Croissants

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Croissants are probably one of my favorite foods.  I am really not a bread person.  I don’t really buy it and I don’t miss it.  I will make a cinnamon roll or the like, but I consider that to be a sweet.  I prefer a savory breakfast and eat eggs in some form every morning.  However, if I am having a rough time of it, a croissant is in order.  When I was working in NYC, every time I departed from the subway in the morning, I passed a bakery that had bagels, rolls, and fresh croissants.  It was so easy to dip in, get my warm, buttery, flaky croissant, and continue the route to work.  Also, my favorite place to eat in NYC is City Bakery.  They take the classic croissant and step up the game with a Pretzel Coissant.  They use a salt wash on the outside of the pretzel and it is a bit dryer (in a good way) than a classic croissant.  The croissant at Starbucks is not great, but not bad, and it will do in a pinch.  Also, it has less calories than most of the stuff in their pastry case.  So, croissants are a health food.

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I am currently in transition from one job to another and I have some extra free time.  It is just so much easier to devote your time to these lengthy project when you know you have limited distractions (like a job – hah).  I was inspired by Dominique Ansel’s Cronut recipe that has been recently published.  However, I thought if i were going to ever attempt making the cronut, I needed to make a classic croissant first, to understand the basics of a laminated dough.

I did some research and was pointed to the Cooks Illustrated method.  I read about other home baker’s errors and made a game plan to avoid them.  I loaded up on King Arthur All Purpose flour (not an ad), just recommended since it has a slightly higher gluten content than other all purpose flours.  I also loaded up on Plugra, a high fat content butter.  I scoped our house for a cool spot for the final rise.  I was concerned about this, being in the desert, but I found a closet that is nice and cool.  I watched the Cook’s Illustrated video about a million times and got to work.  The process was lengthy, but straightforward.  I was nervous at the end, just because so much work went into the pastries, but they turned out great.  When I was rolling them, I put some 60% chocolate into some of the croissants, and gruyere sticks and prosciutto in others.  I left more than half plain and wish I had filled more, but all were wonderful.  I found the process a lot less tedious than making a pie.  I think that says something about me, not sure what!

 

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Dairy-Free Chocolate Coconut Ice-Cream

What up, ya’ll?!  Are you gearing up for the holiday weekend?  I lament the end of summer.  It is my favorite season.  Why?  It’s my birthday (yep, I’m a Leo, hence why I have a blog and need lots of attention, Look at MEEEEE!).   As a person who commonly has blue fingertips, the summer provides me with much needed Vitamin D and sunshine so I can defrost my cold little body.  Also, my favorite holiday, the Fourth of July occurs,  and provides an amazing excuse to grill, go to the pool and watch explosives in the sky.  Also, summer gives us amazing fresh produce, sundresses, wedges, white jeans and beach trips.  Oh, I could go on and on.

Follow me on Instagram at @jessicaisbaking !

So, my Momma gave me an ice cream maker* for Christmas and I was sort of scared of it.  My fear was that once I started making ice-cream in it, I wouldn’t be able to stop and I would be eating ice-cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Hmm, now that I put that into words, that isn’t a problem at all.  However, the practical part of me knows that much dairy can be a lot to handle.  However, the best thing about the ice-cream maker is, like most other home-made foods, I can put exactly what I want to put into it!   Insert solution: coconut milk.  Coconut milk is a miracle.  Unless you don’t like coconut, something of which I have no concept.  Anyway, while this is no health food, it is a great way to have ice cream without the dairy.

This ice-cream is amazingly creamy and super chocolaty.  The quality of cocoa definitely matters.  My current favorite is King Arthur’s Deep Dark Cocoa*.   Also, it is highly important that you use full fat coconut milk as that is crucial for flavor and I’m guessing something sciencey.

Chocolate Coconut Ice-Cream
adapted from Food & Wine

3 cups coconut milk (full fat!)
3 tablespoons agave syrup
1 1/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup cocoa
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1.  In a large saucepan, whisk the coconut milk and agave syrup over moderately low heat until warm.

2.  In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the sugar and cocoa powder. Gradually whisk in 1 cup of the warm coconut milk until smooth, then whisk in the egg yolks.

3.  Scrape the cocoa paste into the saucepan and whisk until blended. Cook the custard over moderate heat, whisking constantly, for about 6 minutes, until very hot and slightly thickened; do not let it boil.

4.  Immediately strain the custard into a bowl in an ice water bath and stir in the vanilla. Stir the custard until cooled a bit and then put in the refrigerator to chill completely.

5.  Freeze the custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturers’ directions. Transfer the ice cream to a large plastic container and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours or enjoy as soft serve right away with a sprinkling of unsweetened shredded coconut, if you please!

Enjoy and Happy Labor Day.  Enjoy the fruits of all of your labors!

*King Arthur, Amazon and Cuisinart have no idea who I am and did not compensate me in any way, they just make stuff I like to buy.