Monday, April 1, 2013

Chocolate Brioche, Not Too Sweet ...Just Sweet Enough

Brioche recipe

I know, chocolate and pregnant women right?

Actually, this pregnancy my sweet tooth has been on vacation. My love of chocolate treats has taken a break as heartburn followed me through the past 7 months. Dogging me and taunting me at every bakery and check-out line. Oh, it has been hard!

For some reason this past week I had an overwhelming desire for just a little chocolate and I also was itching to make some bread. Since my hens lay me abundance of eggs everyday I immediately thought of a nice rich brioche.

My love of pastry actually sprang from my travels abroad. I would love to say that I started my love affair of fresh bakery goods in Europe, but the same style of patisserie, with some Japanese twists, are available all over Japan. Besides lemon tarts and sour cherry turnovers I was a huge fan of chocolate bread. The small roll was laced with thin layers of bittersweet chocolate. Just enough to satisfy a sweet tooth, but not enough to be overpoweringly sweet.

After seeing recipes for chocolate brioche I had a nostalgic longing to be back in Takamatsu with a tray and  wide assortment of breads and pastries before me. I wasn't sure if this recipe would please my husband as much as my crazy pregnancy craving.

Don't worry. This isn't the kind of recipe you just whip up on a whim. It actually took me two days to complete, but it was so worth it! My husband ate two and didn't complain at all about my crazy chocolate craving.

I think some of the tastiest things come to those willing to wait. This recipe actually takes very little hands-on time... but a lot of waiting, chilling and developing of flavors. I promise it is well worth it. It begins with a sponge. This just means the yeast is mixed with some flour and liquid and allowed to ferment and develop flavor.

The other secret to good brioche is the eggs and butter. Oh, yeah... it makes for a rich and lovely dough. I use my own eggs which are a deep golden color. Not pale, like store-bought eggs. There is nothing quite like fresh eggs.

If you aren't used to fresh eggs and their deep, rich color you might be surprised. It's okay. The dough really should be this color. No, I didn't manipulate the hue in photoshop.

...and the butter? Well, it isn't full of fake filler. I wouldn't recommend eating this every day... but, then again I am not your doctor. I don't dispense medical advice. I would rather be in the kitchen baking. I find baking bread therapeutic, but that is just me.

Of course there is also the chocolate. Who can forget the chocolate. The filling is pretty easy to make just keep an eye on it so it doesn't scorch. It is best to have the kids entertained while it is made. I gave my kids an empty box... don't knock it. It works in my house. Their "space ship" was a huge success.

Don't worry, I have all the actual instruction below with the recipe. My chocolate filling was quite thick, but next time I might try to cook it even longer. It will firm up a bit in the fridge as it cools, but the firmer the better. Don't get me wrong. If it oozes out the sides as you roll it out it will still turn out delicious, just messy.

I made my brioche over two days so the dough could chill overnight and the chocolate was firm. It is a very soft and slightly sticky dough so you want it to be well chilled.

I lined my baking dish with wrap so the chocolate would peel off easier. I still used a spatula to get every bit out.

This recipe requires a lot of folding the dough and re-rolling. The more you do it, the thinner the layers will become of rich chocolaty goodness inside. Close up the edges is you develop a leak, but don't stress. It will turn out lovely, trust me.

Roll up your dough like a cinnamon roll and slice evenly to fit your pans. I used big 'ole hamburger bun pans, but muffin or jumbo muffin pans would work as well. Depends on how big you want them.

Okay, ready for the recipe?


Chocolate Brioche
adapted from C Mom Cook

You Will Need:
For the Sponge

  • 1/2 c. bread flour
  • 2 tsp. yeast
  • 1/2 c. whole milk, room temp.

For the Dough

  • 5 eggs, large, slightly beaten
  • 3 c. bread flour, + 1/4 c. for dusting the counter and proper texture
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. unsalted butter, room temp., cut into cubes

Create the sponge first. It should be mixed well and set on the counter to ferment for 45 minutes to an hour. You can also start it and put it in the fridge overnight to ferment slowly. Just take it out and let it come back to room temperature before starting the rest of your recipe.

When the sponge is ready, in a stand mixer add the eggs till fully incorporated.

In a medium bowl, sift together the remaining dry ingredients. Add to the sponge and mix for 2 minutes on medium (Kitchen Aid speed 4).

Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes covered with wrap so it doesn't dry out.

Back on medium speed, add the butter one cube at a time until fully incorporated. Then mix for another 6 minutes. Feel free to set the timer and walk away. Scrape down the bowl once or twice during mixing. Line a baking sheet with sprayed parchment paper and spread the dough out into a rectangle roughly 6" x 8". Use a spatula to shape the dough. It will be sticky, don't worry.

Spray the top of the dough with non-stick spray and cover with wrap so the edges don't dry out. Refrigerate the dough for 4 hours or up to a day.

For the Chocolate Filling

  • 2/3 c. whole milk
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. flour
  • 6 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 Tbsp. espresso powder
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, unsalted and cubed

In a small saucepan bring the milk up to a low boil over medium heat.

In a separate bowl whisk together the egg whites, sugar, cocoa, espresso and flour. It will be very thick, but should be mixed well. When the milk starts to boil, add a little to the egg and sugar mixture to temper it. Whisk vigorously and then pour in a little more. Keep mixing till half the milk is incorporated into the eggs and sugar. Then pour the mixture back into your saucepan. Cook the chocolate filling until it becomes very thick. Do not walk away from the mixture as it thickens and stir it constantly so it doesn't scorch.

When it is very thick and fudge-like, stir in the butter cubes, one at a time until all are melted and the mixture is shiny and smooth. Then spread in a plastic lined dish, cover and chill completely before using.

Okay, now it is time to put them both together for some chocolate brioche magic!

Take the dough out of the fridge and place on a well floured surface. Dust with flour if it is still too sticky, but tender dough will yield more tender results. Place the chocolate filling on one side of the dough, then fold the dough over and seal the edges well.

Now begins the rolling. Roll out to a 12" x 8" rectangle and then fold both ends towards the middle. Then fold the dough in half again. You will see all the edges on one side. Repeat this 3 more times at least. Every time you fold a 'tour double' like this the chocolate ribbons through the bread will get even thinner and the marble swirl will become more complex. So, do it as much as you can. After 3 times my filling started to ooze out one end, so I stopped. Roll the dough  and cut as you would for cinnamon rolls. Cut evenly for the baking dish you choose. I made 6 rolls in my hamburger bun pan, but you could also fill a jumbo muffin tin, or reduce the cooking time for regular muffin sizes. In that case, also create a longer and thinner log to cut.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Let the bread rise for around 30 minutes, covered. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and enjoy warm or reheated.

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