The first time that I made these and shared them with my foodie friend Jeremy, the first words out of his mouth after taking a bite were…well, unrepeatable here. But let’s just say that he thought these were amazing. I went to France last year and I can attest that these rivaled those decadent Parisian pastries. Perfectly flaky with a center strip of delicious dark chocolate…. oh, wow. The thought of them makes me want to sign off here and go whip up another batch.
I told Jeremy that I’d be happy to make the croissants again as long as I could simplify one particular step in the process. Croissants are no walk in the park, but the original recipe included one step that made me want to quit the recipe altogether. The original recipe involved manually pressing three sticks of cold butter with two tablespoons of flour until the mixture is perfectly smooth. The process was messy and frustrating. I waited a few months before making the croissants again (not many people can afford to eat a dozen chocolate croissants very often!) and I had thought of a way to simplify the butter/flour mixture step. Why not just combine the butter and flour in the mixer with a paddle attachment? It worked like a charm and now I don’t cringe at the idea of preparing these for a dinner party.
Now that I’ve made this recipe twice, I realize that making croissants isn’t really that hard. Time consuming, yes, but not difficult at all. An overview of the process is as follows: make your dough and the butter square. Store separately in the fridge. Place the butter square onto the dough and fold like an envelope, flatten a bit, and then fold into a square. Repeat that last step. Roll out the final dough into a huge square, cut into smaller rectangles, fill with chocolate and bake. Once you realize that it’s just a matter of waiting for each step to be complete, it’s not a matter of if you’ll make these croissants, but when.
Source: Cook's Illustrated
Best. Chocolate. Croissants. Ever.
- For the dough: Whisk 2 3/4 cups of flour together with yeast, sugar, and salt in medium bowl. Place milk in bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Add flour mixture and knead at low speed until ball of dough forms, about 5 minutes. Add butter pieces to dough. Continue to knead until butter becomes fully incorporated and dough becomes smooth, begins to form a ball, and clears the sides of the bowl, an additional 5 to 6 minutes. (Dough should be sticky, but if more dough is sticking to sides of bowl than to itself, add remaining 1/4 cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, as necessary.) Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- For the butter square: Clean out the mixer bowl. Combine the butter and flour in the mixer bowl with the paddle attachment. Mix until well combined using a spatula to redistribute the mixture as needed. Dump onto your workspace and shape into a 7-inch square. Refrigerate butter square until ready to use, at least 30 minutes.
- Lightly dust work surface with flour. Roll dough into an 11-inch square. Place chilled butter square diagonally onto dough. Fold corners of dough up over butter square so that they meet in middle and pinch ends of dough together to seal them. Your dough should look somewhat like a giant diamond at this point.
- Using rolling pin, gently tap dough, starting from center of dough and going outward, until square becomes larger and butter begins to soften. At this point, start gently rolling dough into 14-inch square, checking often to make sure dough is not sticking and dusting with additional flour as necessary. Fold square into thirds to form long rectangle. (This method of folding is called a “turn” and resembles folding a business letter.) Starting from narrow ends, fold rectangle into thirds again to form square. You have now given dough 2 turns. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Repeat step 4, giving dough 2 additional turns (for total of 4 turns) and chilling again for at least 2 hours.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place chilled dough on floured work surface and gently roll dough into 20-inch square. Use pizza cutter and ruler to cut dough into 4 equal 10-inch squares. Cut each square into thirds to make a total of 12 rectangles, each approximately 10 by 3 1/4 inches. Place 1/2 ounce (about 1 tablespoon) chocolate in middle of each rectangle. Fold the top and bottom halves of each rectangle over the chocolate portion, dividing each rectangle into thirds and place it seam-side down on baking sheet.
- Cover croissants loosely with plastic wrap and let them rise at a cooler room temperature (meaning, probably not in your kitchen!) until puffy (they will not double in size), 45 to 60 minutes.
- Meanwhile, adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 400 degrees. Using pastry brush, brush croissants with beaten egg. Bake until croissants are golden brown, 18 to 22 minutes, rotating baking sheets from front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking time. Cool croissants on wire rack until warm, about 20 minutes. Drizzle with melted chocolate, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature. (Jeremy loves these dusted with powdered sugar!)