This post is quite a mouthful (get it?) but here goes!
I've been experimenting in recent weeks, tweaking my tried and true croissant recipe in hopes of reaching the ultimate croissant perfection. Invariably I've had some croissants leftover, some of which were destined to become croissants aux amandes, one of Steve's (and many others by the way) favorite pastries. But that's not the only way to repurpose this lovely laminated goodie - bread pudding here we come!
Here I'm using a 3 qt Pyrex casserole dish, lightly buttered, layered with about 400 g/14 ounces of chunked up croissant pieces. It's actually better to use "old" croissants for this purpose, since the dough is able to soak up the custard much more efficiently.
The custard is one I love to use for baked fruit tarts too. I wanted a filling quantity about twice the weight of the croissants and doubling my base recipe worked out perfectly. Love it.
I typically plan ahead, giving my croissant/custard mélange a good couple of hours to soak in the fridge before baking. Then I topped this one with about 3 cups of blueberries, tucking them down into the custard a bit, followed by a sprinkling of raw sugar for a little extra crunch.
Bake at 350ºF for a good hour to an hour and twenty minutes - you want the custard nicely set and the croissant pieces toasty brown. Just be patient. Trust me.
Destined for the dessert table at our Labor Day outing at cousin Jen's, I added a couple of complimentary summer ice creams that I must say were pretty fun to make. BTW - I LOVE making ice cream, in case I haven't told you heretofore. I've been using a classic custard type base from David Lebovitz for many years now and never find it wanting. Just omit the vanilla bean from the base recipe when you're creating your own flavor(s).
First up - roasted plum almond. Dairy infused with toasted almonds (which are then strained out) . . . . .
the finished chilled ice cream base blended with about a cup of roasted plum purée then processed.
It just takes some planning, as is true of so many things in the kitchen, right?
The roasting fruit thing has been another of my summer experiments, and since I'm invariably contemplating ways to preserve our wonderful summer fruit bounty here in west Michigan, why not give it a try. The idea behind the roasting is to concentrate the flavor more.
It's quite simple really. Heat your oven to 400ºF (or 375º convection), prepare your fruit depending on size (e.g peaches sliced, plums or apricots halved and pitted and maybe quartered too, cherries pitted, berries left whole - just play with it). Place fruit on a parchment lined sheet pan and roast about 10 minutes. Give them a stir and roast another 5-10 minutes. The fruit should become softened, a bit caramelized and shrunken looking. Since I planned to purée mine, I didn't really care how shrunken they became.
My plums were a red-skinned, yellow-fleshed variety which I placed skin side down on the prepped sheet pan. You can roast your fruit au naturel or drizzle a little honey over it if you'd like.
As a side note, a pound of plums (~6 medium or 9 small), halved, pitted, roasted, puréed and strained should yield about 1.5 cups of purée. Of course, you don't have to do the roasting part - just leave that step out of the above, and the un-roasted purée yield should be a bit higher.
Once roasted, the fruit will keep in a closed container in the fridge for a few days or frozen for several weeks. I froze mine and did the puréeing later - just thaw in the fridge overnight, purée, add a tablespoon of lemon juice, a pinch of salt and sweeten to taste. I generally start by adding sugar equal to 10% by weight of the purée and add more if it's still pretty tart. Then use it in whatever way you choose. Maybe swirled into a cake batter, blended into mascarpone cream, warmed and used as a sauce over a nice berry cake. You decide.
The second ice cream - sweet corn!
In this case, using the same base recipe mentioned above, scald the milk with half the sugar and a pinch of salt, temper it into the yolks which have been whisked well with the other half of the sugar, then whisk in 2.5 cups of fresh corn cut off the cobs plus the two cups of cream. Bring this all to a boil (the starch in the corn protects the yolks from curdling, just like making pastry cream with cornstarch!).
Then put it all in a decent blender (I have a Breville brand which is dyn-o-mite), purée and strain then chill thoroughly before processing. YUM.
And there you have it - blueberry & croissant bread pudding with sweet corn and roasted plum ice cream on a polka dot paper party plate. Happy summer!