Crotins au Chocolat

No, not crottins with two t’s, those are, er…something else. A recipe that’s very similar to this one appears in Nancy Silverton’s excellent Pastries from the La Brea Bakery. I changed it slightly to accommodate instant yeast. Her crotins are a chocolate body blow…for certifiable chocolate fiends only. They’re not terribly sweet, and that heightens the impression that you’re eating almost pure chocolate, just in muffin form. You’ll need:

For the Sponge

3.6 ounces (3/4 cup) pastry or all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
5 ounces (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) lukewarm water

Alternately, for more flavor, you can use 9 ounces of active and bubbly sourdough starter.

For the Batter

7 ounces (1 cup) sugar
3.6 ounces (3/4 cup) pastry or all-purpose flour
1.8 ounces (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) butter
4 eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
6 ounces (about 1 cup) coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate

First make the sponge. Whisk the flour, yeast and sugar together in a medium bowl. Stir in the water, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to rise until bubbly. About half an hour. Meanwhile melt the butter in the microwave or in a small saucepan and let it cool.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place a rack in the middle of your oven. Lightly butter a muffin tin.

In a large bowl sift the sugar, flour and cocoa powder together. Make a well in the center and add the butter, eggs and yeast mixture. Whisk the wet ingredients together, gradually drawing in the dry ingredients until they’re all incorporated. Lastly stir in the chocolate.

Spoon or pipe the batter into the tin, filling the forms to the rim. Bake them for 15 to 18 minutes until almost firm to the touch. While they’re still warm sift on a dusting of cocoa powder.

30 thoughts on “Crotins au Chocolat”

    1. Good idea, Russ! Just substitute an equal weight of very active starter for the sponge. About 9 ounces.

      – Joe

      1. The idea to use sourdough is a great one. The tangy-ness is perfect alongside dark chocolate. I made one half of the recipe and baked them in a popover pan. The texture is firm and smooth.

        1. Yeah I changed the recipe since I think it works better in two parts. The half teaspoon is in the sponge. I didn’t push the delete key enough times when I first wrote this! 😉

          – Joe

  1. Hi Joe-

    Are there gram measurements for the dry ingredients that may be less awkward than tenths of an ounce? My scale computes in eighths of ounces.


    1. I think you can round the amounts pretty safely. N.S. to her credit is a very precise baker, but these ingredients don’t need quite that level of exactness. Maybe I should change the recipe to reflect that, actually…

      – Joe

  2. Perfection! Just the right amount of sweetness and, as you say, a punch of chocolate. I got an interesting cake-like texture much lighter than a muffin even tho I did my sponge with whole wheat pastry flour. And no one would even have suspected that I snuck a bit of nutrition in there with that half pound of butter. ;>

    I added some dried sweet cherries rehydrated in some warm Chambord. A definite keeper!

    1. Nice improvisation, Rainey! Perfect, really. Wish I were there to try one!

      – Joe

      1. Actually, if I had a madeleine plaque I’d experiment with baking the batter in that. I think (minus the cherries and with the chocolate chopped up a bit finer) that could be a perfect two-bite yummy to have with coffee or tea.

        Might not get the lovely crusty edge but too good to turn a nose up at anyway. ;>

    1. Hey Elizabeth!

      Just proof the yeast in the water with the sugar in the sponge step. Once it’s bubbly combine it with the flour and continue on as normal!

      – Joe

  3. Are you typically able to find white pastry flour in stores? I seem to only see whole wheat pasty flour everywhere I go.

    1. Hi Rachel!

      No, pastry flour is pretty much impossible to find in stores. You can make a rough equivalent with 50% all-purpose and 50% cake flour. Works pretty well!

      – Joe

      1. I will try Whole Foods. I don’t get to hit there too often since the closest one to us isn’t exactly close. If I can’t find it, I will try Joe’s mix. Thanks for the response! 🙂

  4. Thanks so much for this one and the site in general. I’ve been making these off and on for a while now and they are always great.

    1. It is my very great pleasure, Mark!

      Thanks very much for the comment. Please come back often!

      – Joe

  5. So, I just tried this recipe. Since I’m making these as a donation to an organization, I figured that I should double the recipe to be sure I had at least a dozen. I now have 24 of these beauties sitting on my kitchen island.

    1. Now me, I’d eat the first dozen as a quality control measure. You can’t be too careful these days. But you do what you feel is appropriate.


  6. We have done safety testing, but they are meant as a gift to local organizations that are active in supporting the community during the epidemic. We’re doing “random acts of pastry,” once a week for a deserving group in our community. And, for what it’s worth, we’re using recipes from this site for the goodies we make.

    1. No kidding? Well that’s flattering indeed. Mind if I ask what else is on the to-do list?

      – Joe

  7. I’m intrigued by the bee sting. Also looking for recipes using lemon juice, as I just started a batch of limoncello and have the juice of a dozen lemons to use. Any suggestions?

    1. Bee sting cake is my younger daughter’s favorite cake in the world. Though I should warn you that it’s not something that holds very well. That is, it’s a make-and-serve. So if it’s a giveaway I’d consider something sturdier. Lemon curd is the first thing that comes to mind for lemon juice. It’s probably my favorite filling for cakes and tarts.

      – Joe

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