Monday, April 23, 2012

The Zeigler House Mini Chocolate Croissants

Jackie Heinz
Jackie Heinz, owner-innkeeper of The Zeigler House in Savannah, specializes in baked goods and other treats that guests can enjoy in the comfort and privacy of their own suites. This means they re-heat beautifully, keep well and often can make the transition from breakfast to cocktail hour.

These chocolate croissants can be a highlight of breakfast or the "dessert" to heavy hors d'oeuvres.They aren't a quick, throw-together, but when you feel like a challenge, this is a good one.

Read through before saying it's too much trouble - there is an easier way.

The Zeigler House Mini Chocolate Croissants

Croissant dough
1 1/2 cups whole milk, heated to warm (105-110 degrees F)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 TBS plus 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (from two 1/4 oz. packages)
3 3/4 to 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 TBS. kosher salt
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) cold unsalted butter

Stir together warm milk, brown sugar and yeast in bowl of standing mixer and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If it doesn't foam, discard and start over.) Add 3 3/4 cups flour and salt and mix with dough hook at low speed until dough is smooth and very soft, about 7 minutes.

Transfer dough to a work surface and knead by hand 2 minutes, adding more flour as necessary, a little at a time, to make a soft, slightly sticky dough. Form dough into a roughly 1 1/2-inch thick rectangle and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until cold, about 1 hour.

Prepare and shape butter:
After dough has chilled. arrange sticks of butter horizontally, their sides touching, on a work surface. Pound butter with a rolling pin to soften slightly (butter should be malleable but still cold). Scrape butter into a block and put on a kitchen towel, then cover with another towel. Pound and roll out on both sides until butter forms a uniform 8-by-5-inch rectangle. Chill, wrapped in towels, while rolling out the dough.

Roll out dough:
Unwrap dough and roll out on a lightly floured surface, dusting with flour as necessary and lifting and stretching dough (especially in corners), into a 16-by-10-inch rectangle. Arrange dough with short side nearest you. Put butter in center of dough so that the long sides of butter are parallel to short sides of dough. Fold as you would a letter: bottom third of dough over butter, then top third down over dough. Brush off excess flour with pastry brush.

Turn dough so a short side is nearest you, then flatten dough slightly by pressing down horizontally with rolling pin across dough at regular intervals, making uniform impressions. Roll out dough into a 15-by-10-inch rectangle, rolling just to but not over ends.

Brush off any excess flour. Fold into thirds like a letter again, stretching corners to square off dough, forming a 10-by-5-inch rectangle. You have completed the first "fold". Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, 1 hour.

Make remaining folds:
Make 3 more folds in the same manner, chilling dough for 1 hour after each fold, for a total of 4 folds. (If any butter oozes out while rolling, sprinkle with flour to prevent sticking. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and chill at least 8 hours but no more than 18 hours. (After 18 hours, dough may not rise sufficiently when baked.)

Now if this sounds like too much work - and it is a lot of work - buy a good quality pre-made croissant dough instead.

Chocolate Filling
 12 oz. good quality semi-sweet chocolate
11/2 cup heavy cream
Finely chop chocolate and place in a medium-size bowl and set aside. In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the cream until it almost boils and starts to steam, but do not let it boil. Pour over the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute then stir till all the chocolate melts. If it will not melt completely, place in a microwave and at 15-second intervals, stirring each time, until it is all melted. Let mixture cool 15-20 minutes then cover and place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

To assemble:
Roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into 3-by-6-inch rectangles, then cut each rectangle diagonally. This will give you 2 elongated triangles. Place one of the triangles in front of you with the point facing away. Put a small amount of the chocolate mixture in the center of the bottom of the triangle and roll up to the point (like those crescent rolls you have at Thanksgiving).

Continue this process until you have used up your dough and chocolate. If you want larger croissants, just start with larger rectangles.

Place the croissants on a lined sheet pan and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm place to rise about 40 to 60 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush croissants with egg wash and bake till golden brown. This will take approximately 15 minutes, depending on the size of the croissant.

Never again will you take croissants for granted.

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