Ahhhh, le pain au chocolat. Once you've had a "chocolate croissant" or "pain au chocolat" in France, it's so hard to find a good one elsewhere. You immediately become a croissant snob. Le snobisme du croissant. What's wrong with foreign croissants? Too often, they are either bready, or dry, or use too little chocolate or the wrong kind of chocolate, I could go on. I've been more than disappointed with the pain au chocolat I've found in the U.S. The absolute worst are the ones with chocolate sauce or caramel sauce drizzled on top. Blasphemy!
So, I was in the Trader Joe's frozen food section the other day, gazing lovingly upon their vast array of frozen treats. It seems as though every week they have something new, and very often it is French. (Their French apple tart is fantastique, by the way.) So last time I saw something I had never seen before. There between the puff pastry and the pie crust (both are also new from what I know) was a tiny little box of joy...chocolate croissants. Boy, did they look good on the box. But I know how that goes...nothing ever turns out as good as it does on the box.
So I bought them, took them out of the freezer last night before bed (they have to rise for 9 hours from frozen) and we had them this morning with coffee. Let me tell you....no longer do I have to make the trip to my favorite French café for my "pain au chocolat"...(Greenup Café in Covington, Kentucky if you must know)...these will do JUST FINE. They are light, they are a touch crisp on the outside, the chocolate is high quality and there are TWO BARS of chocolate! They are buttery and divine. I highly recommend these for anyone who has a craving for an authentic chocolate croissant, you won't be disappointed.
Oh, and when in France, please ask for a "Pain au chocolat" (literally "bread with chocolate"), not a "chocolate croissant". The latter is an anglophone invention and doesn't work in French!