It’s pre-spring and a new month rolls in this weekend. This time of year, dishing up breakfast foods can be confusing because of the unpredictable cold and warmer weather in the Sierra, but a crescent roll or croissant is a fine treat year round.
Croissants are popular in Europe and in the U.S. where it’s welcome in a continental breakfast. Uncooked croissants — you can purchase the dough ready to bake at the grocery store — can be wrapped around sweet fillings like chocolate and cream cheese, baked and glazed or dusted with powdered sugar.
Less than two years ago, I traveled out of town to San Jose, my home, for a book signing. One of the things I anticipated was an unforgettable breakfast in bed. But thanks to a convention in town, I was lucky to get a motel with a buffet breakfast. Worse, I had to get out of bed and stagger down two flights of stairs to forage my coffee and grub. The plain cold croissants, pieces of whole fruit and bland coffee were nothing to write home about and it is a no-brainer that this breakfast was not my cup of tea.
This week I tried my two hands at making semi-homemade croissants. I confess I didn’t make homemade pastry dough with a rolling pin, nor did I have the knack that Meryl Streep does in the movie “It’s Complicated.” In the film, her character brings a sweet date to her bakery and, with the ease of a Food Network chef, announces she will make him anything on the menu — or not on the menu. He chose a chocolate croissant. She is a master at making the pastry from start to finish. And yes, the process looked like fun on the big screen.
In real life, my croissants weren’t homemade this time around but they were not from a bakery or the frozen kind. I used my creativity and choice of filling ingredients. I found the good-for-you wheat kind of rolls (0g trans fats, no artificial ingredients, no high fructose corn syrup), and that made me feel good. I wanted a light white filling and a dark chocolate filling. These croissants were quick and easy to put together. Once I took them out of the oven and dusted the white ones, and frosted the dark ones, I was pleased with the display.
1 can (8 ounces) refrigerated wheat crescent dinner rolls
Cream Cheese Nut Filling
1/2 cup whipped cream cheese
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 capful almond extract
Confectioners powdered sugar (for dusting tops of baked rolls)
Double Chocolate Nut Filling
40 dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tablespoon European style butter
2 tablespoons organic half-and-half
5 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Follow croissant roll directions. Open and unroll croissant dough. For cream cheese nut filling, put a hefty spoonful of the mixture on top of the wide part of the croissant dough. Roll up in crescent shape. Place four on ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat with chocolate filling. Use 10 chocolate chips for four croissants. Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes or till light golden brown. Dust cream cheese croissants with sugar. Frost each double chocolate roll with chocolate frosting. Sprinkle with pecans. Makes 8.
These “homemade” croissants are extra sweet to savor warm. The almond flavor and nutty cream cheese with powdered sugar work well together. The bittersweet chocolate combined with sweeter chocolate is great for chocolate lovers. You can put them in the fridge or freezer and serve later, too. I teamed two with a seasonal fruit bowl (1 cup each of chopped apples and pears). Juice from an orange, a dash of nutmeg, and raw honey drizzled on top makes this salad savory and delicious. Warming it up in the microwave gives it a nice pre-spring touch, especially for chilly days ahead. Or serve chilled with low-fat Greek yogurt. A cup of home-brewed tea or gourmet coffee with a splash of organic milk makes these easy delights a sweet continental breakfast. And dusting the rolls with confectioners’ sugar provide a leap of faith for more snow/rain days in the month of March.
Motto: Eating simple, natural foods is good for the body and mind and they nourish the spirit.
— Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. Her website is www.calorey.com.