Croissant Reconnaissance

5280 – Make a study of French croissants, and you’ll find there’s tremendous variation among the flaky pastries. Some are fat and bready, others small and crumbly; still others are stuffed with all manner of ingredients, including fruit preserves, ham and cheese, or almond paste. Almost all make delicious treats, but which approach represents the quintessential croissant?

Claudine Pépin, celebrity instructor at Food University, daughter of legendary French chef Jacques Pépin, and former Denver resident, says the perfect croissant is all about butter—lots of it spread between layer after thin layer of pastry dough that’s folded and refolded countless times. When done right, she says, croissants should shatter when you bite into them (providing evidence of all those buttered layers), and the interior should remain moist and tender. And filling? Forget it. Purists don’t want anything interfering with the buttery richness.

Trompeau Bakery

In this tiny bakery near the University of Denver, pastry chef Pascal Trompeau, a native of Limoges, France, bakes up Denver’s best croissants. His croissants don’t just shatter; they practically explode on first bite. Even better: Hidden inside that crispy exterior is a soft interior that you can playfully pull apart layer by layer. Nab a warm one by arriving early—but expect to wait in line. Plus: Try an apricot-custard oronais, a flaky-crust treat stuffed with plump, sticky apricots layered on top of sweet custard.