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If it were up to me, we'd celebrate this French pastry every day of the year.
Today is National Croissant Day! Flaky, buttery, crisp - there's nothing better than this classic viennoiserie, a type of enriched (read: butter-laden) French pastry related to danishes and brioche. For me, what makes a croissant great is the crunch factor. I don't need the doughy interior - just give me those shattering outer layers (that somehow manage to get all over your clothes, no matter what) and I'm happy.
The only way croissants can get any better is when they're filled with chocolate. When I was studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, my favorite session was the week our class spent baking pain au chocolat. At the end of each day, we'd be sent home with a box of our finished masterpieces to share with friends and family. But as a struggling student on my own in a strange city, those croissants came straight home with me, and I developed a ritual of peeling them apart to get to the melty chocolate treasure in the middle. Don't ask how much weight I gained that semester!
Now, no matter where I am, I have a favorite source for my pastry fix, and it's become a Sunday-morning ritual for Jade and I. When we were traveling home from Italy last fall, I even turned a frustratingly long layover at the Paris airport into an opportunity to share my all-time favorite croissant with her. The only place I'm missing is in my home town! Since Maison Giraud in Pacific Palisades closed, I've been on the hunt for a new L.A. bakery to satisfy my croissant cravings. If you have a go-to spot, I'd love to hear about it in the comments. Here are a few of my must-visit bakeries:
The best croissants I've ever had in the U.S. are in Vegas, courtesy of pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury. His Jean Philippe Patisserie in the Aria Resort is a playground of brightly colored confections from this award-winning sugar magician, from macarons to gorgeous chocolate truffles, but I like to stop by early for a fresh croissant to go with my morning coffee.
In NYC, Lafayette is a little slice of Paris just outside of Soho. The classic bistro serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but the real excitement is in the little pastry counter up front, where eclairs, madeleines, and baskets of gorgeous croissants call out to me.
My holy grail croissant is at Poilâne in Paris. Though you really can't go wrong at just about any patisserie in the city, I'm partial to this 85-year-old icon. While Poilâne is best known for its bread, and people order its signature round miche from around the world, their sublimely buttery, flaky croissants are one of the city's best-kept secrets.