Someone (Actually, it was Debbie!) asked me what thing I’d miss the most if I had to leave France. Right away I thought, “Pain au chocolat!”  What’s that? you ask. Well, it’s a flaky, buttery, puff pastery wrapped around two bars of dark chocolat, baked to golden perfection. The first time I had one, I was at work and someone brought in a tray of what looked like rectagular bread rolls. I grabbed one, bit into it, and thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Pure bliss.

pain_au_chocolatThe secret to a good pain au chocolat is using puff pastery, (or laminated dough, I think it’s also called) and good quality chocolate, so that when you bit into it, the pastry is meltingly light and soft, with a slight crunch as your teeth sink into the crisp outer layer  – and the chocolate is firm and consistant, not as hard as a real chocolate bar, but not soft and crumbly either.

The best way to eat them is right after you buy them at the boulangerie, fresh from the oven but not too fresh – the chocolat has to have time to cool. But you have to eat them while the puff pastery is still fresh – a day later, and it’s not as good. You can, of course, heat them up in the over to make them taste nearly fresh, which is why I like having a few in my freezer. The really do heat up well. I think this gal looks like she does a good job with them (though I’d use a thinner chocolat – you don’t want to use the thick chocolat chunks, actually!)

After our flight from Florida, we arrived in France on a gray, rainy morning.

Our first stop was in a small village where we spotted a bistro – inside, we ordered coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice, and pain au chocolats. Even though it was cold and rainy outside, this made everything just fine. This is what I missed most!