Ari’s Pick: Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Croissants

Now with French Broad Chocolate from Nicaragua

Looking for a lovely taste of the 10th Arrondissement without having to fly to Paris? The chocolate croissants from the Bakehouse could be just the ticket. They’ve always been good and a few months ago we made the same quality upgrade we did on the Chocolate Cherry bread back in May. They now have the Nicaragua bean-to-bar dark chocolate from the folks at French Broad Chocolate in them as well. What has been good for the last thirty years got markedly better overnight!

Chocolate Croissants at the Bakehouse

I realized the other day that we have done next to nothing over the last thirty years to promote our croissants. And yet, Amy from the Bakehouse was telling me, they have quietly grown into one of our top sellers. The world is sending me a message—we would do well to more actively appreciate the complex flavors and craftwork that goes into each croissant. The “plain” Butter Croissants, the Juliette’s Almond Croissants, and these super tasty classic Chocolate Croissants as well. 

In the best possible way, the Chocolate Croissants are one of the richest ways to enjoy the classic combination of bread and chocolate. As Patricia Wells once wrote: “Croissant-like pain au chocolat was the preferred after-school snack for the more bourgeois Parisians.” Unlike so many other morning pastries, the Chocolate Croissants are really not sweet. Buttery, rich, and wonderfully tasty. Full flavored bread and dark chocolate come together in the best possible way.

A Deliciously Messy Treat

One thing I’ll warn you about is that they are, I say smiling, almost impossible to eat without making a mess. A good croissant, I learned years ago, should “shatter” when you bite into it. (If it doesn’t, the croissant is too doughy.) You could, I suppose, go at them with a knife and fork and napkin tucked into the collar of your shirt, but that sort of takes the fun out of the eating experience. My vote is just to take a good look, appreciate the craft work of the pastry crew who carefully laminated the croissant dough, hand-placed the duo of dark chocolate batons side by side in the center, get grounded, and then take a nice big, appreciative bite. I’ve come to believe that eating a pain au chocolat like this is best approached as you would a great burger—accept up front that it’s going to be a bit messy. And marvelously delicious.

How good are they? Because I like to have what I’m writing about on hand when I’m describing it I picked one up to work on this piece. I figured I’d eat one bite, maybe two. Fifteen minutes (and just as many napkins—it’s hard to type with chocolate all over your fingers) it was almost gone! Buttery, rich croissant dough and dark (and not very sweet) bean-to-bar chocolate are an amazing combination. Complex and beautifully-balanced as the butter, chocolate, and wheat, come together with just enough salt to bring out the flavors of the other ingredients. The finish I will add, as I appreciate it right now ten minutes after my last bite, is lovely, with lots of surprisingly wonderful low notes from the dark chocolate.

How to Enjoy Them

The Chocolate Croissants pair up beautifully with the 2022 Holiday Blend I wrote about recently. If you like chocolate and orange, put some great orange marmalade in! Or if you want to create an in-the-moment version of chocolate-covered strawberries, add on a spoonful of strawberry preserves! 

The famous 20th-century French singer Charles Aznavour said it best: “like a gift from heaven, exquisite delicacies, the little pains au chocolat …

P.S. The Bakehouse is also making pretty tasty Prosciutto and Parmigiano Reggiano croissants too!

HUNGRY FOR MORE?

Ari headshot
Ari Weinzweig
Co-Founding Partner at Zingerman's | + posts

In 1982, Ari Weinzweig, along with his partner Paul Saginaw, founded Zingerman’s Delicatessen with a $20,000 bank loan, a Russian History degree from the University of Michigan, 4 years of experience washing dishes, cooking and managing in restaurant kitchens and chutzpah from his hometown of Chicago. They opened the doors with 2 employees and a small selection of specialty foods and exceptional sandwiches.

Today, Zingerman’s Delicatessen is a nationally renowned food icon and the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses has grown to 10 businesses with over 750 employees and over $55 million in annual revenue. Aside from the Delicatessen, these businesses include Zingerman’s Bakehouse, Coffee Company, Creamery, Roadhouse, Mail Order, ZingTrain, Candy Manufactory, Cornman Farms and a Korean restaurant that is scheduled to open in 2016. No two businesses in the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses are alike but they all share the same Vision and Guiding Principles and deliver “The Zingerman’s Experience” with passion and commitment.

Besides being the Co-Founding Partner and being actively engaged in some aspect of the day-to-day operations and governance of nearly every business in the Zingerman’s Community, Ari Weinzweig is also a prolific writer. His most recent publications are the first 4 of his 6 book series Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading Series: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building a Great Business (Part 1), Being a Better Leader (Part 2), Managing Ourselves (Part 3) and the newly-released Part 4, The Power of Beliefs in Business. Earlier books include the Zingerman’s Guides to Giving Great Service, Better Bacon, Good Eating, Good Olive Oil, Good Vinegar and Good Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Ari regularly travels across the country (and world) on behalf of ZingTrain, teaching organizations and businesses about Zingerman’s approach to business. He is a sought-after Keynote speaker, having delivered keynotes for Inc. 500, Microsoft Expo Spring Conference, Great Game of Business Gathering of Games, Positive Business Conference at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, American Society for Quality (ASQ), and the American Cheese Society. Most recently, Ari and Paul Saginaw were invited to address an audience of 50,000 for the University of Michigan 2015 Spring Commencement.

One of Zingerman’s Guiding Principles is being an active part of the community and in 1988, Zingerman’s was instrumental in the founding of Food Gatherers, a food rescue program that delivers over 5 million pounds of food each year to the hungry residents of Washtenaw county. Every year Zingerman’s donates 10% of its previous years profits to local community organizations and non-profits. Ari has served on the board of The Ark, the longest continuously operating folk music venue in America.

Over the decades, the Zingerman’s founding partners have consistently been the recipients of public recognition from a variety of diverse organizations. In April 1995, Ari and Paul were awarded the Jewish Federation of Washtenaw County’s first Humanitarian Award. In 2006, Ari was recognized as one of the “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America” by the James Beard Foundation. In 2007, Ari and Paul were presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from Bon Appetit magazine for their work in the food industry. Ari was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Cheese Society in 2014. And Ari’s book, Building a Great Business was on Inc. magazine’s list of Best Books for Business Leaders.

Notwithstanding the awards, being engaged on a daily basis in the work of 10 businesses and 21 partners, writing books on business and in-depth articles on food for the Zingerman’s newsletter, Ari finds time to be a voracious reader. He acquires and reads more books than he can find room for. Ari might soon find himself the owner of the largest collection of Anarchist books in Ann Arbor outside the Labadie collection at the University of Michigan library!

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