I’ve always been a sucker for classic French desserts and pastries. Most of these seem to contain butter or eggs making them decidedly not vegan. We decided to take one of my favorite pastries Pain au Chocolat, or chocolate croissants, and make it vegan. This one is a little lengthy, and involves several hours of downtime while you wait for things to chill and proof. If you’re not into that you can always try to find tubes of premade crescent dough.
This one is a long one, and I don’t recommend it for beginner bakers. If you’re up for a challenge, then this one’s for you.
Vegan Pain au Chocolat
- 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) vegan butter
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated vegan sugar
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp instant yeast
- 1 and 1/2 cups oat milk
- 1 cup chocolate chunks
- 1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks) non-dairy butter
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp oat milk
- Start by mixing together the instant yeast, sugar, salt, and room temperature butter. Blend until all ingredients are well integrated, and then mix in the flour. We did this with our hands, but you can use a spoon or mixer if you’d like. Slowly pour in the non-dairy milk as you knead the dough. The dough should be somewhat sticky, but have some elasticity. It should bounce back if you poke it.
- Lightly flour your hands, and roll the dough into a ball. Place dough on a baking sheet covered with greased parchment paper, or a lightly floured silicone baking mat if you have one. Make sure your baking sheet is large enough to hold a 10×20 inch rectangle, as this will come into play later. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.
- After the dough has chilled for a half hour remove it from the fridge, remove parchment paper and dough from the baking sheet, and roll out into a 14×10 inch rectangle. Try to keep the edges as straight as possible. You’ll have to work against the dough here as it will want to maintain an oval shape.
- Return parchment paper, or silicone baking mat, with the rectangle of dough on it back onto the baking sheet, and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight.
- Warm three sticks of non-dairy butter to room temperature in the microwave, or take the butter out of the fridge at least a half hour prior to lamination. Place non-dairy butter and flour into a mixing bowl, and beat with a hand mixer or whisk until it is soft and creamy.
- Place butter onto a piece of greased parchment paper, and smooth into a 7×10 inch rectangle. Place the butter into the refrigerator, and let chill for at least a half hour.
- Remove the dough, and butter layer from the fridge. Roll your dough out into a 10×20 inch rectangle. You may need to lay down another sheet of greased parchment paper under your dough to do this. I wouldn’t recommend rolling it out on any hard surface, because it will get stuck no matter how well you flour.
- Once your dough has been rolled out, place your 7×10 inch rectangle of butter in the very center of the dough. Fold either side of the dough over the butter as if you were folding a letter. Pinch the dough closed around the butter, so that it does not squeeze out as you roll it. Roll your dough again into a 10×20 inch rectangle. If your dough is becoming warm and sticky you may want to refrigerate it again for a half hour. Do a second pass of the lamination by folding your dough into thirds again, and rolling out into a 10×20 inch rectangle.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes, and then do a third pass. Fold the 10×20 inch rectangle into thirds like a letter, and then refrigerate for at least four hours.
- Once the dough has been refrigerated roll it out into a 8x20inch rectangle on a floured counter or table. Use a pizza cutter or a sharp knife to cut dough in half in half, and then into fourths, sixths, and then eighths.
- Give each piece an extra roll to flatten it more, and then cut them in half. Set the pieces aside on a baking sheet. You will have 16 pieces when you are finished. Each piece will be approximately 2×5 inches.
- Finally, it is time to add the best part, the chocolate! You can either use chocolate chunks like we did, or cut up slices of a dark chocolate bar into chocolate wands. Line the chocolate pieces along the short end, about an inch in from the edge, and roll up. Place rolled pastries with the seam on the bottom of your baking sheets. You will need two large baking sheets to fit all of the pastries. Be sure to continue using greased parchment paper to line your baking sheets.
- Once you have finished adding the chocolate and rolling up every piece leave the pastries out at room temperature for an hour to proof.
- Return the pastries to the fridge to chill for an hour. This step is integral, because they will spread too much if they are at room temperature when you place them in the oven.
- Make sure your oven racks are up as high as they’ll go, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Right before putting your pastries in the oven you’ll want to use an “egg wash” so that they brown a little bit. We made ours using one part oat milk, and one part vegetable oil. Gently paint the egg wash on with a brush. If you wish you can sprinkle a little bit of coarse kosher salt for a savory element. This is what we did, and it was delicious.
- Bake the pastries for 20 minutes keeping a close eye on them. Rotate the trays at 10 minutes into the bake time. If the pastries appear to be browning too quickly turn your oven temperature down to 350 at this point.
- Remove the pastries from the oven, and place on a cooling rack. If you chose not to add salt, and would like to add some vegan confectioners sugar use a sieve to gently dust some on top of the croissants once they have cooled a bit. Be sure to try them while they’re still warm to enjoy the melty chocolate, and warm buttery dough. Bon appetit.