Here is Cedric Grolet’s famous pain au chocolat recipe! This recipe is from the star pâtissier’s pastry book called Opera Patisserie. For more French recipes, see my article on the best French pastry books of all time.
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Pain au chocolat, literally “chocolate bread,” is one of the best-known French pastries. It’s a type of viennoiserie sweet pastry consisting of a cuboid-shaped piece of yeast-leavened laminated dough with two pieces of dark chocolate in the center. The pain au chocolat is made of the same layered dough as a croissant.
Both croissants and pains au chocolat are relatively modern inventions. Indeed, these types of pastries, called “viennoiseries” in French, were introduced in the early 19th century, when August Zang, an Austrian officer, and Ernest Schwarzer, an Austrian aristocrat, founded a Viennese bakery in Paris located at 92, rue de Richelieu. Originally, croissants and pains au chocolat were made from a brioche base but later evolved to incorporate a buttery, flaky dough (pâte feuilletée).
Pain au Chocolat or Chocolatine?
In France, the name of the pain au chocolat varies by region. And there is an old yet actual argument over what this pastry should be called. This is the famous pain au chocolat-chocolatine linguistic debate of France. Indeed, the word pain au chocolat is used in central France, southern and Paris, whereas in southwestern France (Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Occitanie), the word chocolatine is preferred.
In 2018, there was even a linguistic debate about the official name of chocolate pastries in the French parliament, with MPs debating over whether the word chocolatine should be an official alternative to the better-known pain au chocolat. The effort was unsuccessful, with deputies in the national assembly voting it down.
The origin of the word chocolatine is unclear. Some say that it comes from 15th-century English Aquitaine rulers who would ask for “chocolate in bread” in bakeries, which the French understood as “chocolate in.” Others say the name originated with August Zang —the Austrian baker who sold Viennese croissants at his Parisian bakery in the 1830s— who was baking crescent-shaped, chocolate-filled croissants called schokoladencroissants, which translates into French as chocolatine.
Pain au Chocolat or Chocolate Croissant?
Being French, I’ve never heard the term “chocolate croissant” referring to a pain au chocolat. In France, in addition to the traditional croissant au beurre you’ll find in most bakeries the croissant aux amandes (or “almond croissant”) or the croissant aux abricots also known as Oranais but no “chocolate croissants”. If you’re asking in a French boulangerie a “chocolate croissant,” chances are the baker will correct you and says, “pain au chocolate.”
For us, even if these pastries are both made of the same layered dough (“pâte feuilletée”), croissants and pains au chocolat are radically different. Indeed, if a pain au chocolat is cut into rectangular shapes and filled with two chocolate bars, conversely, croissants are cut into triangles before rolling to create a crescent moon shape.
So without further ado, here is Cédric Grolet’s pain au chocolat recipe! Also, if you need more guidance on how to shape the pains au chocolate, you can see how the baker is doing it in this Vogue France video.
French Chef Cédric Grolet’s Pain au Chocolat Recipe
For the dough:
- 1 kg flour (T45)
- 420 g water
- 50 g eggs
- 100 g granulated sugar
- 45 g fresh baker's yeast
- 18 g salt
- 20 g honey
- 70 g butter
- 400 g beurre de tourage* see notes below
- 36 chocolate bars
For the egg wash:
- 300 g egg yolks
- 30 g heavy whipping cream
For the dough:
- In a mixing bowl with a dough hook, add the flour, water, eggs, fresh yeast, salt, sugar, and honey.
- Set your mixer to a medium-slow speed and mix the ingredients until you have a homogeneous paste. Then, set your mixer on a higher speed and mix until the paste pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl. Add the "beurre pommade"** (see notes) and knead until the dough comes together. Cover with a damp cloth, then let it rise at room temperature (24 to 25°C/75°to 77°F) for 1 hour.
- Flatten the dough to knock out the air, then roll it out into a large rectangle according to the width of the beurre de tourage and double its length. Place it in the freezer for 5 minutes, then in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Place the beurre de tourage in the middle of the dough, and fold the dough from each side up and over to cover the butter.
- Turn the edge of the visible butter to face you. Using a rolling pin, make a double fold: roll from bottom to top until you obtain a thickness of about 7 mm. Draw a small mark in the middle of the dough, fold the top and bottom into the middle, then fold the dough in half again like a wallet. Cover in plastic wrap and place the dough in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
- Finally, make a single fold: roll the dough to 1 cm thick, rolling from bottom to top to form a long rectangle. Fold the top over a third of the dough and then fold the bottom over the top. Immediately roll out the dough to a thickness of 3.5 mm to start cutting and forming the croissants.
Make the egg wash:
- In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and cream together.
Forming the pains au chocolat:
- Cut rectangles of 7 cm wide by 20 cm high. Place the rectangle in the direction of the height, place a bar of chocolate almost at the edge, roll about 2 cm, put another bar, roll again for 2 cm, and finally roll the dough until the pain au chocolat is made. Let rise for 1h30 at 26°C/77°F.
Finishing and baking:
- Preheat the oven to 175°C/350°F.
- Place the pains au chocolat on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and use a brush to apply a thin layer of egg wash to each pain au chocolat. Bake for 15 min.
- When nicely golden, remove the croissants and let them cool on a rack.
Et voilà! I hope you enjoyed this pain au chocolat recipe. If you make this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating, letting me know how you liked it. Merci beaucoup and bon appétit!
Leonce is the founder and editor of Leonce Chenal, a lifestyle platform launched in 2018. Originally from France, Leonce offers a fresh perspective that comes from her experience at top tech companies in Paris and London. Having spent several years in Paris and now residing in Amsterdam, she combines her professional expertise with a personal passion for French and Parisian styles. Leonce is committed to guiding her readers through the intricacies of Parisian chic, empowering them to embrace the elegance and sophistication of French style.