Chocolate Croissant, or pain au chocolat in French, are a special treat to start making with your family as a holiday tradition and a delicious make ahead idea for breakfast any time of year!
Homemade chocolate croissant recipe
With flaky buttery layers wrapped around melty chocolate, these pastries are amazing served warm with a mug of hot chocolate or coffee for dipping.
Chocolate Croissants are a treat that can be made ahead-of-time and popped in the oven to puff up in minutes. Making the perfect treat, and family tradition, for Christmas!
Bake up homemade Chocolate Croissants with your family and bake up memories at the same time!
Tools and ingredients
- Heavy rolling pin – makes rolling out chilled butter and dough much easier
- Parchment paper – necessary for rolling out chilled butter
- Ruler or tape measure – size matters! Measure both the butter square and the dough for the flakiest layers possible
- Kitchen thermometer – for accurately warming the milk to the right temperature to make the yeast happy
- Chocolate – chunks, sticks, squares, or chips would all work. Just pick up your favorite chocolate for baking or eating. No need to purchase anything specific
- Unsalted butter
- All purpose flour
- Granulated sugar
- Instant yeast
- Whole milk
Step by step instructions
With these tips, the right tools, and the right ingredients anyone can make chocolate croissants from scratch. There is a lot of chilling time because cold dough is a necessity for flaky croissants. But the actual process of making these stunning pastries is simple.
If you start in the afternoon then let them rise overnight while you sleep, you can wake up to warm chocolate croissants in only 20 minutes.
- Make croissant pastry dough then chill dough for at least 1 hour.
- Meanwhile roll out the butter into a butter square then chill butter at least 1 hour.
- Once both the homemade croissant dough and the butter squares are cold, laminate butter square into dough. Laminating the butter simply means folding the dough around it a few times. Roll the dough out with the butter inside, then fold and chill for at least 2 hours. This is considered the ‘first fold’.
- After at least 2 hours of chilling, continue with the second fold. Roll the dough with the butter inside and fold again. Then chill again for at least 2 hours.
- Once chilled after the second fold, roll laminated dough again into a large rectangle, then cut and fill with chocolate and form the croissants.
- Place formed chocolate croissants on parchment lined baking sheet and let croissants rise. Either rise croissants slowly in the refrigerator 10-16 hours. Or rise more quickly at room temperature for 1-½ hours.
- Once croissants have risen and puffed slightly, preheat oven and brush croissants with egg wash.
- Place in preheated oven and bake until golden, about 18-20 minutes.
How to make ahead of time
- One option is to make the dough in advance – make dough in step 1 and refrigerate up to 1 day or freeze up to 1 month rather than only chill for 1 hour. If frozen, thaw in the refrigerator 12 hours before adding the butter square and rolling.
- Another option is to make the croissants in advance – roll, form and let rise slowly for the full 10-16 hours, then freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet until firm. Transfer to a freezer bag or vacuum seal for up to 3 months. Then when the craving for a warm chocolate croissant hits, simply thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes and bake as directed.
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 ¼ cups whole milk
- 1 cup chocolate chopped
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- 3 sticks unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- In a small saucepan fitted with a thermometer bring milk to 110 degrees F over medium heat.1 ¼ cups whole milk
- Meanwhile, combine 2 ¾ cup flour, sugar, yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.3 cups all purpose flour, ¼ cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon instant yeast, 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- When milk reaches temperature remove from heat and slowly pour down the side of the bowl with mixer running on low.
- When combined increase speed and continue turning until dough comes together in a ball in the middle of the mixer. Then, either switch to a dough hook or knead by hand 8 minutes or until smooth and elastic adding as much of the remaining ¼ cup flour as necessary to keep from sticking.
- Place croissant dough in a lightly greased bowl and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
- While dough is chilling make butter square. Lay down a large sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle 1 tablespoon flour in the middle. Place butter over flour and sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon flour over top. Then place another sheet of parchment to cover. To bring together and slightly soften the butter whack it a few times with a heavy rolling pin. Then roll into an 8″ square and refrigerate at least 1 hour.3 sticks unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- Once butter and dough are fully chilled roll dough into an 11" square on lightly floured surface. Place the chilled butter square diagonally (like a diamond) in the middle of the dough square. NOTE: It is CRUCIAL that the butter and the dough do not mix together during any of the next steps so if either are starting to soften or warm up at any time immediately place back in the fridge to chill before proceeding.
- Fold corners of chilled dough over butter bringing points together in the center. Pinch all seams to seal then starting from the center and working outward roll out to a 14 inch square, dusting with extra flour as needed to prevent sticking. Fold the dough in thirds, like a business letter, to form a rectangle then fold in thirds again to form a square. Wrap in parchment and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
- Roll chilled square out again to a 14 inch square using a heavy rolling pin and again fold in thirds to form a rectangle and in thirds again to form a square before refrigerating again for at least 2 hours.
- Roll fully chilled and rested dough into a 20" square. If still chilled after rolling continue. Otherwise refrigerate again until pastry dough is chilled and firm. Cut pastry into 12 even rectangles. Cut square in half, then cut each half into 6 sections (cut in half horizontally and then cut each half into 3 even pieces).
- Sprinkle a tablespoon of chocolate into a small mound at one end of each pastry. Then roll the dough up around the chocolate. Place seam side down on parchment lined baking sheets. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to rise slowly for 10 to 16 hours. Or rise quickly at room temperature for 1 – ½ hours instead.1 cup chocolate
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and brush croissants with egg. Then bake until golden brown and puffy, 18 – 22 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.1 large egg
- Drizzle with chocolate or dust with powdered sugar if desired and serve warm or at room temperature.