It’s been raining for fourteen days and fourteen nights. I’m exaggerating, of course, but grey rainy skies have a been a consistent occurrence here for the past couple of weeks.
Weather like this always makes me crave the comforts of warm, thick chocolate. Unfortunately, hot chocolate doesn’t go down very well with me any more. (My stomach isn’t what it used to be, and these days, rich foods make it feel like it’s being weighed down by a heavy boulder.) Luckily, there are other options involving oozing melted chocolate that aren’t as taxing on the digestive system. The quintessential breakfast pastry is one of them. Know what I’m talking about yet?
Leave it to the French to take two of the simplest ingredients and transform them into a highly sophisticated treat. Thus, bread and chocolate becomes the famous pain au chocolat. (In fact, the beloved tartine au Nutella is a variation on the same theme.) It first occurred to me that I could make them at home when I was watching a movie. (Any fans of It’s Complicated out there?) So, this week-end, I channeled my inner boulanger and had a go at making them myself. They were surprisingly easy to replicate! Within half an hour, I was munching on a warm, flaky pain au chocolat, a cup of fresh chamomile and melissa tea in my hand, watching the rain patter outside my kitchen window. Suddenly, the day wasn’t so gloomy anymore.
Of course, you don’t have to wait for the right weather to make these! I’m certain they’ll be just as good on a morning soaked with rain as a morning drenched in sun.
Easy Pain Au Chocolat
These may just be the easiest pastries you’ll ever make. First, take a sheet of puff pastry (I ‘cheated’ and bought it this time around, however, I’m planning on making my own in the future) cut into rectangular strips measuring roughly 8 x 16 cm. Second, whisk 1 egg and 1 tbsp water in a bowl, and brush the top pf each strip lightly with the mixture. Then, cut a bar of chocolate (I used bitter) into chunks and place a moderate amount at the end of each strip. Roll them up, seal the sides neatly, and glaze the tops with the egg mixture. Place the rolls on a baking sheet and bake in a pre-heated oven at 200°C for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Because of the bitter chocolate, these pains au chocolat won’t be too sweet. (If you’re a fan of black coffee, you’ll love them.) For a more agreeable taste, add a few drops of honey to the chocolate prior to rolling up the strips of puff pastry, or use sweet chocolate (or even Nutella!) for a more traditional chocolatey taste. Some almonds sprinkled on top would be a great addition, and if you’ve got a really sweet tooth, you can dust the finished pastries with confectioner’s sugar prior to devouring.