After making the dough yesterday, I found the second step of making the filling and the assembly to be quick and easy.
Even with all the time this recipe requires, the end result is well worth it. The various textures packed into this pastry are really wonderful on the palate. Imagine the buttery crunch of the outside layer of the pastry, then the smooth chocolate orange pastry cream and the crunch of nuts. Also, the inner flaky layers of the croissant are not to be overlooked. This recipe makes 32 pastries.
Chocolate Pecan Sugar Crusted Snails
Adapted from Great Coffee Cakes
Ingredients/ Chocolate Pastry Cream
2 tbs cornstarch
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp orange zest
2 pinches of salt
4 egg yolks
2-3.5 oz chopped bittersweet chocolate bars
1 tsp vanilla extract
Ingredients/for assembly and topping
1 recipe for croissant dough (see link above)
2 cups chopped toasted pecans
2 eggs beaten with 2 tsp water
1/2 cup milk
6 tbs sparkling sugar
For the pastry cream, add the egg yolks to a medium bowl and beat on medium speed until they have a pale yellow hue. Take out 2 tbs from the measured sugar and set aside. Pour the remaining sugar (6 tbs) into the yolks in 1 tbs intervals, beating for about 10 seconds after each addition. Turn the mixer to low and beat in the cornstarch and salt. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, stir together the milk, 2 tbs sugar and orange zest. Place saucepan over medium high heat and remove when it reaches right below the boiling point. Stream in 1/3 of this mixture into the egg batter and whisk together. Then transfer the egg mixture into the saucepan with the remaining heated milk. Place pan over medium high heat and stir constantly as mixture cooks.
Once it reaches the consistency of pudding, remove from heat and sprinkle the chopped chocolate over the surface. Lightly press the chocolate into the pastry cream and let set for 2 minutes. Using a spatula, mix the chocolate pieces into the pastry cream. Once smooth, stir in the vanilla.
Transfer the mixture to a heat proof bowl and lay a buttered piece of plastic wrap over the top surface and let cool.
Take the dough out of the fridge and cut with bench scraper into 4 equal squares. Keep one out and return the other three pieces (covered in plastic) to the fridge. Place the dough piece on a floured surface and prepare a rimmed baking sheet by dabbing butter in the corners and lining with parchment.
Roll the dough into a rectangle, measuring 16X8 with the 16 inch sides parallel with the edge of the counter. To keep the dough from shrinking, pierce the surface of the dough at 1 inch intervals. Measure out your pastry cream into 4 equal amounts and place in separate bowls. Spoon out one of the bowls of cream onto the surface of the dough. Smooth with a spatula, making sure that there is a 1/2 inch border of dough along the 16 inch edge sides of the dough. Then brush the dough borders with the egg wash. Also, sprinkle evenly 6 tbs of pecans on the chocolate pastry cream and lightly press into the cream.
Mark each of the 16 inch edges of dough with a small indentations every 4 inches. Using this guide, cut the dough into 8 triangles. Then roll up, starting with the longest side first. You should be able to make 3 turns. Press the right and left ends of the pastry toward the center to plump up. Place on prepared baking sheet with tip down. Repeat this process with the remaining 3 pieces of dough in the fridge.
Brush the tops of all the pastries with milk, cover and let rise in a warm place for about 1 or 1 1/2 hours, the pastries should almost double within that time. Brush with milk in 3 intervals in the 1 - 1 1/2 hours rising time..
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Once rising time is complete, brush sides and top of pastries with the egg wash. Sprinkle with remaining nuts and sparkling sugar. Place in oven to bake for 28-30 minutes. Remove pans from oven and let cool for 10 minutes on pan and then transfer to a cooling rack.
Tips and Notes:
1. Instead of pushing the side ends of the dough in, I folded them to the same side as the tip so they would face down when baked.
2. After the milk and egg wash, I transferred the dough to a clean piece parchment prior to baking. That way, there is no spill over from the milk and egg wash when baking.
**LAST YEAR: Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies**