There is one thing that totally undermines my authenticity as a cook, a foodie, and someone who blogs about food. I've never been to France. If you read food-themed memoirs or the introductions to cookbooks (or even if you've just seen the movie Ratatouille) you know that the road to culinary and gastronomical credibility runs directly through Paris, France.
That's why I feel so faux writing about Pain au Chocolate. Not only have I never eaten it in Paris, but I can't recall that I'd ever eaten it anywhere before I made it myself last Friday. Maybe what I made wasn't real Pain au Chocolate after all. I could be a complete fraud. The memories of biting through a thin but crisp crust into rustic and soft but chewy bread and a pocket of warm, creamy dark chocolate, however, leave me with this thought: I don't care if it is authentic or not. What I made is delicious. It is delicious and comforting, simple yet decadent.
And, it was pretty easy, because I had a tool up my sleeve (or in my refrigerator) that allowed me to cheat: bread dough. I'm still making doughs from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. (I have a post on that here and an update in the comment section.) I used the basic rustic white bread dough, the recipe for which, you can find here, and a bar of Ghiradelli 65% cacao dark chocolate.
I'm not sure how much dough I used, but I happened to have just enough left to make eight rolls a little larger than hamburger buns. Lucky me! The chocolate bar was conveniently scored into eight squares. I broke the squares into chunks, then wrapped the dough around each broken square and formed it into a nice bun shape. I placed the buns on a pan lined with a silicone baking mat (you could just lightly grease the pan) and preheated the oven to 450 F. I baked most of the buns about 10 minutes, then removed and cooled them and wrapped them up and froze them for later enjoyment. The ones we were going to eat right away, I baked another 10 minutes (approximately...I was reading a mystery novel, and should have been paying more attention) until they were golden brown on the outside.
Now came the most difficult part of the wole process: waiting for them to be cool enough to eat!
Later, I baked off a couple of frozen partially-baked pain au chocolate, and they were just as good if not better. I simply put them on a pan while waiting for the oven to heat to 450 F, then baked them for 10-15 minutes. They were golden brown on the outside, and I could hear the chocolate bubbling inside.
I think you could use any bread dough you like to make these, but I have to say I really like using the dough from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. To tell the truth, if you don't have the time or inclination to make your own dough, you could probably make something with a refrigerated or frozen dough from the supermarket. (How about crescent roll dough from a can?) You could even buy a great loaf of bread, such as a good, crusty French loaf, cut it open, stuff a bar of chocolate inside and warm it up in the oven just enough to crisp the crust and melt the chocolate. A chocolate melt sandwich. What could be bad about that?
Of course, what do I know? I've never even been to France. I may just be a complete fraud!