I remember when the weekends used to mean sleeping in as late as your body possibly could, eating a bowl of cereal at lunchtime then channel surfing while you debate if it's even worth getting out of your pajamas today. Life's all about choices, isn't it? I haven't made a full-blown breakfast in quite some time, save for my parent's anniversary-morning-after-party where I flipped pancakes and scrambled eggs until my right arm was sore and the starving, sleepy mob subsided into the living room to begin the strenuous digestion process.
Even that feast took ages to deliver, and I've failed even harder on less ambitious breakfast projects. A few weeks ago Justin and I snagged a short getaway to his brother and sister-in-law's new house on the Eastern shore and volunteered to make breakfast the following morning. I came equipped with cinnamon rolls but thought I might put on the ritz a little with a batch of candied bacon - strips of bacon coated in brown sugar and baked to a glossy golden brown that gives a gentle tug against your teeth when you bite into it. Having not actually made this sort of thing before, we rubbed the bacon down and spread it onto a pancake griddle and then watched with panic as the hot spots on the pan turned the sugar black and filled the entire kitchen (and living room, and hallway, etc.) with smoke. I really now how to dazzle 'em, eh?
Thankfully, Justin forwent his police officer duties in exchange for the role of a firefighter and whisked the sizzling pan out into the garage until it stopped fuming and I stood there in their giant, sparkling new kitchen, embarrassed as heck that I nearly smoked everyone out of the house. (In case you were worried, we managed to pull it off in the oven, and it worked beautifully. Heat the oven to 400 degrees, coat the bacon with brown sugar, line a baking dish with foil and then lay the bacon out side by side, and bake for about 15-20 minutes. Keep an eye on it, brown sugar takes no prisoners.)
I've generally flopped in the early morning baking category thus far, first the bacon, then I made a batch of sour lemon scones that were a lot of work for a lousy result - they were neither lemony nor sour, and if we're being completely honest here, I made these croissants late in the evening because the breakfast mojo just has not been with me. But they come together so quickly I imagine anyone with a modest amount of luck would be able to have them ready in time to eat one on your morning commute and show up with tell-tale golden flakes scattered about the front of your shirt. I can't think of a better way to start the day.
I can never find all-butter puff pastry 'round these parts, but I hear it's pretty stellar. I used regular, store-bought pastry and they were still delicious, so don't shy away from the recipe if you know your grocery store doesn't stock it. Also, the salt isn't a must-have, but I think it brightens up the chocolate and gives it a wonderful salty-sweet bite.
Chocolate Salted Croissants
Adapted from Joy the Baker
1 (14 oz) package frozen all-butter puff pastry, left to defrost in the fridge for 2 or 3 hours
1/2 cup dark chocolate pieces, 60% or 70% cocoa solids
1 egg, beaten
a sprinkle of fine sea salt
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Gently unpackage the slightly thawed puff pastry and place on a lightly floured surface. With a light floured rolling pin, gently roll out the puff pastry, extending the dough about 1 inch on all sides. Don't worry if it's still very cold, it will thaw out a bit as you roll it. Be sure to keep your work surface floured because you can't have croissants if you can't get the pastry off the counter, right?
With the pastry sheet horizontal, make three vertical cuts, creating four strips of pastry dough. Cut each strip in half horizontally. You'll have eight medium sized rectangles. Cut each rectangle in half diagonally, creating 16 triangles. (I found this to be too small and my croissants looked more like pigs in a blanket. Next time, I will cut it to make 8 triangles and just add more chocolate to each one for a bigger, better croissant.)
To the wider end of the triangle, add a few pieces of chocolate and carefully roll toward the narrow point, pinching the dough around the chocolate as you go so the chocolate doesn't make a run for it while it bakes. Curl the ends in just a bit and place on the baking sheet.
Place the croissants on the baking sheet with about 2 inches in between each one. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle each top with just a bit of sea salt if you like.
Pop the pan into the oven and immediately drop the temperature to to 400 degrees F. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden and puffed. Allow to cool just a few moments on the pan before transferring to a wire rack.
These are best eaten warm so the chocolate is still oozy, once they come back to room temperature the chocolate hardens back up and has more of a snap, so if that's your sort of thing then you are in luck. But if you'd like to return to oozy chocolate bliss, a few seconds in the microwave rejuvenates them.