For people who don’t want to bother reading the entire blog post, here’s the tl;dr version: go to Trader Joe’s and buy the Queen of Croissants. Get two boxes.
If you recall, on my last grocery run I purchased two boxes of croissants from Trader Joe’s and promised to blog about both after I’d tried them. Well, here you go!
First up are the Almond Croissants which cost $2.29 for a box of four. The croissants come frozen and require 6-7 hours to thaw and rise. I go to bed around midnight each night, so what I like to do is lay them on a parchment and foil-lined baking sheet overnight and pop them into the oven the next morning for breakfast. They expand double to triple their original size overnight and bake up really nicely: flaky and buttery with a sweet almond paste filling and slivered almonds sprinkled on top.
I was so worried about underbaking the croissants that I ended up overbaking them slightly which is why the almonds on top look a bit dark but a light dusting of powdered sugar covered up any mistakes. The almond filling of one croissant oozed out during baking but it formed an amazing, crunchy almond brittle which, trust me, did not go to waste. Unfortunately, I placed the croissants too close together on the baking sheet and, as you can see, a few of them fused together as they puffed up some more in the oven. It probably doesn’t look as pretty as it should but at least it didn’t affect the taste.
These croissants were quite nice but I have to say if I had to choose between Trader Joe’s Almond Croissants and their Chocolate Croissants, I’d go with the latter. In my opinion, the Chocolate Croissants were flakier and more buttery with a more generous distribution of filling whereas I thought they were kind of skimpy with the filling in the Almond Croissants. Both taste really good though and $2.29 for 4 freshly baked croissants made with real butter is still an awesome value. They certainly beat any supermarket croissant by a mile.
Next up is the real star of the show: the Queen of Croissants or kouign amann. I first learned about this pastry over a year ago in one of Trader Joe’s newsletters and then again in an episode of The Great British Bake Off (if you love cooking competition tv shows, I highly recommend this one for the yum factor alone). Of course, my interest was piqued and I knew I had to try some. However, literally every time I’ve gone to Trader Joe’s they’ve been completely sold out of the kouign amman. Apparently they’re a really hot ticket item and no wonder because they are delicious!
I finally found them on my most recent shopping trip and the first thing I noticed is that Trader Joe’s is now calling them Queen of Croissants with kouign amann in smaller font. I suppose when a person first sees “kouign amman,” one might be intimidated by the foreign words but the old packaging used to tell you how to correctly pronounce kouign amann so it wasn’t a big issue. I personally don’t like it when people try to dumb down things like that but that’s just me. I like being exposed to new cultures and ideas but undiluted and in their original forms as much as possible.
Like the Almond and Chocolate Croissants, the Queen of Croissants come frozen in a box of four but retail for $3.49. However, unlike the other croissants, the Queen of Croissants each come with little paper cups which you have to lightly grease before you set the croissants inside them to thaw and rise overnight. When I handled the frozen dough I noticed a very light, sticky coating of sugar on top of each croissant.
In hindsight, I should’ve double lined my baking sheet with parchment paper and foil because the Queen of Croissants are way more buttery than the Chocolate and Almond Croissants and quite a bit of butter and caramelized sugar leeches out from the dough during the baking process. It would have made cleaning up afterwards a lot easier.
Compared with the kouign amann I’ve seen before which are taller and have more of a muffin shape, the Trader Joe’s Queen of Croissants are a lot flatter and shaped like danishes. [Next time I’m going to let the frozen dough thaw and rise in a muffin tin and see if that gives me a more traditional looking kouign amann.] Nevertheless, the taste is amazing, like a really buttery, flaky croissant. In my opinion, the best part is the sugar on top which melts in the oven and creates a caramelized glaze that crystallizes as soon as you pull the croissants out of the oven. When you bite into the croissant, you get the very top layer which is a brittle, super thin, crackly layer of caramelized sugar combined with the flaky, light, crispy edges of the croissant, and the tender, buttery interior. It makes for a heavenly mouthful. Trust me, it’s hard to eat only one which is why I recommend that you buy two boxes at a time especially if you plan on sharing them with your family.
Highly, highly recommend! I think this is the best thing I’ve ever purchased from Trader Joe’s and that’s saying a lot because almost everything I’ve purchased from them has been a winner with me. Keep some on hand in the freezer and pull them out the night before for a weekend breakfast, brunch or whenever you feel like indulging yourself. They are so, so good!