This is not a chocolate croissant. This… is a pain au chocolat.
Ok, so maybe that isn’t quite true but these flaky, delicious pains au chocolat are surprisingly easy to make and are just so much better than the ones you can get from a shop (at least in most places – I wouldn’t rate myself against a French patisserie…yet).
There is a reason that these are called pains au chocolat or chocolatine rather than chocolate croissants and, like the names of many foods, this comes from their history. Since their inception back in the 1830s, pains au chocolat have been the cause of many debates – if you have read my posts on scones and Jaffa cakes, you may have realised by now that bakers are very passionate and people are welcome to disagree with them just as much as they are welcome to be completely wrong in their opinions. In this case, again, the debate is about the name. Originally they would have been made with brioche dough wrapped around chocolate so these really were chocolate breads (pains au chocolat) but over time the recipe has been changed, adding lamination to the dough, until it has become the indulgent treat we know today.
Assuming that August Zang, an Austrian baker who might be the creator of the pain au chocolat, did actually create the pain au chocolat, it would make sense that the correct name would actually be the chocolatine – the term which evolved from the Zang’s term schokoladencroissant (isn’t lexicology fun!). In south west France the term chocolatine is the more common name for these pastries and, in 2018, students wrote to the president of France attempting to have chocolatine enshrined as an official term. This was actually debated in parliament but sadly (for some) the motion did not pass (say what you want about Brits and their scones but at least we have never escalated the debate that far – although this is probably because those who pronounce scone in a way that rhymes with cone know they are wrong and would lose).
We haven’t even touched on calling them chocolate croissants yet. Croissants are called croissants (crescents) because of their shape. I have seen places serving both pains au chocolat and chocolate croissants before and the thing that set the two pastries apart was their shape. Personally, I would imagine a chocolate croissant as a standard croissant but made with chocolate dough. You certainly can’t deny that it would fit the brief.
Whatever you want to call these, you should still try making them if only to appreciate the effort pâtissiers put into their jobs. The style of dough in this recipe is the base for many, many treats and it really is something to think that there are people who just make this all day long!
Pains au Chocolat
Time: 4+ hours including an overnight wait
1 batch croissant dough
4 tbsp cocoa mixed with 1-2 tbsp boiling water (optional)
200g dark chocolate – a flatish bar is best (or 30-40 chocolate baking sticks if you can get your hands on them)
1 egg with 1 tsp cold water
Video instructions can be found on my new YouTube channel – That Cooking Thing
Make the croissant dough –instructions can be found here – stop after the final fold is done to the dough.
Take any excess dough which was cut off during the butter packet wrapping and knead in the cocoa paste.
Once the croissant dough is laminated and rested, cut it in half (place one half back into the fridge) and roll the rest out to a thick rectangle about 6×8 inches.
Beat the egg in a small bowl with the water until it is homogenous.
Roll half of the chocolate dough out into a rectangle around 7×9 inches.
Brush a thin layer of egg onto the chocolate dough and place the croissant dough on top, gently pressing it down. Fold up the overhanging chocolate dough and press it into the sides to insure it is fully adhered to the croissant dough.
Roll the croissant dough into a rectangle 8 x 12.5 inches and trim the edges.
Slice lengthwise in half and widthwise into five.#
For extra decoration, you can score the chocolate side of each piece at this point.
Chop your chocolate into strips. If these begin to shatter, that is ok as you can just use a few pieces in each pain au chocolat.
Place a slab of dough, chocolate side down, onto your work surface. Align a stick (or franken-stick if you have to use a few pieces – don’t worry, they will melt together in the oven) with a short edge of the dough. Roll it up until the chocolate is completely surrounded and then place a second stick of chocolate along the inside of the dough roll. Continue to roll up the dough until it fully rolled.
Place the pain au chocolat, seam side down, onto a lined baking sheet.
Repeat with the rest of pieces of dough leaving plenty of room between each pain au chocolat for them to rise – I get nine on a single baking sheet.
Repeat with the remaining dough until all of the dough is used up.
Cover and leave until they have increased in size by at least 50%. They should be puffy and jiggle a bit when the baking sheet is gently knocked.
When you are ready to bake the pain au chocolat, brush them with beaten egg.
Heat the oven to gas mark 6 (200°C) – you want to do this after the egg is applied so it has a chance to sit and dry a little.
Give the pain au chocolat a second layer of egg wash and bake for around twelve minutes – until the pain au chocolat are deeply golden on top and very, very shiny.
Let cool on a wire rack.
These are best when eaten still warm from the oven but can be heated up nicely with a quick, twenty second burst in the microwave.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe. Sorry it has taken so long to get this to you all. Hopefully, I will be back to regular posting either every week or every other week now – there is nothing better to do during social distancing than develop recipes!
Have an amazing week, stay safe, and let me know if there are any recipes you would like to me to post on here!