Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Whole Wheat Mocha Croissants

You can never go wrong with the combination of chocolate and coffee, especially when it is laminated into a flaky (vegan) pastry! These whole wheat croissants are also stuffed with a baton of dark chocolate for good measure, and the lamination features a scoop of @nakednutrition Naked Rice protein powder which keeps it from oozing everywhere. The result is a decadent treat for whenever your craving strikes!

I cannot think of croissants without thinking of Walt Disney World. As a kid, I was lucky enough to go to the theme parks several times, where I not only fell in love with the magic (I am a total DisNerd) and the ability to travel the world through EPCOT, but with the food. Now, I'm not going to say Disney World is a Michelin paradise - by and large, you will find your stereotypical American fast food above anything else - but in EPCOT, tucked away in the France pavillion,is a little bakery they named Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie. This bakery is the source of arguably some of the best chocolate croissants I have ever had in my life.

Before all of you traditionalists start jumping down my throat, I will admit - I have never been to France and had a "real" croissant. No, my experiences with the pastry were from a local bakery-cafe when I was in school and the occasional store-bought treat. However, the croissants from EPCOT were the perfect mix of buttery and sweet, and the filling was a luxurious chocolate that was almost a fudge-like ganache. When I was looking for ways to use up a canister of natural cocoa we bought by mistake (it's too sour / bitter for hot chocolate), I thought of those pastries. I toyed with the idea of making a rich cocoa and almond butter filling, but as I was looking at the recipe calling to add flour
to the lamination butter, I thought: why not make the whole croissant chocolate?

This became doubly intriguing when I discovered I was out of butter. I had shortening, which I have used before in puff pastry and croissants back in my baking school days, but it's flavourless and needs oomph to really be a part of this recipe. In lieu of the flour, I sifted in some of the cocoa, sugar, a dash of espresso powder for good measure, and a few scoops of my latest favourite protein powder with a pinch of salt. After folding and turning the whole wheat dough, the medley took on a lovely coffee-brown shade. I opted for whole wheat not only for health, but because the slightly nutty flavour of the whole grain played beautifully with chocolate. 

I still wasn't 100% satisfied, though. A pain au chocolat needs a filling. So, reaching into my bittersweet chocolate stash, I melted down and piped the chocolate sticks for the centre, which I stuck in the fridge to set (it was 30 degrees Celsius here). Rolled into the middle of the pastry, it melted ever so slightly, making the centre like a truffle. It's a good thing these are dainty-sized croissants, because they are so good it's hard to stop at one!

Call me sacrilegious, but I actually like the texture of these vegan croissants better than their buttery brethren. They were light, impossibly flaky, and the neutral flavour of the shortening allowed the cocoa and coffee to shine through. If I was making plain ones that needed the flavour boost, I would stick to butter - but when the flavours get fancy there's no need to muddle the pot!

Whole Wheat Mocha Croissants
Makes 12
6 oz dark chocolate, chopped

1 1⁄2 cups whole wheat bread flour
3⁄4 c all purpose flour, plus some for dusting
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast (I used SAF Gold)
2/3 cup warm oat milk (or other non-dairy milk)

1 cup non-hydrogenated shortening (I used Spectrum), room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp sugar
1⁄2 tsp salt
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp instant espresso powder
2 scoops Naked Rice protein powder
  1. Melt the chocolate in a microwave or in a double boiler and transfer to a piping bag (I love the disposable ones). Pipe out 12 batons, or thick sticks, about 1 1⁄2" long onto a waxed paper-lined baking sheet and let set. Our house was warm so I popped the tray in the fridge.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (or in a large bowl with a wooden spoon) combine the flours, sugar, salt, yeast and oat milk. 
  3. Stir to form a soft, smooth and elastic dough. In my stand mixer this took about 8 minutes on medium low speed. Add flour only to reach a non-sticky consistency, you don't want this dry!
  4. Cover bowl and let rest for 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, beat together the ingredients for the lamination in another bowl until smooth and homogeneous. Place bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes, until cool and slightly firmer. 
  6. When the dough has rested, roll it out into a large square (as thin as possible) on a well-floured countertop.
  7. Spread the lamination mixture into a "diamond" in the centre of the square, leaving a wide (at least 2") border on all sides.
  8. Bring the pointed corners of the dough together into the lamination mixture to enclose it, pinching the seams together. 
  9. Carefully roll out the dough into a rectangle and letter-fold from the short side. If any lamination pokes out through the dough, dust with flour and roll in.
  10. Fold the dough in half into a tight square and re-roll (crosswise from the "edges" of the fold) into a rectangle again. 
  11. Letter and half-fold as before, then wrap in plastic and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. 
  12. Repeat steps 9-11 once more.
  13. Move dough from the freezer to the fridge (still wrapped) and chill overnight.
  14. The next morning, roll out the dough as thin as possible into a long rectangle on a well-floured surface.
  15. Cut triangles with a ruler and pizza wheel. I found it easiest to cut 6 rectangles and cut those into triangles. 
  16. Place one of the chocolate batons on the base of one of the dough triangles and roll up, enclosing the chocolate. Place point-side down on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  17. Repeat with remaining chocolate and dough.
  18. Cover tray loosely with plastic and let proof for 1 hour.
  19. Heat the oven to 425F.
  20. Bake croissants for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350F and bake another 15-17 minutes, until crusty and easily lift-able from the paper.
  21. Cool completely on a rack.

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