I know a warm delicious loaf of Hot Chocolate Bread isn’t traditional Super Bowl fare. But here’s why I will be enjoying it this Super Bowl Sunday.
I have no particular loyalties to either team in the big game. I did live in Seattle for a summer in college doing some research and traveled back to Seattle as well as to Denver for work in the past few years. They’re both great cities. When in the Pacific Northwest I really enjoyed my visit to Olympic National Park (and this was before I got sucked into the world of Twilight) and of course the views from the Space Needle…
…and shopping at Pike’s Place in Seattle.
Hiking at Red Rocks was spectacular in Colorado.
I distinctly remember looking at cookbooks in a souvenir store in Denver but somehow didn’t come home with one.
However, I do have one from Seattle on my bookshelf, so in honor of the Seahawks decided to try out a recipe from it. This cookbook is from a bakery in downtown Seattle called Macrina which we visited for a quick snack before sightseeing.
The book is full of appetizing recipes for breads and other sweets but since I don’t have time for a sourdough starter right now opted to make a different type of bread.
Our local supermarket had a delicious chocolate bread with cherries in it about a year ago. We only had it once, but oh my it was amazing. We were so disappointed when they decided not to bring it back this year. The bread man (yes our store has a bread guy who always convinces us to try different types of bread…he’s really good at his job!) could not explain why they didn’t bring it back given its huge popularity but anyway this was my attempt to make it on my own and I succeeded.
Word of warning, this is a project. Most of it is not hands on time and it’s not a difficult recipe, even for a beginning bread baker, but you need to allow at least 5 hours of time from start to finish before you get to enjoy warm, melty, delicious fresh homemade bread. Totally worth it, just don’t start after work one night and expect to have fresh bread with dinner. I took advantage of one of our recent snow days to make this bread.
First I warmed some milk in a saucepan and added it to the bowl of my electric mixer with yeast, vanilla, and some sugar to allow it to bloom. Then I added flour, more sugar, cocoa powder, almond extract, salt, and eggs to the mix and combined them with the dough hook on low. Next I upped the speed to medium and dropped in chunks of room temperature butter, continuing to mix with the dough hook for about 12 minutes until the dough was smooth and silky.
During that time I lightly toasted almonds in the oven (watch them carefully…I burned the first batch) and chopped them coarsely. I also coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate. Once the dough had rested I added in the chocolate and chopped almonds and mixed for a few more minutes until incorporated.
I turned the dough out onto my counter, which I had lightly floured, and kneaded it slightly into a smooth ball.
I placed the ball into a bowl I had coated with nonstick spray and turned the ball of dough to coat it. I let the dough rise for 2 hours in the bowl covered with plastic wrap in the relatively warm kitchen. It almost doubled in size.
I then punched down the dough and again kneaded it slightly, folding up the sides until a ball formed. I placed this ball onto a rimmed baking sheet covered with parchment paper and let it rise for another hour covered with plastic wrap.
While it was rising I prepared special cinnamon sugar (cinnamon, granulated and brown sugar, and a touch of freshly grated nutmeg). Once the second rise was almost done, I heated the oven to 350F, sprinkled the dough with a little bit of water to allow the cinnamon sugar to stick, the topped the bread with the cinnamon sugar which formed a lovely sweet crust when baked. I baked the bread for an hour. It was dark and crusty outside and soft and chewy inside. Let it cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes, that is, if you can wait that long; I couldn’t!
Though the bread is chocolate through and through, it isn’t exceedingly rich. There are sweet chocolatey bites where the bittersweet chocolate chunks shine through and lovely texture from chopped toasted almonds but the bread itself still tastes like bread. It is delightful warm from the oven spread with butter. Thanks Seattle for making my snow day brighter with this uniquely delicious Hot Chocolate Bread!
Hot Chocolate Bread (adapted from Macrina Bakery & Cafe Cookbook)
Yield: 1 loaf
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (this is a little less than a whole packet, which is 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup whole almonds
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
nonstick cooking spray
2 tablespoons special cinnamon sugar mixture (see below)
1. Warm the milk in a small saucepan and add it to the bowl of an electric stand mixer with the yeast, vanilla extract, and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes to bloom.
2. Add in the flour, the remaining sugar (1/4 cup minus 1 tablespoon), cocoa, almond extract, salt, and eggs. Combine with a dough hook on low speed for 2 minutes then increase to medium speed and drop in pieces of butter one by one until combined. Continue mixing on medium for 12 minutes until the dough looks smooth and satiny. Let rest for 5 minutes.
3. While the dough is mixing, toast the almonds in the oven at 350F for about 7 minutes, until fragrant and golden. Let cool slightly then coarsely chop them.
4. After the dough has rested for 5 minutes, add in the chopped almonds and bittersweet chocolate and mix for 2 minutes until fully incorporated.
5. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface, knead it slightly, and form it into a ball. Coat a bowl with nonstick cooking spray or oil and place the ball of dough into the bowl, turning it to coat it. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a 70-75F room for 2 hours. The dough will almost double in size.
6. Punch the dough down again, then knead slightly, folding up the sides until a ball forms. Place the ball onto a rimmed baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Let it rise for another hour covered with plastic wrap.
7. While the dough is rising prepare the special cinnamon sugar (below).
8. Preheat the oven to 350F. Once the second rise is complete, sprinkle the dough with a little water then top with 2 tablespoons of the special cinnamon sugar. Bake for 1 hour, until deep brown and hollow when tapped on the bottom. Let cool for 30 minutes.
Special Cinnamon Sugar
Yield: 1/2 cup
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Combine the above ingredients in a bowl and mix well.