Baking is one of my favorite pastimes. I enjoy baking cookies, cakes, breads, pies, muffins, cupcakes, and much more.
If you've ever been to a pâtisserie (French pastry shop), you've surely seen the tempting array of pastries such as croissants, macarons, eclairs, and pain au chocolat beautifully displayed at the front counter. Pain au chocolat is one of my favorites, and I decided to try to make it at home.
What Is Pain au Chocolat?
Pain au chocolat (literally translates to bread with chocolate) is a type of viennoiserie sweet roll consisting of a box-shaped piece of yeast-leavened laminated dough, similar in texture to a croissant, with dark chocolate pieces in the center. The layered dough used to make pain au chocolat is the same dough that is used for croissants.
How to Prepare the Dough and the Butter
The process starts with preparing the dough and butter. If you've made croissants before, it's the same method. I'll show you the way I do it, but if you search online you'll find other methods, as well.
I prepared the dough and butter the night before because they both require refrigeration for at least eight hours. The next morning, all I had to do was take them out of the fridge and continue with the next steps in the recipe.
How to Get the Lovely Golden Color on Top
Don't forget to brush the top of the pain au chocolat with egg wash before putting them in the oven. This step helps give them that lovely golden color when they finish baking. I also decided to sprinkle turbinado sugar on top, which I thought added a nice touch. You can omit the sugar if you prefer not to add it.
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 5 tablespoons white granulated sugar
- 1 packet instant dry yeast or active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons salted butter, melted
- 7 ounces salted French butter, room temperature
- Semi-sweet chocolate of your choice
- Egg wash, for brushing (1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water)
- Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
Note: I used salted butter for my recipe, so I don't add any additional salt to the dough. If you're using unsalted butter, make sure to add salt (1 teaspoon) before mixing the dough.
- Make the pastry dough: In a stand mixer with the hook attachment, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, water, and milk. Beat on low speed to blend, then add the salt.
- Increase to a higher speed and knead for about 5 minutes, adding 2 tablespoons butter during the kneading process.
- Once the dough is formed, transfer the dough onto a parchment-lined pan or baking tray. Gently, flatten the dough before covering it loosely with cling wrap. Cover the dough with a towel and let it sit out for 1 hour. Then transfer the tray to the refrigerator for 8 hours (I did this overnight).
- Make the butter: Loosely wrap 1 cup of butter with plastic wrap and press it down with a rolling pin to form a thin sheet. Place the thin butter sheet on a pan or tray and transfer it to the fridge to chill.
- After 8 hours (or in the morning), turn out the chilled dough on a baking mat or floured surface. Roll out the dough to form a rectangle or square.
- Place the chilled butter in the center of the dough and fold it (see photo below). Roll out the butter/dough package with a rolling pin and place it in the fridge for 1 hour or more.
- Take chilled dough out of the fridge and turn it out on a baking mat or floured surface. Again, fold the dough and roll it out. Place it back in the fridge for 1 more hour (I did the same process three times).
- Now it's time to shape the pain au chocolat. Take the chilled dough from the fridge and turn it out on a baking mat or floured surface. Divide the dough into two (I decided to put half of the dough in the freezer for later).
- Roll out the dough into a long narrow strip and with a knife or pizza cutter, trim the edges of the dough.
- Cut the dough into the same-sized rectangles (I got six).
- Chocolate filling: Place the chocolate on the edge of the dough and roll tightly enclosing it in the dough.
- Place the rolled dough seam-side down on a parchment-lined baking tray and let it rise for 1 hour or more.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Brush the pain au chocolat with egg wash and bake for 17 minutes or until rich golden brown.
- Enjoy your warm homemade pain au chocolat with a cup of coffee or tea.
Note: You can freeze unbaked pain au chocolat in an airtight container. When you're ready to enjoy them, fully thaw the pastries, allow them to proof (rise) for about 3 hours, and then bake as usual.
© 2021 Liza