Chocolate Croissants {Pain au Chocolat}

Chocolate Croissants are tender, flakey, and buttery, with pure chocolate rolled inside.  Homemade croissants are so delicious, and completely worth the effort!

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Happy February everyone!  I can’t believe Valentine’s Day is almost here, and honestly, I can’t believe I’m posting homemade Chocolate Croissants today.  I’m someone that’s been intimidated by making yeast bread, pie crust — you name it — until the past year or so.  Anything that required yeast or rolling out — besides sugar cookies — always made me anxious.  If I can make homemade croissants, you most certainly can.  Just think what a wonderful Valentine’s Day pastry this would be. 🙂

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I’ve never been one to choose a croissant as a pastry when I go to a bakery.  It’s not that I don’t like them — it’s just that there are so many things that I like more.  I was excited to tackle these at cooking school, however, and I was truly surprised that I loved them so much.  What’s not to love?  Besides, when you make something like this with your own hands, there’s a pride that you feel.  Don’t let all of the steps in the recipe scare you…I tried to explain things thoroughly as I don’t have step by step photos.  One day I will add them, because I will make them at home. 🙂

I made puff pastry a few weeks ago at school, and croissant pastry is very similar.  The main difference here is that there’s yeast in croissant dough, which means there’s a challenge between keeping the dough cool for the butter, and having enough warmth for the yeast to rise.  It’s a fine line, but as long as your croissants aren’t in too warm of a place during the bulk rise and you don’t leave them out too long, they’ll be fine.  Also, popping the croissants in the refrigerator for 10 minutes before baking after the rise is essential to cool that butter down again.  Think about how much better cookies are when you’ve chilled the dough — there’s less spread because the butter is cold.  The same is true here.

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Croissants are best made as a two-day project.  On the first day you make your dough, which includes doing two sets of roll-outs.  The process is very quick, mostly because you need to work pretty quickly so the butter doesn’t get too warm.  Also, if you work the dough too much, it gets too stretchy and won’t hold it’s shape.  Just don’t be afraid of the dough!  If it gets stretchy, just give it a time out in the fridge and it will be ready to roll again after about 10 minutes.   There’s a 30 minute chill time between roll outs, then the dough can rest wrapped well in waxed paper and a plastic bag in the fridge overnight.  The next day, it’s simply rolled out into 16 x 20″ rectangle, cut and baked! 🙂

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Chocolate croissants are guaranteed to impress people at a brunch, baby shower, tea, or served on Valentine’s Day or other holidays.  The payoff is worth the effort.  Can you go out and buy some?  Of course, but they’re even more special when you make them yourself.  Go on, give it try! 🙂

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Chocolate Croissants {Pain au Chocolat}
 
Prep time
Cook time
 
Chocolate Croissants are tender, flakey, and buttery, with pure chocolate rolled inside. Homemade croissants are so delicious, and completely worth the effort!
Serves: 10-12 large croissants
Ingredients
  • 1 pound 4 ounces all purpose flour for the de trompe, plus 1¼ ounces for butter block (beurrage)
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1½ teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1¾ cups whole milk
  • 3 sticks, or 12 ounces of unsalted butter, very cold and cut into large chunks
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk or cream
Instructions
  1. Prepare the dough:
  2. For the de trompe, place the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat to scald it, or cook it just until bubbles form around the edges. Set aside to cool until it's perfectly room temperature. It's important that the milk is room temp as if it is too warm it will kill the yeast, and if it's too cold the yeast will be inactive.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the 1 pound, 4 ounces of all purpose flour, yeast, salt, and sugar, making a well in the center. Once the milk is room temperature, pour it into the well and gradually work it into the flour to make a smooth dough. The dough is normally a bit sticky, but if it's dry, add a bit of water. Pour the dough out onto a well floured work surface and knead very gently and briefly until it's in a smooth mass. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 10 minutes, then chill, covered completely, in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  4. For the barrage or butter block, place the cold butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add in the remaining 1¼ ounces of flour, and mix on medium speed until soft and well combined. This is a very quick process, taking only about 1-2 minutes tops, as the butter must still be cold. As soon as there are no large chunks of butter left, the beurrage is ready. Place on a rectangular sheet of waxed paper on one end, and fold over the other. Shape the beurrage into a rectangle about 9x7" and about ½" thick. Place in the refrigerator until the de trompe has been chilled for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove the de trompe and beurrage from the refrigerator. Generously flour your work surface, as well as sprinkling flour over the de trompe. Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 13½ x 7½". Place the butter block or beurrage in the center of the dough with a border of less than ½" at the edges. Fold the top ⅓ of the de trompe down over the butter block like a business letter, until the top of it is flush with the bottom of the butter block. There should be no gaps whatsoever at the fold -- it should be right up against the butter block. Next, fold the bottom ⅓ of the dough up over the butter block until it's flush with the top. Seal the edges carefully by applying pressure with gently with your rolling pin. Flip the dough over, flouring the surface again, and turn the dough so the fold is on the right-hand side. Using your well-floured rolling pin, tap the dough up and down gently to flatten it out slightly, then begin rolling. Roll gently at first, using light pressing motions, then roll normally until the dough is a rectangle about 13½ x 7". Be sure to keep adding flour as needed to prevent sticking. Once the dough is the right size, fold it business letter style once again. Seal the edges with the rolling pin again, flip the dough over placing the folded edge on the right once more, and repeat the roll out process once more until the dough is once again the size of a 13½ x 7" rectangle. Fold like a business letter once again, seal it, and wrap it in waxed paper and chill in the fridge for 1 hour. You have now made 2 turns, or rolled out your dough twice! You have two left, so once the dough has chilled for an hour, remove from the refrigerator and repeat the roll out process two more times. After the 4th and final turn or rollout, fold it business letter style once more, and wrap in waxed paper, then in a plastic zip top bag and store 3-4 hours or overnight.
  6. To shape the croissants, roll out the dough on a generously floured work surface, into a rectangle about 16 x 20" wide and about ⅛" thick. Using a ruler, score the dough at the halfway point lengthwise, so that each piece is 8" high. Mark the dough lengthwise so that each croissant will be 5-6" wide. Use a pizza cutter to cut out the croissants. Place about 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips at each end, and roll each end to meet in the center. Place upside down on a parchment lined baking sheet and let rise in a warm place, covered lightly with plastic wrap until doubled in size. Be sure the dough doesn't get too warm or the butter will melt. Once the croissants have risen, preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to chill the dough before baking.
  7. Mix the egg yolk with the milk or cream in a small bowl, and liberally brush the egg wash over the croissants. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the croissants are a deep golden brown. Cool on a wire rack over parchment paper. Enjoy!
Notes
Total time above includes resting, chilling, and rising time for the dough.

Try to work quickly when rolling the dough, and don't be afraid to use flour! You don't want the dough to stick to your work surface, so continuously sprinkling flour underneath the dough, over the top, and on the rolling pin is essential.

For extra golden brown color, egg wash the croissants, then chill them for 10 minutes, and egg wash them once more before placing in the oven!

Recipe adapted from Tante Marie Cooking School, San Franicisco, CA..

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