But Sugar is Sweeter

Posts tagged “French

French Croissants

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Before you go running away by the long list of seemingly complicated steps that are involved in this recipe, let me tell you a story.  I actually did the same thing when I saw Annie‘s post about homemade croissants.  I thought to myself, seriously, who has the time (or desire) to do all that!    And yet here I am, telling you about homemade croissants. See, a funny thing happened.  It was called Christmas vacation. After I saw that homemade croissants made the list of  one of Annie’s favorite things from her entire year of hundreds of recipes, I started to think of them in a different light.  Then came a whole week of free time and a house full of people to feed on New Years morning, and croissants suddenly started to seem like a good idea.  And it turned out to be such a good idea that I felt the need to make them again last weekend.  Do they take more time then buying them at the store?  Yes.  But do they taste like no other baked good you’ve ever made before?  Yes.

About half way through making this recipe, I feared the croissants would  turn out  like those crescent rolls that come in a tube.  Then something magical happened in the baking process, and flakey, buttery, French goodness arose.  I was  so excited watching these puff up and golden in the oven, and I think our guests were even more excited about the final result.  Everyone loved these.  I can’t wait to make them again in the future.  They are best eaten shortly after they come out of the oven, but they are still wonderful the next day (they’d probably last a few more days – if you don’t eat them immediately).  While I didn’t include instructions for freezing, I believe the best times to attempt freezing would be after the second lamination of the dough, or after the final shaping of the croissants.  If you try this, I would love to know how freezing turned out!
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French Croissants

Makes 12 large croissants

For the dough:

  • 3 cups (15 oz) all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1¼ tsp. salt
  • 1¼ cups whole milk, cold (or use 1 cup skim with 1/4 cup whipping cream)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the butter square:

  • 24 T. (3 sticks) unsalted butter,  cut into 1-tablespoon pieces and kept cold
  • 2 T. all purpose flour

Egg wash:

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
 To make the dough, combine 2¾ cups of the flour together with the yeast, sugar and salt in a medium bowl.  Whisk together and set aside.  Add the milk to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Add the dry ingredients and knead on low speed until a ball of dough forms, about 5 minutes.  Cut the butter into small pieces and add them to the dough.  Continue to knead until the butter is fully incorporated and the dough is smooth.  The dough should form a ball and begin to clear the sides of the bowl, about 5-6 minutes more (10 total).  The dough is sticky, but if it is sticking more to the bowl than to itself add the remaining 1/4 cup flour.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make the butter square, toss flour and butter together.  Using the blade of a large knife or a bench scraper work the butter back and forth until it is smooth and homogenous.  It will be sticky.  Wrap in plastic wrap,  flatten the butter into a 7×7 inch square.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
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Once the dough has chilled, remove it from the fridge and roll out on a floured work surface into an 11 by 11 inch square.  (It may seem small but it will complement the butter square perfectly).

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Place the chilled butter square diagonally on the 11-inch dough square.
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Fold the edges of the dough up around the butter so that they meet in the middle.
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Pinch the dough seems to seal.

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Tap the center of the dough square with a rolling pin in order to soften the butter, and roll the dough into a 14 inch square.  Make sure to flour the surface as you go so the dough doesn’t stick.

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Fold the dough into thirds to form a long rectangle.

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Then starting at the short ends, fold the dough again into thirds.

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At this point wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours, or longer.

Repeat this process again- roll dough into a 14 inch square, fold into thirds, then fold into thirds again. Rewrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for another 2 hours, or longer. (I usually do the above steps the day before, and save the steps below for the morning in which the croissants will be served. I believe you could stop at this point and freeze the dough, or half of the dough, but I have not tried this myself.)

Remove the folded dough from the fridge and divide in half.  (You could also roll the dough into one very large 20×20 inch rectangle but I found half of the dough more manageable)

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Roll one of the 2 dough pieces into a 10×20 inch rectangle.

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Then cut the 10×20 inch rectangle into thirds, so that each section is just shy of 7 inches.  Then cut each rectangle in half diagonally.

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Take one triangle, and stretch the dough slightly so that each long side of the triangle is about equal in length.  Cut a 1-inch slit in the bottom of the triangle and roll until the tip of the triangle.

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Place croissants on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicon baking mat, and fold the edges of the dough next to each other to create a crescent.  Repeat with remaining dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until puffy, about 45 minutes.  At this point preheat the oven to 400°.
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Brush croissants with egg wash bake in a preheated oven until the golden brown, about  18-22 minutes, rotating pans half way through baking.

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Allow to cool on a wire rack for several minutes.  Store airtight at room temperature for up to 2 days or wrap well and freeze.  Reheat in a 300˚ F oven for 5-10 minutes.
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Source: Annie’s Eats, as adapted from Baking Illustrated

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Coffee Ice Cream with Chocolate Chunks

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I have been wanting an ice cream maker all summer (or maybe even all my life), but I faithfully waited until my birthday hoping to get one.  I did get some really wonderful presents, but an ice cream maker wasn’t one of them.  I may or may not have had a slight freak out about this incident which may or may not have precipitated an emergency run to the store on my birthday to pick one up.  Basically you don’t want to mess with me and ice cream.  Needless to say, now I have an ice cream maker ;-).

My first order of business with my new toy was a raspberry ice cream with large chocolate chunks.  While the recipe stated that it made about one quart, about 5 minutes into churning there was ice cream pouring out of the top of the 1 1/2 quart machine.  It really didn’t freeze and while it didn’t taste awful, I ended up having to throw it out.

However once we got back from vacation I was determined to tackle the infamous French ice cream.  I poured through “The Perfect Scoop”, looking for the perfect ice cream, an I finally decided on coffee ice cream because it’s John’s favorite and I liked that it would perfectly complement some large chocolate chunks.   I will warn you in advance that this ice cream is VERY coffee flavored.  This is in part due to the fact that I ended up steeping the coffee beans with the milk for several hours while I was running errands, so if you want a milder flavor, steep the beans for a shorter period of time.  With the chocolate chunks, I was trying to replicate the famous Grater’s ice cream, but I found that they were slightly more hard than I would’ve liked.  If you are brave enough you can add extra oil to the chocolate, which will keep it softer in the ice cream.  You could also try making truffles and adding them to the ice cream, but I was trying to keep it simple.

Coffee Ice Cream with Chocolate Chunks

– Makes about 1 quart

  • 1 -1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 -1/2 cups whole coffee beans
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1- 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coffee

For the Chocolate chunks

  • 4 oz dark chocolate (60% cacoa)
  • 1 T. vegetable oil

1. Begin by warming milk, sugar, coffee beans, salt and 1/2 cup of heavy cream in a saucepan.  Once warmed through, cover, remove from heat and let steep at room temperature for about 1 hour.  If you’d like a stronger flavor, continue to steep in the refrigerator for 2-4 more hours.
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2. Rewarm the coffee bean-milk mixture.  Pour the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream in a large bowl and set a large fine mess sieve over top.
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3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. DSC02013

4. Slowly pour the warm coffee bean-milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly in order to temper the yolks.  Then scrape the warmed egg yolk mixture with coffee beans back into the saucepan.
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5. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir.  The mixture should thicken and coat the spatula.  If you have a reliable thermometer, the temperature should be 170-175° when the custard is done.
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6. Once the custard is thick, pour it through the strainer into the cream and stir.  Press on the coffee beans to extract as much flavor as possible, then you can discard the beans.  Mix in vanilla and finely ground coffee and stir until cool. To cool the ice cream more quickly, you can place the bowl in an ice bath in the sink and continue to stir.
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7.  To make the chocolate chunks, melt chocolate and oil in the microwave.  Stir to mix and then poor mixture onto a rimmed plate.  Cool in the freezer until hard.  Break the chocolate into chunks and keep cold until ready to use in the ice cream.

8.  Chill the milk mixture in the refrigerator and then freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.  When there are about 5 minutes left of freezing time, add the cold chocolate chunks and allow them to mix in.  Make sure to chill the bowl adequately before churning the ice cream (most machines required 20+ hours of chilling time).  Store ice cream in an air tight container in the freezer.
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Adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz