We lived in France when I was little, and it shaped a lot of things about me. I haven't been back, although I often wish we had the means to go. There was a fair amount of pidgin French spoken in my house when I was growing up, and we ate a lot of French food, watched French movies, and read French books.
I think my dad has never quite gotten over having to leave behind the pâtisseries of Paris. He'll occasionally go out early in the morning and pick up croissants or pains au chocolat and bring them home to have for breakfast with a strong cup of coffee.
I woke up this morning with a sudden urge for pain au chocolat (often just called chocolate croissants in America). Now, I've tried to make croissants before, and never done particularly well at it. Puff pastry is a finicky, time-consuming, demanding thing to make, and I didn't feel like putting in all that effort for a breakfast that would be, as a result, way after breakfast time. But there was a roll of puff pastry in my freezer left over from some brie en croute that my mother-in-law made for a Christmas party we threw, so I pulled it out and started improvising. They aren't real, as I said to Mr. Scrimp while we gobbled them up, but they're delicious.
Ingredients (makes 3)
- 1 sheet of puff pastry
- Semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 egg
- Powdered sugar, for dusting
While it's still semi-frozen, lay the puff pastry out on a lightly floured surface. Divide into three equal pieces (note: I shaped these the way you should shape a toaster pastry, but they would be more authentic and less likely to fall apart if you rolled the chocolate in the center of the pastry and folded it like a palmier) and cut each piece in half. You now have six rectangles of puff pastry in roughly equal sizes.
Lay three of these on a lightly greased baking sheet, and put about 1/4 cup of semisweet chocolate chips on top of it, making sure they are in the center and not too close to the edges of the pastry. Dip your fingertip in some lukewarm water and brush along the outside edges of the pastry to dampen.
Dampen the outside edges of the three remaining pieces of pastry and place them on top, gently and quickly pinching the edges together to seal in the chocolate. You will now have something that looks very much like an unfrosted toaster pastry.
Put the baking sheet with the pains au chocolat in the freezer for a few minutes to chill. Puff pastry dough needs to be kept cold at all times, or it won't puff right when you cook it. While you're waiting for it to come out of the freezer, beat one egg with a little water.
Remove pastries from the freezer, brush the tops with egg wash, and sprinkle with a little granulated sugar if desired. Bake for 15-20 minutes in a 400 degree oven, taking them out to cool when they are a deep golden-brown color.
Place on a cooling rack and dust with powdered sugar. Serve as soon as they've cooled enough that they won't burn your mouth, but not so much that the chocolate is cold and hardened.