Almond Croissant Oatmeal (Frangipane Oatmeal)

I was about 10 the first time I tried an almond croissant. It was from the Dunkin' Donuts we occasionally stopped at for coffee and breakfast sandwiches on the way to school, and chosen at the suggestion of my father, who was a big fan.

It tasted like heaven! The flaky, buttery outer crust giving way to gooey, sweet filling, generously perfumed with the intoxicating aroma of bitter almonds. I used to do a thing where I would eat all around the outside first and then leave a circle of croissant-sandwiched filling for my final, perfect bite.

Considering that as far as croissants are concerned, Dunkin' Donuts is hardly the be-all and end-all, my subsequent interactions with almond croissants really only got better as the years passed. With only a few minor exceptions (usually an ill-advised train station food court purchase), I've never come across an almond croissant I didn't love.

As a nearly-30-year-old, I try to avoid starting my days with what is--let's face it--essentially a glorified sugar sandwich. These days, I'm more of a protein in the morning kind of girl, but that doesn't mean that I still don't crave those flavors.

I'm not alone in this, and the other day on Twitter I saw a message float past on my feed, in which someone mused that while she's perfectly fine eating a wholesome bowl of oatmeal each day, she would not turn down an almond croissant if it were to magically appear on her desk (I assume she hoped her colleagues would read this).

And THAT is when I had the idea. Because I figured it would be entirely possible to create a bowl of totally wholesome oatmeal that tastes exactly like an almond croissant!

I will give you a moment to bask in my genius...

The secret to this is Frangipane--a French almond cream made with ground almonds, eggs, sugar, and butter. Usually used to make pretty tarts and pastries, it is also the fancy name for that aforementioned gooey almond croissant filling.

When swirled into a simmering pot of oats, the almond cream turns the fairly neutral-tasting oats into something people might actually fight over. (At least, I would. I totally would fight you for this.)

Creamy, hot, and every single bit as satisfying as the most decadent almond croissant--just my kind of everyday indulgence.

The recipe below makes enough filling for several bowls of oatmeal. It will keep well in the fridge, so you can make it on the weekend and use it all week long to stir into your breakfast before running out the door.

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Almond Croissant Oatmeal
From the name, this sounds like a "sometimes" treat, but in reality it's actually quite wholesome. The oats are cooked in almond milk, and the almond cream adds protein and additional nutrition from the eggs and nuts. Serves 2 (with leftover almond cream for future breakfasts)

For the almond cream:
3/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup granulated sugar (or honey)
1 large egg (see Note below)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon pure almond extract

For the oatmeal:
2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or use water or whole milk)
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats (not instant or "quick cooking")
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

First make the almond cream. In a food processor, combine the almonds and sugar, and process until finely ground--about 2 minutes. Add the egg, hot melted butter, and almond extract and process for 2 more minutes, until smooth and creamy. Set aside. (Almond cream will keep in fridge, covered, for up to 1 week.)

Combine the almond milk or water and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the oats, lower heat and let simmer gently for 5 minutes, until oats start to thicken (if you prefer a thicker oatmeal, you can cook the oats longer or just follow your favorite package directions). Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of the almond cream. Divide into 2 bowls and drizzle each with additional almond cream and a sprinkle of sliced almonds. (You'll have extra almond cream leftover; save this for future bowls of oatmeal.)

Note about eggs:
The heat from the oats should be enough to sufficiently cook the eggs, particularly if you're using trusted ones from a good source. I always recommend using pastured eggs, which are raised in the healthiest manner possible. If you are hesitant about potentially consuming raw eggs, you can also use pasteurized eggs, which are available at most grocery stores.

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