With food hybrids poppin’ out from who-knows-where literally every two days, it’s easy to lose track of what is what. Mixing up different yummy local specialities is trendy and all, I get it, but it’s confusing to my tummy and my palate. Like seriously, anyone still confused about what exactly Asian fusion means? Me too.
Sometimes it’s important to know where your food actually comes from. With so many hybrids born from the timeless croissant – like cronuts, baissants and cruffins – I have made it my task to teach you a thing or two about French pastries, and what they’re actually supposed to be eaten with (because no, not everything is supposed to have ham and cheese on it).
Croissant au Beurre
Let’s start with the simplest of them all: the humble butter croissant. Diamond-shaped and made with buttery, puffy layers of dough, I truly recommend just dipping it in your cafe creme (cream coffee, for you non-Francophones out there) or spreading some jam on it. However, you can also go full on like many of my friends and put some butter and Nutella on the croissant (because Nutella for breakfast is da bomb).
I know what you’re thinking: “What’s the difference?” Well, in this case, instead of using butter, we’re using margarine. It’s also moon-shaped and obviously less fatty than the croissant au beurre, BUT it won’t melt in your mouth like the good ol’ one does. So choose wisely, young grasshoppers.
Croissant aux Amandes
Also known as almond croissant, this one is my mum’s favourite and much sweeter than the other two. This is a croissant au beurre cut in two, stuffed with almond cream and topped with almonds and powdered sugar. It can truly give you the sweet kick you crave for brekkie.
Pain au Chocolat
In some English-speaking countries, this one is called chocolate croissant (which is simply wrong, because this isn’t a croissant). To achieve the perfect pastry, you roll two bars of chocolate in the croissant au beurre dough and into a rectangle. I personally prefer dunking a pain au chocolat in my coffee rather than a croissant au beurre, just because of, you know, the chocolate.
Pain au Chocolat aux Amandes
Literally a croissant aux amandes made with a pain au chocolat. Mind = blown.
Pain aux Raisin (or Escargot)
This particular pastry is made by rolling the puff pastry with custard and raisins into a snail (hence the name escargot which means snail), and finish it off by brushing a bit of egg on top. You could basically call this the French cousin of the cinnamon roll.
Chausson aux Pommes
Literally translated into “apple slipper,” I couldn’t describe it any better. You simply stuff apple compote inside of the puff pastry and draw little lines on top to make it look like a cute and yummy leaf. Tip from the fam’: eat it warm with some delicious melted Brie – you’ll wonder why you haven’t done this your entire life.
The brioche is less of a pastry and closer to bread. Made by replacing water with milk when mixing the yeast-leavened dough, it is brushed with egg and sometimes garnished with big chunks of sugar. But its shape kinda reminds me of a sad man #sorrynotsorry.
Pain au lait
“Milk bread” can be compared to the brioche but is shaped like a mini baguette and made with less butter and sugar. If you think this one sounds too boring, you can customise it like I used to and add a Milka bar inside of it (or any chocolate bar considering they don’t have Milka in the US).
Last but not least, these bit-size pieces of pastry pronounced shu-ket are simple hallow choux with chunks of sugar on top. You’re bound to see small children walking with bags filled with them in the streets as it’s considered a typical French goûter. A satisfying and easy on-the-go snack.
Voilà! Now all you need to do is pack your bag, sell your kidney for a plane ticket and hop on the next flight to France in order to taste the best croissants in Paris. Trust me, they’re worth it.