10th January 1908 – this is the day when the first cocoa snails were born. A baker in Göd (a little town in the Danube bend, near Budapest) celebrated his 33th birthday by surprising his friends with a newly created pastry. He, however, made too many rolls, so he decided to sell them to his customers. The new product had an overwhelming success, so he kept baking it to the customer’s satisfaction. The original name of the cocoa rolls was csokoládés tekerge, which has been later changed to kakaós csiga (cocoa snails).
Today cocoa snails are undoubtedly the most popular sweet bakery product in Hungary, nearly 90 million pieces are sold anually. Quality level of bakeries can be easily tested by tasting the cocoa snails they supply: crispy, but not dry on the edges, and soft in the middle – these are the traits of a good cocoa snail. Though home cooks generally make cocoa snails from a plain yeast dough, the real kakaós csiga supplied in bakeries and coffee houses is made from Blundel pastry.
Blundel pastry is the base of many bakery products; it means a laminated yeast raised dough, which contains a significant amount of butter, and therefore it’s a transition between yeast dough and puff pastry. Don’t worry, making Blundel dough is not as difficult as it looks. The key to a good pastry lies in the folding technique: you can create layers of dough and butter by doing a simple fold and a double fold or bookfold. Folding is repeated three times, and during the rest of the time the dough sits in the fridge chilling. Concerning the filling, feel free to add more sugar and cocoa, or you can substitute cocoa for cinnamon or cardamom.
For the dough:
- 250 g (~1 cup) butter
- 500 g (~4 cups) + 2 tbsp flour
- 1 egg
- 250 ml (~1 cup) milk
- 25 g fresh yeast (2 1/2 tsp dry yeast)
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
For the filling:
- 50 g (~1/4 cup) butter
- 4 heaping tbsp bitter cocoa powder
- 7 heaping tbsp sugar
Dissolve yeast with a pinch of sugar in tepid milk.
To make the butter pad, dice the cold butter and quickly combine with 2 tablespoons of flour. Use your hands for this, do not whip the mixture. Spread the butter into a rectangle, wrap in a sheet of plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.
Place 4 cups of flour in a bowl, add egg, salt, sugar and activated yeast. Knead until smooth and elastic. On a floured surface roll out the dough into a thin rectangle. Place the butter pad in the middle and boundle it up by folding the edges of the dough over it.
Start rolling the dough and shape it into a rectangle. Do the simple fold: fold the left third of the dough to the centre, then fold the right third over that.
Rotate the dough 90 degrees. Roll out the dough again into a thin rectangle. Now comes the double or bookfold: fold 1/4 of the dough to the middle both on the left and right side, then fold them over each other.
Wrap the dough and leave it to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes repeat the simple and double fold. Chill the dough for 30 minutes. Do the folding process again, and leave the dough to rest for 30 minutes. After the dough has rested, it will be ready for shaping.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and preheat the oven to 200°C.
Roll out the dough into a 0,5 cm/1/4 inch thin rectangle. Melt 1/4 cup of butter and spread it on the top of the dough. In a small bowl combine cocoa and sugar. Pour the cocoa mix onto the buttered rectangle and spread evenly. Starting at the long end nearest to you, roll up the dough into a log. Cut the log into 1,5 cm/1/2 inch thick pieces and place them on the prepared baking sheets. Bake the snails for 13-15 minutes or until golden brown.