Making (good) croissants from scratch requires experience, patience, technique, ample counter space, and, most importantly, butter. Copious amounts of butter.
Butter is so imperative to the process, and to French pastry and cooking in general, that it inspired the name of Buffalo’s newest pop-up shop, Butter Block, which sells croissants, pain au chocolat, and myriad other treats from three locations locally: the Farm Shop, located at Lexington and Ashland in the Elmwood Village; Nickel City Cheese & Mercantile; and Public Espresso + Coffee at the Hotel Lafayette. And while Butter Block’s deftness with its namesake ingredient is certainly evident in the impossibly flakey layers of the pastries it delivers to its wholesale vendors each week, the pop-up’s sea salt chocolate chip and cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies are also totally special, addictively moreish, and worth a special trip.
Unlike standard variety chocolate chip cookies, which often rely on cloying levels of sugar and gobs of cheap chocolate to mask an inferior product, the version churned out by Butter Block chef Colleen Stillwell is stunning. Rich caramel flavor and notes of molasses, punctuated and heightened by flakes of sea salt, cut an already understated sweetness, and the amount of chocolate chips complements rather than drowns out the complex but subtle flavors of the dough that encases them. The texture, too, is impressive: crisp on the edges and dense but soft, almost fudgy, in the middle—the sign of a chef who understands that the best cookies are always slightly underbaked.
Like the chocolate chip cookies, Butter Block’s chocolate sandwich variety take full advantage of the gustatory magic that occurs when salt in perceptible quantities meets fat and sugar. The deep, dark—and, yes, salty—cocoa cookies are pleasantly crackly and crisp almost all the way through, but just soft enough to yield easily to one’s bite. The sweet cream center is judiciously applied so as not to overwhelm. They are simple and delicious. They are, to put it succinctly, haute Oreos.
But baked goods are just the start, according to Butter Block co-proprietor Ginny Stewart, who hinted that an eat-in, café-like establishment might be in the works. In the meantime, you can catch Butter Block at Public Espresso + Coffee’s grand opening celebration on Friday, March 27, 5 to 8 p.m., at the Hotel Lafayette, and on Thursdays at the North Buffalo Farmers Market, starting June 4.
Order now for Easter
If the thought of hauling your loved ones to an overpriced, overcrowded, understaffed brunch buffet has you dreading Easter Sunday, and the alternative—making a holiday-worthy brunch yourself—is a lofty goal at best, consider letting Butter Block do the work for you. Colleen and Ginny are currently taking orders for Easter-themed brunch baskets. The large, for six to eight people, features assorted mini pastries, braided bread, a six-inch chicken mousse pithivier and six-inch buttermilk tart, carrot slaw, chocolates, marshmallows, and lavender lemonade. A mini version of the basket serves two to four people.
Baskets ordered by April 1 can be picked up on Saturday, April 4, between 11am and 2pm at Assembly House 150, located at 150 Edward Street in Buffalo, where Butter Block will also be hosting a pop-up shop with special Easter treats for purchase. Additional details can be found by visiting their website.