The summer after my brother graduated from high school, our family flew to France for a summer vacation. We spent the first few days in Paris exploring a few of our favorite parts of the city from our previous trip, like the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, as well as a few new ones, including the Palais Garnier and the Panthéon, before driving east to the Alps.
We stayed in a small apartment situated about a mile away from the Notre Dame and located on the third level of that particular historic building. (With its age, it lacked an elevator, so we lugged our heavy suitcases up multiple flights of incredibly narrow stairs!) Split into two levels, the master bedroom and bathroom overlooked the sitting area below, and a door from the adjacent kitchen area led into the kids’ room with bunk beds.
We only dined out for a few lunches, opting to grab something quick like a sandwich or slice of quiche from patisseries while walking and sightseeing during the day, and we perched on the bar stools scattered around the apartment’s large kitchen island to eat the rest of our meals. With a short two-block walk to the nearest grocery store, where we purchased fresh produce and plenty of fancy soft cheeses, and an even shorter half-block walk to the boulangerie on the street corner, we usually enjoyed those smorgasbord meals at home more than the lunches out!
At least twice a day, we stopped by that boulangerie. Every afternoon while on our way back from our tourist activities, we picked up a long, thin, freshly baked baguette to pair with the cheese in our fridge, and we tore off piece after piece of the soft yet crusty loaf, continuing to nibble long after our stomachs were full.
Then in the mornings, before my brother and I woke up, my parents walked over to the boulangerie to buy a few treats for breakfast. They brought back a small multigrain roll for me (always the healthy girl!), along with a few flaky croissants and pains au chocolat (aka the rectangular-shaped chocolate croissants) for themselves and my brother.
On our final day, I finally caved and asked for one of those pain au chocolat. They looked so tempting from where I sat at the kitchen island, watching the rest of my family bite into the soft layers and watch as the golden crumbs fell onto their plates! It was worth every calorie… That rich dark chocolate paired with the flaky pastry = pure bliss!
When I drove by a French bakery during my trip to San Diego last weekend (did you catch any of it on my @AmyBakesHealthy Snapchat?), those memories flooded back, and I couldn’t shake the thought of pain au chocolat out of my head. Since I knew I’d be tempted to eat three in one sitting (can you blame me??), I opted to bake these healthier Healthy Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls at home instead! Their filling tastes just as rich and decadent as that of the pains au chocolat, but they’re 100% whole wheat and just 109 calories!
I call that a chocolate miracle! 😉
Like I mentioned, these healthy cinnamon rolls are 100% whole wheat. That’s right—you just need regular ol’ whole wheat flour! This is my favorite kind because I can find it in every grocery store, and it rises much better than other brands. When made with my favorite whole wheat flour, my cinnamon rolls always double (if not triple!) in size, whereas other brands barely rise at all. Bonus: It’s very inexpensive too!
Next, you’ll need yeast. I know yeast-based recipes can be intimidating, but don’t be afraid! I have a video here that will walk you through every step so you can see exactly what the dough should look like at each stage of the recipe. This is my all-time favorite yeast! It works like a charm in every single recipe I’ve ever tried, and I highly recommend it. (I usually buy it online!)
Here comes the most important part… The filling! It’s a combination of coconut sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. Yup, just your stereotypical unsweetened cocoa powder! Because you’ll mix in a full 5 tablespoons, there’s no need for Ductched or special dark cocoa powder. The filling already tastes really rich and dark chocolaty without those latter two types!
Now that you’ve watched that video (you did watch it, didn’t you? here’s the link again, in case you missed it!), you already know my secret to slicing perfect cinnamon rolls…
Dental floss! I know it sounds absolutely crazy, but it works so well. It’s the only way I cut my cinnamon rolls and sweet rolls—and it also means you don’t have to wash a knife afterwards too! (The fewer dishes, the better at my house!) And I always use my favorite springform pan to bake them. I love it because its sides are taller than your average cake pan, which means the cinnamon rolls can rise higher, and the removable sides make it so much easier to serve them after they’ve baked!
You’ll let the cinnamon rolls rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 45 minutes. Even now, after I’ve baked hundreds of yeast-based treats, it still looks like magic when I peek under the towel and see how they’ve grown so tall and puffy!
Then preheat the oven, carefully slide in the pan, set a timer, and…
Enjoy! (And try not to eat three in one sitting like me! 😉 )
And when you make your own, remember to snap a picture and share it on Instagram using #amyshealthybaking and tagging @amyshealthybaking IN the photo itself! (That guarantees I’ll see your picture! 🙂 ) I’d love to see your healthy chocolate cinnamon rolls!
Healthy Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls
FOR THE DOUGH
- Lightly coat a 9” springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, stir together the milk, butter, sugar, and salt. Sprinkle the yeast on top, and wait 10-15 minutes or until the mixture turns frothy. Mix in 1 ½ cups of flour. If the dough is still wet, continue stirring in flour 2 tablespoons at a time until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
- Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, and knead for 3-5 minutes or until the dough springs back most of the way when you gently press your index finger into it. Let the dough rest while preparing the filling.
- To prepare the filling, stir together the coconut sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon in a small bowl.
- On a clean, well-floured surface, roll the dough out into a 16x10” rectangle. Brush with the melted butter, leaving a 1” border on the two longer sides. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar, leaving a 1” border on the two longer sides again. Carefully roll up the dough into a log, starting at one long edge and rolling towards the other one. Pinch the free end onto the roll to seal. If the dough won’t stick together, gently brush the second longer edge with water before pinching to seal.
- Slice the log into 12 pieces using dental floss or a sharp serrated knife. Place the rolls into the prepared pan, and cover the pan with a clean towel. Set the pan in a warm, draft-free spot, and let the rolls rise for 30-45 minutes or until doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the cinnamon rolls for 17-20 minutes or until the filling is bubbling and the sides feel firm. Cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before serving.
View Nutrition Information + Weight Watchers Points
You may also like Amy’s other recipes…
♡ The Ultimate Healthy Cinnamon Rolls
♡ Healthy Slow Cooker Cinnamon Rolls
♡ Healthy Classic Cinnamon Rolls
♡ Healthy Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
♡ Skinny Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls
♡ Healthy Cinnamon Roll Oatmeal Cookies
♡ Healthy Cinnamon Roll Scones