The word ‘dessert’ has its roots in Seventeenth Century France. In the middle to late 1600s, it became popular to serve fruit and cheese after a meal, hence the name ‘dessevir’, literally ‘to clear the table’. It was the last course, meant to ‘close the stomach’. Soon, with the advent of ovens built into kitchens rather than outside, and with the coming of Antonin Caréme, the first ‘Celebrity Chef’, spectacular fancy pastries began to appear.
Mille-Feuille, what Americans know as Napoleons, are layers of puff pastry and custard and chocolate, all in a crispy, gooey melange that makes the tummy happy. Tarte Tatin, a pie without a bottom crust, was rumored to have been first made by an overworked innkeeper who forgot to put a bottom crust in a pie tin, is filled with caramel and apples, topped with puff pastry, then turned out crust down on a plate. One thing these desserts have in common is only the fillings are sweet, and even then not overly sweet. The crusts would work equally well with savory filings.
Puff Pastry sheets can be purchased frozen. Different brands recommend different cooking times and temperatures. It is not difficult to work with, so long as it is allowed to come to room temperature and isn’t allowed to dry out. But it can still be intimidating, not to mention expensive.
After some experimentation, I figured out that refrigerated dough, particularly crescent rolls, work really well for all sorts of things. Like these
You will need:
– one tin of regular [not Grand] crescent rolls. Separate the dough into eight triangles.
– One large candy bar ( you can use most anything, including Caramels, Milky Way, just some chocolate chips, or for those brave souls, some chocolate with chili and sea salt.) Cut the candy bar into 8 pieces.
– optional: you can put a bit of cream cheese inside with the chocolate if you like
– about a ¼ cup of raw sugar for dipping. Raw sugar gives them a lovely, satisfying ‘crunch’ when you bite into them.
1. Preheat oven to 375° F (191° C, Gas Mark 5)
2. Lightly grease a baking sheet
3. Place a piece of chocolate in the center of a triangle and fold the dough over it, making sure to seal all the edges. If there are any holes, the insides will escape, make a big mess and will leave the dough hollow.
4. Once sealed, press the top of the dough into the sugar. Place on the baking sheet.
5. Bake 12-15 minutes, until golden brown
6. Let them cool slightly before serving. They are delicious warm or cold.
The same technique can be use with puff pastry sheets in place of the prepared dough. Everything else is the same, but the baking time and temperature should be that shown on the manufacturer’s packaging.
Another alternative is to use the full sheet of ‘recipe’ crescent roll dough.
1. Preheat oven to 375° F (191° C, Gas Mark 5).
2. Well grease a baking sheet.
3. Unroll the dough , stretching slightly, then place it in a well greased pan. On one third of the dough, spread about 4 ounces of softened cream cheese and one cup of chocolate chips.
4. Fold the rest of the dough over the top, and turn the edges on the end and the side to seal well. With a sharp knife, cut some slashes in the top. Sprinkle some raw sugar onto the top.
5. Bake until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.