Chocolate-Raspberry Croissant from Épicerie Boulud
Colored croissants are not as common in the US as they are in Europe. This beautiful, striking Chocolate-Raspberry Croissant ($4) from Daniel Boulud takes 3 days to make. It is unique in the fact that the layers are so precise, you could count them, and the outside is crunchy, with a sweet, buttery inside. But be fair warned: this croissant is not for the faint of heart. It is sinfully rich and decadent. The brains behind this candy-striped creation is Francois Brunet, who is in charge of the bread and viennoiserie at all of Boulud's restaurants across the city.
Two doughs are used to make the croissant, a red and a white one. The usual ingredients are accompanied by levain, a bubbly, natural yeast starter, which gives the croissant more flavor and rise. For a dose of complexity and extra flavor, Brunet also mixes in a leftover chunk of dough from his last batch of croissants. The red dough contains raspberry levain, raspberry flavoring and red coloring. Don't expect to see a range of brightly colored croissants though, as Brunet states he doesn't like food coloring.
Once mixed, the dough is divided in half and formed into smooth ovals. The red dough is divided into smaller pieces, which rest for 10 minutes so that the gluten relaxes and the dough is easier to shape. The dough is then rolled into rectangles with very square corners, and are wrapped in plastic and stored in the fridge overnight.
On day two, operations move to a cold room where Brunet uses a dough sheeter to roll out the dough. A large chunk of butter is then rolled out into a perfect, thin square. The dough is put through the sheeter until it is large enough to wrap around the butter like wrapping paper. The dough is then pinched together, with the butter covering all the layers. As the dough is rolled and folded like a letter, over and over again, the layers are clean and even and always the exact same thickness. Brunet, who has an eye for geometry, prides himself on these very precise layers. The rolling of the layers is a long, tedious process as it has to rest for an hour after each roll. After the third and final roll, the red dough is rolled out to fit over the white dough. The doughs are then sliced and rolled into little croissants. Then, these will rest in the fridge overnight, and then spend two hours in a humid-proof chamber to rise.
Before going in the oven, they are spritzed with beaten egg. The rack inside the oven rotates slowly, like a vertical rotisserie. Once in the oven, the layers begin to puff and the butter begins to melt, so the outside has beautiful, flaky layers and the inside has a distinct, airy honeycomb structure. After 13 minutes, they're done.
The ganache is then prepared, with 61% cocoa chocolate, so it's not too sweet. Once the ganache has thickened to the consistency of frosting, the raspberry jam is stirred in. When the croissants have cooled slightly, a little hole is cut into the bottom and the ganache is squeezed inside using a pasty bag.
So, if you first thought $4 was a lot to pay for a croissant, it's really not now you know the 3 day process. I'm looking forward to trying Brunet's other creations.
Épicerie Boulud: 1900 Broadway, New York, NY 10023