Humble Offerings

One of my quickly-becoming-dearest friends has a birthday this week. This particular friend isn’t one for which you just go out and buy any old frivolous bauble. She’s so thoughtful and intentional herself that only an intentional and thoughtful gift will do. This friend also doesn’t have a massive sweet tooth, but I know for a fact she has a pretty predictable penchant for a certain Chocolove bar and a certain pastry sold at one of our favorite stores. This certain pastry happens to be something called “Chocolate Custard Twists.”

Light and airy puff pastry is filled with creamy, homemade vanilla custard and generously studded with mini semi-sweet chocolate morsels. Thin (or thick) strips are cut and twisted like a corkscrew. This soldier-row of corkscrews is then baked into a buttery, flaky decadence. They’re rich and sweet and remind one of (Americanized) French pastry. Like a little bit of a creamier version of the pain au chocolat one can find at La Madeleine. The pain au chocolat was always my favorite…

No stranger to sweets, I grew up with an unrequited love for for pastries. I used to be incredibly intimidated by the creation of them until I started watching things like The Great British Bake Off. However, as accessible as pastry is, it is also a bit time-consuming. Time not being something I have much of lately, I resorted to other measures… This isn’t always a bad thing. I will stand by a refrigerated Pillsbury crust any day of the week to be honest. I have never had 100% successful pie crust (though I’ve made 100% successful danishes, ironically), so Pillsbury comes in clutch for me many times.

Knowing her birthday was approaching, I knew I wanted to make her a yummy, thoughtful treat. I knew I didn’t want to just buy the pastries. That would only be cheating… Ok, so I half cheated. It was a busy week, but I still wanted to be a blessing. So, I may not have made the puff pastry from scratch as I have done in the past, but Pepperidge Farm by way of Target did just fine! There is a reason after all that Pepperidge Farm has been around since 1937. The important thing is that I put a sincere amount of care into this and – heck – I made my own custard filling! My friend is so good; she can stop at one and make a box last week! Me? I ate THREE!

Ingredients:
4-5 egg yolks (based on egg size), reserve one beaten white for washing the tops of the pastries
1/2c sugar
2tbsp corn starch
1.5c whole milk
1/2tsp vanilla (more if desired)
1tbsp butter (do not use margarine)
1/4tsp kosher salt
2 sheets refrigerated puff pastry
4oz Nestlé Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Morsels

Directions:
1) In the work bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg yolks, sugar, and corn starch. Whisk on medium speed until fully combined. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Turn the stand mixer back on and begin drizzling the hot milk sloooooowly into the work bowl. (If you add the hot milk too quickly, the eggs will curdle and the batch will be ruined.) Whisk until all is incorporated.
2) Add the mixture back into the saucepan and bring to a boil. Once the mixture begins to boil, stir rapidly for 1-2min until the mixture thickens to the point that it can cover the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, butter, and salt. Stir to combine. You’ve now made your own custard! See, that wasn’t so hard, now. Was it?
3) Cover the entire surface of the custard with plastic wrap (I like to use Glad Press & Seal) so as not to allow an unappetizing layer of skin to form atop the custard. Allow to chill in the fridge for 2-3hrs until completely cooled.
4) When the custard has cooled, preheat the oven to 400°F and pull the puff pastry from the fridge. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
5) On a lightly floured surface, unwrap and lay out one sheet of puff pastry. Using an offset spatula (or a butter knife), spread a thin layer of custard over the surface of the puff pastry. Scatter about 2oz of the mini morsels over the custard layer and fold the pastry in half (like a taco) and gently pinch the ends together.
6) Using a pizza cutter (or a sharp knife), divide the dough into 8 strips (cutting from the folded end outward).
7) One-by-one, twist each cut strip twice and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the strips. Repeat for second puff pastry sheet and baking sheet.
8) Brush all twists with the beaten egg white and bake for 10-15min until puffed and golden. Enjoy!

Note: You may have custard left over and you will have mini morsels leftover. You can use 4 sheets of puff pastry to finish off the custard and mini morsels, but you could also transfer the custard into a Pyrex bowl and cover the top with a generous amount of mini morsels to refrigerate for a yummy custard dessert later! I may or may not have done the latter… (Should you choose to make your own puff pastry, you may not wind up with any leftover custard and/or mini morsels. This is perfectly normal.)

My friend was delighted with the amount I sent her way because her sweet kiddos were able to enjoy some for breakfast the following morning! How precious it is to know my gift was so well received by more than just my friend. So much better than creating something pretty, yet inedible. So maybe the container in this instance didn’t last a week, but I’m honored in that case. Sharing is caring, friends!

What’s one of your favorite pastries? Are you sweet or are you savory?

Currently Reading: A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Scripture of the day: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” -Luke 6:38

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