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March 18, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Brioche Raisin Snails (Minus the Raisins)

Brioche Raisin Snails Iced

It's Tuesday! You know what that means...Tuesdays with Dorie! This week's recipe was Brioche Raisin Snails chosen by Peabody from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody.

Well I have to admit I wasn't overly thrilled with how this turned out, though I had thought it would be to die for. The end result was just a bit bland in my opinion. It needed more oomph. I think it needed a bit more cinnamon (even though I added more than the recipe called for) and it also needed a bit more sugar (which I added more of as well), but even though they didn't taste like much the "snails" themselves were beautiful to look at if nothing else.

As you can see I also left out the raisins. I like raisins in cookies or paired with baked apples or even in pumpkin bread, but in other ways I'm not a huge fan of cooked raisins so I left them out. I don't think that that omisson however changed the overall feel of the recipe, nor do I think the addition would have changed the overall blandness.

One thing that I was really excited about with this recipe was the pastry cream. I've always wanted to make pastry cream, but I never had. I don't however think mine turned out so well. It was rather thick and less like what I would call a cream and more like what I would call a thick pudding. It also could have used a bit more sugar, but then again I think that was the overall theme for me with this recipe. It could have been the fact that I had a headache all day that I just couldn't shake so I wasn't up to par to begin with, or maybe it was just the recipe itself...who knows?

The recipe called for half of a brioche recipe that was listed in another part of the book (as was the pastry cream too), but the recipe for that said you couldn't really half the recipe if you wanted it to turn out ok, so I took the other half and baked a loaf of brioche. This too was something I had always wanted to try. The loaf itself turned out beautifully, but it was a bit rich, which is slightly strange given when you paired it with the other elements the recipe still seemed bland overall.

Granted this was a pretty recipe, but I don't see myself making it again. The blandness, coupled with the fact you have to keep turning back and forth through the book, just makes it not worth it to me. It also would have been nice to have a picture or two to sort of guide you along the path. We'll see what the other TWD bakers thought. Be sure and check out them out and see their takes on the recipe.

What You'll Need for the Brioche Raisin Snails:
1 cup moist, plump raisins (Note: I omitted these.)
3 tablespoons dark rum (Note: I omitted this too.)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 recipe for Golden Brioche Loaves(page 48), chilled and ready to shape (make the full recipe and cut the dough in half after refrigerating overnight) (See recipe below)
1/2 recipe Pastry Cream (page 448) (See recipe below)

What You'll Need for The Optional Glaze:
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
About 1 teaspoon water
Drop of pure vanilla extract

Getting Ready: Line one large or two smaller baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Put the raisins in a small saucepan, cover them with hot water and let them steep for about 4 minutes, until they are plumped. Drain the raisins, return them to the saucepan and, stirring constantly, warm them over low heat. When the raisins are very hot, pull the pan from the heat and pour over the rum. Standing back, ignite the rum. Stair until the flames go out, then cover and set aside. (The raisins and rum an be kept in a covered jar for up to 1 day.)

Mix the sugar and cinnamon together.

On a flour dusted surface, roll the dough into a rectangle about 12 inches wide and 16 inches long, with a short end toward you. Spread the pastry cream across the dough, leaving 1-inch strip bare on the side farthest from you. Scatter the raisins over the pastry cream and sprinkle the raisins and cream with the cinnamon sugar. Starting wit the side nearest you, roll the dough into a cylinder, keeping the roll as tight as you can. (At this point, you can wrap the dough airtight and freeze it up to 2 months; see Storing for further instructions. Or, if you do not want to make the full recipe, use as much of the dough as you'd like and freeze the remainder.)

With a chef's knife, using a gentle sawing motion, trim just a tiny bit from the ends if they're ragged or not well filled, then cut the log into rounds a scant 1 inch thick. Put the snails on the lined baking sheet(s), leaving some puff space between them.

Lightly cover the snails with wax paper and set the baking sheet(s) in a warm place until the snails have doubles in volume--they'll be puffy and soft--about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Getting Ready To Bake: When the snails have almost fully risen, preheat the oven: depending on the number of baking sheets you have, either center a rack in the oven or position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Remove the wax paper, and bake the snails for about 25 minutes (rotate the sheets if you're using two, from top to bottom and front to back after 15 minutes), or until they are puffed and richly browned. Using a metal spatula, transfer the snails onto a cooling rack.

Brioche Raisin Snails Baked

If You Want To Glaze The Snails: Put a piece of wax paper under the rack of warm rolls to act as a drip catcher. Put the confectioners' sugar into a small bowl, and stir in a teaspoon of water. Keep adding water drop by drop until you have an icing that falls from the tip of a spoon. Add the vanilla extract, then drizzle the icing over the hot snails.

Brioche Raisin Snails: Leftover Brioche

What You'll Need for the Golden Brioche Dough:
2 packets active dry yeast
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch water
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm

What You'll Need for the Glaze:
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water

To Make The Brioche: Put the yeast, water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt, and fit into the mixer with the dough hook, if you have one. Toss a kitchen towel over the mixer, covering the bowl as completely as you can-- this will help keep you, the counter and your kitchen floor from being showered in flour. Turn the mixer on and off a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour (yes, you can peek to see how you're doing), then remove the towel, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and mix for a minute or two, just until the flour is moistened. At this point, you'll have a fairly dry, shaggy mess.

Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, until the dough forms a ball. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in 2-tablespoon-size chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next. You'll have a dough that is very soft, almost like batter. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.

Brioche Raisin Snails Dough

Transfer the dough to a clean bowl (or wash out the mixer bowl and use it), cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes, depending upon the warmth of your room.

Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap to the bowl. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours, then leave the uncovered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight.

The next day, butter and flour two 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch pans.

Pull the dough from the fridge and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cut each piece of the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece into a log about 3 1/2 inches long. Arrange 4 logs crosswise in the bottom of each pan. Put the pans on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat, cover the pans lightly with wax paper and leave the loaves at room temperature until the dough almost fills the pans, 1 to 2 hours. (Again, rising time with depend on how warm the room is.)

Getting Ready To Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

To Make the Glaze: Beat the egg with the water. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the loaves with the glaze.

Bake the loaves until they are well risen and deeply golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pans and turn the loaves out onto the racks. Invert again and cool for at least 1 hour.

Brioche Raisin Snails: A Bite

What You'll Need for the Pastry Cream:
2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits at room temperature

Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan.

Meanwhile, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks together with the sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended. Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk-- this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won't curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (making sure to get the edges of the pot), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are full incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky. Scrape the cream into a bowl. You can press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the pastry cream until cold or, if you want to cool it quickly--as I always do--put the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water, and stir the pastry cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.

Posted by Dianne at March 18, 2008 7:52 AM

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They sure came out nice, even if you weren't thrilled with them. They're really cute!

Posted by: Lemon Tartlet at March 18, 2008 8:23 AM

I'm sorry that you didn't enjoy these, but they sure look lovely! I hadn't made pastry cream before either, and thought it was rather thick. Glad I wasn't the only one!

Posted by: Chelle at March 18, 2008 9:07 AM

Oh, that last picture did it for me. Sorry you didn't really enjoy them, but I have enjoyed your pictures. You did make them look rather yummy! My pastry cream was quite thick as well, but once I let it warm to room temperature it was alot easier to work with.

Posted by: Marie at March 18, 2008 10:19 AM

Well, I guess you can't win them all, but at least you tackled pastry cream and liked it. I found the pastry cream a bit bland and added a good pinch of salt, which improved the flavor immensely.

Posted by: Mari at March 18, 2008 10:51 AM

Too bad you didn't care too much for them, weel there's always next week :-) They look great by the way!

Posted by: noskos at March 18, 2008 11:00 AM

I felt the same way about the pastry cream. But I have a feeling it was probably since I substituted cream for the whole milk. *shrugs I also thought the snails would be more decadent so I though it was good but not great. Then I ate one the next day and it tasted SO good. Not sure if waiting a day to let the flavors meld is the reason... Great job nonetheless.

Posted by: CB at March 18, 2008 11:23 AM

That stinks that the end result wasn't what you were hoping for, but I must say that your snails are great looking!

Posted by: Amanda at March 18, 2008 12:34 PM

I'm sorry they didn't turn out like you had hoped. Your pictures are wonderful. Great job!

Posted by: Heather at March 18, 2008 12:46 PM

I've always wanted to try brioche. Do you think all brioche is bland?

Posted by: Dar at March 18, 2008 12:59 PM

I've always wanted to try brioche. Do you think all brioche is bland?

Posted by: Dar at March 18, 2008 1:02 PM

I am sorry they are not what you had hoped they would be. They look fantastic though! Great job, hope next week is more of a winner for ya. xo

Posted by: laurie at March 18, 2008 2:57 PM

Your snails turned out lovely! I think the pastry cream was supposed to be this thick because the rolls have to be baked. I agree with you about needing a bit more flavor - I think the pastry cream would have benefited from vanilla bean.

Posted by: Madam Chow at March 18, 2008 4:27 PM

Sorry you didn't like them that much. I think they look great. I love how the glaze looks!

Posted by: Erin at March 18, 2008 5:03 PM

It's ok that I didn't like this one so much. I guess that's the whole point of things like this. You won't like them all. I did however get to learn a couple of new skills and that is always a good thing! :o)

The brioche itself was very rich, but oddly when you added it in with the other elements to me it sort of blanded out.

I think vanilla would have been a wonderful addition to the pastry cream. I also think it could have used a bit more sugar.

After the comments today I decided to try one again today to see if maybe the flavors had melded a bit and I have to admit they did taste a bit better today. I still wouldn't call myself sold on this recipe though. :o)

Posted by: Dianne at March 18, 2008 5:16 PM

I'm glad you took the time to try this, and I appreciate that you've shared your honest opinion. You're right about these challenges... no one of them is going to appeal to everyone; the joy is often in the mastering something new.

Posted by: Dolores at March 18, 2008 5:28 PM

You're exactly right. And I did learn something new so that's all that matters. :o)

Posted by: Dianne at March 18, 2008 7:15 PM

It's a shame you didn't care for them. But the cherries (I opted for those over the raisins) really add an extra oomph to the roll. The tartness is a fantastic foil to the sweetness of the cream and the brioche gives a lovely butter taste.

Posted by: Natalie at March 18, 2008 8:38 PM

I love dried cherries. That would have been a nice addition I think.

Posted by: Dianne at March 18, 2008 8:51 PM

I wasn't a big fan of the pastry cream either, but then I'm not big on custard in general. Like Mari, I added salt, and that did help. Some other flavoring might have been good, too--I've read about a number of good options on various blogs today.

Posted by: Di at March 18, 2008 10:41 PM

sorry you didn't love it. i didn't think it was bland at all. the pastry cream was rich and the rum soaked raisins were great...maybe you should have tried it w/the raisins!

Posted by: Jaime at March 19, 2008 12:07 AM

Look at that pool of glaze. Even if you didn't like the snails, that's one yummy photo.

Posted by: Rebecca at March 19, 2008 12:47 AM

Yeah, that last photo is way too tempting!
Ditto on the extra flavor. I think I'll put almond extract in mine next time.

Posted by: Donna at March 19, 2008 2:29 AM

Lovely snails. Too bad they were not all you had hoped for. I think you are right on in terms of the cream, it was not so much creamy and was very solid. I was a bit disappointed with it. I like the overall idea (minus raisins) but wasn't super satisfied with each part. Oh well, let's see about next week!

Posted by: Gretchen Noelle at March 19, 2008 8:04 AM

I'm not sure the addition of the raisins would have changed my opinion of this recipe, but I did see that several people added dried cherries instead and I think that might have helped punch up the flavor. I also saw that one person added chocolate chips and that looked fabulous as well!

I definitely want to try to make pastry cream again and I think I'd like to try and play around with the brioche as well. Both of those were a first for me.

Posted by: Dianne at March 19, 2008 11:31 AM

For a bunch of firsts you did a fabulous job! I would have to do a half batch without the raisins for the husband but that would still leave plenty for me! They turned out beautiful!

Posted by: Tartelette at March 19, 2008 6:54 PM

Thanks! They were very pretty.

Posted by: Dianne at March 19, 2008 9:39 PM

Sorry you were not a fan. :( Oh well, at least you know now that they are not your fave.

Posted by: peabody at March 30, 2008 4:32 AM

They were pretty and I learned a few news tricks so in the end it's all good. That's what these sort of things are about. You can't like them all, but it was fun learning a few new things! :o)

Posted by: Dianne at March 30, 2008 11:07 AM

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