Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Low Sugar Almond croissants



Recently I've been really seeking out Almond Croissants.  It started with an almond croissant at Sonoma Cafe in Alexandria.  They had one in the glass cabinet and it was calling my name.  I don't think I have had one prior to that for years.  It was ah-mahzing!  Flakey, a bit gooey and with lots of almond flake goodness.

Since then I've sought it out and had a mix of good and bad ones.  But then I had a thought to make it myself.  And so the internet uncovered a number of great looking recipes but I landed on one called Almond Croissants Recipe (French Bakery Style).  It was on Natasha's Kitchen's website (link to the actual recipe here http://natashaskitchen.com/2013/11/01/almond-croissants-french-bakery-style/).  It's not a site I had frequented.  I don't tend to follow food bloggers but do recognise when I've been to a site after a few times.

Whenever I follow a recipe I never follow it to a tee.  I tend to modify it and cook very much what I consider "asian" style.  In that I'm a bit loose with measuring things.  With this recipe I modified it by substituting the sugar.  In fact the only 'added' sugar I had to this recipe was the icing sugar I used to dust the croissants with.  I don't think it would have been detrimental to leave it out altogether.

I have since managed to make a few batches of almond croissants with very little sugar involved.
Don't these look amazing?



I have a fear of sugar having helped out at I Quit Sugar and watching a number of YouTube videos about the evils of sugar.  It's unfortunate that the other part of me says that I shouldn't deprive myself and end up having another snack or bit of chocolate!

In any case I do try and reduce sugar where I can from cooking and baking.  And my taste buds tend to like to be more bland than the mainstream.  I tend to like things less salty and less sweet.  So these were fantastic for me but I suspect were a bit on the bland side for most other people.  If you are making these of course you can adjust the amount of sweetness to add in.

To get the croissants I used the following substitutes:

For the syrup
Instead of rum I used Macadamia Royal Liqueur.  Just because that's what I had.  (Note this is quite sweet)
Instead of sugar in the syrup and having to heat it I just used a half a dropper of Vanilla Creme Stevia.  

For the almond paste, I just replaced the granulated sugar they wanted with Xylitol (I have at home Xyla) which is a sugar substitute that bakes like sugar and is safe for diabetics.


Pretty much the rest of it I followed the instructions for (don't worry I'll pop the whole recipe with my substitutes and my method below.  The first batch was only 3 croissants so I easily did 1/2 the recipe and popped it in the Turbo oven for 18 minutes.  The next batch was still easy and I prepared them overnight and baked them first thing in the morning (made the house smell amazing!).  Details on exactly my method below.



1 batch can make 12 medium to large croissants.  I bought 4 packs of croissants from Woolworths at $2.50 per pack.  But I also went to Costco and saw their pack of 12 (huge!) croissants for (I think!) $9 which would have worked or the large packs of croissants from Woolworths.  It doesn't matter and it can even be a day or two old.  It works.

You can also keep the paste for later so you can even make them 2 at a time or 1 at a time if you aren't sharing!

Ingredients:

12 croissants (ready made and baked)
1/2 cup almond flakes
Icing sugar for dusting (optional)

Syrup

1/2 dropper full of liquid stevia (I used Wisdom Natural, SweetLeaf Liquid Stevia, SweetDrops Sweetener, Vanilla Creme)
Splash (10 - 30mL) of sweet liqueur -- I had Macadamia Royale.  The original recipe called for rum. (optional)
Up to 1 cup of water

Almond Paste
1 cup of Almond Meal
1/2 cup of Xylitol (I used Xyla)
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter
Pinch salt
2 large eggs

Method:

Step 1. Make the paste

  1. In a large bowl I just used a hand mixer), mix together the Xylitol and Almond Meal and salt
  2. Cut the butter into smaller chunks or slices and add to the mix.  Mix well with hand mixer or in a stand mixer.  You want to get rid of all the butter clumps so it's all blended together.  Don't worry if you have small clumps as it will melt later anyway and we have one more mixing step.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time.  So add one egg, mix and then add the other egg and mix.  
  4. Mix so it's a creamy paste.

Step 2. Cut open croissant as if you were making a sandwich out of them.
Step 3. Make the syrup

  1. In a dish or container (which will fit a croissant) mix together the stevia, liqueur and water
Step 4. Line a cookie sheet with baking paper
Step 5. Construct
  1. Dip each half of croissant into the syrup.  Cover both sides of each half.  Don't soak them, just dip, turn over and dip.  Do the same for the other half.
  2. Spread the almond paste into the inside of each half.  Sandwich it (ie put it together as if it were a whole croissant again).
  3. Spread some more paste onto the top of the croissant
  4. Sprinkle the almond flakes on top.  The paste helps it stick.  I like lots of almond flakes so tend to go a bit heavy handed.  YMMV.
That's it.  Other than baking.  So I left mine overnight after construction but there is no drama to pop them in the oven at this point.

Step 6. Bake
  1. Bake croissants for 20 - 25 minutes in a fan forced oven at 170 degrees Celcius (I don't even preheat the oven fully.  I turn it on for a few minutes, prep the shelves and put in the baking trays).  For those of you who do preheat, preheat to 180 degrees in non fan forced or 170 fan forced and then pop them in for 15-18 minutes or so.
  2. Check to see if the almonds are slightly toasted and browned on top
  3. Take them out of the oven and cool on a rack
  4. Sprinkle icing sugar on top (mine was crumbly and I was lazy so I just sprinkled it on top and broke up the icing sugar by rubbing it between my finger and thumb when sprinkling.  Professionals would tell you to sift)
  5. Take a photo before digging in!
I found they were crispier when left to cool rather than eating them warm.  

That's it.  I thought I'd share as it's easy to look at a recipe and wonder if you can prep them the night before (yes you can!) if you can keep the paste (yes you can!) if you can just do the syrup without heating it (yes you can since I used a liquid and didn't need to dissolve sugar) and if replacing the sugar works!!


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