This month's Dessert Wars called on us to create a delectable dish that featured both dark chocolate and . . . hearts. This means I'd have to journey back to the land of Valentines to get the job done. Cupid thrust an arrow into my chest and gave it a few twists. No matter how painful it was, I'd have to swallow my pride and make something romantic, passionate, and utterly amorous.
Big, dark, and chunky are three adjectives that you would not use during Valentine's Day. But they are perfect for this bread. Or, should I say, this dark chocolate bread. This dense treat is very rich, but it's something you'll be eating right out of the oven. That's not advisable, though. I've got some pretty vicious burns on the top of my mouth to prove it. But, the best part of this bread is that it's not pink. Or sparkley. Or shaped like a heart.
Okay, it's kind of shaped like a heart.
It's a pretty sad heart, yes, but (if you squint) it's there. When the ladies of Dessert Wars said they wanted a heart somewhere in our dessert, I'm sure they weren't think of this. But, just because I had to make a heart didn't mean I had to like it. In fact, the best part of this bread is breaking it.
2/3 cup + 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
2 teaspoons dry yeast
4 1/2 cups bread flour (can be substituted for all-purpose)
2/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 large egg (at room temperature)
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened)
8 ounces dark chocolate (chopped into chunks)
1) In a glass measuring cup, mix 1/2 cup of the warm water with 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Sprinkle the yeast in the water and set aside to let it activate, about 10 minutes (or until really foamy).
2) In a large bowl, whisk the flour, 2/3 cup sugar, the brown sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt together. Set aside.
3) Add the remaining warm water (1 cup) and the egg together in a small bowl and whisk until combined. Pour the egg mixture into the yeast and then pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture. With a mixer or your hands, stir the flour and wet mix together until smooth and elastic. Next, add the softened butter, one tablespoon at a time. Knead dough until everything is together, then add the chocolate chunks. Don't worry, your dough will be very wet because of all the butter!
4) Place the dough in a floured and buttered bowl (covered with plastic wrap or a tea towel) and place it in a warm place to rise for 2 hours - or until doubled. Place in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours (2 days at the most)
4) Butter and flour a 9-inch heart pan (or two 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-by-2 1/2-inch loaf pans). On a lightly floured surface, divide your dough into twelve equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into balls, and place into your pan. Cover the pan with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for one to two hours.
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water
1) Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and water together. With a pastry brush, brush the egg glaze over top of the bread.
2) Bake the loaf for 10 minutes. Then, lower the temperature of the oven to 375 and continue to bake for 35 minutes (or until the interior temperature of your bread reaches at least 180 degrees). Cool the bread for at least 15 minutes, then take it out of the pan to cool some more. Eat while warm.
If you're into this knobby piece of deliciousness, check out the other entries on Dessert Wars or enter yourself! There's even some super sweet prizes to go along with it: