{TWD} Four-Star Chocolate Bread Pudding

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I never thought I would be in a place in my life to use stale homemade croissants for bread pudding. But here I am and here we are with this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie selection: Four-Star Chocolate Bread Pudding. Dorie Greenspan suggests using stale brioche or challah. I figured stale croissants would work.

Because I only had 6 ounces of stale croissants, I made a half a recipe. The recipe came together quickly with no hang-ups. Other than the croissants, I didn’t substitute or add ingredients. I baked it one day and tried it the next like suggested. I’ve learned that bread pudding is not my thing. I’ve only had it once before and thought it was okay. I liked the taste of the Four-Star Chocolate Bread Pudding I just don’t like the texture of bread pudding.

Thank you to Lauren of Upper East Side Chronicle for selecting this week’s recipe. Visit her blog for the recipe.

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It started as a joke

and I turned it into reality. Isn’t this how a lot of great ideas come about? Last week I brought into work my trio of homemade croissants. The joke started because of a super-delicious flaky cheese croissant. KM, who always has wonderful ideas, asked me –as he munched on a super-delicious flaky cheese croissant–if I had ever had pigs in a blanket made with hot dogs and Pilsbury Crescent Rolls. Of course I had, as a kid growing up. It was a quick and easy dinner for working and busy parents.

AG jumped in and said wouldn’t it be a hoot to make pigs in a blanket with homemade croissants? I laughed and said, yeah right I would never make croissants just to wrap around a hot dog. I don’t even eat hot dogs, not even veggie ones.

Well, as it turns out, this past weekend I made Morning Buns {these are very delicious and I’ll post these sometime in the future}. These are super-charged cinnamon rolls made with croissant dough. The thing about the recipe I made was that it only uses 1/2 a recipe of croissant dough. So I had a 1/2 a recipe of croissant dough sitting in my refrigerator. My choices were (1) make more morning buns or (2) make croissants. And then I remembered our joke from last week and thought why the heck not?

I ran to Trader Joes and bought Smart Dogs (veggie protein links). I rolled out the dough and cut it. I added some grated swiss cheese and the veggie dogs. I rolled them up and let them rise. I added a bit more cheese to the top and stuck them in the oven.

OMG. These were so good. They were so good, that KM who was out sick came into work when he heard about them. He really was sick and rolled out of bed and looking very pale ate the last one. He then went back home to get better. These are definitely not your mother’s pigs in a blanket.

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“Recipe”

Roll out and cut croissant dough per instructions. Add a tablespoon of cheese to each triangle. Add the hot dog half. Proof as directed. Prior to baking, sprinkle more cheese on top.

Yes, I did it again.

But this time I made chocolate ones! And almond ones! and oh my, cheese ones!

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This was my second time making croissants from scratch. My first time was such a big achievement for me. It was a lot of work and faith because I didn’t know how they would turn out.

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They were so successful and delicious, that I had no qualms about making them again when they came up as the next recipe for me to try out of The Art and Soul of Baking. This recipe is slightly different than Tartine’s recipe, but the method is the same.  Lots of rolling and turning and refrigerating the dough. It takes about 2 days to make them, so you do have to have a chunk of time to devote. Of course, much of the time is off-hand. You also need space to roll out the dough. And butter, lots of butter. 😛

These made smaller croissants, so they aren’t as big and gorgeous as my first go-around. But the taste was definitely still there. Because I made all-plain the first go-around, I decided to make all the variations in the book this time. The recipe makes 24 decent sized croissants. I made six each of: chocolate, almond, cheese, and plain.

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The chocolate and cheese were simple, you just had some of the grated ingredient before you roll the croissants. The almond ones required me to make an almond pastry filling made from almond paste, sugar, (more) butter, egg, lemon zest, vanilla, and a bit of flour.

croissants waiting to be baked

This recipe was a bit easier for me than the first time. It wasn’t painful to roll out the dough and turn it and cut it and shape it. I would almost say croissants are easy to make and I have absolutely no qualms about making them again. And I definitely will.

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My favorite was the cheese one, because I’m a cheese freak. I used Baby Swiss, which is a semi-soft cheese that is milder and more melty than regular Swiss. The other flavors were quite tasty too.  You can find the recipe for both the croissants and the almond filling HERE.

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I’m submitting this to Yeastspotting, a weekly round-up of yeasted goods and bread.

I did it! And I’m never doing it again…

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…or at least that is what I thought before I tasted heaven on earth, or what you might call a croissant. Yes, I made croissants from scratch. Yes, I spent two days rolling and folding dough, spreading butter (oh so much butter–5 1/2 sticks!!!), and waiting-lots of waiting.

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I never realized how much work went into making croissants {ignorance is bliss!} and maybe that’s why there are so many bad-tasting ones out there…nothing beats a handmade croissant. Wow. If I seem very enthusiastic right now, it’s only because I just finished eating my first one. There are still crumbs on my shirt, on my lips.

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The recipe I used comes from Tartine from the owners of the bakery of the same name in San Francisco. The Daring Bakers chose it has their monthly challenge in January 2007 long before I joined. I’m slowly baking my way through past challenges and after tasting these, I’m so glad I am. You can find the recipe at Veronica’s Test Kitchen, but the recipe is so long with a lot of steps {and the cookbook is great!} I urge you to get your hands on it.

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Here is a brief summary of the steps involved in making the best tasting croissant you’ll ever taste:

  1. Make a preferment. Let rise 2 to 3 hours (or overnight in fridge).
  2. Mix dough ingredients with preferment, let sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Knead dough for a maximum of 4 minutes in stand mixer. Let rise 1 1/2 hours or until doubles in size.
  4. Transfer dough to work surface. Pat out into a two-inch high rectangle, wrap in plastic, and place in fridge for 4 to 6 hours.
  5. An hour before your ready to start laminating the dough, take out the butter {22 ounces!!!} and use stand mixture to make butter malleable {but not warm! not soft!}. Wrap in plastic and place in refrigerator.

    This is what 5 1/2 sticks of butter spread out on dough looks like

    This is what 5 1/2 sticks of butter spread out on dough looks like

  6. Remove dough and butter from refrigerator. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface into a rectangle 28 by 12 inches. {Do you know how long 28 inches is? OMG, it’s long. I know I used a measuring tape.}
  7. Spread and pat the butter over 2/3rd’s of the rectangle. Fold in thirds starting with the unbuttered side. Like a business letter. This is apparently known as a plaque. imgp3189
  8. Use your fingers to seal the seams and give the plaque a quarter turn. Roll out the dough AGAIN to a 28 by 12 inch rectangle. I feel like I got a good upper body work out this weekend. 😛
  9. Fold it into a plaque again, wrap in plastic, and place in refrigerator for 1 1/2 to 2 hours to relax the gluten.
  10. Clean work surface, dust with flour, and AGAIN roll out dough to 28 by 12 inches. It’s neat you can see the streaks of butter when you roll out the dough.

    This is a 32 by 12 inch "rectangle".

    This is a 32 by 12 inch "rectangle".

  11. Fold it into a plaque. Wrap in plastic. Place on a quarter sheet pan and place in FREEZER for at least an hour or up to a week. Remove from freezer and place in fridge the night before you plan on making the croissants.
  12. When you are roll out the dough, lightly flour work surface. Roll out dough into a rectangle 32 by 12 inches. {That’s longer than 28 inches!! 😛 }. imgp3192
  13. Cut dough into triangles with a four inch base and 10 to 12 inch sides and roll into croissants.
  14. Let croissants rise for 2 to 3 hours. imgp3195
  15. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  16. 10 minutes before croissants are ready for oven, make egg wash and brush on croissants. Let croissants sit for 10 minutes.
  17. Place in oven and turn temp down to 400 F. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes, turning pan half way through.
Croissants...fresh from the oven.

Croissants...fresh from the oven.