03/12/2012 10:56 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Tardy Goodness: Trader Joe's Frozen Chocolate Croissants

Here's a parenting conundrum for you.

Do you get the kids to school on time, or do you let them be 10 minutes late so they can enjoy the highly-touted chocolate croissants you've spent the previous 12 hours preparing?

Trader Joe's frozen chocolate croissants pose just such the conundrum. This was a product I laughed at in the past -- You buy them thinking, frozen croissants -- pop them in the microwave and pow! Instant breakfast. But then -- surprise! -- right there on the front you see that they require that you set them out to rise for nine hours or overnight before you even bake them. Anything but instant. And nine hours? My God. A little more time and I could get to France myself and buy a fresh croissant.

That was before a guy I work with wrote me singing their praises. This is an esteemed investor and columnist, not a man given to flippant hosannas about a grocery product. So I was impressed enough to pick some up the next time I was at TJ's, which is to say, that very afternoon. Then the checkout girl herself rolled her eyes and told me, Oh my God... I love these, have you had them before, to which I had to reply, no, I hadn't, but that I would be, and soon.

On the strength of these two recommendations, I was flush with self-interested foresight. So. I set them out the night before.


Not too impressed...

And this is what they look like in the morning. Much improved. Promising great things:


Lo! They have risen!

Do you know what it means for me to have the organization and foresight to set anything out the night before? It means a GREAT HELLUVA LOT! It means I must be tremendously motivated and have clear intentions. I just don't do thinking ahead very well. Plan dinners for a week? Me? My M.O. is to wait 'til it's 5 p.m. and reach for the can opener.

So yeah. Already we were in uncharted waters. Here it was, morningtime, and I had four nicely risen chocolate croissants ready to be baked. But me being me I did what I normally do on a school day and hit the snooze button three, four times, until it was 7:28 and I was forced to get out of bed to shepherd the nits through their morning routine. That's when I read the rest of the directions: Bake 20-25 minutes in a pre-heated oven.

Let cool at least 10 minutes before eating.

It was 7:30. School starts at 8 a.m.

See the problem?

But now I was committed. So I stand watching the stove, and I stand watching the clock, and I do my best to talk down my very obsessive/compulsive teenage daughter who is beginning to hyperventilate about getting to school on time, and doing my best to calmly remind her that we own an automobile that can deliver her to the schoolyard in three minutes flat, two if I'm speeding, and that we will be OK, really, I promise. Even though I myself don't think we'll make it and and wonder how bad a mommy it makes me if I get them to school 10 minutes late, and whether or not the office will take a written excuse involving a baked good. Perhaps if I give my warm chocolate croissant to the attendance lady...

At this point the whole kitchen smells like Paris. And I take them out of the oven at 7:55, and they look like this:


Tardy bell or warm chocolate croissant?

The kids fall on theirs and burn their fingers. We wrap them in napkins and fly out the door. When we get to Jack's school the bell has just rung and he has exactly 60 seconds to run to class. Too bad he is covered in croissant flakes. He will have to fend for himself, because the Drama Teen is shrieking at me to close the door and drive next door to her school. She is also covered in flakes, and has chocolate in her teeth. I hope one of her friends tips her off to that fact before she ruins her middle school social standing.

The back seat of my car looks... well. I will have to be organized enough to go to the car wash and rent a vacuum. I hope I can find four quarters.

Were these croissants worth it? Yes they were. And they would have been that much better with a little time to savor them over tea or coffee.

The most pathetic twist: I bought another package that day. I set them out. I hit the snooze bar three times the next morning. And ran out of time for the second day in a row.

Delicious and warm and flaky as they are, I just don't see these being on regular rotation at our house.

Maybe you'll have better luck.