Friday, March 28, 2014

Pain Au Chocolate (Chocolate Bread, or Bread with Chocolate)

What is Pain Au Chocolate? Well, it's literal translation from French to English is "chocolate bread" but that name just doesn't seem to do it justice. Something more along the lines of Insanely Good Chocolate Filled Bread would describe it better, but not roll off the tongue as well. When I hear "chocolate bread" I think of more like a loaf of quick bread that is all chocolate (like a chocolate zucchini bread or Chocolate Amish Friendship Bread). I guess, that "bread with chocolate" would convey what this heavenly concoction really is. So, think of it that way.
   I got the idea for this when I was watching an episode of The Best Thing I Ever Ate on The Food Network. It's a show where chefs tell viewers some of the best foods they have ever eaten, and where they can go and get it for themselves.Well, if I remember correctly, one of the chefs said that they had the best Pain Au Chocolate at a specific bakery. It went behind the scenes and showed the pastry chef folding a ton of dark chocolate chunks into some bread dough. So, that is what I did and it turned out AMAZING!
    I wanted a contrast of slightly salty dough to the sweet melted chocolate, so I used my recipe for No-Knead French Bread. It worked out perfectly, because the recipe makes two large loafs. So I made one loaf into French Bread for dinner and then used the remaining dough to make this Pain Au Chocolate.
It couldn't be simpler, but it tastes ridiculously good. You may have to lock up away so you don't eat the whole loaf yourself. (At least I had a hard time not consuming it all myself. Luckily I have 5 other chocolate lovers in my house that helped gobble it up before I could. It was gone in just a couple hours.)

Here's all I did:

I rolled out the dough into a large rectangle (just as if I were going to roll it into a French Baguette).

Then I poured on a ton of dark chocolate chunks. It was a little more than half a bag, so I think that is 1 cup. But really, there is no need for measuring here. I just spaced the chocolate out evenly, so that there would be some chocolate in every slice.

Then I rolled it up. (Think cinnamon rolls)

After it was all rolled up, I flattened out the roll.

And added more chocolate. This time I used mini chocolate chips because I wanted to make sure that there was a little chocolate in every bite. Again, I just poured the chocolate on and then pressed the chips into the dough.

Then I rolled it up the opposite direction as before.

And pressed it flat again.

One last addition of mini chocolate chips, (pressed in so they really got into the dough),

and then rolled up one last time.

You can certainly leave it as a loaf shape like this:

But the guy on t.v. made his into a round, so I wanted to also. I just folded my loaf into thirds. (Think billfold.)  My Baby Girl couldn't resist going in for a mini chocolate chip that fell onto the table bu the bread.

I place the bread seam side down and sort of round it out a bit.

Then I placed the chocolate filled bread right next to my French Bread loaf on a parchment line sheet pan.

I sprayed both loafs with some no-stick spray to keep them moist while they rest.

After 30 minutes, I put the bread into the oven. 350F for 30 minutes or so.

The bread is done when it is brown and sounds hollow when tapped.

To make the bread have a softer, saltier crust, I like to rub it all over with salted butter. This has to be done immediately after it comes out of the oven, so that the butter and get absorbed into the crust. (And yes, I just took the whole block of butter and rubbed it on the loaf. It's easier that way. It only takes about a tablespoon. You just want to cover the whole loaf with some butter. The hot bread melts the butter and it coats it really quickly.)

See? All shiny and pretty. Now this is the hard par . . . you have to WAIT! I know. It's torture, but you don't want to cut into it now, or the bread will not have the proper time to set up and it will squish and be a little too doughy. Just do yourself a favor and wait at least 30 minutes before digging in. You'll thank me later.

After you have waited the required minimum 30 minutes you may cut into your beautiful loaf.

See how there are lots of chocolate bits running through the chocolate, but also places where the bread dough is still unadulterated? That;s what you want.

I cut one big slice and then cut that slice in half to be more manageable. But don't think I didn't eat both pieces . . .and then two more . . . and maybe two more after that.

This is my favorite picture. It shows the soft and fluffy white bread and the tempting pockets of melted chocolate within. There are no words that could describe how good this is . . . and how much I wish I had another loaf right now.

What are you waiting for? Go make it!!

Here's the recipe:

Pain Au Chocolate
1/2 recipe of No-Knead French Bread
1 cup dark chocolate chunks
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
no-stick cooking spray
salted butter

Roll the dough out into a large rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick. Spread out the chocolate chunks into an even layer. Roll it up (like cinnamon rolls). Flatten the roll out and spread out 1/2 of the mini chocolate chips, and press them into the dough. Then roll the opposite direction as before. Flatten the roll out, and press the other 1/2 of the chocolate chips into an even layer on the dough. Roll one last time, in the opposite direction and place seam side down. You can bake it in this oval roll/loaf shape but if you want it more round, then fold the loaf into thirds (like a billfold) and place seam side down onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Spray with no-stick cooking spray (or rub with butter). Let the dough rest and rise for 30 minutes. Then heat the oven to 350F and bake for 30-40 minutes. The bread is done when it is brown and sounds hollow when tapped. Take the bread out of the oven and rub it all over with the butter. Let sit to cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting.

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