I’m not the first to observe that Meryl Streep and Steve Martin would have needed more than a couple of hours—commercial dough roller or not— to make those exquisitely flakey buttery croissants in It’s Complicated.
They made it look like so much fun! I suppose anything you do on a happy first date is fun. But the fact is, it takes a day and a half and some pretty perfectly temperatured ingredients to make good croissants. Which is precisely why I don’t make them. I’m happy to leave croissants—along with truffles, puff pastry, and wedding cakes—to the professionals.
But I can sure tell you how to gussy up a grocery store croissant.
I was visiting my mom and dad’s neighbors a few weeks ago. The second we crossed the threshold my nose immediately detected something buttery sweet, fresh out of the oven. Sure enough sitting on the kitchen counter were a rack full of tempting cinnamon sugar and pecan-coated pastries.
They looked so amazing….ly bad for me. It was 4:00 in the afternoon and I wanted to enjoy my dinner and I knew that if I ate one of those pastries I’d be full until almost bedtime which is a horrible time to be hungry, but I couldn’t help myself. I had to try one. “Just a half please.” I said.
Still not knowing exactly what they were, I take a bite. After brief ecstasy I come to and enquire. “Oh”, Sharon says, “They’re just croissants dipped in butter, rolled in a cinnamon sugar and nut mixture, and baked for 15 minutes. I barely resist reaching for the second half.
As she described the process I envisioned refrigerated crescent rolls. Nope. She was talking cheap croissants. The kind you buy to make sandwiches for a deli tray. Who said you couldn’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear?
I couldn’t wait to make them for the family, but I made the mistake of describing the process before serving them. Of course everyone was duly horrified—take a buttery croissant, dip it in melted butter, let it wallow around in cinnamon sugar and nuts. Bake. Eat.
I tell them I could buy pricey croissants from a chic bakery and what would they do? Spread them with butter and jam. Same difference.
So here’s my advice. Before the holiday houseful arrive, pick up a 12-pack of croissants at your local warehouse grocery store. Get up early and bake them and don’t let anyone watch. I guarantee they’ll love them, and I promise they won’t be hungry for hours.