Why we started this idea????

A passion for food, wine, friends and entertaining is a big part of our life. This is a way for us to document our experiences, passion for food & life and also share it with others.
















Sunday, February 26, 2012

Homemade Chocolate Croissants

OMG...if I can make homemade chocolate croissants anyone can and you must! Well, at least once you must!

This week for Gutsy Cooks Club we were challenged with making homemade croissants. From scratch, oh my! Now the ironic thing here is although baking is 100% not my thing I've had the "Flaky & Delicious Croissants at Home" recipe bookmarked from the April 2010 Cuisine At Home since it arrived in my mailbox almost 2 years ago.
Ally & Spencer December 2011

Our niece Ally loves croissants and we love to cook with her... so I've been promising her we would make chocolate croissants for a while now so having made these without her I'm feeling a bit guilty but more confident to do again with her soon. Especially since I texted her a photo yesterday and she was pretty excited to see that I did it with our without her.

 A few things to know if you're going to give croissant making a try... you need some time. Three days optimally, two at the very least.

Cuisine At Home had Tips for Croissant Success that I took pretty seriously...
1) No kneading. Kneading would make the croissants tough.
2) Baby the butter. Butter block needs to be cool but malleable.
3)Rolling with light pressure, don't smash the dough. And try to keep the edges square.
4) Heat is not a friend to croissant dough. Chill the dough anytime you are not actively working it. If the but ever seems to soft chill the dough more.

I tried diligently to follow all of these tips and I'm glad I had them as a guideline being an unconfident baker.

Friday Afternoon
I gathered my ingredients together.

First whisking the flour, sugar and yeast

before transferring it to the mixer.

To the dry ingredients I added the water & milk and created a slightly sticky ball of dough that I refrigerated over night.

Next I started the butter block.

On wax paper I traced out a 9x11 rectangle to use as a guide to roll the butter to reach to.

I pounded the three cubes of butter with a rolling pin and then


rolled it out as close to the dimensions as I could between the 2 pieces of wax paper.

So far on day 1 I was feeling pretty successful...like "I can do this!"

Saturday


I let the dough come to room temperature and then rolled it out to a 12x15 rectangular shape.

Next, I laid my butter block on the dough leaving 1/3 of the dough open.

Then, I folded the dough over the butter, like folding a letter of sorts,

until it looked more like a burrito.

Then it was time for the first roll (this I learned is called "laminating" the dough.)
I rolled the dough into a 12x15 rectangle. I tried my best to be precise and used a ruler throughout the process to ensure I was close to the desired size needed. Then the dough went back into the fridge for 45 minutes.

I refolded, rolled and chilled the dough for a total of 3 turns.

Each time chilling it 45 minutes after it was rolled. This is what builds those layers of flaky butter. Then I chilled it in the fridge overnight.

Sunday


Finally, I knew eating croissants was in our near future. Wow, this was quite a process I must say. But our patience even made them more enjoyable. I got up earlier than G and rolled the dough to a 11x23 inch rectangle.

I then measure and cut it in half horizontally and then started cutting the triangles.

I cut a small notch in the middle of the base of each triangle and with my hands stretched the triangles out to 8 inches long carefully.

You can feel the butter in the dough.
Look carefully and you can see those flaky layers of butter goodness already

I found a  tip to roll the edges of the notch over like the lapel of a shirt and this helps stretch the croissant with legs.


I chopped up a block of bittersweet chocolate

and put about a large teaspoon of chocolate at the base of the triangle.


I then rolled and stretched, rolled and stretched until they looked like little crabs.

Now I washed with the egg wash

and let them "proof" for 2 hours and went back to bed.

When we got up I put them into the freezer to set the butter before baking

 and washed them again with the egg wash before baking them.

Finally, into the oven they went. After 9 minutes I turned the pan in the oven before cooking the final 9 minutes at 400 degrees.


Oh yeah, they looked pretty wonderful right away.
Not big and huge like the Supersized Costco croissant but petite and perfect with our coffee and chai for a breakfast.

I made both regular and chocolate croissants.

They are wonderful. I think G ate at least 3-4 already this morning so far. I think I'll take the rest to school tomorrow as I return after my 2 week bereavement time off as way to say, "thank you staff for understanding I needed this time away to not be in charge of you and 400 kids but just time be in charge of me and feel this experience with my family." They'll be shocked at the success of the croissants. I've mentioned I have a teacher who asks me not to bake for them, so the fact I pulled these off and they were fantastic will be shocking for some.

This was a great challenge for me take on this weekend. It kept me busy, allowed a bit of time to not think about the sadness every minute and additionally I gave myself the time and I accomplished one of my "baking bucket list" items thanks to Monica and the Gutsy Cooks Club.

Now I will make these again with my niece and I anticipate doing everything pretty much the same. But this is definitely not a regular baking endeavor I would want to do. They are wonderfully flaky, butter filled and delicate but rarely do I have 3 whole days to devote to baking. Nor do I want to use all 3 days to be honest.

Here's the link to 2 croissant recipes posted on our Gutsy Cooks Announcements. Go check out the other Gutsy Cook's attempts.

 I didn't follow these particular links but they are very similar to the recipe I used of course.

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Macaroni & Con Queso with Roasted Chiles


Sticking to my goal this week to actually make a few of the recipes I've pinned from Pinterest I made Macaroni & Con Queso with Roasted Chiles inspired by a pin  of Macaroni Con Queso from the blog Will Cook for Food.

Although the one pinned looked pretty fab I knew that we would love it even more if we roasted the jalapenos added some poblano and used a mixture of 4 cheeses instead of 4. And boy was I right.

Now if you are not a fan of spice I don't recommend this recipe but if you are and you love good ole' homemade mac & cheese you must make this. It was the bomb or rather maybe "the firecracker."


I started by roasting the jalapeno and poblano under the broiler. And then letting them steam in a paperbag before slicing them up. You could remove the seeds and ribs of the chiles to bring down the heat a bit but I didn't do that.

Next I shredded our 4 cheese choices

and then gathered all the ingredients together.

While boiling the pasta I started the cheese sauce. It all came together pretty simply. Now since this is not a classic bechamel sauce that is usually used in a mac & cheese recipe you'll notice the cheese is very stringy and kind of clumpy but is also pretty wonderful if you like your mac & cheese really cheesy like I do.

Great stuff, your mouth will definitely be woken up by this that's for sure but the flavor is great.

Link to original recipe found on Will Cook for Food.

Our adapted recipe:

Macaroni & Con Queso with Roasted Chiles
1 lb. corkscrew pasta cooked as directed on box
1 Cup shredded medium cheddar
1/2 Cup shredded sharp white cheddar
1/2 Cup shredded monteray jack cheese
1/2 Cup shredded pepper jack cheese
2 Tblspn. butter
3 jalapeno peppers
1 poblano chile
1/2 white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/4 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup milk
Crushed red pepper to taste

1. Roast chiles under broiler until blackened. Let steam in paper bag. Remove skins and finely chop.

2. Prepare pasta as directed on box. Drain.

3. While pasta is cooking add butter, onion, and garlic to pan until softened. Stir in corn and chiles and turn off heat.

4. In small bowl combine milk and sour cream. Add to the pot turning heat back to low. While stirring add cheese mixture on handful at a time, stirring until fully melted. Sauce will be stringy. If too stringy or clumpy add a bit more milk until desired consistency.

5. Stir in pasta and serve topping with crushed red pepper to taste.