A few weeks ago, Vanilya Bakery proprietor Bonnie Noll was trying to come up with a good way to use her leftover croissant dough when she had a mini-epiphany. “I’m in Philly,” she thought to herself, “so why not pretzels?”
Behold the brilliance that resulted: The croissant pretzel.
Noll and her regulars have dubbed the creation a “cretzel,” but despite the name, this is not just another mashup chasing a trend — it’s actually quite unique, and also a treat to eat.
Old news, you might be thinking, Dunkin Donuts already sells those. Not so. Dunkin’s version — used for a limited-time breakfast sandwich — is a pretzel croissant, not a croissant pretzel. The word order swap is the key to the difference between the pastries. The chain option is shaped like a croissant and tastes pretty much like a regular croissant, too. Vanilya’s is shaped like a pretzel, and combines some of the best qualities of both baked goods into one easy snack.
Grasp a cretzel’s edge and pull it apart, for example, and it will stretch and twist at the knot, just like a Pennsylvania Dutch-style soft pretzel. Bite down on it and it’s like Auntie Anne suddenly dropped 50 lbs. Instead of heavy and sticky, the dough is light and flaky, with a considerable crunch around the edges.
When Noll has the croissant pretzels available — Saturdays and Sundays only, until sellout — various flavors are available, including sesame, poppy, everything, salt and a sweet cinnamon sugar. They go for $1.75 a pop, and are best enjoyed warm, after a quick reheat in a toaster oven.
If you stop into the East Passyunk storefront to try the cretzel, make sure to leave room for Noll’s other creations. Her sweet offerings include cookies, tarts, custards and parfaits and cakes, and the savory side brings things like house-baked bagels, handpies containing bacon, egg and cheese and pide, a Turkish flatbread stuffed with feta and mint.