I'm so very tired right now. We just got back from my cousin's wedding (yaey congratulations!) and we were taking care of my brother's dog this weekend (who I tried to get a good picture of but she wouldn't sit still for the camera), which resulted in us not getting much sleep. So it's a good thing I wrote this post yesterday because there's no way I could get anything too coherent out right now.
I made croissants for the first time a few months ago. I baked up half the dough into croissants, and saved the other half for future delicious adventures, like this one! I'm really glad I saved some of this dough as these croissant pockets, filled with apricots, brandy, brown sugar, walnuts and Brie cheese were extremely yummy. It's a good thing that I halved this recipe because I could've easily sat there eating one after another of these. My only complaint was that the apricot pieces were too big (when quartered) so I'd recommend dicing them. And I ended up with extra apricot/nut mixture, but maybe that's just me. If you're looking for motivation to try making croissants for the first time, these are it! And if you have some extra croissant dough, you really must try this out. I have a bit of extra croissant dough in the freezer which I should use up soon. I'm thinking of making cinnamon twists with it.
If this sounds good, you might also like:
Caramelized Apple Danish Braid
Caramelized Onion, Sage and Cheddar Muffins
Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Biscuits
Croissant Pockets with Apricots and Brie
Adapted from Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More
My adaptations were to not dust the pockets with powdered sugar after cooling, and to chop the apricots more finely.
9 ounces dried apricots, diced (1 full cup)
1 cup water
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 to 2 tbsp brandy
1/2 cup toasted broken walnuts
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
6 tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 recipe dough for Flaky Croissants
8 ounces ripe Brie cheese, cold, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices, 3 inches long
1 large egg lightly beaten with 1 tsp water, for egg wash
1/4 cup milk, for brushing pockets
Make the filling:
1. In a small saucepan, combine the apricots and water. Bring to a simmer and cover. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a little liquid remains.
2. Return the liquid to the pan and add the granulated sugar and 1 to 2 tablespoons of brandy. Over medium-low heat, cook the liquid until the sugar is melted and the alcohol is evaporated. Remove from the heat and add the apricots to the pan. Stir gently to coat the fruit with the syrup. Set aside to cool. Combine the walnuts with the cooled apricot mixture.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the soft butter and brown sugar with a wooden spoon, stirring until a smooth paste is formed. Set aside.
Shape the dough:
4. On a lightly floured, cold work surface, using a dough scraper, cut the dough in half. Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough into a 10 x 12 inch rectangle, keeping the 12 inch side parallel to the edge of the work surface. Pierce the surface of the dough several times with a fork to prevent shrinkage. Using a pastry cutter or a pizza wheel, cut the dough into eight pieces.
5. Working with one piece of dough at a time, gently reshape the dough into a 3 x 5 inch rectangle. Spread a generous teaspoon of the brown sugar/butter mixture in a strip down the center of the 3 inch side of the rectangle. Place a slightly full tablespoon of the apricot/nut mixture over the brown sugar/butter strip. Place a slice of cheese over the apricot mixture. Do not overfill.
6. Brush the far edge of the dough with egg wash. Bring the opposite edge over the filling to enclose it, then overlap it with the egg-washed edge. Gently pinch the seam, leaving the sides open, and place the pocket seam side down on a parchment lined baking pan. Repeat with the remaining dough. Brush the tops and sides of the croissants lightly with milk and place in a warmish spot to rise until almost doubled, 45 to 60 minutes. Brush the croissants again with the milk 2 or 3 times during rising time.
Bake the pockets:
7. Fifteen minutes before baking, position the racks in the upper and lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 400F. Gently brush the tops of the pastries with the egg wash, working from the bottom of the pocket upward. Do not drip the egg wash onto the baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350F and continue to bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. To ensure even browning, toward the end of baking time, rotate the pans top to bottom and front to back.
8. Remove from the oven and place on racks to cool. Loosen the pastries on the pan and cool for 20 minutes. Note: If any of the filling has run out of the ends of the pockets, take a small spatula and slide it back into the pockets.
Storage: Store in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped in aluminum foil, for up to 3 days. Reheat before serving. These pastries may be frozen.