This is my kind of pastry right here. Light and fluffy, buttery pastry with a slightly crunchy, spiced, nutty filling. I usually only get this kind of treat when I go to a bakery. Here in Germany they are super typical to be found, not so much in the States unless you live in a big city. One of my favorite things about traveling over here in Europe are the free breakfasts’ that come with your hotel stay- always stocked full of delicious pastries and almost always some sort of sweet, nut filled pastry or bread loaf.
I had a half batch of homemade puff pastry leftover in my freezer from a while back when I made Napoleons for a Daring Bakers challenge. It sat there for quite a bit before I decided to do something with it. I just couldn’t decide what. After flipping through the pages of my many recipe books, I came along this recipe for a pastry that was almost like a filled croissant. Personally, I hate recipes that call for using dry bread or cake crumbs. Who has extra cake just lying around to crumb up for more baking? And who wants to make/buy a cake just for that purpose. Luckily enough though, almost everybody has bread. And I suppose it’s not that big of a deal to take a slice or two of your standard white sandwich bread, de-crust it, and process it to crumbs. I mean yes, it makes for extra work, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. This recipe certainly isn’t as impossible as I felt like it would be at first glance of the ingredient list.
What is great about this recipe is that you can definitely use store bought puff pastry, which always has great results. The filling itself is very easy to prepare once you get past the whole bread/cake crumb thing. The most tedious part of this recipe, as with many pastry recipes, is the shaping and filling. Not hard, just time consuming. And when you consider how quickly the filling comes together, the whole recipe is fairly simple. Well, it is when you compare it to more complex pastry recipes that call for custards, fruit fillings, and glazes.
Plus, these are SO good! Nice and light (in texture not calories hehe). It’s almost sinful because you could just sit there and eat one after the other…. and trust me I did. I ate up every single last one of these over the course of 3 days. I’m uncontrollable like that. So if you are a pastry fan and are looking for something fun and different to make in the kitchen you should really try these!
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 Tb unsalted butter
- 1⅓ cups (5 to 6 ounces/150 to 175 grams) walnut pieces, finely ground in the food processor
- ⅓ cup dry bread, cake, or cookie crumbs
- 2 tsp kirsch or vanilla extract
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- about 12 ounces prepared puff pastry
- egg wash: 1 large egg well beaten with a pinch of salt
- Combine milk, sugar, and butter in a heavy saucepan and place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Stir in the walnuts and crumbs, and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens. Off the heat, stir in the kirsch and cinnamon. Scrape the filling onto a plate, cover it with plastic wrap, and chill it while you are rolling the dough.
- Press the puff pastry into a rough square, then roll it into a 12-by-15-inch rectangle. Roll gently, and if the dough resists, let it rest for 5 minutes, then roll again. If at any point the dough becomes too soft to handle, slide a cookie sheet under it and refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Once the dough is rolled to the correct size, straighten the edges and make the corners even. Use a sharp pizza wheel to cut the dough into two 6-by-15-inch strips. Cut each strip into 6 to 8 triangles, each with a base of just under 4 inches.
- To form the pastries, place one of the triangles on your work surface, with the 4-inch side toward you. Gently pull the two corners closest to you outward to make the base about 6 inches wide. Place about 2 tablespoons of the chilled walnut filling on the dough, leaving about ½-inch border from the 6-inch edge. Fold the dough up over the filling and press it into place. Roll up the dough from the side nearest to you, gently pulling on the point of the triangle with the other hand as you roll. Form all the crescents this way.
- Place a pastry on a sheet pan lined with parchment and curve the ends in front of it to form a crescent shape. Arrange 6 to 8 crescents on each pan. Chill the formed crescents for at least 1 hour, covered loosely with plastic wrap.
- About 20 minutes before you are ready to bake the crescents, set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 375°F.
- Carefully brush the crescents with the egg wash, making sure to dry the brush on the side of the container to avoid having the egg wash puddle under them.
- Bake the crescents for bout 15 minutes, then switch the bottom pan to the top and vice versa, turning the pans back to front at the same time. Bake them for 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until they are deep golden.
- Slide the crescents, still on the paper, from the pans to cool.