When my mom bought a bread machine, in 2000 something, we were curious about one of the recipes in the booklet that came with it: chocolate bread. We made it, but it was only ok, so we never repeated it. Last month, when I found this recipe by David Lebovitz, I decided it was time to give the idea of chocolate bread a second chance.
Don’t fool yourself: this is not a cake. It’s not a fluffy bread with a hint of chocolate, either. This dense bread has a deep chocolate flavor, and it is wonderful when toasted, with a little bit of butter! It’s perfect for a special breakfast, say… a birthday breakfast! 😀
55 g (4 Tbsp) butter
85 g dark chocolate – I used a 71% one
¾ cup whole milk, lukewarm
2 ¼ tsp instant dry yeast
75 g (6 Tbsp) sugar
1 ½ tsp instant coffee – optional, but highly recommended
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
280 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
90 g (3/4 cup) dark chocolate chips, or dark chocolate, chopped – I used chocolate chips, 50%
70 g (½ cup) walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts, chopped – also optional, also highly recommended! I used walnuts.
Start by melting the dark chocolate with the butter in a double boiler, or on very low heat. When it melts, remove from the heat and let it cool down.
In a big bowl, place the lukewarm milk, yeast, and one Tbsp of the sugar. Mix and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes. When the mixture has bubbled, with a layer that looks like beer foam, it’s time to add the rest of the sugar, instant coffee (if you’re using it), egg, vanilla, and salt.
As the cocoa powder tends to clump, sift half of it and half of the flour directly in the bowl. Mix with a silicone spatula. Add the melted chocolate, mix a little bit more, and sift the remainder cocoa powder and flour. Mix until it’s all incorporated.
If you have a stand mixer, use the hook attachment and knead for five minutes – the dough won’t stick to the side of the bowl for long, but keep kneading anyway! You can also knead by hand (the original recipe called for mixing vigorously with a spatula for five minutes), but resist the temptation to add more flour. The dough is a little wetter than that of normal bread!
Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for two hours in a warm place. After this, add the chocolate chips and the nuts. Place the dough in a buttered 9-inch loaf pan.
Cover the pan and let the dough rise for one hour. Bake in a pre-heated oven for approximately 40 minutes. The bread will be ready when the house smells of chocolate and you hear a hollow sound when you tap it.
Now comes the hard part: let the bread cool completely before slicing it!
To begin our Christmas Tertulias, also known as edible gifts, I decided to cook a recipe I’ve always been curious about. We don’t eat fudge in Brazil, but when I was a child a lot of books mentioned that somebody had made it for Christmas and, of course, Honeydukes sold Fudge Flies! (#Potterhead)
I’ve read several fudge recipes: some are more complicated, requiring a candy thermometer and a lot of patience, and some are more straightforward. Obviously, I chose the easiest one I could find, by Patricia Scarpin! While I was writing this post, I realized I had (involuntarily) adapted the recipe – I had read it wrong and only used ½ cup of sweetened condensed milk, instead of ½ can! 😀
This is a GREAT gift – it’s different (well, if you’re from Brazil), it will stay firm unrefrigerated, it’s delicious and… it’s so easy to make! A lot less stressful than trying to go to a shopping mall this late in the season!
To make the (adapted) fudge, you’ll need:
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk – do NOT swap for evaporated milk!
330 g of a good dark chocolate, chopped – as the recipe is basically chocolate, the quality matters quite a lot. I used a 64% cocoa chocolate.
1 Tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract – you’ll see that the picture looks like a lot more, and that’s right: my homemade extract wasn’t quite full-strength yet, so I added some.
Chopped walnuts, to taste − completely optional. You can use walnuts, hazelnuts… or nothing at all.
Start by lining a 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 inch) baking pan with aluminum foil − leave extra foil on the sides to form handles, so that it is easy to remove the fudge from the pan.
Chop the chocolate into small chunks – as mine came in discs, I didn’t bother chopping. In a heavy-bottomed pan, place the chocolate, the sweetened condensed milk, and the water. Cook on low heat, stirring constantly, until the chocolate is completely melted.
When the chocolate is melted, you’ll notice that the fudge is in a thicker consistency. Turn off the stove and add the vanilla. Transfer the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.
Spread the chopped nuts over the fudge, pressing lightly so that they stick – I once forgot to press and the nuts fell off as the fudge cooled #fail. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for about 2 hours.
Use the foil handles to remove the fudge and cut it into 2.5-cm (1 inch) cubes. In theory, they last approximately 1 week in the fridge. Here, they lasted about three hours…. #self-control 😀