Hey friends! Nice to talk to you. I know it’s been like two weeks or so since my last post, but, you know how these things go sometimes? Speedy life update: I just finished refinancing the house, and purchasing a new car! All awesome stuff, but of course little side projects like this are always done along side regular life stuff like school projects for Aiden, colds, keeping up with home life, family, endless errands, birthday parties, holidays, and the like making life generally hectic meanwhile. Sigh, I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like life is too busy sometimes, right? Anyhow, please pardon my posting hiatus, and I’ll try to be more with the program from now on.
So. Croissants. More specifically chocolate croissants. I have been wanting to make these babies for a really long time now. But two things have been holding me back. One: croissants take a long time to make. Two: every time I get the energy to actually make croissants I’m in a “trying to eat a little healthier” period. I just know that if I make chocolate croissants…well… I will eat all the chocolate croissants. Don’t get me wrong I’d try valiantly not to eat all the croissants. I’d use my mighty willpower to resist for a few hours. But every time I walked past the kitchen they would be calling to me… “Yoohoo, just so you know there are CHOCOLATE CROISSANTS over here! Come eat them now.” We all know how that story ends a few hours later. And obviously that ending does not constitute eating healthier.
Fortunately, as I was pondering my need for chocolate croissants I had a flash of brilliance. In fact, I had multiple flashed of brilliance, and all my croissants related problems we’re suddenly solved. Or solved enough at least. The thought process went something kind of like this, “Hmmm. I just don’t have the time or energy to make chocolate croissants but they sound so good…. *FLASH* Wait, 15 minute puff pastry! Why wouldn’t that work for croissants?! Yes….”
Have you ever seen/used 15 minute puff pastry? Much like croissants, traditional puff pastry has a lot of folding chilling steps and takes quite a while to make. But, some very smart foodies out there discovered that the process can be sped up, with very good results. Chilling time between turns is reduced down to a measly 5 minutes, and the dough is chilled in the freezer rather then the fridge to get it as cool as possible in the short time frame. This can actually cut the usually lengthy prep time for puff pastry down to about 15 minutes if you are quick with the dough making. And yet you still get you those wonderful buttery layers that a more traditional puff pastry recipe produces. It’s pretty brilliant if I do say so myself.
As I mentioned, it occurred to me the same process used for 15 minute puff pastry would probably work just fine for croissants too. Spoiler: it does work, sort of. Chill time between the folding/rolling out steps can in fact be reduced, by quite a bit, with very good results. Unfortunately, croissants are not only a laminated dough, but a yeasted dough, meaning they require rise time. Sadly speeding up the rise time doesn’t work especially well. It can be done, but it definitely interferes with achieving the correct structure/texture you want in a croissant. But, still, even keeping a proper rising time as part of my (Faster-ish) chocolate croissant recipe, I was able to cut the average 10 hour croissants making time down to 3 and 1/2 or so hours. (With a large part of that time being hands of rising time rather then active prep time.) Which was good enough for me to proceed.
[bctt tweet=”Yoohoo, just so you know there are CHOCOLATE CROISSANTS over here!”]
But there was still the whole eating ALL the croissants thing to deal with. My thoughts on that matter went something like this,”But… if I make the croissants I will eat the croissants. EAT CROISSANTS. That’s bad. I’m trying to eat better. CROISSANTS, EAT. Maybe Charlie could hide them from me? CHOCOLATE CROISSANTS. No. I will find them. They can’t hide from me. *FLASH* Credit cards. In the freezer! Frozen, yes! Even I won’t eat a frozen croissant!”
TRANSLATION: Clearly not eating all the croissants is going to be the biggest issue here. But, still really wanting to make chocolate croissants I thought perhaps I could get Charlie to hide them somewhere from me. I quickly realized unfortunately, this too would still be done in vain. It didn’t matter where Charlie hid them, I would find them. And obviously, eat them. Then I wondered, maybe I could wrap them up in something hard to open and stick them in the back of the freezer like your supposed to do with credit cards when you’re trying to get rid of debt…. In, fact pretty much the only thing that would stop me from eating a chocolate croissant was if it was… frozen. Oh, yeah. I could make a batch of croissants and freeze all but one or two of them. And not eat all the croissants. At least all at once. Bingo!
And then I went off to bake because life was peachy and all my problems had been solved. Which is what you now need to go do too; because what else needs to be said about chocolate croissants? Not much, I think. You just know buttery flaky croissant + really good dark chocolate is going to taste amazing. So, shoo shoo, go bake already.
(Faster-ish) Chocolate Croissants- Yields 10 croissants. Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated All- Time Best French Recipes.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted European style butter (i.e. higher fat content)
- 1 and 3/4 cups skim milk
- 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 cups bread flour (I really like King Arthur Bread Flour, very high in protein, making for a better croissant!)
- 2 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Several sheets of parchment paper
- 16 tablespoons unsalted European style butter
- very dark or semi sweet chocolate (amount doesn’t need to be precise, some people put a whole chocolate bar in their croissants, some people use just a little. I found a very small handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips to be ideal, in my opinion.)
- 1 egg + a splash of water
- Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter in the microwave. Add to the bowl of a large stand mixer. Add in the milk, active dry yeast, bread flour, all purpose flour, sugar, and salt to the mixing bowl. Using the dough hook mix the dough on low for 2-3 minutes until a cohesive dough forms. Increase the speed to medium for one minute to knead. By the end of this minute a smooth sticky dough that pulls away from the side of the bowl will have formed. Allow the dough to rest, covered at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto the parchment paper and use your hands (lightly floured to prevent sticking) to press the dough into a large rectangle on the parchment paper/baking sheet. Aim for a rectangle about 10 inches X 7 inches. But don’t get too fussy, it really doesn’t need to be perfect. Place the entire baking sheet in the freezer for five minutes while you prepare the butter square.
- Prep the butter square: Lay the last 16 tablespoons of butter (should be two sticks) in the center of another sheet of parchment paper. Fold the parchment paper up around the butter on all sides leaving enough room to form a square. Use a rolling pin to pound the butter into a flat square inside the parchment paper. Place the butter in the freezer in the parchment paper for the remainder of the five minutes the dough is chilling.
- Remove both the dough and the butter. Transfer the sheet of parchment paper with the dough on it to a clean work surface. Take the butter out of it’s parchment paper and place it in the center of the dough. Fold the two sides of the dough up over the butter. Use the rolling pin to roll the rectangle flat. Rotate the dough 90* and fold the two side of the dough up again. Return the dough to the freezer for five minutes.
- Remove the dough from the freezer and roll flat again. Rotate the dough 90* and roll flat again. Repeat once more. (At any point during the rolling and turning if the dough gets too warm, the butter breaks through the dough, or the dough bounces back too much, return the dough to the freezer for a few minutes to re-chill then continue where you left off.) The last time roll the dough out into a long rectangle about 18 inches long by about 16 inches wide.
- Cut the long rectangle into 10 triangles where the base of the triangle is about 3 inches wide. Cut a small slit in the bottom side of the triangle.
- Take one triangle of dough and stretch it gently lengthwise. Place it on your work surface with the base of the triangle facing your body. Place the chocolate on the dough just above slit. Fold down both sides of the slit. Roll the bottom of the triangle upward about halfway. Pick the rolled pic up and grab the point wrapping it the rest of the way around. The point should end on the bottom of the croissant. Gently curvet the ends of the croissant in towards each other to form a crescent shape. Set on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining triangles, placing each shaped croissant at least 3 inches between. Place no more then 6 croissants on a sheet. (i.e. to make all ten croissants at once you will need two baking sheets.
- Allow the croissants to rise at room temperature for 2 and 1/2 to 3 hours until doubled in size (exact time will depend on the temperature of the room.)
- To bake, set the oven racks to the two center rack positions. Preheat the oven to 425*. Place the trays of croissants in the oven and reduce the heat to 400*. Bake for 12 minutes. Open the oven and rotate the two trays. Bake for an additional 8-12 minutes. (I found an additional 9-10 minutes to be perfect in my oven) The tops of the croissants should be a deep golden brown. Note: watch the bottoms they burn easily!
- Allow the croissants to cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes before serving. Serve warm, so the chocolate is a melty inside when you eat! Yum!
*Alternatively, the shaped croissants can be covered and refrigerated overnight. In the morning remove from the fridge and allow the croissants to rise as directed, though they are likely to need an additional 30 minutes or so of rise time. *Shaped (un-risen) croissants can also be frozen rather then baked. To freeze, set on a parchment lined baking sheet, not touching. Freeze completely (should take about 2 hours) then transfer to a ziplock. Frozen croissants can be stored for two moths. To bake from frozen, place on a parchment lined baking sheet at room temperature. Allow the croissants to defrost and then rise until doubled. Bake as directed in step 9.