I recently made croissants, leaving some plain and filling the rest with a variety of sweet and savory ingredients. My inspiration for this chocolatey version of the croissant came from the popular French pastry, pain au chocolat, which is essentially a chocolate-filled croissant in the shape of a rectangle instead of a crescent. En lieu of plain chocolate I decided to try Nutella which turns out to be a popular croissant filling in Germany. Other favorite fillings in my croissant assortment were almond and ham & cheese.
2 1/4 tsp yeast (1 package)
1 cup warm water
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
5 cups flour
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 cup firm butter (right out of the refrigerator)
1 Tbsp water
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add the evaporated milk, salt, sugar and 1 egg and mix until combined. Add 1 cup flour and beat to form a smooth batter. Blend in the cooled, melted butter and set the batter aside.
Pour 4 cups of flour into a separate bowl. Cut 1 cup of firm butter into small cubes and cut it into the flour, mixing them with a pastry blender or a fork until the flour and butter combine to make pieces the size of beans. Pour the yeast batter over the top of the flour and butter and mix the two together just until the flour is moist.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for four hours or up to four days. Then, knead the dough on a lightly-floured surface for 6 turns. Divide the dough into four parts. While you shape one part, return the rest of the dough in the covered bowl to the refrigerator.
Working with one-fourth of the dough at a time, roll the dough into a circle with a 17-inch diameter. Cut the circle into eight pie-shaped wedges. Spread Nutella on each wedge. Then, starting with the outside edge, loosely roll each wedge toward the inner point. Shape the rolls into a crescent and place them point-down on an ungreased cookie sheet, leaving 1 1/2 inches of space between each croissant.
Lightly cover the croissants with a towel and let them rise at room temperature for two hours or until the dough has doubled.
Mix 1 egg and 1 Tbsp water in a small bowl. When the croissants have finished rising, brush the top of each croissant with the egg-water mixture. Bake them at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until they are light golden in color.
TIP: The croissants can also be frozen once they are shaped. Let them thaw and complete the final rise, then bake them as directed.