a blog post in which i show off my mad skills

and by show off i’m talking croissants. more specifically, pain au chocolat. ah, we must credit the french for making food sound so dreamy. i’ll preface this recipe by saying croissants require butter. loooots of butter and for that they make no apologies. but, when you put so much effort into making something, surely you’ve earned it.


also, i’m hardly advising that you actually make these. i do like to be considered the awesome baker amongst my friends. and if word gets out that croissants really can be made by anyone… well my awesome baker status might falter a bit. so… you should probably just watch, okay?

brace your arteries ladies. these are not for the faint of heart. (and i mean that literally)

chocolate croissants or pain au chocolat
yield: 12 croissants
source: cooksillustrated.com

15 oz (about 3 cups) ap flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1/4 c sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 c whole milk, cold
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

butter square
24 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 24 pieces
2 tablespoons flour

chocolate filling
8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped fine
or 12 or 24 sticks of chocolate (1-2 sticks per croissant)

egg wash
1 large egg, lightly beaten with a splash of water

begin with the dough. mix the flour, yeast, sugar and salt together in your stand mixer. add the milk and mix on low speed, increasing to medium. once the flour and milk is mostly incorporated, add the butter one piece at a time. knead the dough by machine until it is smooth. the dough should be slightly sticky. turn the dough out onto the counter top and form it into a ball. wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

time to make the butter square. begin with your chilled butter, cut into 24 pieces. mash the butter with a metal scraper.

when you get tired of doing that just go in with your hands to finish it off. dust the butter with flour and continue mashing until it is all incorporated.

form the butter into a 7″ x 7″ square and wrap it in plastic wrap or parchment and stash it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

after the dough has refrigerated for 1 hour, roll it out on a lightly floured counter until it is an 11″ x 11″ square. yes, the measurements matter. once you have done this pull out your butter square and and place it on the dough as seen below.

pull up the corners and firmly pinch the dough together. make sure it is securely sealed then begin rolling it out.

take your rolling pin and tap the dough from the middle out to the edges. this will get the butter to soften so you can roll it out evenly. the key here is to keep an even layer of butter within the dough being careful not to break through the butter. once the butter has softened slightly begin rolling the dough into a square 14″ x 14″. check the dough often to make sure it isn’t sticking to the counter.

once you have reached 14″ x 14″ make your first turn by folding the dough into thirds. (like a letter. you know, before email…)

then in thirds again for the second turn. immediately wrap it in plastic and stash in the fridge for 2 hours.

after 2 hours roll out the dough again to 14″ x 14″ and repeat the turns as before, for a total of 4 turns. wrap it and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours. since i like my croissants in the morning and not as a nighttime snack, i leave it overnight and finish it off the next day.

once the dough is properly chilled dust your counter top and gently roll the dough out to a 20″x 20″ square. an overnight chill does have the disadvantage of having extra time for gluten development making the dough a little harder to roll out. it’s okay to start rolling then walk away for a few minutes to let the dough relax. do make sure the dough stays cold. any melting of the butter and the whole thing might as well go in the trash. not kidding. if you feel the dough is getting too warm cover it and throw it back in the fridge for 15 minutes.

so once you have your square, use a pizza cutter to divide it into fourths, then cut each into thirds so you have 12 pieces total.

now for the chocolate! this is where the sticks of chocolate come in handy. lay one or two toward one end of the piece of dough and roll it up. if you don’t have the sticks, just use about 1 heaping tablespoon of chopped chocolate and carefully roll it up.

place the rolled dough onto two parchment lined baking sheets seam side down. cover loosely with plastic wrap and let them rise at room temperature until puffy, 45-60 minutes.

yes, there are two regular croissants… i’ll explain in a bit.

in the meantime, heat the oven to 400 degrees adjusting the racks to the upper and lower middle positions. when the dough is done rising, use a pastry brush and brush them with the egg wash.

bake for 20-22 minutes or until they are a nice deep golden brown, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom halfway through.

cool the croissants on a baking rack for at least 20 minutes. serve warm or at room temperature.

now, let’s say perhaps you ate a few of the chocolate sticks before making the croissants and perhaps you were two croissants worth of chocolate short… no worries, just form them into a traditional croissant shape. i took that fourth quadrant of dough and cut off one third then made a diagonal cut to form the last two thirds into triangle shapes. then starting at the wide end, roll it up and let it join the others for the final rise and baking.

so, what to do with the odd regular croissant? make an egg sandwich, of course. with cheese. yup, that’s american cheese on there and i am not ashamed. i’m only sad i didn’t have any bacon or sausage to add.

you’re better off not counting the calories in this picture

pain au chocolate— delish? yes. impressive? yes. difficult? NO! yes, very. so, don’t run off and try to make these, you just may end up with amazing praise-worthy pastries something awful and disappointing.

you’ve been warned.

*photos mostly by my awesome lil’ sis, monica who happened to be in town for a visit.

4 thoughts on “a blog post in which i show off my mad skills

  1. Felipe says:

    Thanks for sharing this! Made it mostly successfully, substituted in dry active yeast (proofed in a bit of milk and sugar) and added a little extra. During the final rolling out, I lost 3 pains to butter seepage. I was wondering whether you had any more tips for that last bit. Also, have you tried freezing the dough? I'd like to make a batch on Sunday and then bake 2 a day throughout the week. Do you think that might work?Thanks!Felipe

  2. lisa g. says:

    i've always had some butter seepage, but not enough to throw any out! not sure if i can pinpoint the cause, but perhaps the oven temp needs to be raised a tad. if the oven isn't quite hot enough the butter will melt too much before it starts steaming to puff up the pastry. also, if butter has broken through between the layers too much during rolling i suppose that could be the culprit also.now, i haven't tried freezing these, but i don't see why it wouldn't work. i've had great success freezing other dough. i would try letting it thaw overnight in the refrigerator then let rise on the counter for the 45-60 mins before baking. if you have a chance to try this out, let me know! i'd love to hear your results.happy baking!!!

  3. Felipe says:

    Hi Lisa!Batch no. 2 went wonderfully. I split the last rolling into two sessions, popping the dough back in the fridge for 15 mins in between and butter problem solved. I think it was breaking through last time around. I went through the cutting phase and then wrapped each strip in plastic and put them in freezer (except the ones I was eating then!). I've thawed 4 strips so far like you suggested and they worked wonderfully. I've also decided to cut them in half and turn each one into two Demi-pains au chocolat with one stick each and they turn out really nicely. Thanks again for the recipe!-Felipe

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