Chneiks are a popular French pastry sold at bakeries throughout Morocco. They're made by spreading croissant dough with pastry cream and a filling of your choice – raisins, nuts, candied fruit and chocolate are all popular either alone or in various combination – and then rolling, slicing and baking. Almond Pastry Cream is often used in place of the plain pastry cream.
Chneiks are more time-consuming than difficult to prepare. Freeze the pastries to keep on hand for tea time, breakfast or coffee hour. Reheat directly from the freezer in a 375° F (190° C) oven for 8 to 10 minutes.
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Chilling and Rising Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours, 50 minutes
Yield: approx. 40 3" (8 cm) pastries
- one batch Croissant Dough
- one batch Pastry Cream or Almond Pastry Cream
- --- For the Filling --- (use approximately one cup total)
- chopped almonds, and/or
- raisins, soaked in water overnight and drained, and/or
- chopped semi-sweet chocolate
- --- For the Egg Wash ---
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- --- For the Syrup Glaze ---
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- --- To Decorate ---
- 1/4 cup chopped candied fruit (optional)
- 1/4 cup chopped or sliced almonds (optional)
Make the syrup. Combine the sugar and the water in a small sauce pan. Stir constantly over low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Increase the heat, bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes without stirring. Remove from the heat, and cool. If making a day or more in advance, refrigerate the syrup in a covered container until needed.
Shape the Chneiks. Divide the croissant dough into two portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece of dough into a large rectangle approximately 1/4" thick. Spread the dough with a generous layer of pastry cream, and sprinkle your filling (chocolate, raisins, nuts, etc.) over the pastry cream.
Starting with a long side, roll up each rectangular dough like a rug. Cover with plastic, and chill the dough in the freezer for about 30 minutes to facilitate slicing.
With a long, sharp knife, cut the chilled dough into slices about 1 cm (.4 inches) thick. Transfer the slices to a baking pan which has been lightly greased or lined with parchment paper. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a towel, and leave the pastries to rise for 1 hour or longer, until light and puffy.
Bake the Pastries. Preheat an oven to 400° F (200° C). Brush the chneiks with egg wash, sprinkle on candied fruit or almonds if using them as a garnish, and bake the pastries in the middle of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden.Remove the tray from the oven, brush on a generous coating of the syrup, and return the chneiks to the oven for 3 minutes to set the glaze.
Transfer the chneiks to a rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store completely cooled chneiks in a covered container or sealed plastic bag in the freezer.