Sunday, April 3, 2011

Today is the day to: Bon Appetit

Bonsoir mon amis! Since I was not able to take part in the festivities of Baking Friday this Friday, I decided to brush the dust off of some particularly dear photographs of my culinary adventure in creating petits pan au chocolat, better known as chocolate croissants. Baking is one of those grounding aspects in my life, a habit I turn to when the world seems to want to send me into a vile cavern filled with chaos, despair, and the absence of love. The world, however, can try with all its might to bring my spirits down when I am baking, but will never be successful. My mind settles into a flow in which negative thoughts no longer bog down my creativity and the real Rach, the one that is an actual human and not a studying/reading/homework-doing machine, blossoms. I cannot help but grin with contentment as I flutter around the kitchen, fetching various leavening agents and extracts while returning to the counter to reference my cookbook. Mixing bowls are scattered atop of the counter, flour is dusted on the front of my clothes, and my dog is usually beside my feet channeling her cute powers in the hopes of me giving her a sneak peak of the goodies to come. We share some of the dough, a ritual that I have come to pronounce as absolutely necessary for a successful baking adventure.

It is quite apparent through my endless conversations regarding Paris, that I am quite hooked on France and anything associated with the land of love. I have even registered for French classes in the coming semester because I want to learn something beautiful. How often do we, as college students, get to learn something that is beautiful in its essence? I might be approaching this incorrectly but, I have never really seen the beauty of chemistry, physics, or calculus. I may have been enthralled in knowing that tiny microcosms create the world that I live in, but never have I been in awe of it the way I am with listening and practicing French. There was no surprise in  my wanting to learn how to cook traditional French dishes, since every other aspect of my life is heavily influenced by the culture, art, music, language, you name it. So, I looked up a recipe for croissants, the first French cuisine that popped into my dreamy mind. Through much searching, I stumbled upon a recipe for chocolate croissants. That's right, chocolate croissants. Warm, dark chocolate wrapped in a buttery, heavenly croissant that can only be associate with the nectar of the Gods for us mere mortals.

Needless to say I was extremely excited to bake these croissants sent from the culinary gods, I was practically giddy. So, I embarked on this culinary adventure not exactly aware of how long croissants take to create. Overall, fifteen hours passed before I sank my teeth into what I can only describe as pure bliss. Those fifteen hours were probably the most fantastic time I have ever spent on a project.

1 cup butter, softened
2(1/4-ounce)envelopes active dry yeast
3 Tbsp sugar, divided
1/2 cup warm water
2/3 cup milk
4-4 1/2 cup all purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2-3 tiny rectangles chocolate candy bar

Ready for some fun? :)

  • Take the deliciously softened butter and spread it on a wax-paper into a 10x8 inch square, then allow it to chill.
  • Add 1/2cup warm water and 1 Tbsp sugar into a bowl that can hold two cups, add in yeast (which is so much fun to bake with!) Let stand for 5 minutes.
  • Warm the milk. After the milk is warmed to desired temperature add in mixture from step 2, and 2Tbsp more sugar.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the milk/yeast mixture and gradually add in 2 cups of flour, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 2 tsp salt, and 2 large eggs. Beat with an electric mixer on a light setting until combined. Continue adding additional 2 cups flour (or more) until a soft dough has been formed.
  • Time to knead! Turn the soft dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for ten minutes (this will count as your work out for the day!) until the dough is elastic (meaning it is stretchy but doesn't tear easily)
  • Grease a large bowl, put the dough in the bowl and roll it around in the bowl so that all sides of the ball are covered with oil. Cover the bowl and keep in a warm place (85 degrees farenheight recommended) for one hour.
  • After one hour, punch the dough down (which is a lot of fun!) cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill dough for one hour.
  • Punch down dough again after one hour has passed. Roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface, into a 24x10 inch rectangle.
  • Take the chilled butter square and place it on one side of the rectangle. Fold the other side of the dough on top of the butter. Pinch edges of the dough surrounding the butter.
  • Roll the dough into a 18x10 inch rectangle (rolling it distributes that glorious butter evenly through the dough) and fold the dough into thirds (kind of like a brochure) beginning with the short side. Cover and chill for one hour.
  • Repeat the rolling and folding (step 10) twice, refrigerating for 30 minutes between each set.
  • Wrap dough in aluminum foil and refrigerate 8 hours.
  • (This is the final countdown!) Cut dough into four equal chunks. Roll out one of the sections into a rectangle, while keeping the other sections covered. Cut the rolled out dough into 12 triangles. Stretch the triangles until they are longer. 

  • Place chocolate (yum!) pieces on the wide part of the triangle and roll. Note! Chocolate croissants do not get curved into the crescent shaped.
  • Repeat with the other three sections of dough.

  • Optional egg wash: 1 egg, 1 Tbsp cold water mixed in a small bowl. Brush on top of the croissants right before putting them into the oven to ensure a nice golden color.
  • Bake for 8 minutes at 425 degrees farenheight
Volia! A masterpiece!

Ooey gooey dark chocolate escapes from the crispy lighter than air croissant, all I have to say to that is bon appetit!

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