Little known fact: I love croissants! They’re just the better-looking older sibling of the yeast dough family. A warm croissant with a thin layer of butter, a cup of coffee, and a good book, and you have my idea of paradise (or a perfect Sunday afternoon). With Thanksgiving in a couple of weeks, I have teamed with Califia Farms to bring you a sweet, chocolatey treat which is just the thing to get you through the holiday's emotionally sane. I’m talking about two things: coffee and chocolate. If you follow my Instagram, you know that I am obsessed with coffee. So, when Califia asked me to develop a recipe with their Black Label Cold Brew, my imagination started racing with possibilities and I knew I needed to get back in the kitchen ASAP. Originally for this recipe, I set out to make a savory ‘cold brew coffee croissant’, adding the cold brew into the dough, with an expresso chocolate butter as a sweet element on the side, but the first batch of croissants sadly failed. Feeling bad about myself, I tightened my apron, did some research, and went back into the kitchen for take number two. I decided that I wanted to create a hybrid between croissants and Eva’s chocolate swirled brioche buns because too much chocolate is never a bad thing, right?!
The verdict: success!! In this attempt, I adjusted the water to cold brew coffee ratios a bit so that the yeast would be able to grow efficiently. What I got was a golden-brown exterior with a buttery, flaky center with a coffee-infused chocolate fudge filling swirled throughout. Perfection! The coffee added a subtle nuttiness and aromatic flavoring to the croissant buns. I wanted to use Califia’s Single Origin Cold Brew for this recipe. What I like about this brew is that it’s smooth, slightly nutty, and rich in flavor. In the recipe, I think it helps accentuate all the other flavors. What is also cool about this blend is that it is direct trade-sourced coffee beans from Ethiopia's Yirgacheffe region (how cool is that?!)
A layer of the espresso coffee butter spread over top and I was sent to chocolate-coffee lovers heaven. Now croissants are not an easy, 30-minute bread. They are going to take you a couple days, but it soo worth it, trust me! Just put on some music, tie your hair back, and get baking! These croissant buns are the perfect as an after Thanksgiving dinner dessert or an early Black Friday morning pick-me-up.
Chocolate & Cold Brew Coffee Croissant Buns
Original recipe adapted/inspired from Adventures in Cooking
For the croissant buns
4 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cold water
2 tablespoons cold brew coffee
1.2 cup + 2 tablespoons cold whole milk
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 ¼ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cup unsalted butter, cold and sliced
1 egg + 1 teaspoon cold brew coffee
For the fudge filling
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1/3 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon cold brew coffee
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 egg whites, whisked
½ cup sugar
8 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
For the chocolate espresso butter
½ cup butter softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
3 tablespoons cold brew coffee
Croissants - DAY ONE
Mix together the flour, water, coffee, milk, sugar, yeast, salt, espresso powder, and softened butter in a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment on low speed for two to three minutes. Raise the speed to medium and mix for another two to three minutes until the dough begins to come together into one mass and is no longer sticking to the side of the bowl. Place the dough on a lightly floured plate, wrap well with plastic wrap, and allow to rest in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
While the dough is resting, lay a piece of parchment paper down. Cut the chilled butter into ½ inch thick sliced and arrange them in a 5 to 6 inch square on the paper. Place another sheet over the butter and being pounding the butter with a rolling pin with gentle strokes at first, then pounding harder as the butter pieces start to stick together and form into one mass. Pound until the butter reaches 7 ½ inches wide and long.
Peel back the top layer of parchment paper and trim the edges of the butter square so they are straight. Place the trimmings in the center of the square, place the parchment paper over the butter, and begin rolling and pounding the trimmings gently into the center of the square until flat. Place the butter sheet on a flat surface inside the refrigerator.
Once the dough has rested, take it out of the fridge and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a 10 ½ inch square, brush off the excess flour. Take the butter square out of the fridge, remove the parchment paper, and place the butter in the center of the dough square so that the butter’s corners are centered along the widths of the dough square. Gently pull each corner of the dough up and wrap it over the butter and repeat with all the corners. Press the edges together to create a seal that keeps the butter inside of the dough. Congrats! You have just swaddled your butter.
Light flour the top and bottom of the dough and begin rolling it out in order to elongate it, remembering to keep the dough straight as you roll. Roll the dough out until it reaches the dimensions of 8 x 24 inches, then pick up one end of the dough and fold it over the dough leaving 1/3 of the dough still exposed. Fold the exposed dough and fold it over the previously folded flap. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and place it in the freezer for 20 minutes in order for the dough to relax.
Repeat the rolling, folding, and relaxing process again, but this time rolling in the direction of the two open ends. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and place it in the freezer for 20 minutes in order for the dough to relax. Repeat this process a third time, then cover with plastic wrap and place folded dough in the refrigerator to relax for 6 hours or overnight. Note* overnight is most recommended.
For the filling. In a microwave safe bowl, heat chocolate, milk, coffee, and butter in 30-second increments until the ingredients are melted and smooth. In a separate medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites until slightly bubbly, then whisk in the sugar until combined. Pour a little bit of the melted chocolate mixture to temper the egg mixture, then add the rest of the chocolate plus the flour, cocoa powder, and espresso powder, whisking until smooth and combined. Allow the filling to the sit in the fridge while you’re preparing the dough.
Take the dough out of the refrigerator and lightly flour it on both sides. Place it on a lightly floured work surface and begin rolling the dough out by pressing down firmly to help invigorate and lengthen it. Roll dough out until it reaches 8 x 36 inches.
Take the fudge filling out of the fridge and spread evenly over the dough, leaving a ½ inch border around the perimeter of the dough. Starting from the length edge furthest away from you, start rolling up the dough into a cylinder shape. With a sharp knife, make even sized knick marks before cutting each bun. Place the croissant buns in a 9x13 baking pan lined with parchment paper, and repeat until all of the buns have been rolled.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg and water just until combined. Brush the egg wash over each of the croissants (save egg wash for later), cover with plastic wrap (and an optional tea towel), and place the pans in a non-windy location where the temperature is between 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit and allow them to sit for 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Once the buns have proofed, lightly brush them with the egg wash again. Place one sheet in the oven and make for 8-11 minutes, turning the pan halfway through and baking for an additional 8-11 minutes, or until the tops are a deep golden brown and the bottoms are bubbly. Note* keep a watchful eye on the buns as they bake. They brown up quickly and just a handful of missed seconds can leave you with burned croissants. When done, remove the pans from the oven and allow the buns to cool in the pans.
For the butter. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the soften butter until light and fluffy. Add in the confectioners’ sugar, espresso powder, and cocoa powder and mix at a low speed at first, then increasing speed until well incorporated. Pour in the cold brew coffee and mix well until well combined. Serve immediately or cover and store in the fridge.
Huge thanks to Califia Farms for sponsoring this recipe. Be sure to share your baking creations with the hashtag #TKbakes so we can obsess about coffee and baking together. And as always, all opinions, ramblings, stories, and recipe/adaptations are my own.