During my recent trip to Paris I enjoyed many spectacular pastries and breads. In fact, nearly every morning I visited La Maison d’Isabelle for some morning treats. My first visit to this award-winning bakery in the Latin Quarter consisted of a croissant, a pain aux raisins, and a Viennoise au chocolat, all of which my mom and I shared.
Although I had eaten many of the first two pastries in my life, this was my first time enjoying a Viennoise, or Vienna bread. It’s made with enriched dough, shaped like a short baguette with a softer crust, and in this case is studded with chocolate chips.
This recipe is much easier than attempting laminated dough for croissants and the like, and if you are looking to make some homemade French-inspired treats for this upcoming weekend in honor of Bastille Day (one of my favorite holidays!), then this Viennoise au chocolat recipe is for you! It only requires about 1 1/2 to 2 total hours of proofing, and minimal kneading and shaping.
The flavor and texture reminded me slightly of chorek, a beloved Armenian egg bread typically made for Easter. These Viennoises are extra special because of the molten dots of chocolate throughout. They’re really quite scrumptious. Bon Appetit!
Viennoise au Chocolat
Makes 4 to 8 depending on size
(Adapted from Une Plume dans la Cuisine)
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream
10 grams (3 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
75 grams (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
475 grams (scant 4 cups) all-purpose flour
100 grams (3/4 cup) chocolate chips (I may even increase this amount in the future)
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
In a small saucepan over medium-low, heat the milk and cream to 110 degrees F. Be careful not to overheat it or it will kill the yeast. If you accidentally overheat, let cool to 110 degrees. Add the yeast and mix to combine.
In a large bowl whisk together the melted butter and sugar, then beat in the egg and the milk-yeast mixture until smooth. Add the flour in a couple additions, mixing well after each. Knead the dough until it’s completely smooth and soft and all the flour is absorbed. Cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rise, preferably in a warm spot, for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until nearly doubled in size.
Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the dough and knead the chocolate chips into the dough until they are evenly distributed. Divide the dough into 4 or 8 equal pieces. It’s easiest to weigh the dough and then divide the weight by the number of pieces you plan to cut, and then cut pieces of that size (my dough was 920 grams, and I divided it into four 230 gram pieces). Shape the pieces of dough into small oblong loaves. Don’t make the centers too fat or they won’t bake through evenly.
Arrange the mini loaves on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, cover with a towel and let them rise at room temperature for another 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F, with the rack in the center of the oven.
Uncover the loaves, brush the tops and sides with the egg wash, then use a sharp knife to cut a few diagonal slashes across the top. Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes for smaller loaves, or 10 to 12 minutes for larger loaves until dark golden brown. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. It’s best if the chocolate chips are still gooey! You can refresh the loaves in a 350 degree F oven for a few minutes if they are a day or two old.