The Type Of Chocolate Traditional Pain Au Chocolat Uses

The classic croissant is already one of the most adored pastries in the baking world — and for good reason. Mastering the time-consuming and delicate procedure of crafting a laminated dough is a true sign of baking skill for many. For those who have already mastered the perfect balance of lovely, flaky layers in a classic croissant recipe though, or simply those who have a serious sweet tooth, the next logical step is toward the pain au chocolat.

While it uses the same dough, Taste Atlas says that the pain au chocolat (meaning chocolate bread) should never be called a chocolate croissant. In fact, you would probably get a better reaction by calling it a 'chocolatine,' which is the common name used in the southwest of France, instead. The European Parliament's Terminology Coordination Unit adds that it is hard to say which term came first because the exact origins of the pain au chocolat are unclear. What is clear though is the serious love that this pastry gets from hungry schoolchildren and chocolate lovers everywhere.

Of course, pain au chocolat is nothing without its chocolate. So, If you're going to take on the challenge of making this beloved treat, you better get it right.

Semi-sweet chocolate batons are the traditional choice

As any experienced baker knows, you can't simply break up a bar of Hershey's and stuff it in your croissant dough for a pain au chocolat. There are tons of different types of baking chocolate out there, and they all have their own uses.

In the case of the pain au chocolat, King Arthur Baking says that the traditional chocolate used is a semi-sweet chocolate baton. Baking Bites adds that there isn't really a regulated definition for semi-sweet chocolate, but it usually means it is a half-and-half blend between sweet and bitter flavors. Chocolates that are considered 'sweet' typically have more than 50% sugar in their recipe, while semi-sweet chocolate tends to be below that threshold. This would also be in contrast to bittersweet chocolate which leans even more dark and bitter. Using semi-sweet chocolate ensures that there will be some sweetness, but the depth afforded by bitter notes offsets the pain au chocolat's richness as well. 

Chocolate batons, which are simply shaped in a manner to be easily rolled into a croissant dough, are available online through stores like Pastry Chef Central. However, New York Times Cooking points out that you can also easily cut your preferred semi-sweet chocolate into thin sticks as well. This also allows you to more easily customize the amount of chocolate in each pastry.