I’ve flagged a few different croissant recipes in books that I have checked out from the library, but never had the courage nor the time to go through with my ambition. One of the reasons it has taken me so long to buckle down and try it is how involved the recipe is. It is not simple and requires quite a few steps, some time, patience and a measuring tape.
Also, I didn’t want to try just any croissant recipe. It must be pains au chocolat or, for the uninitiated, a croissant with chocolate in it. I felt inspired this holiday break and thus began my croissant adventure using the recipe from In the French Kitchen with Kids: Easy, Everyday Dishes for the Whole Family to Make and Enjoy by Mardi Michels.
Many people see this treat as a breakfast pastry, it is traditionally served as an after-school snack. I say, why limit yourself? This is an any-time-of-the-day snack.
Pains Au Chocolat (chocolatines)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup cold salted butter, cut into rough cubes
- All-purpose flour, for rolling and shaping
- 24 chocolate baking sticks or 3/4 cup chocolate chips
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- Heat milk to between 110F and 113 F in a medium pot over medium heat (use a digital thermometer).
- Pour the milk into a large heatproof bowl and sprinkle yeast over it. Let is sit for 10 minutes. It will be slightly frothy on top after this time.
- Meanwhile, place the flour, sugar and then the butter in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse eight to ten times– you should still be able to see large chunks of butter.
- Tip the flour/butter mix over the warmed milk and use a wooden spoon to just incorporate the dry ingredients into the milk. The dough will be lumpy, shaggy and quite dry at this point.
- Use your hands to form a ball of dough. It might need a bit of work, but keep going–it will come together! Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for at least 1 hour (don’t leave it much longer than this, though, because it will become too difficult to roll out).
- Remove the dough from the fridge and lightly flour your counter top. Knead the chilled dough gently until you can feel it becoming softer. Use your hands to shape it into a rough rectangle.
- Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll out the dough until you have a very large rectangle (8 x 17 inches). You should be able to see butter pieces in the dough. If your edges of the rectangle crack a little as you are rolling, simply push them together with your fingers and continue to roll until you have the correct size rectangle.
- Fold the top of the dough about two-thirds of the way down, then fold the bottom third up over the first fold. You might need a plastic scraper or spatula to help you scoop up the dough if it’s sticking a little.
- Turn the block of dough clockwise so the seam (the open side) is on your right. This rolling and folding is known as a “turn.”
- If the dough or work surface is sticky, lightly flour the surface, brushing off any excess flour with your fingertips, and lightly flour the rolling pin each time, although you shouldn’t need very much extra flour.
- Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours, but preferably overnight.
- Line two baking trays with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the fridge and place a large piece of parchment paper on your counter top. Let the chilled dough sit for a few minutes so it’s not completely cold when you start working with it. Cut the dough in half.
- Roll out one piece of dough until you have a rectangle that is a little over 6 inches wide and 18 inches long. This may take a bit of patience, but if you take it slowly, the dough will definitely roll out to a large rectangle.
- Trim the edges of the rectangle so they are neat and straight (I used a pizza cutter and measuring tape) and measure exactly 6 inches by 18 inches.
- Working along the long sides of the rectangle, mark every 3 inches with a small cut in the dough on each side of the rectangle.
- Place a tape measure across the width of the dough at the first mark. Use a long sharp knife or a pizza cutter to cut a rectangle across the width of the dough. Repeat at each mark until you have six rectangles.
- Place one chocolate baking stick (or sprinkle 1/2 TBS of chocolate chips) on one of the rectangles across the short end, leaving a border of about 1/2 inch. Tuck the ends of the pastry over the chocolate and begin to roll. Once you have completely covered the chocolate, place a second stick or sprinkle another 1/2 TBS of chocolate chips across the pastry. Continue to roll until you reach the end of the pastry rectangle. Repeat with the other five rectangles.
- Repeat with the second block of dough.
- Place six pains au chocolat with the seam facing down on each tray, and cover each tray with a clean tea towel. Leave to rest in a warm place for 3 hours. They will puff up slightly during this time.
- When the pains au chocolat have been resting for 2 1/2 hours, preheat the oven to 375F. Whisk the egg and cream together to make an egg wash and gently brush the tops of the pains au chocolat with it.
- Place one tray in the top third of the oven and the other in the bottom third of the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pains au chocolat are golden brown on top. Switch the trays from top to bottom and turn from front to back halfway through baking.
- Remove the pains au chocolat from the oven, let them sit on the baking trays for about 10 minutes and then pace them on a wire rack to cool. These are best enjoyed the same day they are baked, although they will keep for around 3 days in resealable plastic bags.