The Quest for the Best Pain au Chocolat

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(Sorry, we didn’t realize that this was supposed to be posted with our Challenge 5!) We decided to taste-test three different kinds of pain au chocolat, or, as I was (rather rudely) told at Starbucks, chocolate croissant. One of my all-time favorite pastries, the pain au chocolat (PAC) is a delightful treat made out of layers of pastry that puff up over a piece of (usually dark) chocolate. We purchased PACs from 1) Starbucks 2) Tatte 3) Whole Foods, all of which claimed to be freshly home-made. Here are our findings. 1) Starbucks: Decent. The chocolate was nice and bitter, and the pastry was puffed but almost tasted a little stale. The whole thing was very light, and had little substance. 2) Tatte: Excellent. The pastry had a much thicker base on the bottom, so when you bit into it, the top was flaky, but the bite became more substantial as you reached the chocolate, which was set into a bottom layer than was almost chewy. 3) Whole Foods: Surprisingly, also pretty good. Not really flaky at all, and it didn’t have much puff to it, but it was dense and chewy at the bottom, which I liked. The chocolate was sweeter in these PACs, which I didn’t like as much, but hey, chocolate is chocolate. Overall, what I determined is that the chocolate quality was very important, and the chocolate couldn’t be overly melted in the best PACs. I also appreciated a flaky top and a weightier bottom layer.

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