Pain Au Chocolat Cinnamon Rolls

Pain au chocolat cinnamon rolls
When I read various food blogs or happen upon different food sites, I'm always bookmarking recipes I want to try. I don't always get back to everything I've bookmarked, but lately I've been making a small dent in this list. I recently made Dorie Greenspan's Chocolate Chunkers and Well Fed Network's Sugar Cookie Bars. And the moment I saw a picture of these cinnamon rolls on Serious Eats, I knew I'd be making them too.

I woke up around 8 o'clock Sunday morning, stretched, grumbled, and pushed myself out of bed, into the kitchen. I took out the puff pastry I had bought the night before and left in the fridge to thaw. Then I raided the pantry for the other ingredients: chocolate chips, walnuts, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and powdered sugar (for the icing).

As I always say, a lot of cooking comes down to timing, and preparation can affect your timing. It's a good idea to read a recipe all the way through, gather all your ingredients together, and do any prep work instead of diving straight in.

While the procedure for the recipe will give you the steps in the right order, it doesn't always include the prework, which can be found in the ingredient list. The recipe calls for cooled, melted butter and toasted walnuts. So the first thing I did was melt the butter in a small bowl. Then I tossed some walnuts on a sheet of tin foil and put them in the toaster oven.

I scanned the recipe and saw that I eventually needed to spray a muffin pan with nonstick spray and place the cinnamon rolls in it to bake. I don't keep nonstick spray around, so I buttered the muffin cavities instead and set the pan aside.

With those ingredients ready and the pan prepared, it's fine to move onto following the recipe. So next I mixed the sugars and cinnamon together.

Then I gave the toasted walnuts a little spin in the chopper. (This could be done in the prep steps above too, but mixing the sugars together gave me something to do while the walnuts were toasting -- that whole timing thing.)

Once I measured out the chocolate chips, all of my filling ingredients were ready to go. I then wiped down and floured the counter and unfolded a sheet of puff pastry -- the original recipe calls for two sheets, but the puff pastry I use costs $10.99, and I couldn't fathom buying two packages. I cut the one sheet in half and rolled each half out into a square -- or something resembling a square.

Next I "brushed" my dough squares with the cooled, melted butter. I say "brushed" because I ruined my brush a month or so ago and haven't bought a new one yet, so I simply used a small spatula instead.

Now they wouldn't be very good cinnamon rolls without any cinnamon, so I generously coated the dough with the cinnamon mixture, dividing it between the squares.

Next I sprinkled on the walnuts and tossed on the chocolate chips.

And then comes the rolling. I was afraid the puff pastry would stick to the countertop, but it seems that I floured the surface enough because it came right up. I rolled each square into a log, trimmed off the ends, and cut the logs into six pieces, as the recipe instructed. Then I placed those pieces in the prepared muffin pan and baked them in the oven.

While they were baking, I made the icing -- a mixture of half and half, creme fraiche, and powdered sugar.

It was so easy to whisk these three ingredients together. I set the icing aside and waited -- as patiently as I could given the cinnamon smell wafting throughout the house -- for the rolls to finish baking.

I took the golden, puffy rolls out after about 23 super-long minutes and set them on a plate to cool slightly.

When they were still warm, I used the whisk to drizzle icing over the rolls. I iced them lightly and had a lot of icing leftover, so next time I think I'll just make a half recipe of the icing.

They're perfect with a steamy cup of coffee. This Sunday morning was particulary dreary -- think Maroon 5 "Sunday morning, rain is falling..." -- and a warm, gooey cinnamon roll, with a slightly crisp outside brightened the day and really hit the spot. Actually three of them really hit the spot.

Pain au chocolat cinnamon roll
Be sure to visit Serious Eats for the recipe. These cinnamon rolls will not disappoint, and they are quite easy to make, although a little time-consuming.