Taste Test Tuesday

Pretend today was Tuesday and my internet was working properly-- I have been wanting to change up my regular blog posts to ones I'll be more passionate about- and more likely to keep up. That being said, I am turning Tuesdays into a day to test out new recipes: Tuesday Recipe Trials; and I'll be doing a Five Things Friday in place of my original Ten Things Tuesday. Now I'll have more time to dedicate to actually creating things to blog about!

So here is the first edition of Tuesday Recipe Trials!

Mini Almond Croissants

1 tsp active dry yeast

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 Tbs sugar

1/4 c warm water

1 1/3 c cake flour + 2/3 c all purpose flour

1 Tbs sugar

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 c tepid milk

3 Tbs vegetable oil

1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter- cold

1 Tbs milk

Almond paste:

8 oz almonds (any cut or whole)

8 oz confectioners sugar

1 egg white

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Combine the yeast, salt, sugar, and warm water in a small bowl and stir until dissolved. Let this mixture sit for about 5 minutes while you gather the rest of your ingredients.

Combine both flours, the sugar, salt, tepid milk, oil, and, when it has a thin layer of foam on top, the yeast mixture. Stir the whole sticky mess until just combined then drop the dough onto a clean work surface. Knead the dough for approximately 3 minutes until it's smooth and elastic.

Drop the dough ball into a bowl, cut an 'X' into the top, and cover it with plastic wrap to let it rise for about 1 1/2-2 hours or until it's doubled in size.

Once the dough has risen, punch it down and wrap it with wax paper to chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes. After it has chilled, remove your stick of butter from the fridge. Wrap your rolling pin in plastic wrap or wax paper (I learned the hard way) and lay a sheet of wax paper onto your work surface. Beat the unwrapped butter until it is lump free and somewhat easy to work with. Remove your chilled dough from the fridge and spread it out into about a 9" circle. Lay your flattened butter on top- it should resemble about a 5" square-ish shape. Fold the edges of your dough up around the butter being careful not to let it tear.

Flour your rolling pin and work surface and begin to roll the dough out from the center, being careful not to let butter seep out. If it does, just pinch the dough back together. You are aiming for approximately a 15"x5" rectangle, but if it's not so rectangle just yet, don't worry, the next step will help.

Once you have your large shape, fold the bottom up 1/3 of the way and fold the top down over it-- like a tri-fold business letter.

Roll out your letter to the same 15x5" rectangle and re-fold  it the same way. Wrap this in wax paper and chill in the fridge for about 2 hours.

After your dough is chilled, repeat the last 2 steps- roll it out to a 15x5" rectangle and fold it into thirds. Repeat that twice then wrap it and chill it again for 2 hours. While you are waiting for your dough to chill, it is a good time to make your almond paste for the filling. Process your 8oz of almonds with 8oz of confectioners sugar until it has a relatively smooth crumb. dump the whole mixture into a stand mixer along with your egg white and beat it until it is combined. I toasted my almonds before grinding them so I lost a good bit of their moisture. I added a few tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk to make up for that in my mixture. Wrap your almond paste up otherwise it will dry out before you finished shaping your croissants.

Now comes the fussy part. Once you've taken  your dough from the fridge, unwrap it and admire it- you have just created 82 layers of dough with 81 layers of butter in between. You've made your very own puff pastry! This is what it would look like if you took it out of a store-bought box.

Lightly flour your rolling pin and work surface again and begin to roll your dough out again. This time, roll it into a 20" long rectangle by 5" wide. Cut it in half crosswise and set half aside. Roll your one half out into a 12x5" rectangle, cut that into thirds, and chill 2 of the thirds as well as your remaining half.

Now you should be working with a small portion of dough. Cut the piece into thirds and cut each third diagonally. Put a tiny roll of almond past near the longest end of your triangle and begin rolling it up towards the point. Then shape your mini croissant into a crescent and place on a greased cookie sheet. Repeat for the remaining dough as well as the chilled pieces in the fridge. Once they are all shaped and on the cookie sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let them rest/rise for about an hour.

Preheat your oven to 475F  and beat your remaining egg with the 1T milk. Brush your egg wash on top of each croissant being careful not to over do it- if the egg drips on the pan, it's likely to burn. Sprinkle sliced almonds on top and pop those suckers in the oven! It's about time! Watch them VERY closely as they only take between 5-7 minutes to bake and I definitely burned my first batch. Once they're out of the oven be careful you don't burn yourself when you bite in-- that almond paste will be hotter than you might think! For serving, sprinkle with a light dusting of powdered sugar and watch them disappear!

*Note: One you have them filled and shaped on the pan, let them rise for an hour and then you can wrap and freeze them. When you're ready to serve, brush on the egg wash and sprinkle the almonds and pop them in the oven frozen! It'll only add 1-2 minute to bake time so still watch them closely!

There you have it- your very own, made from scratch, mini almond croissants! When I made Roger try one straight from the oven, he was astounded by the light flakey texture- in fact he gave me the best compliment I've ever gotten on my food: "I can't believe you made that!" I would say this recipe trial was a success! And I promise, not all of my recipes will require you to give up an entire day of your life to make them :)