One of the nice things I loved when we were living down South was being so close to the tunnel and the ferry over to France and the continent . . . France, France, France, home of my forebears . . . land of the black beret, garlic, the macaron, the Eifle tower, beautiful baguettes, tasty cheese . . . and these . . . little lovelies . . .
Pains Aux Chocolate. Sure, we can get them in the bakery section of our homegrown shops here in the UK, but they are largely disappointing when compared to the real thing . . .
Ethereal and soft as a cloud, with a wonderfully crisp exterior, flakey layers of buttery lightness, and a deliciously rich chocolate centre . . . bliss.
One of the first things I do when we hit the ferry to go over to the continent, is to grab a paper bag filled with three things . . . an almond croissant, a plain croissant and a delicious . . . pain aux chocolate. Three of my French weaknesses I'm afraid . . .
Have I mentioned that I'm an incredible glutton???
ahh, well . . . nobody's perfect, n'est c'est pas???
Who knew that I could be making these little lovelies at home anytime I wanted to feed my fancy. This recipe has been adapted from The Marks & Spencer Home Baking Bible.
I think . . . . I may have created a monster . . .
*Pains Aux Chocolate*
A butter rich flaky exterior, surrounding a dark chocolate centre. Classic French pastries baked at home. Divine.
oil for oiling the baking sheet
9 ounces strong white bread flour, plus
extra for dusting (2 1/2 cups)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp easy blend dry yeast
1 TBS caster sugar
2 TBS skimmed milk powder
5 ounces of butter, plus extra for greasing (1/2 cup plus 2 TBS)
4 fluid ounces tepid water (1/2 cup)
8 ounces good quality plain chocolate, broken into pieces (1/2 pound)
For the glaze:
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp milk
Oil 2 baking sheets, and line with parchment paper. Sift the flour and salt together in a warmed bowl. Stir in the yeast, sugar and milk powder, mixing all together well. Dice 1 ounce of the butter and rub it into the flour mixture with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine dry bread crumbs. Make a well in the centre. Add the water to the well and mix to form a dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Put into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
While the dough is rising, on another piece of cling film, shape the remaining 4 ounces of butter into a rectangle which is 3/4 of an inch thick. Wrap and set aside in a cool place, but not the fridge.
Turn the dough out and knead lightly for one minute. Shape into a ball and cut a cross in the centre, halfway down through the dough. Roll out the edges of the dough, leaving the cross intact. Put the rectangle of butter into the centre, and fold the rolled out edges over it, pressing to seal. Roll out the dough again into a long rectangle. With the short shides facing you, fold the top one third of the dough down to cover the middle third, then fold the bottom third up and over the top. Press down with the rolling pin to seal the edges. Wrap the dough in oiled cling film and chill in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes. Repeat rolling and folding and chilling, twice more, rolling from the left hand edge each time, and finally chill for 30 minutes.
Roll out the dough into a rectangle 21 by 12 inches in size. Cut lengthways into 3 strips. Then cut widthwise to make 9 equal sized rectangles. Put a few chocolate pices on the short end of each rectangle. To make the glaze, beat the egg yolk with the milk. Brush some of the glaze around the edges of the rectangles. Roll up each rectangle to enclose the chocolate, sealing the edges. Transfer to the prepared baking sheets, putting 4 evenly spaced apart on each. Cover with oiled clingfilm and leave to prove in a warm place for 30 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 200*C/400*F.
Brush the tops of the pastries with the remaining glaze. Bake in the prepeated oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm.