Pain au chocolat is a common butter pastry in France. It consists of a combination of buttery bread wrapped around two pieces of chocolate. Pain au chocolat is made of the same layered dough as croissants and is sold alongside croissants in French bakeries. It tastes light and crispy, but comes close to 300 calories and 20 g of fat per piece, with most of the fat being butter’s saturated fat. And most importantly, it has absolutely no satiating effect taken as a snack or for breakfast. You’ll be craving another one the minute you finish it.
A classic pain au chocolat. Source: Flickr
I’ve been experimenting a lot lately to come up with a recipe for protein croissants, but I haven’t been successful in creating a healthy pastry dough yet. The problem being the following: to get the typical flaky/crumbly croissant texture, the bread has to have a very high fat content, mixed with some carbs and a low protein content. That’s why this recipe for healthier pains au chocolat doesn’t have the typical pastry texture.
But the overall taste is somewhat very close to real pain au chocolat – at least in my opinion ; classic pain au chocolat‘s lovers may be horrified by such a recipe! However, since you’re here reading my blog, I suppose you probably prefer eating something tasty containing nutrients your body needs instead of a delicious but nutrient-poor mix of white flour and butter full of ’empty’ calories.
– 1 cup whole-grain wheat flour (or another kind of flour – I think barley flour would work well here for people looking for a lower gluten content. Or buckwheat flour for gluten-free)
– 1 tsp baking powder
– a pinch of salt
– 1/2 cup of fat-free Greek yogurt
– 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
– 1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
– 1/2 cup cocoa nibs
Ghee is clarified butter without any solid milk particles or water. It can be bought in Indian/South Asian grocery stores. I’m using ghee here instead of healthier sources of fat like coconut oil, vegetable oil or nut butter, because it adds a strong butter flavor -necessary to create the ‘pastry taste’ in this recipe. Although ghee doesn’t sound healthy at all, it’s actually a great thing to have in your kitchen. A very small quantity of ghee (a teaspoon with 5 grams of fat and 45 calories) can add much more flavor than any other oil or fat products. It basically tastes like a kind of butter concentrate. Very useful to add a buttery aroma to any recipe without adding tons of saturated fat.
I mixed all the ingredients together (except the cocoa nibs). I let the dough sit one hour in the fridge before forming 8 balls of dough and placing the cocoa nibs inside. The quantities above make about 8 small loaves or 4 normal-sized pains au chocolat.
I baked them at 220 degrees Celsius for 20 min.
The result: nice little bread puffs. No pastry texture, but a good pastry taste (thanks to the ghee). The cocoa nibs in place of chocolate do the trick for me, because they get a bit softer when placed inside the dough during baking.
For 8 small bread puffs, per portion: 93 kcal, 3.8 g protein, 13.8 g carbs, 1.3 g sugar, 3.3 g fat, 3.1 g fiber.
For 4 normal-sized pains au chocolat, per “pain”: 186 kcal, 7.6 g protein, 27.6 g carbs, 2.6 g sugar, 6.6 g fat, 6.2 g fiber.