The French capital is seen as the hub of the country’s cuisine with food from around the world found throughout the city. Paris is famous for its cafés, bakeries, patisseries and open-air markets. It is home to some of the best restaurants in the world – both casual and formal, it’s also the birthplace of classic haute and nouvelle cuisine.
Head to Pierre Herme at 72 Rue Bonaparte, for delicious confectionary. The world-famous pastry chef is known for his macaroon creations but the croissants and pain au chocolates are just as special.
Pain au chocolate
4 cups (600g) plain flour, with extra to dust
¼ cup (50g) caster sugar
2 tsps salt
1 (8g) packet of instant dried yeast
1½ cups (375ml) of warm milk
1½ cups (375ml) chilled unsalted butter
350g dark chocolate, chopped
1 egg, whisked
- In a small bowl, gently combine the yeast and warm milk. Set aside to prove until foamy for 5 minutes.
- Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast and mix on a low speed for 1-2 minutes, or until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium-low and mix until the dough is smooth, 2-3 minutes. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and roughly knead for 5 to 10 minutes or until the dough holds its firm shape. (Sprinkle with extra flour and re-knead if still tacky). Chill and cover for 1.5 hours.
- Take the butter out of the refrigerator. Let sit for 10 minutes, until slightly softened but still firm. Dust the butter with flour and place between two sheets of baking paper. Using a rolling pin, roll a 13x20 cm (5x8 inch) rectangle about 1.5 cm (2/3 inch) thick. Dust with flour to prevent it from sticking. Wrap in cling film and place in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to slightly harden. You want the butter to be about the same consistency as the dough.
- Lightly flour a work surface and flatten the dough. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 25 cm (10 inch) square about 1 cm (½ inch) thick. Place the butter in the center, and rotate it so it faces you like a diamond. Take the dough corners and fold them in to meet in the center. Seal and press to enclose the butter.
- Roll the dough into a 30x40 cm (12x16 inch) rectangle. With the longest end facing you, fold the dough into third layers to overlap. Wrap in cling film and chill for 1 hour.
- Remove the dough from the fridge, roll out again and fold into thirds as before. Wrap and rest again in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Repeat this process three times.
- For the final time, turn and roll as before. This time, fold the two ends into the center to meet and fold together as if closing a book. Wrap and chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
- When ready to make the Pain au Chocolate. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and rest for 15 minutes. Cut the dough evenly in half. Grease and line two baking sheets with baking paper.
- Lightly dust a work surface with flour and roll out the dough to make 5 mm (¼ inch) thick, 25 x 80 cm (10x32 inch) rectangle. Trim the edges to straighten. Cut eight rectangles at 10 cm (4 inch) intervals.
- On the shortest side of a rectangle sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the chocolate to make a 1 cm (½ inch) thick line and fold over once to enclose. Place another 2 tablespoons of chocolate across the dough in front of the fold and again fold over to enclose, creating two lines of chocolate filling. Continue with remaining rectangles.
- Arrange the Pain au Chocolat about 4 cm (1½ inches) apart on the prepared baking trays. Set aside in a warm, draft free place to prove for 1½ hours, until puffy. Repeat process with remaining dough and triangles.
- Preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F). Brush the Pain au Chocolat with the egg. Bake for 15 minutes or until, puffed, flaky and golden brown. Rotate the baking sheets halfway through for even baking. Transfer onto a rack to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.