. Who knows? Maybe I was having a bad day when I tried them the first time. With so many glowing reviews, I MUST be in error, right? Unfortunately, I still feel the same way: While it is beautifully prepared, and while they fill their croissants with generous amounts of almond paste, I actually believe that these things are TOO much: "Almond Croissants On Acid", if you will. Yes, it IS possible to have too much of a good thing, and these croissants are the embodiment of that concept! Just OVERKILL, man! Way TOO decadent!!! So, yes, it sounds crazy, but I actually prefer an almond croissant with a bit LESS almond paste! At the moment, I'm going to have to go with Boudin, for lack of a better alternative. They're fresh-baked & delightful, and not hitting me over the head with their flavor. Oh, and I must mention Andersen Bakery, in the Crocker Galleria, in the Financial District. This place makes BEAUTIFUL pastries, all of them fresh-baked, every day. Quite often, when I order an almond croissant there, it is given to me WARM, right off the cooling rack! The only drawback is that their croissants (alas, their pastries IN GENERAL) are so impossibly small, you have to eat 2 of them to feel like you've eaten anything at all. Still, check them out. They're wonderful.

    1 Reply
    1. re: eric.hope
      Ruth Lafler Nov 24, 2007 08:44 AM

      That sounds like a great tip -- especially since it's closer to the office than any other option!

    2. dhoffman1421 Nov 16, 2007 02:00 PM

      I love the Almond Croissants from Bay Bread. A couple sells them in Burlingame at the Farmer's Mkt on Sunday. Sadly last week was their last day until the market reopens in the Spring. My Sunday morning ritual of Peets coffee and a Bay Bread Almond Croissant will be on hiatus.

      1. e
        eric.hope Nov 16, 2007 08:57 AM

        Dare I say it? While I certainly APPRECIATE the croissants at Bay Bread (who doesn't love a freshly baked croissant, warm from the oven?), somehow, they seem a bit TOO much. And I LOVE almond croissants! I never thought I'd say such a thing, but I feel like they kind of overdo it on the almond paste. Too much of a good thing, perhaps? I could actually go with less. That said, I'm not sure I can offer up another place to compete. Boudin, perhaps? Those are fresh-baked, too. It's about the best you can do in the Financial District, to be sure. I'm struggling to come up with an alternative...

        1 Reply
        1. re: eric.hope
          l
          lmarie Nov 16, 2007 01:45 PM

          As I recall the almond croissants from Acme in the Ferry Building are light on the almond paste.

          By contrast,Tartine, and especially Citizen Cake, are very heavy on the almond paste.

        2. l
          Laura2 Sep 25, 2007 01:07 PM

          I went to Boulangerie this morning to treat myself to an almond croissant, which I think is the best. But when I got there their cheese danish looked stunning. I'd never had theirs and got one of those instead. Wow. Yum. Nicely baked, almost crunchy, and not too sweet, custardy filling.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Laura2
            a
            Anya L May 1, 2010 10:42 PM

            The cheese danish at La Boulange is pretty good - the closest I have found to what I considered the ne plus ultra of cheese danishes: Just Desserts. Sigh. I still crave those, along with their bear claws. (One of these days I'll post my bear claw list, although I need to update it now.)

            -----
            Just Desserts
            101 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

          2. a
            Anya L Apr 3, 2007 11:30 AM

            This is a topic near and dear to my heart - or I should say, my stomach. Here are my ratings for almond croissants in SF:

            My Favorites:
            ---
            Bay Bread - twice baked, yummy filling that oozes out just enough so I have to lick it off my fingers (embarrassing, but I can't help myself), great almond flavor, great buttery croissant, lots of almonds on top, right level of sweetness

            Citizen Cake - twice baked, chewier filling that doesn't ooze out (but still tasty), lots of almond flavor, buttery croissant, lots of almonds on top

            Tartine - twice baked, enormous - almost too big (I hate to admit that's even possible), ample flavorful crunchy almond filling, good almond coating, quite dark (Tartine does not underbake their pastries)

            Blissful Bites - twice baked, a little small (but bigger than they used to be), plenty of slightly chewy almond cream filling, topped with more almond cream and sliced almonds, fairly dark - a little too done on the edges sometimes

            DeLessio - twice baked, good croissant, tasty runny filling BUT does not taste like almonds to me - has sort of an apricot/orange flavor - or maybe honey like cafecreme said

            Might Eat Again:
            ---
            Acme - single bake, nice brown color, not very sweet, smallish amount of almond paste filling, good croissant

            Abigail's - single bake, lightly sweetened natural-looking filling (like ground whole almonds), not a huge amount of filling, a few almonds and a little powdered sugar on top, decent croissant, not very big - could eat two

            Chestnut Bakery - single bake, buttery flavor, powdered sugar and almonds on top, decent amount of almond paste filling, OK croissant

            Not Worth the Calories:
            ---
            Delanghe - single bake, light color, almond paste filling, almost glaze-like sugar topping; I know others out there are fans of Delanghe, but I don't think almond croissants are something they do well

            Grain d'Or - single bake, not very brown, soft, lots of powdered sugar, a few almonds, small amount of almond paste, not a great croissant

            Schubert's - single bake, large, pale, doughy underbaked center, mild almond paste filling, sprinkling of almonds on top, not a great croissant

            I have sampled many others that were not worth mentioning. Did I miss any good ones?

            21 Replies
            1. re: Anya L
              Lori SF Apr 3, 2007 11:35 AM

              Have you tried one from here?

              PÂTISSERIE PHILIPPE
              http://www.patisseriephilippe.com

              1. re: Lori SF
                a
                Anya L Apr 3, 2007 11:40 AM

                After I posted, I was browsing through recent entries (haven't had time to peruse chowhound much lately) and just found out about Patisserie Philippe. It is on my list of places to try!

                1. re: Anya L
                  Lori SF Apr 3, 2007 11:44 AM

                  I just remembered the Chef and the Butler in South park had a pretty good one, this was about three years ago when I worked over there.

                  1. re: Lori SF
                    rworange Apr 3, 2007 11:47 AM

                    They sell Bay Bread / Boulangerie croissants.

                    1. re: rworange
                      Lori SF Apr 3, 2007 12:05 PM

                      no wonder I liked it.. they do make their own truffles which are excellent

              2. re: Anya L
                rworange Apr 3, 2007 11:37 AM

                Great report. I hope you will report back on the new Pâtisserie Philippe
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/386776

                1. re: rworange
                  a
                  Anya L Apr 16, 2007 04:02 PM

                  Finally got to try this new place. I will comment more on the other thread, but wanted to add my rating of their almond croissant here.

                  My Favorites
                  ---
                  Patisserie Philippe - twice baked, nice browning, but softer than Bay Bread (plain croissant is not as flaky to begin with), runny almond cream filling with some apricot flavor, but more almondy than Delessio's, lots of almonds and powdered sugar on top

                2. re: Anya L
                  d
                  dordogne Apr 3, 2007 11:39 AM

                  What is the technique for twice-baked? The squarish Frangipane at La Farine in Oakland/Berkeley is excellent, uses almond paste and finely chopped almonds in the interior, thinly sliced almonds for garnish on top, nice puff pastry.

                  1. re: dordogne
                    a
                    Anya L Apr 16, 2007 04:04 PM

                    Twice-baked croissants start with plain, baked croissants, which are split in half, filled with almond cream, usually topped with sliced almonds, then baked again.

                  2. re: Anya L
                    a
                    Anya L Apr 3, 2007 12:03 PM

                    Just realized I missed one -

                    Might Eat Again:
                    ---
                    Arlequin - single bake, nice browning and crunch, OK amount of lightly-colored, barely sweet almond paste filling, a few almond plus some almond paste on top, buttery flavor of croissant comes through

                    1. re: Anya L
                      d
                      dreamsicle Sep 20, 2007 01:35 PM

                      Just a report on La Farine's "frangipane", which I posted on the "Best Croissant in SF/Bay Area" thread (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/435277) as well.

                      The croissant is sort of shaped like a snail and is topped with thinly sliced roasted almonds. The filling is not a typical frangipane filling or almond cream, but a mix of coarsely chopped almonds, butter and sugar. I would prefer a smoother and runnier filling. The almond flavor was also a bit weak and the filling could have been a bit sweeter. The croissant, though buttery and flaky, seemed quite bready/doughy and was slightly on the heavy side. I was a bit let down by this almond croissant and probably wouldn't try it again.

                      Here are photos of the frangipane and its interior.

                       
                       
                      1. re: dreamsicle
                        i
                        iameva Sep 21, 2007 01:23 PM

                        I had to join chowhound when I realized that there are other crazy people out there how get particular about croissants and almond croissants. I have not had a real good croissant since I Paris until I visted Buenos Aires this month. To my surprise, they served me the best croissant I have eaten since living in France. I think the best "one" although technically not a croissant was the one from La Farine on Solano. As much as I love Acme Bread and Cafe Fanny, their croissants are not interesting at all. And like someone else said - real good croissants tend to be on the smaller side - and should be given the fat content. I have not had any from Tartine (I live in Berkeley and taste more around here) - perhaps the Cheeseboard has some too?

                        1. re: iameva
                          rworange Sep 24, 2007 11:24 AM

                          Welcome to Chowhound. Have you tried Masa's?

                          This isn't what anyone in this thread is looking for but I thought that Rive Cucina's croissants were interesting. They have them flown from italy. The croissants are frozen and baked in-house. The problem was they couldn't get the correct flour to make them, so they settled for the next best option,They are a softer croissant though than a French croissant.

                          1. re: rworange
                            Ruth Lafler Sep 24, 2007 11:35 AM

                            Masa's? Did you mean Masse's?

                            -----
                            Masse's Pastries
                            1469 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler
                              rworange Sep 24, 2007 11:59 AM

                              Yep thanks ... still not clear headed from the cold/flu.

                              1. re: rworange
                                m
                                Missmoo Sep 24, 2007 05:13 PM

                                My favorite are from Le Croissant in Marin. Not too runny, not just almonds, a bit oversized-but not overcooked.

                                1. re: Missmoo
                                  a
                                  Agent 510 Sep 24, 2007 09:36 PM

                                  This is probably chowhound sacrilege, but my favorite almond croissant is from Au Bon Pain (the East Coast chain). If anyone's tried it, I'd be curious if one can be found here with that same type of filling. Surprisingly, their sister chain Panera doesn't have it.

                                  1. re: Agent 510
                                    c
                                    coolcamden Sep 24, 2007 09:47 PM

                                    Anything in the Southbay?

                            2. re: rworange
                              i
                              iameva Oct 1, 2007 03:07 PM

                              No, I have not tried Masse's yet - I have had other pastries there but not the croissant - I will give it a try. How interesting that Rive Cucina flies croissants in from Italy - surely worth a try too. Thanks.

                      2. re: Anya L
                        a
                        Anya L Jan 31, 2010 10:00 AM

                        After stopping at Citizen Cake the other morning (hadn't been there in a while), I feel compelled to update my list. They've changed their almond croissants twice since my original post, and not for the better. Their second version was still OK, although definitely in the "might eat again" category, because the almond paste was more like marzipan - too sweet, too chewy, too much. (Those of you who think Bay Bread's is too much of a good thing would have gagged.) Unfortunately, Citizen Cake changed their almond croissant yet again, and this time it's just plain wrong. The croissant was too dry and crumbly, with just a few almonds on top, and the filling was not almondy at all. I think it was actually dulce de leche. To me, it didn't even qualify as an almond croissant anymore. (I have actually been wondering what's been going on with Citizen Cake's breakfast pastries - did the chef change? I really miss their maple-walnut cinnamon rolls.)

                        1. re: Anya L
                          rworange Jan 31, 2010 10:11 AM

                          Something changed. They no longer make their bread which I liked. Maybe after they move and focus on pastry, things will improve.

                      3. cafecreme Apr 1, 2007 10:50 PM

                        I think the best almond croissant is from Delessio's Bakery (we go to the one at Broderick Place). I have had many of the Bay Bread version and they are divine, *but* Delessio's is better (in my opinion) for a couple of reasons. The croissant is actually crisper while still being delectably flakey and buttery (but the crispy tips are treats within themselves). The best part, though, is the filling. The almond cream has a beautiful color and texture and an almost lemony hint to it, but only a hint. And the outside is lightly coated in honey (I think) and topped with the almond shavings. It's almost like baklava meets almond croissant. And it's shaped more like a cornetto (the Italian croissant) and sliced through, with the almond cream spread on like a sandwich (so there's lots of it). It's messy and gooey but pure heaven. I made my husband go get me one this morning, and I swear I made "hmm" sounds the whole time I was eating it.

                        1. r
                          rosso Apr 1, 2007 04:02 PM

                          I'm with you...Bay Bread makes the best..
                          a friend just brought me up one of their strawberry,raspberry tarts..it's to bad I live 3 hours away..around here the best we have is Shatz in Ukiah which isn't to bad but not great..

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: rosso
                            s
                            sfoperalover Apr 1, 2007 09:08 PM

                            My personal favorite almond croissant is from Boulangerie...large, and a great combination of flaky, then soft on the inside. their almond paste isn't too sweet and has a wonderful, almost custard-like consistency. highly recommended!

                            1. re: sfoperalover
                              rworange Apr 1, 2007 10:33 PM

                              Boulangerie and Bay Bread are the same business.

                              There's a new kid in town .... Pâtisserie Philippe ... with one thumbs up for their almond croissant.
                              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/386776

                              Nice comparison and pictures dreamsicle.

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