I made chocolate twists today using my favourite croissant dough recipe, and they were so delicious that I think I should immediately give up work and manufacture chocolate twists for a living.
My success with croissant dough has been a bit up and down, so I have been holding off posting a recipe until I got it just right, but I think this week has taught me that if you leave the dough in the fridge for a few days (e.g. 4-5 days) it just gets better and better.
I also love the maths and science associated with this dough, because the reason that the layers puff up is because the butter creates steam when placed in a very hot oven, so the key thing is to have lots of layers of butter within the pastry, and to have the oven hot when you put the dough in to cook. Please don’t be put off by the dough recipe, it really is quite simple. I recommend rolling and folding it five times, but each roll and fold is very quick, and I can have this dough made and in the fridge in half an hour easily.
The number of rolls and folds is very important. The first fold gives you 3 layers, the second fold gives you 9 layers, the third fold gives you 27 layers, the fourth fold gives you 81 layers, and the fifth fold gives you 243 layers. You can go on and do further folds if you like, but I find that five is sufficient.
The following quantity will make 6 croissants or chocolate twists plus you should have a little bit left to make a little sampler piece – every time I cook I like to make a little taster portion so that I can eat some straight from the oven without breaking into the main yield. If you need a larger quantity, just increase the amounts accordingly.
1 cup (150g) of plain flour
18g melted butter
1/4 tablespoon yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
70g butter slightly soft
1. Flatten the 70g portion of butter between two sheets of baking parchment to form a square approximately 13-14cm square. Wrap it in the parchment and place it in the fridge.
2. Mix all the other ingredients together in a bowl. Stir with a spatula to combine and as they come together, use your hands to knead the dough into a ball. If you have time, wrap it in cling film and place it in the fridge for approx 30 minutes.
3. Roll out the dough onto a floured surface into a large square.
4. Place the butter square in the middle of the dough in a diamond shape, and wrap the dough around the butter, overlapping it to avoid the butter oozing out. You will see from my pictures that my edges are a bit rough – but don’t worry, it really doesn’t matter.
5. Roll the dough into a rectangle, if any pieces of butter poke through just sprinkle them with flour and continue.
6. Fold the rectangle into three as if you are folding a letter ready to be placed in an envelope.
7. Turn the dough and roll and fold again so that this time you are folding it in the other direction. Keep doing this until you have turned, rolled and folded at least 5 times. If at any time the butter gets really sticky, wrap the dough in cling film and put it in the fridge for a while.
8. When you have finished, wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate. You can leave it for 5-6 days, the longer you leave it, the better it will be.
Creme Patissiere for filling (the filling is not compulsory but is very nice)
1 egg separated
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 tablespoon plain flour
15 – 25g sugar (depending on how sweet you want it to be)
1/2 tablespoon vanilla essence
1. Separate the egg into two bowls. Add the sugar to the yolk.
2. Using an electric whisk, whisk the egg white until it is stiff and fluffy. Set this aside for later.
3. Don’t wash the whisk, go straight on to whisking the yolk and sugar until it is pale yellow and creamy smooth. Add the cornflour and flour, and a splash of the milk and whisk again.
4. Heat the remaining milk gently in a non-stick small saucepan until almost boiling.
5. While stirring, pour the milk onto the egg yolk/sugar/flour mixture, then return the whole mixture to the saucepan and heat very gently, stirring all the time to avoid sticking. Scrape every morsel from the bowl.
6. It will thicken fairly quickly, keep stirring so that it doesn’t go omeletty, and add the vanilla essence.
7. Now add half the whisked egg white (this is all you need, but you can add more if you need the custard to be looser). Fold the egg white into the custard, return to the heat and gently cook for a further 2 minutes.
8. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
To make the twists
1. Heat the oven to approx 200-220 deg C.
2. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
3. Roll out the pastry into a square approx 32cm square (the exact size does not matter).
4. Now cut it vertically into strips approx 5cm wide.
5. Spread the creme patissiere (if you are using it) along the middle of the strips and scatter dark chocolate chips along the bottom half of each strip. (You will need approx half a tablespoon of chips for each twist).
6. Fold each strip in half from top to bottom, and press around the edges. Now stretch and twist each strip and place them on the baking sheet side by side.
7. Brush with milk or egg and bake for approx 15 minutes until golden and puffed up.
8. Sprinkle with sieved icing sugar.