You know you love your great aunt's banana bread, but you probably don't know why you do. In Modern Comfort, Ashley Rodriguez from Not Without Salt figures out what makes our favorite classics work, and then makes them even better.
Today: The only way to make classic puff pastry even better? Add chocolate filling.
How can one really improve upon the magic that is puff pastry? It’s hard to imagine anything better than thousands of shattering layers of dough and butter that rise to an impressive height in the oven. Sprinkled with a bit of cinnamon sugar, it becomes a cookie so fancy a raised pinkie seems appropriate when nibbling. And if you use it as the base for a tart, you need little more than a bit of thickened cream and fresh fruit to make a dessert worthy of a special occasion.
More: Interested in fruit tart? Try a classic strawberry version, updated for 2015.
It is quite hard to think about making that classic any better. Until, that is, you add chocolate—in this case, in the form of rich, bittersweet cocoa powder. You'll get a mysteriously dark pastry with a sweet, crackly crust and an earthy chocolate flavor eager to be adorned with cream, fruit, cinnamon, and sugar, or simply served alongside ice cream or afternoon coffee.
This puff pastry is of the “quick” variety, meaning it can be made in just about an hour (the classic recipe, on the other hand, is a multi-day affair). While the quick version lacks those perfectly executed layers I took so much pride in during my restaurant days, that pride is replaced with satisfaction of creating a dessert worthy of any printed menu in a fraction of the time. Plus, I find those quirky and imperfect layers that ripple and swell rather charming. Call them rustic and it suddenly seems downright intentional.
Serves a crowd
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
6 sticks (3 cups) unsalted butter, cut into rough 1/2-inch cubes, chilled
1 cup cold water
All photos by Ashley Rodriguez