Continuing my timid and noncommittal dip into French cooking, I made pain au chocolat this weekend for Sunday brunch. The recipe is from Made From Scratch, a collection of recipes by Betsy Bott from the old Daily Bread Bakery and Cafe in Richmond, VT. From the back cover:
It has about 200 recipes for bread, baked goods and cafe creations that are mostly vegetarian, often whole grain and without refined sugars and completely hippie dippie. The book interweaves the story of the now closed Daily Bread Bakery and Cafe and the cast of characters that made these recipes legendary. It also thoroughly explains the ingredients; why they are used, what role they play and how it all works together. Very helpful.This is the feel good, taste good story of how rural common sense, farmstead ingenuity, hippie can-do optimism and a bunch of creative good neighbors cooked up real community at the end of the last century in Richmond, Vermont, 16 miles east of Burlington.
I happened to have a Hershey's Extra Dark Chocolate bar with cranberries, blueberries and almond pieces in it, so that's what I used. It was a standard 3.5 ounce candy bar, and though the recipe called for an 8 ounce piece of chocolate, this was just fine. You make a classic Brioche dough, and then fold in chocolate pieces into each roll.
Pain au Chocolat
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 2 tsp yeast
- 3 tbsp honey (we ran out of honey, so I used a heaping teaspoon of sugar instead)
- 1 egg yolk plus 2 whole eggs
- 6 tbsp butter, melted
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 cups unbleached bread flour
- 1 egg plus a tbsp of water, for glaze
- 1 standard size chocolate bar
- Add yeast and honey (or sugar) to warm water and stir. Wait about ten minutes, until thick and foamy.
- Add in the eggs, extra yolk, salt and melted butter. Then add the flour in a little bit at a time and knead to combine. Make sure not to add too much flour; the dough should be greasy to the touch. Place in a greased bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise until doubled, about an hour.
- Turn dough on floured surface and divide into six equal pieces. Knead each piece into a little round. Cover with dish towel and let rise again, about another hour, until doubled.
- Grease and flour muffin tin. Press each round into a 4 inch circle and place 1/6 of chocolate bar in the middle. Bring outside of round up around the chocolate and pinch to close. Place pinched side down in muffin tin and repeat for remaining rounds.
- Last rise! Cover, again, and let rise until doubled and bursting from muffin tin. Combine egg yolk and water and brush onto each round. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes and enjoy them right out of the oven with a mug of coffee.
The result is a rich, buttery croissant-like pastry filled with a tiny bit of melted, gooey chocolate. The recipe calls for three risings, each of which will take around an hour, so make sure you plan ahead for this. I started the dough on Saturday night; after the second rising, I covered the filled muffin tins and put them in the fridge overnight for the final rise. Then the next morning, I brought them back to room temperature, brushed them with an egg glaze and baked them. We are plotting more Brioche fillings: jam, peanut butter, nutella, parmesan, the list goes on... The butter and eggs make them quite decadent though, so I should try not to make these an every-weekend occurrence :)