People have been getting wildly creative with pastries of late (not to mention pies and pancakes)—and now it’s the croissant’s turn. A perfectly baked croissant is in and of itself a feat of extreme skill gained from years of honing the craft, and of course using the finest ingredients. But there are definitely some next-level croissants happening out there, with bakers throughout the U.S. coming up with some really creative twists on the buttery wonder (it helps to be less bound by tradition than the French!). And voilà! You now have plenty to hunt down.
There’s no way we could talk about groundbreaking croissants without mentioning the pretzel croissant from the City Bakery in New York. Maury Rubin’s bakery has been serving this slightly salty and sesame-seeded mash-up for close to 20 years, and over the years, it has grown into quite the New York trademark.
Baklava, meet croissant. Croissant, meet baklava. This beautiful hybrid at Gjusta is getting all kinds of attention in Los Angeles. Who needs phyllo dough when you can have the honey and pistachio nestle into their new home of buttery croissant layers?
Everything croissant at Neighbor Bakehouse, San Francisco, and Superba Food + Bread, Los Angeles
It’s hard to know who made this first…Greg Mindel at San Francisco’s Neighbor created a fantastic riff on the everything bagel: an expertly laminated croissant is filled with cream cheese and green onion and topped with your classic everything bagel toppings (poppy seed, sesame, garlic, onion, and sea salt).
You can also find an everything croissant at Superba Food + Bread in Los Angeles, made by executive pastry chef Carlos Enriquez (again, it’s stuffed with cream cheese, and topped with poppy seeds, sesame, onion, garlic, and some spices).
The California croissant at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, San Francisco
Leave it to that crafty Ry Stephen to come up with this savory spin on a croissant and salmon roll at Mr. Holmes in San Francisco. The California Croissant is filled with salmon, neon pink ginger, wasabi and nori, and given a good sprinkling of furikake on top (seaweed, sesame seeds, dried fish, sugar, and salt). Plus, you get a soy sauce packet on the side. No chopsticks needed.
Smoked paprika and cheddar croissant at Crumble and Flake, Seattle
Since we’re on marvels of savory croissants, let’s not stop now. This popular croissant—made with Spanish smoked paprika and cheddar cheese inside and out (you can see the little bubbles on the outside)—is the Crumble and Flake’s best-seller.
And we may as well shout out baker Neil Robertson’s weekend-only twice-baked pistachio croissant, which is split open and brushed with orange flower syrup, and then filled and topped with rich pistachio cream—whut? This artisan bakery is full of creative items that spin on the savory side, like an apricot and Stilton blue cheese scone, and fig and olive tapenade rolls.
Let’s look at simplicity as revolutionary for a second. One bite of a croissant from San Francisco’s famed Tartine Bakery makes you reconsider everything you thought you knew about croissants. It has a darker bake than most, and it’s the flavor of wheat that comes through, a rare thing to note in most croissants. Chad Robertson and his team of bakers—who are actually more like tailors the way they work the croissants like a bespoke suit—are known for their deep exploration of grains, working closely with many farmers to supply them with whole wheat and freshly milled wheat. Add in a consistent distribution of butter in the most exquisite laminated dough, and you start understanding what 10-plus years of dedication to the craft of flour can taste like.