In A Hurry French Chocolate Snails

Craving chocolate snails but in a bit of a hurry? Enjoy this speedy variation on a French bakery treat.

In Search of a Chocolate Snails

When we lived in Paris, we had the choice of walking, taking the metro, or riding the bus to school. The metro required a short three stop trip, followed by a long-ish walk up rue Notre-Dame des Champs. The only advantage of this route was that the walk required walking past (and thus, a stop at) our favorite bakery, which featured an unusual bakery treat, escargot au chocolat (chocolate snails). Oddly, despite extensive on-the-ground research and sampling, it’s the only bakery we ever found that featured this treat. Escargot au chocolat, sadly, seemed not to have made it into the pantheon of French bakery treats, for reasons we could never understand.

These escargots were unusual. Instead of croissant dough, they were made with pain viennois, a soft milk-based yeast dough. The dough was layered with pastry cream (fancy baker speak for custard) and chocolate chips. It was divine.

A brief internet search revealed that there are many kinds of chocolate snails out there in the world, so this is sure to be a topic we return to. In the meantime, here’s a cheat’s version, using a quick biscuit dough instead of a yeast dough to speed up the baking process. Please don’t be intimidated by the pastry cream – it is corn starch based, so almost entirely fool-proof. It comes together very quickly and is wonderful creamy complement to the the crunch biscuit exterior and melty chocolate chips.

Recipe Facts

  • Yield: 12 chocolate snails
  • Active Time: 45 minutes
  • Bake Time: 25 minutes

Looking for a speedier option to get your daily dose of chocolate at breakfast time? Check out our chocolate chip mini-muffins, which will get you from bed to breakfast in 20 minutes flat.

Ingredients for the Chocolate Snails

For the Pastry Cream

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tbps cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

For the Biscuit Dough

  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk

To Assemble the Chocolate Snails

  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Instructions for the Chocolate Snails

  1. Preheat oven to 390 F and grease a (12-muffin) muffin tin.

For the Pastry Cream

  1. Place the milk in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  2. While the milk is heating, whisk the eggs, cornstarch, and sugar in a medium-sized metal bowl.
  3. Once the milk is simmering, pour 1/4 cup of the milk into the eggs and whisk briskly to combine.
  4. Pour the milk-egg mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk and whisk over low heat until thick (this will happen very quickly, in a minute or two).
  5. Remove the pastry cream from the heat, and whisk in the butter and vanilla extract.
  6. Pour the pastry cream into a large pan (any large pan will do) and spread out.
  7. Press saran wrap over the surface of the pastry cream (adhering to the surface, to prevent a skin from forming) and put the pan in the fridge to cool while you make the biscuit dough.

For the Biscuit Dough

  1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a large metal bowl.
  2. Add the cubed butter and use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour mixture. Continue cutting until the butter pieces are no larger than very small peas.
  3. Pour the buttermilk over the flour-butter mixture and stir with a fork until a shaggy dough begins to form.
  4. Knead the dough in the bowl 4-5 times until all of the flour is incorporated into the dough and a smooth dough forms. Split the dough in two halves.
  5. Place the dough on a floured surface or silicone baking mat and roll to roughly 9 x 13 inch rectangle.

To Assemble the Chocolate Snails

  1. Pour half the pastry cream on top of the rolled biscuit dough and spread to cover the dough, leaving a 2-inch wide margin along the long side furthest from you.
  2. Sprinkle half the mini chocolate chips over the pastry cream.
  3. Start along the margin-less long side and roll the biscuit up as tightly as possible. It may be helpful to use a plastic bench scraper to help any sticky dough along.
  4. Use a sharp knife to trim the edges of your roll, then cut into 6 even slices.
  5. Peel back two inches of dough from each slice and tuck it underneath the roll, before placing the roll, tucked-side down, into the muffin pan.
  6. Repeat with the second half of dough, pastry cream, and chocolate chips.
  7. Use a silicone pastry brush to brush each roll with heavy cream to optimize browning.
  8. Bake 25 minutes until golden brown.
  9. Let cool 5 minutes in the pan, then eat chocolate snails immediately.

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