More often than not when I make up croissant dough, I usually just make the dough into croissants and pains au chocolat, with no other fripperies. But then even a simple croissant or pain au chocolat is an absolute treat! This time, though, I fancied a slight variation to take into work for early morning pastries (for colleagues, and not just for me!).
I used some dried Morello cherries that had soaked in kirsch a week or so earlier (I love steeping dried fruit in alcohol as it makes such a great addition to all manner of bakes). I decided to make these fairly small: purely as small-scale food is often more enticing I feel. Especially when it comes to pastries.
These Black Forest gateau-esque nuggets of viennoiserie have all the indulgence of pains au chocolate with the added indulgence of those gorgeous cherries which, quite honestly, I could eat just as they are! As you bite into these pains au chocolat, the outer layers of pastry shatter and amid the buttery layers you get the lovely squidge of chocolatey cherries, with a hint of the kirsch coming through.
For the lightest, flakiest pastries:
For best results, make the croissant dough the day before and leave it to chill overnight after its final turn. These pastries do work very well with quicker croissants but even these still need significant resting time in the fridge to get the lightness and the flake needed: without the resting, the result is likely to be a buttery doughy affair (which does taste lovely but this is not what you want here).
When making pains au chocolat I often freeze half of the batch once they have been shaped but before proving. I place them in containers lined with greaseproof for freezing. The night before I want to bake them, I take out what I want, place them on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof, brush with egg wash, cover and leave to defrost and prove overnight. They are then ready to bake in the morning.
Morello cherry & Kirsch pains au chocolat: makes 30 small pains
- 1 quantity of croissant dough
- good quality chocolate batons or chunks of chopped chocolate
- about 150g dried Morello cherries (soaked in kirsch at least overnight, drained and roughly chopped)
- 1 egg yolk, beaten with a little milk
(1) Roll out the croissant dough to a thin rectangle just over 20cm by 60cm and trim the edges to give a neat 20cm by 60cm rectangle. Cut the dough in half lengthways and cut each of these strips of dough into rectanges that are 4cm wide. You should get 15 small rectangles of dough from each strip.
(2) The pictures below give each stage of the shaping: take a rectangle of dough and place a baton of chocolate about 1cm from the shortest edge closest to you. Roll the dough from the bottom just until it comes over the baton and lay a few cherry pieces, not quite going to the edges. Place another baton on top of the cherries. Continue to roll away from you until you get to the end. Place the seam on the bottom and lightly push down:
(3) Place the shaped dough well apart on baking sheets lined with silicon paper or baking parchment. brush with egg wash, cover (or place in a large plastic bag) and leave to prove until they are well risen and wobbly (normally between 90 minutes and two hours). Don’t over-prove them or the surface of the dough will burst. Towards the end of the rise, preheat the oven to 180C(fan). I often put the risen dough in the fridge for about 15 minutes while the oven is heating up which firms up the butter layers and gives even crisper results, but this is not at all essential.
(4) Brush the dough again with egg wash and bake for 15-20 minutes until they are an inviting golden brown colour. Transfer to cooling racks.