Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Pain au Chocolat

I recently (well, semi-recently) dove into the world of croissants and made a lovely batch of the chocolate-filled variety. Have you ever made croissants? It requires a bit of time, but it's worth it when you're in that baking-over-the-course-of-two-days sort of mood, especially when you have incredible results. If anyone really, really thinks they'll be making these, you can request the recipe in the comments section and I'll post it in the future. For now, here are the basics (click on images for larger pictures):

Prepare a dough with flour, yeast, salt, milk, cold butter, and a touch of sugar. Let rise, refrigerated, several hours. Also, make a butter block by pounding on a few sticks of butter.

Roll the dough out. Set the butter block inside the dough, then fold the dough up like an envelope. Seal the edges.

Roll the dough out into a long rectangle, being careful not to roll over the ends (or you'll push the butter out). Fold into thirds and seal the edges.

Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes. This is the first turn, completed. Repeat the process. Croissants take 3 turns, puff pastry takes 6.

After the last turn, leave the dough in the refrigerator at least 5 hours, and up to 24. The roll the dough out into a large rectangle, cut it into croissant triangles (long enough to roll up, as fat as you'd like them to be), and place chocolate on the wide edges of the triangles. (Note: if using white chocolate, it's best to use just a touch, as it's so sweet; if using dark chocolate, you can't use too much!)

Roll them up. At this point you have two options: 1. place them fairly close on a sheet try lined with parchment or silpat-lined sheet, place them in a freezer until solid, and transfer them to a zip-close freezer bag until ready to bake, or 2. place them further apart on a parchment or silpat-lined sheet and let them rise, covered with plastic, at room temperature, for 1-2 hours (depending on how warm your house is). Then brush them with milk and bake.

Cool completely on cooling racks to be sure the chocolate sets up (and doesn't burn your mouth), and to let the croissants finish residual baking. Serve at room temperature. Mmmmm.

They are delicious, but one of the benefits of making these yourselves is realizing how unbelievably high they are in fat and calories (all from fat). Not only do you get to serve a delicious treat, but you'll be (hopefully) restrained in eating all of them, knowing a whole pound of butter went into the batch.