Make Crispy, Caramelised Brittle With Stale Pastries

Make Crispy, Caramelised Brittle With Stale Pastries
Photo: Claire Lower

I was obsessed with Costco croissants as tween. My mum would buy huge plastic containers of them that my sisters and I would plow through in a few days. They were my favourite bread. Today, I am often tempted by similarly sized containers of all-butter croissants at the grocery store — the abundance is appealing — but, as a household of one and a half, I refrain from purchasing them out of mild fear that I would end up with a whole bunch of stale croissants.

But that fear has been vanquished. As I type, I am eating a piece of crispy, sweet, and caramelised croissant brittle, and getting crumbs all over my MacBook. Croissant brittle is worth the crumbs.

Croissant brittle is not my invention. I found the recipe on Food52, which was in turn inspired by the folks at Sea Wolf Bakery in Seattle. (Croissant brittle is what they make with their day-old croissants.) The stuff is easy to make: Slice some croissants, dip them in a syrup made of half & half and sugar, then bake in a 300-degree oven until crisp. The result is a flakey confection that falls somewhere in between a pastry and a cookie, and it is marvellous.

But it’s not only stale croissants that can benefit from the brittle treatment. I brittled a stale glazed cinnamon roll from grocery store case, and it too was marvellous. A yeasted doughnut (or any other absorbent, doughy pastry) would also work. Even the recipe is mildly riffable: I happened to be out of white sugar, so I used brown. Guess what? Still delicious.

Brown Sugar Pastry Brittle

Ingredients

  • Stale pastries (though fresh work too)
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (or white sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Set your oven to 150°C. Slice the pastries to a 1/4–1/2-inch thickness and set aside. Heat the half & half over medium-low heat until it just begins to steam, then combine with the sugar and salt and whisk until both are dissolved.

Dip both sides of each pastry slice in the syrup, then gently squish the pastry to squeeze out the excess. The pastry should be damp with syrup throughout, but not dripping. Place on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and bake for 45 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through.

After 45 minutes have elapsed, give the pastries a little poke (be careful, that sugar is hot!). They should be firm with a little bit of give. Remove them from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. If they don’t feel brittle after cooling, return to the oven for another five minutes.

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