MarieBette Cafe & Bakery is at it again. The same bakery that created the international “bronut” sensation in 2015 has just unveiled a new hybrid pastry. And this time, they may not need the boost of an online media craze. From good old fashioned word of mouth alone, the pastries are already selling out faster than the bakery can make them.
Not much of a gift recipient, I used to tell my loved ones during the holidays that I would prefer their presence to their presents. But, if prezzants had been around back then, I might have reconsidered. Half pretzel, half croissant, MarieBette’s prezzants are outstanding. Like most good bakers, MarieBette’s Patrick Evans is a perfectionist, and, after experimenting by dipping croissant dough in lye, he took his time before deciding his latest creation was ready for release.
It shows. The lucky few who have tried a prezzant have raved. “Love the smokiness and buttery crunch,” one said. “OMG. It’s absolutely amazing,” said another. “What dreams are made of,” another swooned. And, “Had a bite and not gonna lie: I died.” Even top chefs are impressed. “I went at 10 this morning to buy all they had left. There were only five left,” said Tucker Yoder of Back 40 Restaurant. “Buttery, crunchy, flaky. All the good things of a croissant with added pretzel awesomeness.”
Now, if we only get our hands on some more.
MarieBette’s Patrick Evans:
“The prezzants were born out of doing a bunch of tests for traditional pretzels that we are offering now for our wholesale clients. My friend Sharlene McNeish (who runs Levain Baking Studio here in town and is a very passionate baker herself) was helping us develop a recipe and for about two weeks we were doing different recipes everyday.
We had really jumped in and were going crazy with the recipe testing. During that time we had this lye solution on hand. The solution has a very high PH and when it you dip the unbaked pretzels in it and bake them, they lye reacts chemically with the heat and gives the pretzels the classic color and crust and adds that unique rich flavor that is so quintessential to pretzels.
We make croissants daily so while in my testing mode, I curiously dipped some scraps of croissant dough in the solution, sprinkled some with a bit of pretzel salt, and some with our own ‘everything’ mix, and baked them to see how they’d come out. The results were amazing. Everyone who tasted them went crazy over those first few morsels. We made a few more tests, then a few more, learning, experimenting with shapes, and refining the process each time . . .
When I lived in NYC I used to get pretzel croissants at one of my favorite bakeries, but they didn’t have the lye bath and the dark crust and unique taste that comes from it. And it seems a few places do a ‘cretzel’ with a croissant dough shaped like a pretzel, but seemingly no lye. In Europe, some German bakeries sell ‘laugencroissants’ (meaning lye croissants) but I’ve heard those aren’t the same either. In any case, it’s an amazingly unique flavor that you have to taste to really understand, and we are thrilled to offer that in Charlottesville!”