Leesa Cross-Smith’s HALF-BLOWN ROSE Pain au Chocolat

On the flight to Paris she promised herself she’d try her best to keep it loose and let her emotions stretch out, go wherever they wanted. Not fight against them so much. When she wants a croissant or pain au chocolat, that’s what she eats.”
Half-Blown Rose

Half-Blown Rose is filled with desire and hunger of all sorts. Vincent, naturally, has some apprehension and guilt when it comes to taking a lover in Paris. Her lover, Loup, is twenty years younger than she is— the same age as her son— and she and Cillian haven’t officially called off their relationship. But the word guilt is not in Vincent’s vocabulary when it comes to food. She takes great pleasure in eating. Her close friend, Agathe, loves to bake treats and stop at boulangeries for croissants, millefeuilles, chouquettes, before making her way over to Vincent’s apartment for wine and chats.

A pain au chocolate recipe is an easy choice to spotlight: one of my favorite things to do, while I was in Paris, was to get a bag of pain au chocolat and wander. I gave Vincent those same feelings and let her dig in. Vincent enjoys grabbing a bag of pain au chocolat and noshing on it while she saunters. Much like a long bubble bath or ignoring “responsibilities” to finish a good book, making and eating pain au chocolat (just because!) feels so decadent. A true pleasure!

-Leesa Cross Smith

Note, Menu and Book Giveaway: Book Club Buzz


12 servings

Prep Time

370 mins

Cook Time

15 mins

Leesa Cross-Smith’s HALF-BLOWN ROSE Pain au Chocolat

Recipe is adapted from www.thespruceeats.com. Pain au Chocolat is best served the same day, but can be stored at room temperature for a few days in an airtight container.

  • 4 teaspoons instant dried yeast
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup milk, plus 2 tablespoons milk, divided
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large egg
  1. Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water for 5 minutes in a large mixing bowl. Add the flour, 1/2 cup of milk, sugar, melted butter, and salt to the dissolved yeast and water, and mix the dough on medium speed for about 2 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add 1 tablespoon of extra flour at a time, just firm enough to shape without sticking.
  2. Form dough into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Allow it to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. On a floured board, roll the dough into a 10- x 15-inch rectangle. Cover it loosely and allow it to rise for 40 minutes.
  3. Brush the rectangle with the softened butter and then fold the dough into thirds, as with a letter. Brush dough with softened butter. Roll the long, thin rectangle back into the original 10 x 15-inch shape. Fold the dough into thirds, again. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Repeat this process once more.
  4. Uncover dough. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough crosswise into 12 rectangles. Arrange 2 teaspoons of chopped chocolate close to one of the short ends of each rectangle. Fold dough over the chocolate, rolling toward the center.
  5. Arrange each finished pain au chocolat on a lightly greased baking sheet with at least 1 1/2 inches between each pastry.
  6. Cover pastries loosely with plastic wrap and allow them to rise until almost doubled in size, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  7. Heat the oven to 400 F. Whisk the egg and 2 tablespoons milk together to make an egg wash. Brush the egg wash across the surface of each pastry.
  8. Bake the pain au chocolat for 12 to 14 minutes, until they are puffed and golden brown.