USA Today

Starbucks' chocolate croissant: The best selling pastry

January 2014

Inside glass display cases at more than 3,500 Starbucks cafes (and 7,000 cafes by the end of 2014) sits the perfect answer to those with a craving for something sweet: the new Starbucks chocolate croissant.

The croissant first appeared at Starbucks in 2013 and is quickly becoming the brand's best selling pastry. It's easy to understand why: this flaky, buttery pocket of goodness is heated to order and presented to customers who soon find rich chocolate oozing out of every bite. Needless to say, it's delicious.

The new Starbucks chocolate croissant actually has established roots; its creator is Pascal Rigo, a 50-something baker best known as the founder and owner of La Boulange Bakery, a chain of traditional-style French bakeries in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Starbucks purchased La Boulange in mid-2012 and since then, Rigo has been working hard to transition some of his favorite pastries to the world's most recognizable coffee chain.

Born and raised in Boudreaux, France, Rigo started an apprenticeship in baking at the tender age of 7 and proceeded to work in bakeshops around the European country until the early 90s when he came to the USA.

"I wanted to bring what I knew about very traditional French pastries to the U.S. That is why I came," he said from his office in San Francisco. "I'll never forget in the late 90s when I opened my first bakery in San Francisco. A [San Francisco] Chronicle food critic had a chocolate croissant and said it was so amazing that 'it was like a kiss from a new love.' I've kept that statement with me all these years and am happy to bring the chocolate croissant to Starbucks."

Here, Rigo talks about his background in baking, the intricacies of making a chocolate croissant and why anytime is the right time to eat the pastry.

How and when did you make your first chocolate croissant?

I made my first chocolate croissant when I was around 14 years old. I had already been working for the local baker for seven years on an informal basis, but making croissants was a totally different thing than just making bread because it is much more complicated.

Chocolate was expensive back then and I was too young to really pay attention to layering, so my chocolate croissants would turn out as big loaves of bread with a little chocolate in it. I think I ate most of the chocolate before it even went into the bread (laughs).

I got better at it with age, but I remember not having the equipment to form the croissant layers. I did everything by hand with a rolling pin.

Tell me about the Starbucks chocolate croissant. Do you use a special kind of chocolate?

Yes, we use two different kinds of chocolate. We use single origin chocolate from Colombia for Starbucks cafes on the West Coast and single origin chocolate from Africa for cafes on the East Coast. The African chocolate is a little bit stronger than the Colombian chocolate, but both of them are absolutely delicious.

What Starbucks drinks do you think pair well with your chocolate croissant?

I recommend consuming as much chocolate as possible (laughs). I'd get a hot chocolate with a lot of whipped cream on top. But, you know, a latte or cappuccino or even a simple drop coffee would go well with it, too. Regardless of what you get, it's a good idea to dunk your croissant in the drink before eating for the best taste.

What time of day is best to eat the Starbucks chocolate croissant?

In France, we will eat chocolate croissants at any time of day. I think the pastry is great for the morning or a nice snack in the afternoon. It's also a perfect pastry to share between friends; just tear it apart and everyone will love it.

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Katie Morell specializes in feature writing, breaking news and corporate communications.