Pains au Chocolat
Updated: Apr 21, 2020
When croissants alone simply aren't enough to transport you to France...
I learned to make these Pains au Chocolat in Paris; they are so good and I'm proud to state that even my teenage daughter says that they taste just like in Paris!
This recipe is the same as for the croissants, however the shaping and the adding of the chocolate sticks is different.
They take at least 10 hours to make, but you can spread the process over 2 days. For guaranteed flaky croissants, please use European Style unsalted butter like Kerrygold or Plugra. This is quite important! Higher-fat European style butter contains less water than domestic butter, thereby creating flakier layers. If you have it, try to use high-protein flour like King Arthur unbleached all purpose flour. It develops more gluten and is more resistant to tearing.
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24 tbsp. (3 sticks) European style (Plugra, Kerrigold) unsalted butter, very cold
3 tbsp. melted butter
1 3/4 cold cups milk
4 tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
1/4 cups sugar
4 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, preferably King Arthur
2 tsp. salt
Chocolate sticks - I recommend “Cacao Barry Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Sticks”
1 large egg
1 tsp. water
Mix 3 tbsp. melted butter, milk, yeast, sugar, flour and salt in a food processor, stand mixer, bread machine on dough function, or by hand until well kneaded.
Transfer dough to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and press into a 10 by 7-inch rectangle, about 1 inch thick. Wrap tightly with plastic and let rest in fridge for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
Important - The way to obtain wonderfully flaky pains au chocolat is to wrap dough around a large block of cold butter and roll out and fold dough over, 3 times in a row (this is called a “turn” - I will explain technique below). By doing this, you obtain the distinctive layering effect of the flaky and buttery pains au chocolat.
In order to make your block of butter :
Take 2 pieces of parchment paper and trace an 8” square on each piece.
Take the slightly softened butter and place it onto one of the pieces of parchment paper, onto the square. Now place the other piece of parchment paper on top of the butter and roll out butter to create an 8” butter square. Wrap it all up and place it into the fridge until it is really cold and hard again.
Lightly flour your countertop. Take your dough out of the fridge and roll into at 17 x 8” rectangle. Unwrap butter and place it in center of dough so that butter and dough are flush at top and bottom. Fold 2 sides of dough over butter so that they meet in center. Press seam together with your fingertips. Using rolling pin, press firmly on each open end of packet (this is so that the butter doesn’t squeeze out when you roll out dough/butter packet).
Roll out dough, perpendicular to edge of counter, into a 24 x 8” rectangle.
Fold one third of dough over, then fold other third over it, folding like a business letter into an 8” square.
Put dough/butter packet into freezer for 30 minutes.
Repeat these 3 steps 2 times (this is how you get the 3 “turns” I mentioned earlier), putting dough into freezer after every turn. It is very important to put dough into freezer after each turn! If butter and dough, get too soft, it will be messy and you won’t get the lovely flaky effect.
After your last turn, put dough into refrigerator for 2 hours.
After 2 hours (or more - not a problem if it fits your schedule better), put dough into freezer for 30 minutes (no more!)
Roll out dough onto lightly floured counter and roll into a 16 x 18” rectangle.
Using a pizza cutter, cut out the pains au chocolat. This part is a little fussy, but once you get it, it is easy.
Cut rectangle in half, into 2 parts. Put one part into fridge on a parchment lined baking sheet and cover with plastic sheet. You want to keep dough as cold as possible.
Using your pizza cutter, cut out rectangles with the base measuring 3 inches. Altogether, you should obtain 12 rectangles.
To shape the pain au chocolat: place 2 chocolate sticks (I like it very chocolatey!) onto one of the short rectangle sides. Roll up the dough by starting with the chocolate sticks end. Try to roll it out fairly tightly without pressing dough too hard. You don’t want to smoosh the dough.
Place rolled up pains au chocolat onto your parchment lined baking sheet, making sure the seam is underneath. Otherwise, they will roll apart and you won’t achieve the nice look of pains au chocolate. Leave at least 2 1/2 inches between pains au chocolat, 6 per sheet. Lightly wrap sheets with plastic, leaving room for pains to expand.
A little trick to making great pains au chocolat: stick any dough that you are not shaping into fridge until you are ready to use. I just need to emphasize again that you want to keep dough as cold as possible at all times! The French bakers actually use a refrigerated marble countertop to keep dough cool. I recommend to use a metal rolling pin (*see reference in my product recommendation page) which I keep in the freezer before rolling out dough. With all that butter, the dough can get mushy easily and be very difficult to work and shape.
Let rise at room temperature for 2 1/2 to 3 hours until nearly doubled in size.
After 2 hours, preheat oven to 425°F so that it is hot by the time you are ready to bake the croissants.
Whisk egg, 1 tsp. water and pinch salt together in a small bowl. Using pastry brush, brush croissants with egg mixture.
Reduce oven temperature to 400°F and bake pains au chocolat for 15 to 25 minutes, rotating sheet after 10 minutes, until deep golden brown.
Transfer pains au chocolat to a wire rack and let cool until just warm, about 15 minutes.
"Close your eyes, bite into your pain au chocolat and imagine sitting on a terrace in a French café. Heavenly!"