Having been stranded at the farm with feet of snow piling up around us, I decided to try my hand at Chocolate Croissants, aka Pain au Chocolate. I selected Jacques Torres' recipe and proceeded with a few minor tweaks.
You will need:
3 Tb Melted Butter (room temperature)
1.5 Tb Active Dry Yeast
1/2 cup warm (around 110 degrees)
3 1/3 Flour (Jacques recommends Bread Flour - I used All Purpose and had no complaints)
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
2 sticks unsalted butter (softened but not melted)
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate (chopped)
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/4 cup whole milk
This is not a quick recipe that can be pulled together on a couple of hours notice. This is an all-day affair. That said, it's an all-day affair that really only takes about an hour of active preparation.
Melt 3 Tb butter in either the microwave or in a small saucepan on the stove. Let the melted butter cool while you bloom 1.5 Tb Active Dry Yeast in 1/2 cup warm water for 5 minutes.
Now You're Cookin':
Mix the flour, sugar and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Then add the water and yeast mixture, milk, and melted butter and stir until fully combined. If your dough is too wet (the dough won't make a ball shape) add more flour 1 Tb at a time. If your dough is too dry (there is more than a skim of flour on the sides of the bowl that hasn't been incorporated) add cold water 1 Tb at a time until the flour is all incorporated.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead (approximately 30 seconds) just until the dough forms a smooth ball.
Place your ball of dough on a lightly floured cookie sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
Let the dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Once the dough has rested at room temperature for 30 minutes, place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and roll it out to an 8 by 15-inch rectangle about 1/4-inch thick.
Wrap the rectangle in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap the rectangle, and place it with a long side facing you on a lightly floured work surface. Spread the softened butter evenly over the right two thirds of the dough. Incorporate the butter by folding the (butterless) left third of the dough over the center, Then fold the right third of the dough to the left, to resemble a folded letter. Roll this out into another 10 by 30-inch rectangle about 1/8-inch thick. Fold each short end of the dough to the middle so they meet but do not overlap. Then fold one half over the other half and, if necessary, rotate the dough so that the seam is on your right. Wrap the folded dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll it into a 10 by 30-inch rectangle and turn it so a long side faces you. Give the dough a single fold by folding the left third of the dough over the center, then fold the right third of the dough to the left. Now the dough should resemble a folded letter. Wrap in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Now would be a great time to chop up that chocolate.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Roll out the dough into a 10 by 36-inch rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Keep the thickness even and (try to keep) the edges straight.
With a sharp chef's knife, cut the dough into 18 rectangles. Three across and six wide.
Lay each rectangle on a lightly floured work surface, with a long side facing you, and place about 1/2 tablespoon of the chopped chocolate in the upper third of each one. Fold that third of the dough over the chocolate. Place about another 1/2 tablespoon of the chocolate along one seam of the folded dough. Fold the bottom third of the dough over the chocolate. The croissants will resemble the letter B.
If you're not going to consume 18 chocolate croissants within the next 12-24 hours, wrap up the extras is plastic wrap and freeze. The chocolate croissants will keep in the freezer for up to a week and can be baked later by thawing the croissants on a parchment covered baking sheet overnight in the refrigerator and then following the next steps.
Place the croissants seam-side down on a parchment covered baking sheet; spaced about 2 inches apart. Loosely cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and allow the pain au chocolat to proof at room temperature about 1 1/2 to 3 hours. The dough will puff up around the chocolate but the overall size will not change dramatically.
Spend this rise time patting yourself on the back and drinking a glass of red wine (as it is now, undoubtedly, happy hour).
When your chocolate croissants have risen, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Make an egg wash by whisking together the egg yolks, whole egg, and milk in a small bowl until well combined.
With a pastry brush, very gently coat the pastries completely with egg wash. Bake until golden brown. Jacques says it will take about 10 minutes. Mine took closer to 17. Keep an eye on them. You want a deep golden color and a tender but slightly crisp exterior.
If you have any, leftovers can be stored in the freezer if well wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 2 weeks. Thaw at room temperature and warm in the oven before serving.