When people think of chocolate, they often think candy or truffle or something that is primarily chocolate. Good chocolate can be found in baked goods as well. Last night, your Chocolate Priestess went to the Bakehouse, a local place I've mentioned before on The Chocolate Cult, and bought some "day old pastries" that sell for $4 a bag of 3-4 items. I bought a bag of three chocolate croissants, each one of which is larger than the palms of my hands held side by side and which normally cost over $2 a piece. The other bagged goods included the almond and plain croissants as well as a variety of muffins. I noted that there was a piece of almond in this bag so if you have certain allergies, my advice in this column may not work for you.
Here is the advice: Buy day old baked goods.
Yes, there will be chemical changes to the baked goods if they are a day or two old. However, I generally find these to be mild and acceptable such as the butteryness of these croissants feels a bit more greasy but does not taste different. If you like your pastries hot, just reheat them a bit in the oven. I think microwaves result in rubbery or dried out baked goods myself. For our greatest concern, the chocolate, there really is no difference in the taste or texture in just a few days. Even completely organic chocolate will last that long. Any chocolate on the baked good may have melted or been mushed a bit as you can see in this picture, but looks are only one of the five senses and you need to weigh every aspect when deciding what to buy and when. Inside these croissants are two folded layers of pastry covering two quarter-inch thick ribbons of chocolate that I can honestly say are just as good as the freshly made versions I've had some mornings from the same bakery.
There are benefits to buying day old baked goods. First, obviously the price difference. Let's consider that the croissants I bought were $2 a piece, actually I think they are more but this makes the math easier. If I get three for $4 that is a savings of at least .67¢ a piece or over $2 for the trio which is liking buying two and getting one free. If you like your chocolate more melted, again you can reheat the product for a while.
There is a risk in putting off buying pastries. The kind you want may not be available. That's actually a risk you take any day you visit a bakery after the first few hours it has been open. However, you also may feel the cost is reduced enough to try an item you wouldn't have tried before. Perhaps you always get the same one or two items but when you check the "day old" section you discover a scone or a muffin or even a pie you never realized they had. It feels safer to try something new when the financial risk is less.
So give it a try a few times. Visit various bakeries and see what they have in their "day old" section. I routinely get breads and pastries in these categories and I have yet to be disappointed. With the money I save I can invest in higher quality chocolate truffles from time to time or a road trip to a regional chocolatier.
Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.