Since my love for baking began I have always looked with awe upon those who can make a perfect pastry. I go gaga for all kinds of pastry, both savoury and sweet. However I must say that there is something so perfectly divine about beautifully crisp soft layers of golden pasty surrounding melted chocolate. In full disclosure I have made some pretty darn good chocolate croissants in the past from pre-made pastry mix but this time I didn’t want to fake it. I wanted the real deal. Thus this past week I decided that I was going to take the time and give pastry making a whirl! So on a calm Wednesday eve I set about in Meg and I’s small little kitchen, to make one of my favourite beyond favourite treats: pain au chocolat. Even the name makes me smile for really what is there better in life than bread and chocolate together… very few things I do say. I borrowed this recipe from the cooking blog “Baking With Julie” (http://dinnerwithjulie.com/2010/02/06/pain-au-chocolat/). I am not going to lie, as I stuck my first tester batch in the oven I may have paced the house in anticipation, waiting to see if my efforts were to pay off or be a complete flop. However my pain au chocolat proved to be a success.
What you will Need:
3/4 cup milk, warmed up a little bit
1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
1/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (1/2 lb.) butter, cold
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chocolate chips or any kind of chocolate your heart desires
In a large bowl, whisk together the milk and yeast. Then stir in the sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add one cup of the flour to start and then add the rest of the flour slowly. Stir until flour is fully incorporated. Then knead the dough on a lightly floured counter until it is nice and smooth. Transfer to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap; chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Then while the dough is set aside beat the butter and flour with an electric mixer for a couple minutes. Set aside but don’t refrigerate!
When the dough has chilled, turn it out onto a floured surface and roll into a rectangle that is about 13″x18″ and 1/4″ thick. Then great ready to butter! Spread the butter evenly over the right two-thirds of the dough. Fold the left third of the dough over, covering half the butter, then fold the right side over, as if you were folding a letter in thirds. Cover the dough in plastic wrap and put it back into the fridge for 30 minutes. Repeat this step 3 times after this so that you have folded it like an envelope for a total of four times with 30 minute refrigeration in between each time. Once you are done this and your arms are feeling a bit weak -because trust me mine were you cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
To create the pain au chocolat, take the dough out of the fridge and roll it on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4″ thick. You can cut the dough into rectangles as large or as small as you like. I made them about the size of a business card as instructed by Julie’s blog. Put a little (or big) pile of chocolate chips along one of the sides of the pastry and then roll the pastry so that you can see chocolate chips peaking out on wither side. Then place each pastry down on an ungreased baking sheet and ta-DA they are ready to bake or to freeze for later!
So the moral of this baking adventure is that if I can make delicious pastry then you can too! I must note that you can also put savoury delights in this pastry and have it be equally tasty. Next time I am going to use goat’s cheese and cranberries.
Note: I made the dough a day in advance and then the next day left it out an hour to thaw before rolling out the pain au chocolat. Also after I made them, I did not bake them all at once. I instead froze the twelve I had left over and then pulled them out later that week to bake for guests.
Happy Baking !