Chocolate Croissant Bites

This is a quick little dessert that reminds me of chocolate-filled croissants from a nice pastry shop somewhere — the kind of place with small tables and a big window to the street, that smells more of sugar than coffee and has a display case full of desserts almost too beautiful to eat. (I really do miss visiting places like that.)

Gourmet thoughts aside, this is actually a simple back-of-the-box recipe I’ve had in my cookbook for ages. It was called Fudgy Brownie Cups, but to me that doesn’t describe it well enough. There is no rising agent in the chocolate mixture, and that’s what makes them fudgy, but they just don’t seem like brownies when they’re wrapped in the flaky layers of puff pastry.

All you need is a saucepan, a rolling pin and a couple of muffin pans and it’s ready in less than 20 minutes.

Makes 20

8 oz. (227g) sheet of puff pastry (half of a standard U.S. box), thawed
4 oz. (113g) dark chocolate (I used Lindt‘s 70% cocoa chocolate bar)
4 oz. (113g) unsalted butter (half a stick)
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. all-purpose (plain) flour, plus extra for dusting countertop
Confectioner’s (icing) sugar (optional)

Heat oven to 400F/200C degrees.

In a pot over medium-low heat, melt chocolate and butter. Turn off heat and mix in sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, then mix in flour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry to a 12×15-inch rectangle. Cut into 3×3-inch squares and press each one into an ungreased muffin cup. Fill with 1 tablespoon of chocolate mixture. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden (you want to err on the longer side to make sure the puff pastry comes out crispy on the bottom, not chewy).

Immediately remove to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, dusted with confectioner’s sugar.

Crispy-Chewy Truffle Brownies

I tasted these delicious brownies last week when a colleague brought them in to work. They were so good that I made them a few days later for a New Year’s Eve party, and they seemed to be a hit. I’m embarrassed to say it includes a packaged mix, but these were pretty darn awesome.

Makes 2 dozen

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 box devil’s food cake mix (15–18 oz.)
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup roughly chopped pecans or walnuts
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels, divided
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line a 13×9-inch baking pan with foil and wrap it over the edges. Melt butter in microwave or on stovetop.

Combine in large bowl the butter, cake mix, egg, and vanilla. Blend with electric mixer 1–2 minutes or until crumbly. If you have it, use a flat beater, like this one:

Transfer 1 cup of mixture to medium bowl, stir in nuts and 1 cup morsels, set aside.

Press remaining crumb mixture firmly into baking dish. Bake 15 minutes.

Place in small saucepan the remaining 1 cup morsels and condensed milk. Cook and stir on low heat 2–3 minutes or until smooth; pour over crust.

Top with nut mixture; bake 20–25 minutes or until topping is firm to the touch. Let stand 30–40 minutes or until completely cooled. Remove foil from baking dish and cut into bars. Serve.

(This recipe is originally from Publix, with some minor changes.)