How to Make Croissants and Pain aux Chocolate
Croissants are not typically Provencal fare, but you can expect every respectable bakery to present their version of this French pastry for sale. However, if you want to find the good stuff listen to the Parisians debating where to find a decent baguette, the best tarte tropézienne and a croissant that might rival their patisserie in Paris.
Or look for a line-up (photo in Antibes).
As some might know, I have been on a quest to find proper butter for making pastries for quite some time. The issue in Canada is finding butter with a high enough fat content. North American butter is very different than European. The higher moisture content makes pastries a little flabbier, and flabby just won’t do when it comes to croissants. I was recently at a little Polish deli in Calgary and noticed they had butter. Fatty butter!
If I am going to the trouble of making pastry, the results better be worth it, and I figured this butter might just be the ticket. I was very pleased with the results, much better than when I’ve used regular Canadian butter. Making croissants and pain aux chocolate is a fun project, great for a chilly weekend.
Croissants and Pain aux Chocolate
- 1 tbsp dry yeast
- ½ cup Water
- pinch of Sugar or Honey
- 1/2 cup Milk
- 1/3 cup Sugar
- 1 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp Unsalted Butter barely softened
- 3 tbsp Unsalted Butter melted and cooled
- 1 tbsp Kosher salt
- 4 cups Flour
- 18 bars Bittersweet Chocolate (½”-wide x 3”long)
- 1 large Egg mixed with 1 tbsp water, for egg wash
- Stir together yeast, a pinch of sugar and ½ cup very warm water together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook; let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in milk, sugar, 3 tbsp melted butter and salt; add flour.
- Mix on medium speed until a stiff dough forms, about 5-7 minutes.
- Transfer to a work surface and form into a square; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Place remaining butter on a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment; cover with another sheet.
- Using a rolling pin, pound and shape butter into a 6”, ½”-thick square; set aside.
- Using rolling pin, roll dough into an 16” square on a lightly floured work surface.
- Unwrap butter square, and place on dough so its corners line up with the middle point of each side of dough square; fold dough corners over butter so they meet in the center.
- Roll dough into a 12” x 9” rectangle, and then tri-fold dough like a letter.
- Roll the dough into a 12” x 9” rectangle and repeat folding.
- Wrap in plastic wrap; chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Repeat rolling and folding dough twice more; chill for 1-2 hours.
- Roll dough into a 20” x 14” x ¼” thick sheet; halve lengthwise.
- Cut each half into about 9 triangles, about 3 ½”-wide at their base; cut a ½”-deep slit in the middle of each wide base.
- Place 1 chocolate bar parallel to the base near the cut; holding the tip of the opposite corner down, roll the base over the chocolate toward the tip until it forms a tight roll.
- Place croissant on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, tip side down, and brush with egg wash.
- Repeat with remaining triangles, bars, and egg wash.
- Let croissants sit until doubled in size, about 2 ½–3 hours. For regular croissant, simply omit the chocolate.
- To make more traditional pain au chocolat, cut 3 ½” wide rectangles from each 7” strip.
- Place first chocolate piece at bottom of rectangle.
- Roll over once.
- Place second chocolate piece and roll over again.
- Place on parchment-lined sheet keeping seam at the bottom.
- Heat oven to 380°F (190°C).
- Working with one baking sheet at a time, brush croissants with more egg wash.
- Bake until deep golden brown, about 20-24 minutes.