How to make foolproof croissants
With a few carefully chosen ingredients, you can prepare delicious impossible-to-mess-up freshly baked pastries.
The trick is to outsource the pastry. While technically not the same as true croissant dough, sheets of frozen puff pastry can stand in just fine. They are widely available in the dessert freezer section of most grocers. And, if you care, the dough also happens to be vegan (try that with your typical buttery croissant).
Each 17.3-ounce package of pastry contains two sheets. To use them, simply thaw (don't unwrap them) at room temperature for an hour or so, or overnight in the refrigerator. After that, it's just a matter of cutting each sheet into triangles, then rolling them into crescents.
For this recipe, I kept it simple and sprinkled them with a blend of cinnamon sugar. You also could place a dollop of jam at the wide end of each triangle of dough before rolling.
Want to take it all the way? Make the croissant's delicious cousin, pain au chocolat. For this, you will want to buy chocolate bars made for this purpose (baking supply shops should have these, as does King Arthur Flour Company online). Then just wrap the thawed pastry around them (think sandwich wrap), then bake.
Or for the best of both worlds, bake the croissants as directed below, then warm a bit of Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread (microwave it in 10-second bursts) and drizzle it over them just before serving.
The croissants also can be cut and shaped the night before, then placed on a baking sheet, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated.
Cinnamon sugar croissants
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
1 17.3-ounce package frozen puff pastry, thawed (each package contains 2 pastry sheets)
4 tablespoons butter, melted
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, mix together the cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.
One at a time, unwrap and unfold the sheets of puff pastry. Use a paring knife to cut the sheet in half lengthwise. Starting in one corner, cut each half into 6 triangles. Use a rolling pin to lightly roll out each triangle to just barely flatten. Lightly brush the triangles with melted butter.
Sprinkle a bit of the cinnamon sugar over each triangle. One at a time, start with the wide end of each triangle and roll it into a log. Gently bend the ends so they curve inward to form a crescent. Transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Repeat the rolling with the remaining triangles.
Brush the tops of each croissant with a bit more butter, then sprinkle a bit more cinnamon sugar over each. Bake for 20 minutes, or until puffed and lightly browned. Let cool for several minutes, then serve warm.
To keep the finished croissants vegan, you can substitute a few spritzes of cooking spray for the melted butter. If you like, you also can glaze the croissants after they have baked and cooled. Stir together powdered sugar, a few drops of vanilla or almond extract, and a splash of milk (just enough to make a smooth drizzle).
Makes 24 croissants. Per croissant: 110 calories; 70 calories from fat (64 percent of total calories); 7 g fat (2.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 5 mg cholesterol; 9 g carbohydrate; 2 g protein; 0 g fiber; 100 mg sodium.
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