I was lucky enough to grow up in a very diverse suburb, and one thing we had at every family party was Chinese coconut buns. If you've never had one, it's a soft Chinese milk bun stuffed with a coconut custardy filling. We would heat them up slightly and have them with tea and coffee for dessert. This recipe is inspired by the Chinese coconut bun - but to make it a little easier, we're stuffing it into a croissant! The butter in the filling melts into coconutty bliss, and you’re left with the same buttery, sticky filling that a Chinese coconut bun has, all without having to make a dough from scratch. Also like a coconut bun, it’s not overly sweet which almost makes it more dangerous since it’s easy to absentmindedly eat 2 or 3. This is the perfect Lunar New Year breakfast or dessert- if you’re having friends and family over, you can easily use mini croissants and add this dish to your dessert platter.
Coconut Bun Croissants
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 18 minutes Yield: 6 large croissants, 12-15 mini croissants
For the Croissants
6 day old (stale) croissants
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, divided
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup white sugar (for a sweeter filling, use 1/2 cup sugar)
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
For the Glaze/Topping
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbs unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup + 1 tbs unsweetened shredded coconut (or 1/4 cup coconut smiles, plus 1 tbs unsweetened shredded coconut)
Preheat the oven to 350 F, and then make the the simple syrup glaze. In a small pot, combine the water, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 tbs unsweetened shredded coconut. Bring to a simmer over low heat to melt the sugar. Once the sugar has melted (6-10 minutes), remove from heat and let cool.
In a mixing bowl, beat together 1/2 cup of the shredded coconut, the softened butter and 1/3 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and egg yolk, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and salt, and then stir in the remaining 1/2 cup shredded coconut by hand.
Slice the croissants in half lengthwise. Using a pastry brush, generously glaze the top, insides, and bottoms of the croissants with the simple syrup. Divide the filling into 6 equal portions, and spread on the inside of one side of each croissant. Cover to close and place on a parchment or foil lined baking tray.
Brush the tops of the croissants one final time with the simple syrup, then sprinkle with some shredded coconut or coconut smiles if using. Bake for 15-18 minutes until the filling is set. Let cool and serve.
For a mini cocktail version, use 12-15 mini croissants instead of 6 large ones