Sunday, November 28, 2010

give thanks: pain au chocolat, take 2

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving! I hope it was fabulous and filled with food coma(s) and family.

I've been home for the past week in Western PA and a "dead" video card on my parents desktop computer prevented me from posting all of the deliciousness that went down my gullet during the holiday. And... now I'm on a 5-day juice cleanse to detox from all of that deliciousness, so I'm anti-solid food until Saturday. But don't worry! I took pictures! And I saved recipes! And I'll be posting them all week (and salivating into my kale juice while I do so).

First up is something I'm truly thankful for. After a first brutal attempt, last week I gave thanks for... full-size kitchens and good yeast! Because apparently that (and lots of patience) is all you need to make patisserie-quality chocolate croissants. On Wednesday afternoon, with Turkey Day prep covered in foil and casserole dishes stacked in the fridge, I decided to give croissants another try. They'd been vexing me since the last unsuccessful attempt and I figured I had the best conditions to try again: a full-sized kitchen with plenty of counter space for rolling (and rolling, and rolling).

So I pulled up a new recipe and got to it. I think the recipe made all the difference but I also know why the last one didn't - rule #1 of yeast doughs: never try to half the recipe (which is what I'd done). So I mixed dough and let it rise and punched it down and let it rise again and by Thursday morning we had croissant dough ready for Thanksgiving breakfast.

This was a really solid recipe that was easy to follow, perfect to help someone like me conquer her yeast-fear :)

I made "plain" croissants with the rest of the dough (it makes a lot) and the family was snacking on them with grins and buttery fingers even this morning. The egg-wash is key for the bakery-look-alike croissants but not necessary for taste. I'll definitely be making these again, as soon as I get a full-size kitchen in my own apartment!

Chocolate-filled Croissants

1 cup butter, softened
2 (1/4 oz) envelopes active dry yeast
3 tbsp. sugar, divided
1/2 cup warm water 105 - 115 F
2/3 cup milk
4 cups to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
2-3 rectangles chocolate candy bar (I used semisweet chocolate chips)

Day 1:
Press butter into a 10x8-inch rectangle on wax paper, chill.

Combine yeast, 1 tbsp. sugar, and water in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes.

Heat milk to 105 - 115 F. Combine yeast mixture, warm milk, remaining 2 tbsp. sugar, 2 cups flour and next 3 ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Beat mixture at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top.

Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 F), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

Punch dough down. Cover with plastic wrap and chill dough 1 hour.

Punch down dough, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a 24x10-inch rectangle. Place chilled butter rectangle in center of dough rectangle, and carefully fold dough over butter. Pinch edges to seal.

Roll dough into an 18x10-inch rectangle; fold into thirds, beginning with short side. Cover and chill 1 hour.

Repeat rolling and folding procedure twice, chilling dough 30 minutes each time. Wrap dough in aluminum foil and chill overnight.

Day 2:
Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Roll 1 portion into a 12-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface, and cut into 4 rectangles (keep remaining dough chilled). Place 2-3 rectangles of chocolate candy bar, beginning on the short end of each rectangle and roll up tightly. Place on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Bake at 425 F for 8 minutes (mine took 9-10) or until lightly golden. Cool croissants slightly on baking sheets, and transfer to wire racks to cool. Repeat procedure with remaining dough portions.

For egg wash: Combine 1 tsp water with yolk of one egg. Brush mixture onto croissants with pastry brush before baking.


Anonymous said...

Hi Beth! I am one of the fans of your blog. I love baking and cooking too, and I think your Chocolate-filled Croissants look deliciously tasty!
Do you think the recipe would work okay if I substitute the chocolate filling with something else?

I truly hope you will have a wonderful week after Thanksgiving!
Anna Kristianne

Joanne said...

Oh beth these look just gorgeous! ANd I swear they could have come right out of a bakery. Just divine.

So basically...I should just blame all my baking mishaps on my ridiculously small kitchen. yeah? :P

Beth said...

Anna - You could definitely substitute the chocolate for something else. Either small cubes of cheese for cheesy croissants, or apricot preserves - anything, really. Thanks for reading!

Joanne - Thanks! I think I finally "get" the yeast thing!

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