Monday, January 31, 2011

Pains au Chocolat

Pains au Chocolat
Pains au Chocolat are my kind of treat: flaky, buttery dough concealing a piece of chocolate in the center.  They went over extremely well at my book club, especially with our leader, Isabelle, who hails from the Languedoc region of France.  She said they and the Pains aux Raisins (next post) were very authentic, and that the chocolate was perfect and not too sweet -- I used Valrhona Le Noir 61%.  Having no authenticity gauge myself and this being my first croissant, I was pleased to get such a ringing endorsement.  Plus, chocolate and buttery bread... what's not to like?

Pains au Chocolat
The recipe instructions may be long, but don't fret.  The dough-making was the laborious part, and all that's left is to roll it out and roll up the chocolate in it.  The proofing method is kind of bizarre, but was easy enough.  Updated note: I'm glad everyone likes the green cups, but they're espresso cups, not teacups -- just to give you an idea of how small the cups and pains actually are.

Unbaked Pains au Chocolat
If your dough refuses to roll out and springs right back into place, let it rest in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or so.  I hate doing that because I want to be done with a task pronto, but it won't behave otherwise.  In the end, my rectangle was still an inch short because of the springy dough, but what the hey.  The pains still looked good to me!

I got Sarabeth's Bakery as a Christmas gift, and these and the Pains aux Raisins are the first recipes I have tried from it.  I'm looking forward to trying more!

Pains au Chocolat
From Sarabeth Levine's Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours
Makes 12 pastries

Notes: Have a yardstick and pizza wheel at your side to help keep the cuts straight.  Always cut from top to bottom.  You will have better control over the wheel than if you cut from the bottom up. ~ While you can buy chocolate strips (bâtons) specifically for pains au chocolat at bakery suppliers or online, it is more convenient for the home baker to make his or her own from a standard 3½-ounce chocolate bar.  If the chocolate bar is too cold, it will snap into shards instead of cutting into strips.  Let the bar stand in a warm spot in the kitchen for about 30 minutes to soften slightly.  Even if the bar does shatter, it can still be used -- just keep track of the pieces and use an equal amount for each pain.


Unbleached all-purpose flour, for rolling the dough
½ recipe Croissant Dough
One 3½-ounce semisweet or bittersweet chocolate bar, cut crosswise into 12 strips
1 large egg, well beaten with a hand blender


  1. Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper.  Dust the work surface well with flour.  Place the dough on the work surface with the open seam of dough facing you.  Dust the top of the dough with flour.  Using a large, heavy rolling pin, roll out the dough into a 16-by-12-inch rectangle.  Don't press the dough too hard; let the weight of the pin do much of the work.  If you changed the position of the dough while rolling, it is important to keep track of which side contains the seam.  Using a yardstick and a pizza wheel, neatly trim the rough edges of the rectangle.  Fold the dough into thirds, place on the half-sheet pan, and refrigerate uncovered for 15 minutes.
  2. Unfold the dough onto the work surface.  Cut the dough horizontally into thirds and vertically into quarters to make 12 squares.  Place a chocolate strip about ¼ inch up from the bottom of a dough square.  Roll from the bottom up and place, seam side down, on the pan.  Repeat with the remaining dough and chocolate, placing the pains 1½ inches apart.  Using a very sharp thin knife, make a 1-inch slit in the center of the pains, cutting just down to the chocolate.  Make two more 1-inch slits, ¾ inch on either side of the center slit.
  3. Choose a warm place in the kitchen for proofing.  Slip the pan into a tall "kitchen-sized" plastic bag.  Place a tall glass of very hot water near the center of the pan.  Wave the opening of the bag to trap air and inflate it like a balloon to create "head room," being sure that the plastic does not touch the delicate dough.  Twist the bag closed.  Let stand until the pains au chocolat look puffy but not doubled, 1½ to 2 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375°.  Remove the glass from the bag, then the pan.  Lightly brush the pains with the beaten egg.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 350° and continue baking until the pains are crisp and golden brown, about 15 minutes longer.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

23 comments:

  1. These look sooo delicate, and delicious!!! Very beautiful:)
    Take care,
    Terra
    www.cafeterrablog.com

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  2. I've never actually tasted a pain au chocolat. I imagine it tastes like wonders considering is flaking buttery pastry wrapping chocolate. What could go wrong with that?

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  3. Just amazing...im still struggling to make perfect pastry sheets or corissant dough...
    I am looking for very quick and simple recipe to make that.....

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  4. wow, these look fantastic. I also have a French group that gets together once a week to cha. These would be the perfect treat, only if I could find a way to make them quickly, i.e. frozen dough. I wonder if it's possible to find frozen croissant dough, do you happen to know? Would you ever mke these with frozen puff pastry dough?

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  5. Thanks, Terra and Jara!

    Sabby, I don't think pastry has to be perfect for the home cook. Mine sure wasn't.

    Vtkitchen, I think your French group would be as delighted as my French book club friend was. Alas, I don't think there is a quick frozen croissant recipe. Some things just take time.

    You can't substitute puff pastry dough because it doesn't contain any yeast. It might turn out some tasty puff pastry confection, but it won't be a croissant.

    Some gourmet stores may sell croissant dough, and Williams Sonoma does at http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/croissant/?pkey=e|croissant%2Bdough|9|best|0|1|24||2&cm_src=PRODUCTSEARCH||NoFacet-_-NoFacet-_-NoMerchRules-_-

    But try making it sometime! It's a very fun and rewarding challenge.

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  6. I read the recipe more closely after I left my comment and noticed the yeast. For sure, puff pastry wouldn't work. I've tried making pastries with puff pastry (like cheese danish, etc) and it's just not the same. Thanks for the WS tip. I will check around for frozen croissant dough. If I ever get the inspiration one of these days, I'll go all out with the homemade stuff =) (it would have to be a really special treat for someone!)

    Thanks!

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  7. Speechless. These look amazing!

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  8. One of the big projects I have in mind for this year is to make my own pastry. I need to try yours. Thanks for sharing

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  9. These look tootootoo scrumptious! And so elegant in presentation.

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  10. Simply stunning!! I have always wanted to make something like this, but just haven't had the courage. Nicely done!

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  11. These are my favorite french pastry and yours turned out so beautifully! Making that croissant dough is a lot of work, but it is so worth it! Thank you for sharing such a beautiful and tempting recipe with me. I hope you have a safe and warm day tomorrow...we're about to get very cold in Austin!

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  12. I zonked off seeing the long instructions usually asosociated with baked stuff. But beautiful photos! BUZZED!

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  13. Yes, please! These are gorgeous! Haven't made croissant dough in years, but all the work might justify having more than one pain with my coffee. ; D

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  14. Seeing these makes me miss Paris!

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  15. I've always wanted to make chocolate croissants (I'm just scared about the dough). These look so great!

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  16. Beautiful job on these. They look simply delicious.

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  17. Simply superb! Haven't tried croissant but yours looks perfect and irresistible!

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  18. These look even better than regular croissants!I just saw your previous posting where you shared your croissant dough recipe. I am so ready to try and make these myself now!

    Btw, gorgeous pics and lovely green teacups.

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  19. These look wonderful. It is great you were able to make it.

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  20. Now that's what I'm talking about, Goh. More chocolatey things, please. -- Jacob

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  21. These look perfect! I totally thought you used ready made puff pastry or something because these look just so darn amazing. I am totally blown away that you made the pastry! Bravo, my friend, bravo!

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  22. These look perfect! I thought you used store bought puff pastry because they look so darn amazing. I'm even more impressed you made your own pastry! Bravo, my friend, bravo! :)

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  23. Oh holy heaven, I want one of those RIGHT NOW! The perfect french pastry. :)

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