by Stephanie Zonis
Is there anything to compare with the wonder of homemade bread? I love to bake bread, and luckily it goes very well with chocolate. These plump, happy crescent rolls are flavored with orange zest and the good flavor of dried apricots and/or golden raisins, then stuffed with semisweet chocolate. They do not keep well at room temperature and should never be refrigerated, but they freeze beautifully.
One great thing about making bread is that you get breaks, because the dough must rise (twice, in this case). My guess is that you could make the dough in a breadmaking machine, but as I don't have one it isn't something I've tried. Use any combination of dried apricots and golden raisins here, but whatever you use should be soft and moist. The extra step of "proofing" the yeast is one I always take. I have had packages of yeast dated months down the line that were inactive, and it would be a shame for your crescents not to rise after you had put the time and effort into making the. Use a candy thermometer to measure the temperature of the water; if it is too high, it will kill the yeast.
1/4 cup instant nonfat dry milk powder
3 Tbsp. plus 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar, divided
3/4 tsp. salt
Grated zest 1 orange
1 cup warm water, divided
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into thin pats
1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
About 3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup finely snipped dried apricots and/or golden raisins
About 36 teaspoons miniature semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1 egg yolk
1-1/2 tsp. water
In large bowl of electric mixer, combine nonfat dry milk powder, 3 Tbsp. sugar (reserve remainder), salt, and orange zest. In small pot, heat 2/3 cup warm water (reserve remainder) with the butter pats over low heat just until butter melts, stirring often; this mixture should not get hot. Remove from heat; pour over mixture in mixer bowl. Stir to blend well.
Place remaining 1/3 cup warm water, which should be between 110 and 115 degrees F, into a 1-cup glass measure. Add reserved 1/2 tsp. sugar and yeast. With non-aluminum fork, beat to blend well, then set aside at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes (this is "proofing" the yeast). Mixture should increase in volume and have a foamy "head" on it. If nothing happens, your yeast is inactive and should not be used; try again with another 1/3 cup warm water, 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar, and a fresh packet of yeast. While yeast is proofing, add 2 cups flour to mixture in mixer bowl, but do not blend in.
When yeast has proofed, add to mixer bowl. Using a paddle beater (if available), beat ingredients at a low speed to combine, Scrape bowl and beater(s) with rubber spatula, then beat mixture at medium speed for 2 minutes.
At a low speed, add more flour, about 1/4 cup at a time, until dough is no longer sticky (if your mixer begins to labor unduly during this process, you can always stir in the flour by hand). Turn dough out onto lightly floured board and begin to knead with a push-turn-fold motion. Keep your board lightly floured as you knead; if the dough is sticky or tacky, sprinkle on small additional amounts of flour.
After kneading for about 1 minute, flatten dough slightly, and place onto the surface about 1/4 of the dried fruit. Knead it into the dough. Continue kneading as you add the remaining dried fruit in 3 additions. Knead about 6 minutes in total; dough will be smooth and elastic. Place in greased glass or stainless steel bowl (a 3 quart bowl is plenty large enough). Cover tightly with plastic wrap; leave in a warm place for about 50 to 60 minutes, or until dough has doubled in size. While dough rises, grease two baking sheets, line the bottoms with wax paper, then grease the paper.
Lightly flour your fist, then punch down dough. Knead for a few seconds to distribute any large air bubbles. Divide dough into 18 equal portions (I use a scale to do this, and the whole dough usually weighs in at around 28 ounces); form each portion into a ball. As you are doing this, keep the already-portioned dough balls under a tea towel, so they don't dry out.
In the order in which they were formed, throw balls of dough, one at a time, against your work surface (I use a cutting board, as the dough doesn't stick to it), then form each into a rough oval (dough will be elastic and resist this—OK). As ovals are formed, replace them under the tea towel.
In the order in which you formed the ovals, remove them from under the tea towel one at a time. Flatten each into an oval about 3-1/2 to 4 inches long. Place about 2 tsp. Of the miniature chocolate chips in the center of each oval, keeping them away from the edges. With a fingertip dipped in water and re-moistened frequently, moisten the outer edge of the surface of the oval.
Gather the dough on both long sides up to meet in the middle, completely enclosing the chocolate. Pinch the seam very thoroughly to seal tightly throughout the entire seam length (this is important!). You'll have a roughly half-moon shaped piece of dough at this point, with the chocolate enclosed in the center. Flatten slightly, then curve around to form a crescent so that the pinched-shut seam is on the inside of the crescent shape. Place each finished crescent on a prepared baking sheet (you must allow room between the crescents, as they spread during baking). Drape a tea towel over each sheet of crescents, so they don't dry out while you're making the others. After finishing every 3 or 4 crescents, go back to those on the baking sheet. If they are starting to lose their crescent shape, re-shape them; if any seams need re-sealing, now's the time to do that. I like the look of tapered ends, so if necessary I'll do that now, too. Just be sure to keep them covered after fixing their shapes.
When you've filled up one sheet, set it to rise in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes (still covered with the tea towel) while you finish the other crescents. I allow the second sheet of crescents to rise at room temperature. This takes a bit longer, but that way I don't have to be concerned with rushing to have the first sheet baked when the second sheet is ready.
While crescents rise, prepare Glaze: In small cup, beat together yolk and water until well-mixed (you don't want this to be refrigerator-cold when you apply it to the crescents).
About 15 minutes before baking the first sheet, adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Check the crescents again. If any seams have come open, very gently pinch them closed again (you don't want to deflate the rise while doing so). Remember that if a seam or two opens a bit during baking, it isn't a national tragedy, so don't fret too much over this. With a pastry brush or fingertip, gently and lightly glaze each crescent, going all over the top and sides. Try not to get too much onto the wax paper.
Bake the glazed crescents one sheet at a time in the preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes, turning the baking sheet back-to-front once about halfway during baking time. When done, the crescents will be well-risen and a light golden brown on top, with a shiny finish from the glaze (aren't these beautiful?). Remove baking sheet to cooling rack; with a broad-bladed metal spatula, remove each crescent to another cooling rack.
Please do not try to eat these crescents hot from the oven. You MUST wait until they have cooled somewhat; if you do not, you may get a serious burn from the very hot melted chocolate in each one. Cool until just warm before serving.
To store, cool completely. Store airtight at room temperature for up to 1 day, or freeze for longer storage. To reheat, if crescents have been frozen, defrost completely at room temperature, still in wrappings. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet or shallow pan with foil. Place crescents on foil; cover lightly with additional foil. Heat until uncomfortably warm to the touch, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cool until just warm before serving.
Copyright © 2000 Francesca Chocolate Productions. All Rights Reserved.
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This page created 2000 and modified November 2006.
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