About Honey Butter Croissants
Last week we stopped by Cheddar’s to celebrate some good news about new jobs with our good friends. It was the first time an old friend of mine and I had ever been to this restaurant, so we fumbled our way through ordering while our companions (who already knew the ropes) promptly ordered the honey butter croissants. I’m always a sucker for croissants, so when they offered one to me I already had my greedy little hands on one before they even finished the question.
As I was eating, my friend leaned across the table and whispered, “Can you believe they charge $2 for 3 of them?”
And at that moment, no, I couldn’t believe they actually charged $2 for 3 croissants, especially when these croissants were about the same size as a the bake-and-eat Pillsbury variety. The croissants were good, yes, but were they $0.70 a piece good? I wasn’t sure. The rest of the menu boasted fairly reasonable prices so it was odd that they’d charge so much for so little on this one item.
But if you were to ask me that same question today, I would tell you, yes, I can totally believe they actually charge $2 for 3 croissants because I made it my mission to recreate Cheddar’s honey butter croissants at home and now know first hand what all is involved. And it’s not even because the croissants are hard to make – the process itself, at it’s core, is an easy one – but it’s more the time involved in order to make a proper croissant that can be a pain (and pricey!).
The key to a good croissant is to have fluffy, airy layers within the bread, and those layers are created by threading chilled butter within the dough through a process called laminating. Laminating is basically just a fancy term for rolling and folding dough in such a way so that the butter is sandwiched inside the dough and yet is not absorbed in the raw dough. This means that the dough and butter must remain thoroughly chilled at all times, and that chilling process is where the time investment comes in.
So while you can’t exactly wake up on Saturday morning and have croissants in a few hours, you can make them ahead of time. And I totally see myself doing that, because I now know from experience that it is so worth any trouble it might be to make homemade croissants. This knowledge will be dangerous. Trust me.
Making these was a little victory for me, because homemade croissants were yet another entry on my cooking bucket list that I can now scratch off – and it must have been high up on the list, too, because this was probably the first time I felt really proud of what I accomplished. These croissants were definitely a labor of love (and time!) to make, but I know it’ll be easier the second time around, especially since I won’t be watching the clock as much while the dough chills. It’s a bad habit, but I can’t help it; as a noobie cook, I’m always anxious to get to the next step, like the next plot turn in a movie. To me, waiting around doing nothing is worse than holding a hand mixer for 15 minutes straight.
And, of course, I’m always anxious to get to the eating part.
I was also pretty excited with how the honey butter drizzle turned out. It’s pretty spot on with the restaurant version, and it’s only 3 ingredients.
I tried both dunking and drizzling the croissants with the honey butter sauce, but in the end, I opted for both.
Because why not?
If you’re going to do something, do it right.
Even just looking at these pictures, I know I’ll be starting the “croissant process” again soon. I only made one batch and I’m already spoiled by being able to pop one of these in the microwave and drizzle it with a little sauce for breakfast.
Honey Butter Croissants
For the Croissant Dough
Using a stand mixer with a dough hook combine flour, milk, yeast, salt, vegetable oil, and sugar. Mix dough on low for 3 minutes. If you do not have a stand mixer, mix the ingredients together with a spoon until they begin to thicken, then kneed it with your hands. The dough is ready when it no longer is so sticky that it clings to you fingers or the dough hook. Dough should be tacky, but easy to detach and roll into a ball.
Grease a large bowl with butter, then place the croissant dough ball inside. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise for 1-2 hours in a warm environment. Tip: I ran my dryer on low heat for 20 minutes, turned it off, then placed the bowl inside with the door closed.
While dough rises, cut each stick of cold butter lengthwise into 3 pieces. Place butter slices in a Ziploc bag (quart sized), arranging them in as close to a flat layer as possible. Using a rolling pin, roll and press the butter so that the edges fuse together and the butter reaches the edges of the bag. This will create a solid 8x8 square of butter. Cut butter out of Ziploc bag, then wrap the butter square in plastic wrap. Place butter back in the refrigerator until dough is ready.
Once dough has risen, the next step is to "laminate" the dough, which is a special technique of folding the cold butter within the croissant dough. Please see > THIS VIDEO < for the best technique on how to do this (trust me, it's much easier to watch than me trying to type it out). Instructions start at the 2:11 minute mark.
Once dough has been laminated, refrigerate it overnight.
Dough must remain cold while working (to prevent butter within from melting), so before beginning, divide the dough in half. Keep one half to work with and place the other half in the refrigerator so that it remains cold until ready to be used.
Generously flour your work space. Place dough down and roll into a 7 x 20" rectangle, using more flour to prevent sticking as necessary. Cut triangles within the dough, making the small point about 1/4 inch wide and the wide end about 4-5 inches wide. Once cut, roll croissants starting from the wide base toward the small point. Place croissants on the baking sheet 2 inches apart. If desired, curl the ends of the croissant for a more decorative look. Remove the other half of the dough from the refrigerator and repeat the same steps.
Prepare egg wash by whisking together egg and cream. Using a pastry brush, coat croissants generously with egg wash.
Allow croissants to rise for another 1-3 hours at room temperature. Dough will puff slightly and should wiggle if baking dish is lightly shaken.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Bake croissants for 25-35 minutes or until tops are golden brown.
For the Honey Butter Drizzle
In a microwave safe bowl, heat butter until melted, about 45 seconds. Whisk in honey and powdered sugar. If honey will not fully dissolve, heat sauce for another 20 seconds.
Putting it All Together
Serve croissants warm with honey butter drizzled on top or as a dipping sauce on the side.
Croissant recipe from Jellibean Journals.
Honey Butter Drizzle recipe from She's Got Flavor.