As promised on Instagram, here is the Italian Pastry recipe! I was not a fan of Croissants before I made these – but then again, perhaps I, like many novices, was doing croissants wrong. I bought a box of croissants from the bakery specifically for this recipe, but I knew I had more than enough. I grabbed a few for lunch one day, and ate them just like that. Really? It is like layers of toilet paper baked until it is tough. Sure, they taste buttery (which seems to make everything good) but I was not impressed. If you are a plain croissant lover, I am sorry if I offend.
Needless to say, I was hesitant going into this recipe, because of my impression of croissants. I got the recipe from the Nielsen-Massey website, and it seemed to be gourmet, so I pressed on. By the way, if you missed my previous post, Vanilla Bean Steamer, then you didn’t hear about my awesome Christmas present; Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste. This pastry is another recipe which uses this ingredient. The best way I can describe filling would be to say that it is almost like a vanilla bean and lemon icing. Awesome.
Speaking of the filling, this part of the recipe also made me very nervous. It has 3 cups of powdered sugar and only 3 egg yolks. The recipe said to whisk this mixture, but there was no way I could whisk it. It was like pie crust. Once I added the cream and milk mixture, I could whisk it all together, but it was still so full of powdered sugar I thought of just throwing it out. But at this point, I was so close to being done that I just went for it.
The recipe instructed me to pipe the filling into the croissants, but it was not thick enough to stay in my pastry bag, so I ended up using a syringe, which worked beautifully. Then I covered the croissants with almonds and put them in the oven.
THIS IS WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS.
When they were done baking, they were not only beautifully brown and warm, but each layer of the croissant had crisped, and the filling had seemed to mature. It lightly lined the inside of the croissant, giving it a sweet touch, without giving you a powdered sugar overdose. The sweetness, the lemon, the vanilla and the almonds all complemented each other so well, I was honestly so shocked.
Seriously, if you are still looking for the perfect Christmas breakfast, serve these with a glass of orange juice and and some sausage. It will be absolute perfection! You can make the filling ahead of time, and probably even fill the croissants before you go to bed on Christmas eve. Then in the morning, just put them on the pans, bake them and voila! Christmas breakfast in 15 minutes, with only 2 minutes of effort.
Just some tips: Use a fork to mix the powdered sugar and egg mixture. I had a hard time getting anything else to work. Make the cream filling ahead of time (at least 30 minutes to an hour), because it takes quite a while to cool. Also, don’t put it in a metal bowl, as this will hold the heat, and increase the cooling time.
4 large day-old croissants (or 8 mini ones)
3 egg yolks
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons white flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup half & half
1 teaspoon Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste
Zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons flaked almonds
Powdered sugar to decorate
With a fork, combine the egg yolks and sugar in a large mixing bowl, until they are evenly mixed. Whisk in the flour and cornstarch and set aside.
Combine the milk and cream in a sauce pan, over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Slowly pour the hot milk onto the egg mixture, stirring constantly, until smooth. Return the mixture to the pan, and bring back to a low boil. Simmer for one minute, whisking constantly (it will burn otherwise) until smooth and thickened.
Pour the cream mixture into a plastic bowl, stir in the vanilla paste and lemon zest, then dust with powdered sugar to prevent a skin forming. Leave to cool completely.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Using a serrated knife make an incision on back of the croissant. Place the custard into a syringe and squeeze the cream into the croissant. Place the croissants on a baking tray lined with parchment or wax paper and sprinkle with a few almonds. Bake for 12 minutes to warm them through.
Leave the croissant to cool for 10 minutes, then dust generously with powdered sugar just before serving. You can also drizzle any remaining cream over the tops of the croissants.
Recipe adapted from NielsenMassey.com