Pain au chocolat, or 'chocolate bread', is a staple of French bakeries. Essentially, it's a buttery croissant wrapped around a center of dark chocolate. Usually it's eaten as a treat at breakfast or as a snack.
It's remarkably easy to make, especially if you use pre-packaged puff pastry dough instead of making your own dough. I've seen recipes recommending bittersweet, dark and milk chocolate variably; I personally prefer the darker chocolates. The quality of the chocolate matters, too. Try to get the best chocolate you can, within reason.
- 1 sheet (from a 17.3 ounce package) frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 2 - 3.5 ounce bars of dark chocolate
- For the glaze: 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- white granulated sugar
Line your baking sheet with parchment paper; greasing the pan doesn't work as well.
Unfold the thawed puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface. Cut it into 12 squares.
Cut the chocolate bars into six 2 x 3/4-inch pieces.
Lay one dark chocolate piece on the edge of a pastry square and roll up the dough tightly, completely enclosing the chocolate. This will create a long, thin pastry tube filled with chocolate. Repeat this with the remaining pastry squares.
Place the rolls on your parchment-covered baking sheet, seam side facing down. This will keep the pain au chocolat from opening as it bakes. (It can also be made a day ahead to this point. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it.)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush the tops of the pastry tubes with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in your hot oven for about fifteen minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Pain au chocolat is tasty served either warm from the oven or at room temperature.
My recipe is self-adapted from Debra F. Weber's recipe on About.com.