Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cinnamon Walnut Horns

These rustic walnut horns are a nice change of pace from the big fluffy Boardwalk Cinnamon Rolls that I made back in February. Cinnamon rolls, traditionally with lots of dough and a little bit of filling, originated in Sweden. I believe that pastries with the thinner dough came from France. In addition, the use of walnuts in this recipe points to France. Lots of walnuts are harvested out of the south of France and used in many desserts.   

The little crescent gems have a thin dough that is embedded with cinnamon and walnuts.  Then, before the dough is rolled up, it is sprinkled with more cinnamon and walnuts.  The result is a crispy, caramelized pastry that is overflowing with nutty goodness. Note that this recipe yields about 20 horns and the dough is refrigerated overnight.  The original dough recipe is double what you need, you can either double the filling for 40 horns, keep extra dough for other use, or cut the dough recipe in half (like I did as given below).  Cutting it in half means a specific measurement for the egg yolks and the yeast, for the original recipe called for 3 eggs and a packet of yeast.

Cinnamon Walnut Horns
courtesy of  Great Coffeecakes Cookbook by Carol Walter 

 Ingredients/ Dough
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk
1 egg yolk and 1 1/2 tsp of egg yolk (scramble for measurement)
2 tbs warm water
2 tbs sugar
4 tbs butter or half stick (softened and cubed)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs and 3/4 tsp yeast

1 egg beaten with 2 tsps of water for egg wash
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 2/3 cups walnuts
5 tbs granulated sugar
3 tbs light brown sugar

Make the dough the day before serving. Place warm water in a small bowl and add 1 1/2 tsp of the sugar.  Then sprinkle in the yeast and do not stir.  Put a small saucer over the bowl and set the timer for 5 minutes.  After the 5 minutes, uncover and stir with a fork and then cover again. Letting it set for at least 2 minutes or more until it is called for in the next steps.

Sift together the flour, salt and remaining sugar in a large stand mixer bowl.  Add the cubes of butter and mix on low until it reaches crumb texture.  It should take about 2-4 minutes.

In a separate bowl, mix together the vanilla,egg yolks and milk with a fork.  Pour this mixture and the dissolved yeast into the bowl of dry ingredients.  Mix on low speed for 15 seconds, scrape sides of bowl and mix again for 30 seconds.  The result is a very soft dough.

Take another bowl out and butter the insides.  Empty the dough into the bowl and use floured hands to smooth the top.  Then smooth a thin amount of butter over the top and cover with plastic wrap.  Place bowl in the refrigerator for dough to chill at least overnight or up to 3 days.

The next day, the nuts will need to be prepped in a food processor for the filling.  Put nuts in the processor and pulse 5 or 6 times so they are coarsely chopped.  Take out 1 cup of the chopped nuts, place in a bowl and set aside.

Put 3 tbs of granulated sugar, all of brown sugar and 3/4 tsp cinnamon inside processor bowl with remaining nuts.  Pulse processor 6-8 times until the nuts are medium chopped.  Pour in another small bowl and set aside.

In a third bowl, mix the remaining cinnamon and granulated sugar.

To assemble the crescents, first line baking sheet with parchment paper. Then remove the bowl of dough from the fridge. Divide dough in half and put one half back into fridge.

On a clean workspace, sprinkle 1/4 of the coarse walnuts and 1/4 of the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Roll the dough in the sprinkles on the workspace, shaping it into a log. Continue to roll until the log has picked up all of the sprinkled mixture.

Take out a rolling pin and roll the dough into a 6X15 inch parallelogram.  The 15 inches should be parallel to the counter in front of you.  I rolled the dough thin and then kept pushing in sides and smoothing to get to the right size and shape.  The rolling pin should be rolled at an angle from bottom right to upper left and vice versa to help achieve the desired shape.

Now that you have the correct size, brush top side with egg wash.  Then sprinkle on 1/2 of the remaining nut and 1/2 of the remaining cinnamon mixtures and press it into the dough.  Cut the dough into 10 triangles, by making a zig zag.  There should be five-cut point down and five-cut point up, each being 3 inches at the widest point.  Also, cut a nick in the middle of the 3 inches about 1/2 inch long.  The nick will help you stretch the dough when rolling.

Each piece of dough is to be rolled into a crescent.  The 3 inch side is the start with the point at the end. Try to stretch the dough as you roll and roll tightly.  Put pressure on the end to make sure it is sealed, but do not roll backwards.  Place on baking sheet and curve ends to form a crescent.

Repeat the process with the other piece of dough. Then cover crescents and let rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes.  15 minutes prior to completion of rising time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake horns for 18-20 minutes, switching racks and rotating pans halfway through baking time.

Remove and place on cooling rack.  Dust with powdered sugar when warm and dust again prior to serving.