Friday, 20 March 2015

Almond Croissants

I have always had a real soft spot for anything that is almond flavoured or contains almonds; I particularly love frangipane and bakewell tarts, both of which include almonds. I also love cakes containing/covered with marzipan such as Battenberg Cake, traditional Christmas Cake, Simnel Cake and the like. In fact, where a cake is covered in or includes a layer of marzipan, I love dislodging it from the rest of the cake and savouring it on its own.
 
As a child, I was fascinated with the boxes or marzipan fruits that tended only to be available to buy around Christmas time. These were little sweets made out of marzipan and fashioned to look like miniature fruit – I absolutely adored them and regularly pestered my mother and grandmother to buy them for me.
 
I discovered almond croissants at a relatively late stage when I was in my twenties, but when I did I was hooked. My friends and family know that I am like a woman obsessed at the moment, trying to make my own homemade croissants. I have been folding butter and dough by the kilo and have yet to produce a croissant that I am perfectly happy with; one that is flaky and airy with a buttery flavour. My attempts have been more than passable but the croissants have not been quite at the standard that I wish. However, I will not be thwarted! I am determined to master them.
 
The great thing about these almond croissants is that you do not have to bake your own croissants in order to make them but can instead use store-bought ones. Do try to get all-butter croissants as the finished results will be far superior and will have that lovely flavour and texture that you can only get from butter. The key thing when making the almond croissants is to use stale croissants, that normally would be too dry and a little on the hard side… I promise you that the finished product will be worth it! If you use croissants that are too fresh, everything just collapses into an almond flavoured mush, albeit a very tasty almond flavoured mush!
 
If, like me, you are a fan of almonds, you will love the taste of these croissants. They are incredibly easy to make and the perfect sweet treat to have for an indulgent breakfast or lazy brunch!
 
There are a number of recipes on the old interweb thingy for similar almond croissants, but after a few trials, this is the version that I came up with. You will note that I have soaked the stale croissants in a syrup made from Amaretto prior to then filling them with the almond cream/frangipane, which believe me, makes these croissants really special, bursting with a lovely almond flavour.
 

Ingredients:

Amaretto syrup:
200ml water
25ml Amaretto
25g caster sugar
Almond cream:
115g butter, softened
115g caster sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
115g ground almonds
To finish:
6 x 3-day-old plain croissants
150g flaked almonds
Icing sugar for dusting
 

Method:

Amaretto syrup:
1. Put all the ingredients into a small saucepan and place over a moderate heat. Heat the mixture until the sugar has dissolved and then increase the heat and allow to bubble for 1 minute before removing from the heat. Allow to cool completely.
Almond cream:
2. Place the butter and caster sugar into a medium-sized mixing bowl and using a hand-held electric mixer, cream together until light and fluffy. Gradually mix in the eggs until they are fully incorporated and finally add the ground almonds, making sure that they are thoroughly mixed in. Set aside.
To make the almond croissants:
3. Preheat oven to 180C/Fan Oven 160C/Gas Mark 4. Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking parchment and set aside.
4. Pour the cooled Amaretto syrup into a shallow dish and soak each of the croissants for 4-5 minutes, before removing and slicing horizontally through the middle.
5. Divide half of the almond cream equally between the bases of the 6 croissants and replace their tops. Spread the remaining almond cream over the tops of the 6 croissants, dividing it equally and sprinkle over the flaked almonds.
6. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-17 minutes until the almond cream on top of the croissants has turned a light golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving dusted with a small amount of icing sugar.

Makes 6.