Oh croissants, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways. Sweet or savory, plain or filled with chocolate, almond, gelato, goat cheese ... I could literally go on forever.
But for now, let me focus on my absolute favorite croissant fillings, old and new. The rest is up to you.
How to make a filled croissant
Croissants start with a butter-locked dough: You take a yeast-leavened dough and fold it with butter several times, creating a sheet that's ready for shaping, proofing and baking.
You can fill a croissant before proofing
Many chocolate and almond croissants are made this way. First, you put chocolate or almond paste right onto the dough. Then you roll or shape it before proofing it. Now, just bake the croissant, and get ready to inhale it the nanosecond it comes out of the oven.
You can also fill a croissant after baking
Basically, you just bake, slice and fill the croissant. You can also spread the filling right on top. Either way, this method is super easy.
Sweet and savory croissant fillings
Let's start with already-baked plain croissants. You can even cheat a little here and buy some at the bakery. We won't tell.
Slice your croissants in half and spread a thin layer of chocolate ganache on one side (or both!). Bring the two halves together and you've got yourself a beautiful pain au chocolat, aka chocolate croissant. If you want, you can top it with chopped pistachios, chopped bits of dried cherries, your favorite dried fruit-and-nut combo or (why not?) chocolate drizzle.
Fun fact: Almond croissants were originally developed as a way to rescue day-old croissants.
To make them, you can either fill a plain croissant with almond paste (which is made with almond flour) or straight marzipan (which is sweeter and smoother in texture). Both are insanely delicious.
To make enough almond-paste filling for six croissants, you'll need:
- ½ cup almond meal
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- 1 egg
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Put all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Cut the croissants in half, spread the almond paste mixture (or marzipan) on the bottom halves, then put the tops back on the croissants. Cover the tops of the croissants with a thin layer of the filling and sliced almonds. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
3. Fresh fruit and whipped cream or Nutella
Chop up some fruit — strawberries, peaches, bananas. Make a batch of freshly whipped cream or grab some Nutella. Split the croissant in half, spread with whipped cream or Nutella and top with the fruit. Done!
4. Pastry cream
This decadent filling adds sweetness and body to a plain or filled croissant. Ah, that velvety-smooth texture. Just slice, fill, eat, repeat.
No one expects ice-cold gelato to ooze out when they bite into a croissant, so this filling gets extra points for its surprise factor. Slice a croissant in half and hide a scoop or two of gelato inside, and watch guests go nuts (in a good way).
6. Caramelized onion and goat cheese
You can add this savory filling to your croissant before or after you bake it. Hint: Adding the goat cheese mixture on after you bake means you can use a ton more of it: You'll have more control, and won't risk having the cheese melt into a gooey mess.
You will need:
- One medium onion
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- Goat cheese
Slice the onion thinly and sauté over medium heat in a tablespoon of olive oil, adding salt and pepper to taste, until the onion has softened and caramelized. Split the croissant in half and spread a thin layer of goat cheese on one side. Top with warm caramelized onions. If you want to toast the croissant after you fill it, put it in a 350 F oven for up to 15 minutes.
7. Brie, bacon and honey
Slice brie and lay the pieces on a split, open-faced croissant. Place the croissant under a broiler for 2 to 3 minutes until the brie melts. Top with two slices of thick bacon and a drizzle of honey. C'est magnifique!