The pain au chocolat, or for the non-pretentious (unless you’re actually french) chocolate croissant, is by far, one of my favorite dessert/breakfast foods. It is also one of my favorite pastries to make. I didn’t catch my oven on fire this time, and I’m happy to say that these little bad boys turned out pretty darn delicious. I mean, seriously, what’s better than chocolate wrapped in flakey layers of butter? NOTHING.
I spent the better part of my day making the pain au chocolat and even though I will never get back those precious five hours I could have spent
binge watching Orange is the New Black season 3 contributing to society and helping the poor, it was totally worth it.
Pain Au Chocolat
3 1/2 ounces water (105-115 degrees f)
1/4 ounce active dry yeast
2 1/2 ounces bread flour
1 1/4 ounces sugar
3/8 ounce salt
6 ounces milk
3/4 ounce water
1 pound bread flour (or all purpose)
10 ounces butter
Start by making a sponge: add the water, yeast, 2 1/2 ounces bread flour and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk together. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit about 30 minutes. The mixture should be lumpy and, when ready, have small bubbles on the surface. The bubbles are a sign of the yeast activating, no bubbles = dead yeast.
When sponge is ready, add the salt, milk, water and 1 pound bread flour. Mix on medium speed with a dough hook attachment until combined. Do not over mix. You want the dough to be moist and lumpy. If dough is too dry, add a little bit of water, one teaspoon at a time.
When ready, place the dough on a vegetable-sprayed piece of parchment paper and cover with a vegetable-sprayed piece of plastic wrap. Let sit in a cool place for 1 hour. Alternately, you could refrigerate the dough overnight.
With your butter, cut each stick hotdog-style, then cut again to get 4 even slices. Lay the butter out flat on a large piece of plastic wrap, making a rectangle shape. Cover with another large layer of plastic wrap and beat the butter with your rolling pin until the butter is a smooth, pliable texture.
When dough is ready, place on a floured surface and roll it out to twice the size of the butter. Lay the butter on one half of the dough and fold the other half over it. Pinch the sides of the dough to enrobe the butter. Roll out the dough to a long rectangle shape. Make a 3 fold with the dough by folding one side 2/3 of the way down, then folding the other side over it. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Do this two more times.
After 3×3 folds, roll dough out to 1/4 inch. Using a pastry wheel or pizza cutter, cut out small rectangle shapes. The size of the rectangles depends on how big you want the croissants, I made mini croissants. You can roll out the individual rectangles more if they are too small, or too thick. Add a small hand full of chocolate chips to each piece and fold over itself, similar to the 3 fold.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees f.
Place croissants on a sheet pan with parchment paper. Make egg wash by whisking together one egg, a splash of water and a pinch of salt. Brush the top of each croissant with egg wash and place in an enclosed area to proof. I made a small batch and placed my croissants on my toaster oven with a bowl of steaming water under the sheet pan. The main goal is for the croissants to be covered in a humid environment. Croissants are fully proofed when they have roughly doubled in size and when they resemble jello when shaken. Depending on the temperature of the room and size of the croissants, this can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Place croissants in oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat of the oven to 350 degrees f and continue baking until done. Croissants are done when they are a deep golden brown; they will feel very light if you pick one up. Celebrate the wondrous feat you have just overcome by eating all of them!