The Alliance Française’s Croissant Critique series travels around Chicago to find and rank the best croissants in our beloved city. We rate each pastry based on its flakiness, flavor, butteriness, lamination (how shiny they are), presentation (how they looked), and whether they were more traditional or innovative. If you missed the first installment, check out our thoughts on the croissants at Lost Larson!
This week, we hopped over to our friends at Hendrickx Bakery in the Gold Coast neighborhood (not far from our building!) to try out their baked goods. Hendrickx is Chicago’s first Belgian bakery, offering a wide range of breads, pastries, macarons, and 10 different types of croissants! We had to narrow down our picks, of course, and chose three classic and two innovative flavors.
Read on to learn our thoughts on each croissant that we sampled!
Like any good pastry lover, we had to kick off our tasting with a plain croissant! Hendrickx Bakery’s “Belgian Croissant” costs $3.50 and boasts an extremely buttery taste.
If you prefer croissants that err more on the side of dense and chewy (rather than light and flaky), the plain croissant at Hendrickx is for you!
Belgian Croissant: Final Grade
Innovation: very traditional
Next up: the “Belgian Chocolate.” We found this pastry to have a great fluffy texture, and the filling – chunks of tasty dark chocolate – was very concentrated in the center.
Although it didn’t have the shape of a classic “pain au chocolat,” Hendrickx Bakery’s chocolate croissant has perfected the flaky-to-chewy ratio, so it’s a winner in our books!
Belgian Chocolate Croissant: Final Grade
Innovation: very traditional, but without the “pain au chocolat” shape
The almond croissant, which costs $3.95, surprised us with a dry, thick texture. (It would pair well with your favorite coffee or tea!) Despite the dryness, it had a great almond filling concentrated in the center, which reminded us of marzipan because of the dense consistency.
Though this croissant could have used some more lamination, we enjoyed the toasted almonds on top!
Almond Croissant: Final Grade
We were SO excited to try this chocolate pistachio croissant, and it didn’t disappoint! The flavor was fantastic. If you’re a pistachio lover like we are, you’ll love how much the unique flavor comes through!
As with the rest of the croissants at Hendrickx Bakery, the filling is definitely very dense and concentrated. The glaze was a nice touch, though some of our taste-testers found it a bit overpowering. If you love pistachios, be sure to try this croissant, valued at $4.25!
Pistachio Chocolate Croissant: Final Grade
Innovation: very innovative
We just knew we had to try the chocolate hazelnut croissant! At $4.25, this innovative pastry packed a punch. It boasted a strong caramel essence – even though the flakiness was inhibited by the caramel glaze on top – and we really enjoyed the chopped hazelnuts on top for an extra crunch.
The flavor was lighter than that of its companions at Hendrickx Bakery. The caramel hazelnut croissant was a great ending to our second Croissant Critique!
Caramel Hazelnut Croissant: Final Grade
Innovation: slightly innovative
For more French food and culture, take a look at the Alliance Française de Chicago’s wine & gastronomy events! We also offer a wide array of French classes, summer camps, social events, and more. Also, keep your eyes peeled for our next Croissant Critique. À bientôt !