Pain au chocolat are lovely single serving pastries, found perched cheerily alongside the croissants in some bakeries. Laminated dough is wrapped around a stick of chocolate and baked so that when you bite into it hot, a flaky, buttery croissant crust bursts apart in a river of molten chocolate. They put chocolate lava cakes to shame, and yet they’re a perfectly acceptable breakfast food. I hope you understand what a wonderful world we live in, that we can eat chocolate in the morning.
I didn’t make proper pain au chocolat. I made huge braided pastry filled with chocolate and Nutella. It came out perfectly, even the bits of chocolate that leaked out at the end. We’re going to say that was deliberate. It was surprisingly easy to put together and came out looking very impressive. Use any chocolate bar you like, and don’t use one as dark as I did unless you actually enjoy eating chocolate that dark. 86% chocolate is pretty intense, and there’s no sugar in the dough. I used the method Joe Pastry makes much prettier over here to wrap up the chocolate.
Ingredients (serves 6-8)
1/3 recipe laminated pastry
1 3-4 ounce dark chocolate bar
2-3 T Nutella
powdered sugar, to serve
Roll the dough out to fit three of your chocolate bars side by side.
Score the dough into thirds to mark where the chocolate goes.
At this point I put the dough on a sheet of parchment paper. Spread the Nutella over the center third of the dough.
Place the chocolate bar over the Nutella.
Slice the sides into about 14 ribbons at an angle, cutting off the oddly-shaped bits at the ends. Use those bits to shield the top and bottom of the chocolate bar.
Fold the ribbons over the chocolate like so.
Once the chocolate is fully braided into the loaf, cover it with a towel and let it proof for an hour or so. Towards the end of that time, start the oven preheating to 400°F.
Now it wants an egg wash. Take an egg and a bit of salt.
Mix them together.
Brush the mixture over the pastry.
Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes until golden brown.
Let it cool a few minutes, then transfer it to a serving dish (cutting board, in my case) and dust with powdered sugar before serving.
If you love croissants, you must try this. The pastry shatters apart when you bite into it, leaving a delightful mouthful of molten chocolate in its wake. It goes perfectly with my morning tea and makes the early morning altogether pleasant to get through, no matter how busy I am.
The same recipe could easily be used to make more traditional pain au chocolat. Just roll out the dough, cut it into 6 long rectangles, place 1/6 of a chocolate bar on the end of each, and roll ’em up. Brush on an egg wash and bake as above.