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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wake Mom to freshly baked pastries on Mother’s Day

By J.M. Hirsch
Associated Press

No matter how much she would appreciate it, and no matter how much you love your mom — or the mother of your children — you aren’t likely to make her croissants from scratch.

Add eager young children who want to help make breakfast in bed for their mom, and the odds get even worse.

And yet it can be done with a minimum of fuss, trouble and time. With a few carefully chosen ingredients, you can prepare delicious impossible-to-mess-up freshly baked pastries, even with the “assistance” of an army of little helpers.

The trick is to outsource the pastry. While technically not the same as true croissant dough, sheets of frozen puff pastry can stand in just fine. They are widely available in the dessert freezer section of most grocers. And, if you care, the dough also happens to be vegan (try that with your typical buttery croissant).

Each 17.3-ounce package of pastry contains two sheets. To use them, simply thaw (don’t unwrap them) at room temperature for an hour or so, or overnight in the refrigerator. After that, it’s just a matter of cutting each sheet into triangles, then rolling them into crescents.

For this recipe, I kept it simple and sprinkled them with a blend of cinnamon and sugar. You also could place a dollop of jam at the wide end of each triangle of dough before rolling.

Want to take it all the way? Make the croissant’s delicious cousin, pain au chocolat. For this, you will want to buy chocolate bars made for this purpose (baking supply shops should have these, as does King Arthur Flour Company online). Then just wrap the thawed pastry around them (think sandwich wrap), then bake.

Or for the best of both worlds, bake the croissants as directed, then warm a bit of Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread (microwave it in 10-second bursts) and drizzle it over them just before serving (or offer it in a small bowl on the side for dunking).

The croissants also can be cut and shaped the night before, then placed on a baking sheet, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Food Editor J.M. Hirsch is author of the cookbook “High Flavor, Low Labor: Reinventing Weeknight Cooking.”

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