Every year I go to Saratoga Springs, New York, and immediately find myself anxious to get to Mrs. London's Bakery and Café. With showcases full of crème brûlées, fruit tarts, kouign amanns, and napoleons—along with beautiful breads on a wall behind them—I feel like I've found my way into a Parisian pâtisserie.
But no matter what else distracts and tempts me, I always order an Almond Croissant ($3.75). Said to be Mrs. London's signature pastry, these croissants are so popular that you can order them online for fifty dollars a dozen. This version has the strongest almond presence of any croissant I've eaten. When I asked how they're made, a baker told me that they're brushed with rum syrup, filled with almond cream, then given another application of almond cream before being sprinkled with sliced almonds and dusted with powdered sugar. Then it's off to the oven to toast until golden brown.
The almond croissant comes plated with a fork and a knife, but not one to be dainty, I dive in with my hands. The edges are thin and crisp, like a lace doily, but as I approach the center, the croissant becomes thicker and chewier though still flaky and with some crunch. Seemingly subjected to a major snowfall, powdered sugar gets everywhere, including the fingers, and when I lick them, there's a little tackiness from the syrup and an ongoing sense of almond flavor. Sticky-sweet, this croissant may be the actual object of desire of Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On Me."
Mrs. London's Bakery and Café
About the author: Jay Friedman is a Seattle-based freelance food writer who happens to travel extensively as a sex educator. An avid fan of noodles (some call him "The Mein Man"), he sees sensuality in all foods, and blogs about it at his Gastrolust website. You can follow him on Twitter @jayfriedman.