The editorial debates: pain au chocolat or chocolatine, who is right?

At the editorial team too, we have our sensitive subjects. For or against ballerinas? Is Hufflepuff the most underrated Harry Potter house? What is the best star sign? Spoiler: Cancers of course.
Among these subjects, the most recurring point of contention and the one that divides the southwest from the rest of France: should we say pain au chocolat or chocolatine? To find some calm in the open space, we are going to elucidate the mystery.

Note: for convenience, we will use the term “pain au chocolat” to designate this pastry throughout this article, which not everyone validates internally, of course…

Camille, cooking journalist: pain au chocolat team

Coming from the South-EAST, like 84% of French people, I say “pain au chocolat”. All recipe books, with the exception of those written by authors from the southwest, mention the same expression. In CAP pastry chef, one of the tests concerns puff pastry or leavened puff pastry. Every year, at least one of the subjects requires making pain au chocolat. Mass has been said.
Another argument in favor of pain au chocolat, if I look for the definition of a chocolatine in several dictionaries, I find “chocolate: pain au chocolat” in the edition of Robert and Larousse.

Marjolaine, head of the culinary section: team chocolatine

Don’t talk to me about pain au chocolat! Born in the southwest, I have “chocolate” in my blood. It’s simple, in my house, “pain au chocolat” simply doesn’t exist. Not out of chauvinism – whatever – but because no one uses this name. This usage is so ingrained that I only learned around the age of 18 – a long time ago – that in other regions, we said “pain au chocolat”. But what an idea! Since then, I have defended “chocolate” tooth and nail, simply because “pain au chocolat” is a piece of bread with a bar of chocolate inside, and not a pastry. No more no less.
In Bordeaux, a bakery even launched the “raistine” operation (a classic anti-chocolate retort) to promote this unofficial name for “raisin bread”. A terminology validated by the southwest which, I am sure, should cause a lot of ink to flow in the years to come!

The South-West vs the rest of France, who is telling the truth?

Did you think we were going to give you the answer so easily? Nay, resolving this legendary debate requires at least some explanations. To do this, let’s first go back to the origins of this pastry.

Brief history of pain au chocolat

Let’s start by reestablishing a painful truth, but the croissant and pain au chocolat, so dear to our taste buds, are in reality not French. It was in fact the Austrians August Zang and Ernest Schwarzer, who imported the recipe for “kipferl”, the ancestor of the croissant, to Paris in 1837. They were thus the first to market croissants and pain au chocolat in Paris, in their bakery aptly named Viennese Bakery. However, it should be noted that the dough was similar to that of a brioche at the time.

This brings us to a first part of the answer, since the chocolate pastries were sold under the name “chokoladeen croissant”. The d being pronounced “t” in Austrian, we finally understand how the expression “chocolate” was born.

Pain au chocolat or chocolatine: the answer

So pain au chocolat would be a chocolatine? So we (the fervent defenders of “pain au chocolat”) have been misled all this time? Minute butterfly, we haven’t said our last word yet.
In fact, from the 20the century, the recipe for pastries evolved and it was then leavened puff pastry, a very local invention, which became the custom. At this same period, the term pain au chocolat, even if it already existed in the 19thebecame more frequently used, to the point of supplanting chocolatine.

To those who say “just because everyone says pain au chocolat doesn’t mean they’re right,” think again.
For your information, in French, usage is the rule, and it is the French Academy that says so*. The institution thus compares language to law, which “is not an eternal truth, but is subject to the evolution of the world and the test of time, just as usage in matters of language is not not fixed forever, since it evolves with the society that produces it. » It is notably thanks to usage that we owe the entry or removal of certain words from the dictionary, revised each year.
So, saying “chocolate” is not incorrect, we concede that, but obsolete. As if we were telling you to cut “a vegetable with coltel”, because originally and until the 17the century, “vegetable” was gendered feminine and coltel designated a knife in the 17th centurye century.

The verdict

“Pain au chocolat” is therefore the correct current term to designate the pastries of our hearts. “Chocolate” being the old expression, which has now become a regional name. But who knows? Perhaps in 50 years, with the evolution of languages, we will say “chocolate Feuilletine” or “chocolate turnover”. Unless it is ultimately the “petit pain au chocolat”, a name used in Hauts-de-France and the Grand Est, or the “couque au chocolat” (Ardennes and Belgium) which ends up winning. The debate remains open…


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