Friday, February 1, 2013

Breakfast of Champions: Pain au Chocolat by Mandy Jones

Most days I consume a quick breakfast at the speed of light; a banana, yogurt with fruit and granola, a cup of coffee from the Keurig.  I inhale it because I immediately have to race after my two year old who has managed to unravel every toilet paper roll in the house in 7 seconds flat.  That's what nearly every morning looks like.  But then there are mornings when I have time to bake lovely puff pastry goodness and enjoy an espresso or latte that took 15 steps to make with our DeLonghi espresso maker.   I feel like a champion when I can successfully complete a time consuming baking project like Pain au chocolat all while taking care of the most active 2 year old that never ever lets me rest.  Today, I had a rapid fire breakfast of a still-half-frozen waffle, but I dreamed of these amazing. buttery, light and flaky pastries I made recently.  Pain au Chocolate, you complete me!

Pain au Chocolat
Total Prep time: 5-8 hours (including mixing & rolling dough and time for dough to chill)
Bake time: 15 minutes
Yeilds: 1 dozen(depending on size)


3/4 cup milk, warmed
1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
1/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt

1 cup (1/2 lb.) unsalted butter, cold
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup(ish) good-quality chocolate (chopped, chips or squares, halved – I used Bernard Callebaut semi-sweet drops)

In a large bowl, stir together the milk and yeast. Stir in the sugar, eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add a cup of the flour and the salt, then add the rest of the flour gradually, stirring until it’s incorporated. Knead the dough on a lightly floured countertop for about 5 minutes, until smooth. Transfer to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap; chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, beat the butter and flour with an electric mixer for a couple minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until smooth. Set aside (don’t refrigerate).

When the dough has chilled, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle that is about 13″x18″ and 1/4″ thick. Spread the butter evenly over the right two-thirds of the dough. Fold the left third of the dough over, covering half the butter, then fold the right side over, as if you were folding a letter in thirds.  Cover the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Put the dough back on the floured surface lengthwise, with the open sides to the left and right. Roll it out into another 13″x18″ rectangle, 1/4″ thick. Fold the left third over the middle, then the right third over the middle.  Chill the dough for another 30 minutes.
Roll, fold and chill the dough two more times, so that you’ve done it four times total. Cover and chill for at least 5 hours, or overnight. It can also be frozen at this point for up to 4 months.

To assemble the pain au chocolat, take the dough out of the fridge and roll it on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4″ thick.  Cut the dough into strips and then crosswise.  Place a small little pile of chocolate, or a chunk of it, along the middle of the pastry, roll the sides up and place each one seam-side down on an ungreased baking sheet. 

Preheat the oven to 400F. Bake the pain au chocolat for 15-17 minutes, until golden. (If they are larger, they may need more time.)  

1 comment:

  1. You make it seem so achievable - I've always felt this was way too hard but I'm going to try it...