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These vegan Pain au Chocolate are a dream come true. They're super crispy in the outside and soft in the inside. The flavor is rich and delicate. In other words: you have to try this recipe!
Making them is easy but the whole process requires a little time. That said, these chocolate croissants will literally blow your taste buds, so trust me when I say that's totally worth the effort!
I always use "stable" margarine to make croissants. It's important NOT to use a spreadable margarine because we don't want our block of "butter" to melt easily (or the whole recipe is going to be a big mess!). So any traditional butter substitute that doesn't get hard in the cold cannot be used for this recipe.
There are some recipes that take multiple days to prepare pains au chocolate. Mine takes a little over 5 hours of which only 1 we will actually have to "actively work", the other 4 hours are rising or resting times for the dough in the fridge.
You only need a handful of ingredients to make this recipe: yeast, flour, sugar, salt, chocolate and water. Also, instead of brushing the croissants with egg we will use vegan oat-cream or soy milk (use whichever you prefer).
How to Make the Dough
The dough for our vegan pains au chocolate is super easy to make! We just have to mix, flour, salt, sugar, yeast and water. Then we knead the dough until it's smooth and lumps-free. If you prefer you can of course use a kneading machine (I would too if I had one :)).
The Beurrage is nothing more than a block of butter (or in our case margarine) that will allow us to create the puff pastry with which we will make the croissants. The block is done by cutting the margarine into slices and placing these on a sheet of baking paper. Then we wrap the margarine with the baking paper and flatten the butter forming a 20x20 cm (8x8 inches) square.
The block of butter should never melt while we are making the pastry. This is why it's important that the block is well chilled before we start making the puff pastry.
Laminating the Dough: Part 1
This is the most fun part of this recipe (after eating the chocolate croissants of course ;))! Before we start: It's very useful to have a measuring tape at hand so that we can roll out the dough following the measurements given in the recipe.
We start by taking the dough out of the fridge and to form it (using our hands) into a 25x25 cm ( 10x10 inches) square. Then we use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a 45x25 cm (18x10 inches) rectangle. We place the block of margarine on one side of the rectangle and fold the other side of the dough up and over the margarine.
Now we gently roll out the dough forming a rectangle of 45x25 cm (18x10 inches). We grab the bottom of the dough and fold it ¾ of the way up the rectangle. Then we take the top half and fold it the remaining ¼ of the way until both ends meet.
Then we fold the longer part over the short one, making a long rectangle. We wrap the rectangle in baking paper and let it rest for 1 hour in the fridge. Et voilà! The first lamination is already over! One more to go!
Laminating the Dough: Part 2
The second part of the process is much easier than the first. We only need to roll out the dough into a large 60x25 cm (24x18 inches) rectangle. We grab the bottom of the dough and fold it ⅓ of the way up the rectangle. Then we take the top half and fold it over so that it covers completely the other one. We should have a square. We wrap it in baking paper and set in the fridge for 1 hour.
Size: Regular vs Large
After the dough has rested in the fridge for 1 hour we can take it and roll it out into a 30x50 cm (12x20 inches) rectangle.
Then we can either cut the dough in half (lengthwise) and make 10 regular pain au chocolate or leave the dough as it is and make 5 larger ones. Below you see the difference.
I always use vegan dark chocolate with at least 70% of cacao. I cut the chocolate in sticks myself because it requires no effort. That said, you can obviously use store-bought vegan chocolate sticks.
How to Shape the Croissants
Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 5 (large) or 10 (regular) rectangles. Place a stick of chocolate on the edge of the dough and roll tightly enclosing it in the dough. Then place a second chocolate stick on the dough and roll tightly. Place the croissants on a baking sheet, seam side down, leaving some space between them.
We brush the pain au chocolate with water and allow them to rise for 2 hours. I like to let them rise in the oven with the door closed so that they don't dry out.
After two hours the pain au chocolate should've doubled in size. We can now brush them with oat cream or soy milk and bake them at 200 °C (360 °F) for 15 minutes. Et voilà our super delicious vegan pain au chocolate are ready!
How to store the Croissants
The croissants can be stored either in the refrigerator or in the freezer.
- Refrigerator: Put the croissants in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Before serving, moisten with a little water and bake in the oven at 180 °C (340 °F) for 3-4 minutes until crispy.
- Freezer: put the vegan croissants in an airtight container and place in the freezer. Before serving, take the croissants out of the freezer and defrost them in the refrigerator (preferably overnight). Once defrosted, moisten the croissants with a little water and bake in the oven at 180 °C (340 °F) for 3-4 minutes.
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