Sometimes you need to make something special for the ones you love. Today was one of those days. Not because today is the Super Bowl, but because I’m getting ready to go out of town and my guys will be “fending for themselves”. They are quite capable of being one their own, but I know that they will revert to their caveman ways and won’t do much cooking.
Ever since I have worked with braided bread recipes I wanted to try this combination. My first recipe was a pesto bread made as one loaf. I thought it would be hard to make, but it was actually quite easy.
For this dough, I added milk and an egg to improve the flavor and elasticity. The chocolate sauce was simply made from Ghiardelli dark melting wafers and heavy cream with a good dose of cinnamon.
2/3 cup warm water
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 pkg quick rise yeast
1/2 cup low fat milk, warmed
2 tbs canola oil
1 egg, room temperature
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cup AP flour
1 tsp sea salt
8oz Ghirardelli dark melting wafers
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 Tbs ground cinnamon
3/4 cup hazel nuts, crushed
Dissolve the sugar in the warm water. Add the yeast and stir. Set aside for 5-10 minutes until foamy.
In a medium bowl mix together both flours and salt.
In your mixer’s bowl, combine warm milk, egg, oil and yeast solution. With the paddle attachment, turn your mixer on low speed and slowly add the flour mixture. Switch to the dough hook and mix until dough is smooth and elastic. Add additional flour, if needed until dough is just barely sticky. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly for about 5 minutes until dough begins to stiffen.
Lightly oil the interior of your mixer’s bowl (no need to have washed it out) and return dough ball to the bowl. Swish the ball around the bowl to coat it with the oil. Cover and set aside to let dough rise until it has doubled in volume (about 2 hours).
When dough has risen, its time to make the chocolate sauce. Use a double boiler and stir cream, cinnamon and chocolate together until smooth over barely simmering water. Turn off heat and cover chocolate sauce to keep warm.
On a lightly floured surface turn out your dough, sprinkle with flour and press down with your fingers.
Use a rolling pin and spread dough out into a roughly shaped rectangle about 1/8 inch thick.
Drizzle the sauce over the dough and use a spatula to spread into a thin layer. Sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts.
Fold the dough over lengthwise by thirds. Seal the ends.
Use a large sharp knife (I use my chef’s knife) to cut dough crosswise into 1 inch wide pieces.
Working with individual pieces, cut each again almost in half lengthwise, leave the last inch intact.
Twist each “leg” outwardly into spirals.
Then twist the legs together.
Circle round the bottom of the legs to the top and press onto the top end.
Place each piece on a baking sheet with at least 2-3 inches between each piece.
Brush with egg wash. Set twists on top of your oven (to rise a little) while you let it preheat oven to 350 F.
Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
If you have any chocolate sauce leftover, you can drizzle it over the tops (I use a plastic bag with a tiny hole cut in the corner). Enjoy!