Tuesday, February 12, 2008

These Were So Worth The Wait!

Yes, you are looking at two loaves of CHOCOLATE bread. To be specific, two loaves of Chocolate Braids from the current issue of Taste of Home magazine. The second I looked through this issue, these jumped off the page and yelled at me "Make me! Make me!" Well, I was sidelined for a few days, but they were definitely worth waiting for. It was a light bulb moment for me today as I kneaded chocolate dough. Cocoa powder in bread? Think of the possibilities! And then adding the cream cheese filling this way- think of those possibilities! Think of a savory rosemary dough filled with a sun-dried tomato flavored cream cheese! My goodness, there are so many possibilities here.

I only have a few things to mention about this specific recipe. First, when it calls for 1/3 cup of honey- use 1/3 cup of honey. I was about 2 tablespoons short, so I used sugar...I should have gone with my instincts and used corn syrup, but as a result, I ended up needing far less flour- it worked out okay, but there would have been more bread had I been able to add the correct amount of flour. Secondly, I think next time I would cut the topping in half. That ended up being a lot of topping, and there was no way I could get it all on in the first place- much of it ended up on the pan next to the loaves. Half would suffice, and while the original recipe called for macadamia nuts, I chose the more budget-friendly walnut.

And finally, a note about cutting the dough. I had to read this through a few times before I understood completely what it was saying. Read the recipe completely before just going ahead and cutting the rolled dough. Note that it says to cut in half lengthwise. It seemed strange to do so at first, and note that you also do not cut all the way through both ends. Stop about one inch shy of one end, so your loaves have a point that holds together. But the result is stunning to look at, not to mention absolutely delicious. (The photos above are before the topping went on.) Chocolate bread. Who knew? By the way, I don't see any reason why this couldn't be made vegan by eliminating the butter and using a vegan friendly buttery-spread instead (or for that matter, using oil in the bread dough itself and a buttery spread for the topping), as well as using a plant-based milk in the drizzle at the end.

Chocolate Braids

2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/3 cup honey -- divided
6 tablespoons butter -- softened
1 egg
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups bread flour -- to 3 cups
Cream Cheese Filling:
4 Ounces cream cheese -- softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter -- cold
1/4 cup chopped nuts
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons milk

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add 2 teaspoons honey; let stand for 5 minutes.

Add the butter, egg, cocoa, salt, 1 1/2 cups bread flour, and remaining honey. Beat for 2 minutes, or until smooth. Stir in enough remaining bread flour to form a soft dough.

Turn out onto a floured surface knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.

Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down, divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll one portion into a 12x7 rectangle.

In a small mixing bowl, beat together the filling ingredients until smooth. Spread half of the filling over the dough to within 1-inch of the edges. Roll up jelly roll style, starting with the long side; pinch the seams to seal.

Place seam side down on a greased baking sheet. With a sharp knife, carefully cut roll in half lengthwise, not cutting all the way through one end. Carefully, turn cut sides up. Loosely twist strips around each other, keeping cut sides up. Pinch ends to seal.

Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

For the topping, combine the flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl; cut in butter until crumbly. Add nuts, and sprinkle over risen loaves.

Bake at 350ºF for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool. Combine icing ingredients and drizzle over loaves.

"Taste of Home"
"Feb/Mar 2008"
"2 loaves"


JEP said...

MMmm...chocolate & cream cheese in yeast bread! Is this served as a dessert ot mid-morning pastry? Now all I need to do is over-come my yeast-dough-phobia-failures:)

Erika W. said...

Good question! We haven't decided yet. It's not sweet... the dough itself, is not a sweet bread, it's really interesting. It's slightly sweet...but when I look at it I'm expecting something that's sweet like a pastry- only it's not.

I think it would be ideal as a mid-morning pastry, or served with a brunch- coffee would be the perfect complement to it. As a dessert...no, not so much.