On our cooking class through books, today we went on a tour of Paris. We read Eva Montanari’s Chasing Degas, while waiting for our Cheating Chocolate Croissants to be ready to come out of the oven.
I love Eva Montanari, and I’ve also reviewed another book by her here. Her illustration style is very beautiful, plus her stories are also great. In this one, a little ballerina chases French artist Edgar Degas all throughout Paris because he mistakenly took her bag with her tutu. Her quest takes us not only through the different places of the City of Lights, but through a wide variety of Impressionistic painters and their styles (from Monet to Renoir). It is a great book to introduce children to the impressionists and the way they dealt with color, their subject matters and a glimpse at their life. At the end of the book there’s an extra couple of pages with brief bios of each painter featured, plus the paintings they were doing during the story. It is a wonderful book for any budding art-dance enthusiast.
As for the recipe we made, I decided to try an idea from The Weekend Baker, adapting it to suit my needs… so we made Cheating Chocolate Croissants using frozen Puff Pastry and filling it with chocolate and nuts. It’s super easy to put together and they make some really yummy substitutes for the French Pain au Chocolat
- 1 Box of Frozen Puff Pastry (I used Pepperdge Farm)
- 2 TBS flour of dusting
- 1 chopped good quality chocolate bar (3.5 oz) I used Valhrona 71%
- 1 c. Chopped walnuts, peanut butter, almond butter, or any other type of nut you like
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 TBS granulated sugar
- Rolling pin
- 4 inch diameter circular cookie cutter
- Pastry brush
- Large cookie sheet (or 2 medium)
- Parchment paper or silicone baking mat
- Take the Puff Pastry out of the box and place on a lightly floured surface, covered with plastic wrap. Do not unfold it yet... wait between 20 to 30 minutes until it is soft enough to handle.
- Preheat the oven to 400º F with the rack in the middle rung. If you're using two cookie sheets, place the racks in the lower third and upper third of the oven.
- Once the dough is soft enough, dust with flour and roll it out expanding it a little more.
- Cut the rounds. you should have enough for 10.
- Place a tablespoon of chocolate and top with a tablespoon of chopped nuts. If you're using peanut or almond butter, put a tablespoon under, in the center of each round -- then top with chocolate. I'd love to try using Nutella as well!
- Brush the tips of half the round, then fold the dough over the filling. Press on the corners, and use a fork to make sure the sides of the pastry are well sealed.
- Place on the baking sheet, about 2 inches apart of one another.
- Brush the tops of each pastry with the remaining egg, then sprinkle with sugar and crushed nuts.
- Place in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the tops of the pastries are golden.
- Let cool on a rack, and enjoy!