Friday, June 17, 2011

Semi-Homemade Almond Croissants

by Darla

You may be wondering how my journey to Minnesota was, and whether or not I’m having fun. Well, if you follow me on twitter, then you know my journey was long, uncomfortable, long, and long.

This past Wednesday, to get from my island home to the land of 10,000 lakes, I had an entire day of flying and layovers ahead of me. Four flights and three layovers, totaling about 17 hours of travel time. A sacrifice to the family and travel gods that I was more than willing to make.

All went well along the way until I arrived in Chicago. Actually, the trouble didn’t start until I was boarded onto my plane to Minnesota and we were taxiing out to the runway. The captain came on over the speakers and announced that we may not be able to land in Minnesota because of fog. That announcement was very quickly followed by one stating that we would NOT be able to. Our flight was canceled.

Everyone beat a path to the nearest customer service counter in hopes of getting on the next available flight. Unfortunately, the next available flights weren’t available until Friday (today). They did, however, have a six a.m. flight to another airport, so I jumped at it and called my sis to let her know shed have to drive a couple f hours to get me in the morning.

In the meantime, since the flight was canceled due to weather, the airline didn’t provide any voucher for accommodations, so instead, the airport set up dozens of camping cots. I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t sleep a wink. There were a lot of factors playing into my lack of shut eye: I was surrounded by lots of strangers, with a man I didn’t know on each side of me…only about a foot away. Very strange. There were these three or four blaring announcements that played on a continuous loop every three minutes of so. Then, around three o’ clock in the morning this odd ringing began and repeated itself about every 30 seconds. Every time anyone tried to move on their camping cot, the creaks that the cots released were loud and grating. Worst of all, though, was how bone-chillingly cold the airport was. It was so miserable, and the blankets they provided were the perfect size…for a small child.

All of that said, I really was grateful that the airport was kind enough to provide this darkened hallway for people to try to rest in. I know lots of friends who have had far worse overnight ordeals at airports. I was also grateful to put my feet on solid Minnesota ground yesterday morning and greet my nephews and sis with lots of hugs, kisses, and IHOP! Sure, I went about 40 hours without sleep, and yes, my luggage is MIA, and I’m still feeling woozy from lack of food and sleep, but I’m here and I’m happy. The boys are the perfect medicine to cure my exhaustion. :)

This morning, sis and I decided to make breakfast for the kiddos. We made a fast, easy, tasty tasty breakfast that we all scarfed down, so that we can bolt and I get to hit the mall for the first time in almost a year! I can’t wait!

kWe made semi-homemade almond croissants this morning to fuel up for our day of shopping. The reason they’re semi-homemade is because I used frozen puff pastry sheets to make them. I just let it thaw while I made the homemade filling for them.

In addition to thawed puff pastry dough, you’ll need unsalted butter (softened), almond paste, vanilla extract, sugar, all-purpose flour, an egg, and finely grated lemon zest for the filling.

Break the almond paste up into chunks and place it in a medium bowl, or the bowl of a food processor.

Cut the dough with a fork, or pulse in the processor four or five times, to break the paste up further. Add the sugar to the bowl and cut it into the almond paste until the mixture is well combined and broken up into tiny pieces. If using a food processor, you can do this with an additional five to six pulses after adding the sugar.

Add the butter and mix until thoroughly combined.

Finally, add the flour and mix until combined. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

Roll the thawed pastry dough out (one sheet at a time) until it’s about 18×16 inches. Cut the dough into thirds lengthwise, then cut it across the middle, creating six evenly-sized rectangles.

Next, cut each rectangle into two triangles by cutting from the top corner down to the opposite bottom corner.

Place about one tablespoon of almond filling on each triangle.

Spread the filling to the edges of the triangles.

Roll the triangles up, starting on the shortest side and rolling towards the point. Evenly space the croissants on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper or Silpat mats.

If making ahead of time, cover the croissants with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

In a small bowl, gently whisk together an egg and a little heavy cream. Brush the tops of the croissants with the wash then sprinkle them with sliced, raw almonds.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes until dark golden brown.

Allow the croissants to cool for at least five minutes before serving. These are also excellent at room temperature, and if you keep them in an airtight container, they’re good for a couple of days.

Dust these pretty croissants with some sweet confectioners’ sugar before serving them to give them a little something extra. Yes, yes. That is a tea ball filled with confectioners’ sugar. :) It makes an excellent duster for the sugar, as well as cocoa powder!

These croissants, along with a batch of delish chocolate croissants, were the perfect fast, easy, wonderfully tasty breakfast for this seriously exhausted aunt to make for three of her favorite boys.

Now, I’m off to hunt down my luggage and be a shopaholic. Wish me luck… You go make these and have a happy day! Enjoy!

Semi-homemade Almond Croissants
Makes 1 dozen small croissants
Ingredients

FOR THE FILLING
4 oz. almond paste
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough, thawed

FOR THE EGG WASH
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk or cream

1 cup raw sliced almonds
confectioners’ sugar for dusting

To make the filling (can be made up to 5 days in advance, if kept covered and refrigerated until used): Break the almond paste up into small chunks and place in the bowl of a food processor (or a medium bowl). Pulse the paste 2 or 3 times, or cut with a fork, to break it up into smaller pieces. Add the sugar to the bowl and pule another 5 to 6 times until the sugar is incorporated and the mixture is cut up into tiny pieces. If mixing by hand, use a fork or douch cutter to cut the sugar into the almond paste. Add the butter and mix until well blended, then beat in the egg until combined. Stir in the lemon zest and vanilla, then add the flour and mix until just combined. Scrape the bowl to evenly combine everything, then cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats; set aside.

Roll the thawed pastry dough (one sheet at a time) out until it’s about 18×16 inches. Cut the doughy into third lengthwise, then cut it across the middle, creating six evenly-sized rectangles. Next, cut each rectangle into 2 triangles by cutting from the top corner down to the opposite bottom corner.

Place about 1 tablespoon of almond filling on each triangle and spread it to the edges. Roll the triangles up, starting on the shortest side and rolling towards the point. Evenly space the croissants on the prepared baking sheets.

If making ahead of time, cover the croissants with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. Otherwise, continue on to the egg wash.

In a small bowl, gently whisk together the egg and heavy cream. Brush the tops of the croissants with the wash then sprinkle them with the sliced almonds.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until dark golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before dusting with confectioners’ sugar and serving warm.

Recipe adapted from The Art and Soul of Baking

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rosa June 17, 2011 at 11:53 am

Glad you made it safely to Minnesota, even with all the craziness of traveling! Hope you have a great time with your family and that your travels back home won’t be as dramatic! :-)

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2 katescakesandbakes June 17, 2011 at 2:46 pm

What a perfect breakfast to help recover from the trials and tribulations of your journey and set you up for a great day shopping. I’m sure these were a huge success with the kids. Have a great trip!

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3 Chung-Ah @ Damn Delicious June 17, 2011 at 5:13 pm

These look gorgeous. I can’t wait to give these a try.

And genius idea for using the tea ball for dusting sugar!

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4 Kathia June 17, 2011 at 7:58 pm

I saw your updates, i felt for you. I am glad you made it. These look delicious.

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5 Avanika [Yumsilicious Bakes] June 18, 2011 at 2:54 am

Sorry it was so tough for you. Glad you finally made it. The croissants look great, puff pastry just isn’t worth the effort sometimes

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6 Emily@SoDomesticated June 18, 2011 at 11:08 pm

Glad to hear you are with your family! Your croissants look delish!

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7 Cobalt&Calcium June 19, 2011 at 7:05 am

*droolslobberslobber*

Those look gorgeous! You’ve come all that way and you still manage to whip up something mouthwatering.
If it had been me I’d have a horrible case of hangryness.

One question though, I can’t find almond paste in the shops here, can I substitute it with something else or make some myself?

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8 Heather I. June 21, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Ugggghhh about the flight situation, no bueno. I’m sure you’re happy to sleep in your own bed.
Those croissants look soooo delicious! Almond is one one my most favorite flavors. Definitely home-made enough for me!

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9 Kathy June 21, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Hope you were alright ;( at least the airport was kind to provide everything, like (tiny) blankets!

The first picture of croissants look like little pastry piggies :)

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10 Gayla Garrett June 22, 2011 at 11:05 am

Are these good the next day? Cold? or would you nuke them since you advise to serve them warm? Or would you serve them only after baking? They look yummy and I plan on trying them very soon!

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11 Donna tucker February 7, 2012 at 7:53 pm

In the middle of making these right now, you don’t address the lemon and vanilla in the directions, I am going to assume they go into the filling?

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12 Donna tucker February 7, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Oops, you don’t address the egg either, yikes does that go in the filling too?

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13 Darla February 7, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Hi Donna, I am so sorry about that! I apparently got ahead of myself!! I have updated the post now, but yes, those ingredients are all mixed into the filling. Again, I’m so sorry about that! And thank you for pointing out for me!

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14 Donna tucker February 7, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Thank you so much, I appreciate your quick response.

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