Torsades au Chocolat (Chocolate Custard Twists)

from French Food for Everyone (After School Snacks)

These are the sort of thing that always catches my eye at the bakery when I’m only supposed to be picking up bread.  Inevitably one will make its way into my order and will be enjoyed at breakfast or mid-morning – they’re so good I can never wait until l’heure du goâter! And while these are great in the morning, they are an excellent on-the-go snack to eat rushing from school to extra-curricular activities.  Holding them in the paper bag you buy them in means that you don’t get custardy/chocolatey hands as you’re eating them!

Makes 6 pastries

For the Pastry Cream

1/3 cup (80 mL) milk

1 large egg yolk

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ tablespoon (15g) unsalted butter, room temperature

For the Twists

1 x sheet store-bought puff pastry (225g/8 oz) thawed but chilled

3 tablespoons roughly chopped semi-sweet chocolate or mini chocolate chips

1 large egg, lightly beaten for egg wash

For the Glaze

1 tablespoon boiling water

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Make the Pastry Cream

Bring the milk to a boil in a medium saucepan (or in the microwave).

Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolk, sugar and cornstarch together in a medium saucepan.

Once the milk has just reached a boil, pour in a couple of teaspoons of the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture and whisk until combined.

Slowly pour in the rest of the hot milk, whisking constantly and place the pan over medium heat, continuing to whisk.

Continue to cook and whisk until the mixture starts to thicken slightly and produce slow large bubbles (2 to 3 minutes) then remove from the heat.  If your mixture has overcooked a little bit and you have bits of cooked egg in your custard, strain the custard into a clean bowl using a metal sieve.

Whisk in the vanilla, then the butter, until completely incorporated.

Scrape the custard into a clean bowl, cover it with plastic wrap (the wrap should be touching the surface of the custard to prevent a skin forming) and allow the custard to come to room temperature, then, if not using immediately, refrigerate, until you are ready to use. Before you use it, you might have to give the custard a whisk to loosen it.

Assemble and Bake the Twists

Preheat the oven to 375F and have a baking tray handy.

Roll your pastry out on parchment paper into a 30 x 30 cm (12 x 12) rectangle.

Spread the pastry cream over the entire surface of the pastry.

Sprinkle the chocolate over one half of the pastry and fold the other half of the pastry to cover it.

With the open end of the pastry facing you (you’ll have a rectangle of 30 x 15 cm (12 x 6 inches), cut strips of the pastry approximately 5cm (2 inches wide).

Lift the parchment onto the baking tray and separate the pastry strips slightly.

Twist the pastry strips in one direction at one end and in the other direction at the other end to make a twist.  Make two twists at each end.  Some of the chocolate might fall out – but just press it back into the pastry cream.  Make sure your twists have a lot of room between them on the baking tray,

Lightly brush the twists with the egg wash, avoiding the pastry cream/chocolate edge of the pastry.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed and golden brown.

Remove the twists from the oven, leaving them on the baking tray.  Combine the boiling water and sugar together and brush the still-hot twists with the sugar water. This will dry as they cool and will make them lovely and shiny.

Note: Don’t worry if your twists are a bit misshapen the first time you make these – practice makes perfect! Yes, I’m giving you permission to make these more than once to get them just right!

Nada’s Tips & Tricks: I skipped the first part and purchased a can of custard – this made the recipe real quick as the custard is the most time consuming.  A HUGE hit with the family and the perfect snack for heading out to gymnastics after school.

Recipe and images excerpted from French Food for Everyone: After School Snacks © Mardi Michels (MLM Publications 2021)