Q: Which place downtown has the best almond croissant?
A: Until Chris Wilkins of Root Baking Co. came on the scene, it wasn’t always easy to find a decent loaf of bread in the Charleston area (or restaurants willing to invest in them). You can always tell when a sandwich is on a Brown’s Court Bakery bun or Butcher & Bee roll.
Croissants, though, are another matter: There are decent croissants from James Island (Baguette Magic) to Mount Pleasant (Saveurs du Monde).
The almond croissant is a slightly different specimen than the plain croissant. Almonds are now associated with healthful living, but a proper almond croissant demonstrates that all the fun hasn’t gone out of the popular nuts. Typically, an almond croissant is made by splitting day-old or cheap croissants and filling them with simple syrup and almond cream. It’s not the kind of pastry cream you’d find in, say, a Boston cream doughnut. Recipes vary, but the cream usually consists of sugar, butter, almond flour and eggs, which adds up to something like sponge cake. To signal what you’ll find inside, the croissant is topped with slivered almonds and powdered sugar. Again, not the healthiest treat in the bakery case, but reliably delicious.
I wasn’t familiar with local almond croissants when I received your question, so I taste-tested my way to a quasi-answer. Because there are a number of impressive almond croissants around town, and because a sampling session melds so well with a downtown stroll, I’m going to sidestep the “best” part of your question and encourage you to check out the almond croissants at Macaroon Boutique, Christophe Artisan Chocolatier and Cafe Framboise. Really, the choice might come down to what you prioritize in an almond croissant. The croissants at Macaroon are the flakiest; the croissants at Christophe are the most syrup-saturated, with filling that’s almost drinkable; and the croissants at Cafe Framboise are the most technically correct. But I enjoyed them all.
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