A while back I mentioned that I’d picked up the Flour cookbook by Joanne Chang and finally made my own version of my favorite treat from the Flour bakery – the sugar brioche buns. Since then I’ve made many of the items in the cookbook – focaccia:
even regular brioche:
But in my heart, I knew that eventually I was going to need to take on a bigger and better challenge: the brioche au chocolat.
Y’see, unlike the sugar brioche buns, in which the main challenge was the brioche dough itself, these little beauties raise the stakes with homemade pastry cream inside. Pastry cream is one of those things that seems deceptively simple, but leaves a lot of room for things to go awry. It’s a rich, vanilla-flavored custard used to, you guessed it, fill pastries. It’s made with eggs, milk, flour, sugar and vanilla, and is cooked over the stove, similarly to real-deal pudding. To me,the issue is that flour – pastry cream, over-cooked, can quickly become grainy. Would I be ready for the task?
Luckily, J. Chang’s recipes are very well written. If you just do everything PRECISELY THE WAY SHE TELLS YOU TO, you should be just fine. The pastry cream above admittedly looks a little gross, but this is because it is custard. Custard is not the most photogenic member of the food kingdom, kids.
Sprinkle with some chopped dark chocolate. I used Taza, of course.
I would NOT recommend this recipe for the dessert-maker in a hurry – the total time from start to finish, what with waiting for brioche to proof and pastry cream to cool, numbers in the days rather than the hours. If you have the time, however, it is totally worth it, and not nearly as scary as it seems.