Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

Or, as my four-year-old calls them: ‘Bikini Muffins.’

(I actually considered using that as the title of this recipe, but I realized I might get some, ahem, inappropriate traffic using those terms, together.)

This delicious recipe came about because my lovely neighbor gave us just a small, petite, little zucchini. (Insert sarcasm and see picture below.)

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Yeah. It was actually HUGE.

Anyways, I figured this was the perfect opportunity to bake using zucchini for the very first time. (Nope, I’d never done it before.) I looked through my Recipe list on Pinterest and found a recipe stating it was ‘Award-Winning.’

Sold.

And the four-year-old and I were off on our baking adventure.

The Recipe:

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins, adapted slightly from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Streusel Topping:

2/3 c old-fashioned oats

1/2 c dark brown sugar

2 T  flour

1/2 t cinnamon

1/4 c butter, cold, cut into small squares

1 T semi-sweet chocolate chips

Muffins:

1 egg, beaten

1/2 c dark brown sugar

1/2 c sugar

1/2 c vegetable oil

1 c grated zucchini 

2 t vanilla

1 1/2 c flour

1/2 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

2 t cinnamon

1/4 t ground nutmeg

3/4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray muffin tin and set aside.

Streusel: Combine the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour together in a medium bowl. Cut in the cold butter with a pasty cutter. Mix until the streusel resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the chocolate chips with a spoon. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the beaten egg, brown sugar, granulated sugar, oil, zucchini, and vanilla until evenly combined. In a large bowl, toss the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and chocolate chips together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula until combined. Avoid over-mixing.

Fill muffin cups all the way to the top (I only had enough batter for 11). Sprinkle streusal over the top of each muffin, covering completely. Gently press the streusel into the tops of each muffin. Bake for 5 minutes at 425 degrees and, keeping the muffins in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake for an additional 13-14 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before serving.

The Results:

I think I’d always avoided baking with zucchini because I was afraid it would taste funny, but, boy – oh boy! – was I wrong. These tasted absolutely perfect. They were so moist and full of fall flavor. The cinnamon, nutmeg, and chocolate chips work so well together. And the streusel, wow, it just took these to a new level.

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So, by the time I got around to taking a picture of these – this was the only one left.

My only complaint was that this only made 11… but so easy to rectify by doubling. Believe me, you’ll want to make more.

(And since I only used about 1/5 of that huge zucchini, making another batch of these is on today’s agenda.)

Just look at inside of these:

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Perfection.

And I don’t have to feel bad. Because they have a vegetable in them.

Right? 😉

Marbled Chocolate Banana Bread

I had some brown bananas.

Strike that.

I had dark, dark, brownish-blackish, mushy, falling-apart bananas.

They needed to be used ASAP.

And we all know the best way to use those kinds of bananas is in a banana bread. But I’ve been there, done that lots of times.

Now, if you’ve ever looked through my recipe index, you’ve probably realized that I quite enjoy the chocolate banana combination. And I’d already made a banana chocolate chip bread, so I knew I needed to take this version to a new level. And a little experimentation with my four-year-old was the perfect way to do it.

The Recipe:

Marbled Chocolate Banana Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a loaf pan.

Part 1, Banana Bread:

3/4 c flour

1/2 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

1/4 t ground cinnamon

2 medium bananas (heavily speckled or even black bananas are best)

1/4 c butter, melted and cooled

3/8 c packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 t vanilla extract

Whisk all dry ingredients down to the cinnamon in a small bowl. Whip/mash bananas until frothy. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until blended. Add dry ingredients in two batches, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Pour into loaf pan.

Part 2, Chocolate Pound Cake:

1/4 c butter, softened

1/2 c sugar

1 eggs

1/4 c vanilla yogurt

1/2 t vanilla

3 T cocoa powder

3/8 c milk

5/8 c flour

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, yogurt, and vanilla and mix well. Add cocoa powder and stir until incorporated. Add milk alternately with flour, mixing just until incorporated.

Pour batter over the top of the banana bread mixture. With a small spatula or spoon, gently scoop and fold the banana mixture over and through the chocolate one.

Bake in center rack for 60-70 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.

Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, remove, and let finish cooling on a rack.

The Results:

Hey, look… something turned out pretty:

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And it tasted pretty good, too!

It was moist throughout, and the two flavors (obviously) went well together.

I do have to say, though, the banana bread was the definite flavor winner – for me, it overpowered the chocolate a bit. If you are a chocoholic, you might want to up the chocolate-y-ness if you make this. I wanted more chocolate, personally, but the rest of the family loved it the way it was. So, it’s your choice.

The best part, my four-year-old was SO proud and thought that the marbling was very cool.

And his smile made the extra work worth it.

Banana Chocolate ‘Ice-Cream’

Hey, look – I’m writing a real post.  With a recipe and everything… craziness, I know.

So, I was looking for an easy toe-dip kind of recipe to start with.  Something the kids could help with and enjoy, something that wouldn’t heat up my house on a hot day, and something that wasn’t horribly unhealthy.  I had no idea where to start.

And that’s where Disney Junior stepped in.

Yep, you heard that right.  This recipe is being brought to you by a Disney Junior informative commercial.  (Please don’t judge.)

In this commercial a mom (I think), and her son, make a delicious ice-cream style treat out of bananas – the boys were intrigued and I thought it looked easy and fun.  So off we went.

The Recipe

Banana Chocolate ‘Ice Cream’ adapted from Disney Junior

4 bananas, sliced and frozen

2 T greek vanilla yogurt

1/2 t vanilla extract

1 T unsweetened cocoa powder

Makes approximately 1 pint.

In a food processor, pulse bananas until broken into small pieces.  Add the rest of the ingredients and let processor run until smooth and creamy.  Serve immediately as soft serve or freeze for several hours for a regular ice-cream consistency.

The Results

I didn’t really remember much from the Disney Junior commercial except the frozen bananas in a food processor.  So, I started by having the boys chop bananas, place them in a Tupperware, and then froze them all.  Seemed like a great idea until I went to dump them out and this happened:

A giant frozen rectangular block of bananas.

A giant frozen rectangular block of bananas.

Hmmm – I’m thinking next time to freeze them on a cookie sheet individually, since this did not break up well in the processor.  Eventually, with the help of my trusty pick-axe (or butter knife), I got these into smaller pieces that could be chopped up.

Pulsing was the best way to get things started – and then I realized that the bananas were staying pretty dry and crumbly.  I wanted to add something wet and healthy to get the creamy effect, so vanilla yogurt and extract it was.

The idea of adding the cocoa powder came at the end.  Because seriously, why not?!

And it was borderline genius, I tell you.

When we sampled the finished product after mixing, it soft, creamy, and lightly chocolate-y flavored.  The banana was the star, but the chocolate added a depth to it that I found quite enjoyable.  The boys liked it a lot, too.

We decided to freeze the bulk of it for later that night.

When we pulled it out, it was pretty solid – so I recommend letting it set out for a bit before serving.  At this point, it tasted just like a regular banana ice cream – with a chocolate twist.  Very satisfying and very delicious.

(Though for those chocoholics out there like me, I’m thinking doubling the cocoa would be fantastic.)

It's going to take a while to get my picture skills up to snuff, but for now, here's the finished product.

It’s going to take a while to get my picture skills up to snuff, but for now, here’s the finished product.

Pregnancy Craving #4: Chocolate {Death by Chocolate Cupcakes}

What?

I’ve already listed chocolate as a pregnancy craving?

Ooops.  Oh, well.

Not feeling too guilty about it, though, since it is by far the strongest craving I’m having.  Baby Girl really likes her chocolate.  (And I kinda do, too.)

I feel, though, that I truly need to officially warn you before you embark upon this recipe:

This recipe is not for the faint of heart or any chocolate novices.  You many want to consult your doctor before ingesting this amazing chocolate treat.  It is not sweet.  It is not creamy.  It is dark.  It is rich.  It cures any craving in one decadent bite.  Milk, ice cream, and/or coffee is highly recommended to pair with this dessert.

(You think I’m kidding… but I am totally serious.)

The Recipe:

Death by Chocolate Cupcakes, adapted from allrecipes.com

1 1/8 c flour

1/4 c unsweetened cocoa

1 1/4 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

1 large egg (which I did not have and substituted 1 T white vinegar and 1 t baking soda)

1/2 c firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 c sugar

1/2 c + 2 T whole milk

1/3 c strong brewed coffee

1/2 c unsalted butter, melted

1/4 c + dark chocolate chips, lightly tossed in flour

~~~~

1 c semi sweet chocolate chips

3/4 c heavy cream

3 T unsalted butter

extra dark chocolate chips for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 cupcake molds or muffin tins with paper liners or spray with nonstick spray.

To make the cupcakes, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, brown sugar, and white sugar.  Whisk in the milk, coffee, and melted butter.  Add the dry ingredients.  Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake molds, filling them about three-quarters full.  Drop dark chocolate chips into the batter – as many or as few as you would like.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the middle of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes. Using a small spatula or knife, remove the cupcakes from the pan. Continue to cool on a wire rack to room temperature.

To make the frosting, melt the chopped chocolate in the top of a double boiler, or in a heatproof bowl, over barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.  (I just microwaved mine in a glass bowl on high for 3-4 sets of 30 seconds, stirring between sets.)  Heat the cream until hot.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate.  Transfer to a bowl and cool to just warm.  Whisk in the butter until smooth.  Let sit until it reaches a spreading consistency, about 1 hour.  Spread the frosting on top of the cupcakes.  Sprinkle them with chocolate chips.

Makes 1 dozen cupcakes.

The Results:

These were pretty simple to make.  I’m not sure if it was my egg substitute or something else, but my cupcakes ended up being pretty flat on top, with a small collapsed indent in the middle.  Now, you would think this would be disappointing… but it just made more room for the topping.

My only issue with the topping was waiting for that whole hour for the ‘frosting’ to set.  I’m also going to clarify that this really didn’t make what I’d consider a true frosting – it’s more like a thick ganache – and I am NOT complaining.  It was heavenly.

The overall flavor knocks you off your feet with chocolate (refer to warning above).  For me, it was utter perfection and exactly what I was hoping for.  I’m pretty sure, though, it’s not for everyone…

IMG_1813The cupcakes are not as rich as the topping, but they are still amazing – and the addition of some chocolate chips thrown in the batter, adds to each bite, contrasting with the lighter texture of the cake.

So, to sum up, if you LOVE chocolate (dark chocolate, that is), this will be the recipe for you.  It will definitely take you to your happy place.

(I’ve may have gone there several times this weekend… please don’t judge.  🙂  )

Pregnancy Craving #1: Chocolate {Deep Dark Chocolate/Toffee/Espresso/Brownie Cookies}

Okay, I’m starting a new series here on the blog… devoted entirely to my crazy pregnancy cravings.

So be aware that most of these will probably have absolutely no nutritious value whatsoever.

But man, will they taste good!

And for now, I’m really okay with that.

I had to start with, of course, chocolate.  (I know, big surprise… but seriously, I cr-ave it; breakfast, lunch and dinner.  And dessert.  And snack.  And in the middle of the night when I’m awake with darn insomnia.)

I digress.

Anyways, this was my attempt to fulfill my need for something chocolate plus.

The Recipe:

Deep Dark Chocolate Toffee Espresso Brownie Cookies, adapted from Just a Taste

3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped

2 c bittersweet or dark chocolate chips

8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced

3 large eggs

1 c plus 3 T sugar

1 T instant coffee granules

3/4 c all-purpose flour

1/3 t baking powder

1/4 t salt

1 c toffee pieces

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

In a double boiler (a small pan set within a larger pan of simmering water), combine the unsweetened chocolate, 1 c of chocolate chips, and butter, stirring until melted.  Remove the smaller pan containing the chocolate from the double boiler and set it aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs, sugar and instant coffee granules on high-speed until very thick and mixture forms a ribbon when whisk is lifted, about 3 minutes.

Slowly add the chocolate mixture to the bowl, whisking just until combined.

Turn off the stand mixer.  Add the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl and stir just until combined.  Stir in the remaining 1 cup of chocolate chips and toffee pieces.

Portion heaping tablespoons of batter about 2 inches apart on parchment paper or Silpat-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies are cracked and puffed on top.  Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to cool for 1 minute on the baking sheet before transferring them to a cooling rack.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Additional notes from the original recipe:

The batter will be much looser than your average cookie dough.

When in doubt, underbake the cookies, as they’ll continue firming up as they cool on the cookie sheet.

The Results:

Obviously, I had some serious ideas of what I wanted included in this recipe.

(What the baby wants, the baby gets.)

But I actually started this recipe wanting to lower the amount of coffee flavor in half… instead, I misread it and instead of lowering the instant coffee from 2 t to 1 t, I thought I was lowering 2 T to 1 T (which actually increased the coffee flavor).  But really, it was a happy accident.

And I do have to say all the flavor compliment each other well.

This is not a sweet cookie, so be aware.  (If you want it sweeter, check out the original recipe and use semi sweet chips instead or use semi sweet bakers chocolate.)  It is rich and chocolately – and the texture is just like a brownie.  It’s got a little crisp outside and absolutely full of chewy goodness on the inside.

If I were to make it again, I might actually break up toffee bars instead of using the toffee pieces, so you can really taste them in each bite.  But other than that, I found these excellent.

And very, very satisfying.

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I hope you do, too!

Triple Chocolate Scones

I have some go-to recipe websites that I love.

(Besides all my inspiring blogger friends.)

You can never go wrong with these websites – epicurious, America’s Test Kitchen, Martha, etc.

Well, I just found another one.

I’m sure I’m probably last on the block to know about it, but I have to admit, I am currently in love with the King Arthur Flour website.  There are so many (well-reviewed) delicious looking recipes there that Hubs and I spent about two hours browsing and pinning the other day.

And this one was way too good-looking to resist.

The Recipe:

Triple Chocolate Scones adapted from King Arthur Flour

2 c all-purpose flour

2/3 c whole wheat flour

1/3 c Dutch-process cocoa

1 t instant coffee powder

1/2 c sugar

1 T baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

3/4 t salt

1/2 c (8 T) cold butter, cut into pats

1 1/2 c bittersweet chocolate chunks

1 t vanilla

1 large egg

3/4 c + 2 T milk

Preheat your oven to 375°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment.

In a large mixing bowl, blend the flours, cocoa,instant coffee, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together thoroughly.  With a pastry blender, pastry fork, a mixer or, most easily, your fingertips, work in the butter until the mixture is unevenly crumbly.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

In separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, egg, and milk.  Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring until the mixture is evenly moist. You may need to add an additional tablespoon of milk, to make the dough come together.

Divide the dough in half, and place the two pieces onto the baking sheet. Pat them gently into two 6″ circles, each about 3/4″ thick.  Cut each circle into 6 wedge-shaped pieces with a bench knife or bowl scraper (or sharp knife), pressing down firmly without sawing.  Make sure you press it into the dough quickly, without twisting or sawing.  This shears the dough cleanly rather than pressing it together, which allows the scones to rise higher.

Bake the scones for 18 to 23 minutes, until they lose their moist look, and a cake tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean; or with just a smear of chocolate from a melting chip.  Remove the scones from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

I’m pretty sure you’ve already gotten the idea that these turned out fantastic… if not, then my writing skills are pretty darn rusty.

Anyways, these were a cinch to make – though I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to cut up the scones into the wedges, divide them, and then cook them… Or if I was to just basically deeply score them and let them bake still in the circle.  And then I remembered the last time (and pretty much only time) I made scones, and left them in the rounds.

When I was scoring each circle into the six wedges, I was feeling pretty good about portion size – they looked fairly small and perfect for a small chocolate treat.  When they baked, though, ummm, they kinda grew giant size.  And at that point, I mean really, what else could I do except serve and eat them as it.

(It was a tough decision, let me tell you. 😉 )

Anyways, be prepared that these scones are not overly sweet.  They have a soft, chewy, perfect scone texture with those delicious chunks of chocolate throughout.  I will suggest waiting until they are completely cooled in order to get the full flavor – for some reason, when warm, some of the chocolate flavor disappears.

They were tasty as a stand-alone treat, but with a cup of coffee – wow, they were amazing.

We had several mornings of delicious chocolateness, starting each day with a smile.

Nothing wrong with that, right?

Healthier Cookie Dough Balls

Hi.

My name is Courtney.

It’s been two weeks since I baked and/or ate a real dessert.

(No, these do not count – they are for breakfast.)

I think I might be slowly going insane.  Seriously, the last dessert I baked and ate was our pie on Fourth of July.  And I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed something chocolate-y.

I needed an intervention, stat… so I was very glad when I saw these healthy cookie dough balls.

I was excited to find a way to enjoy something sweet with chocolate, while still sticking (mostly) to our healthy eating (I refuse to call it a diet).

The Recipe:

Healthier Cookie Dough Balls, adapted from Bake Your Day

¼ c whole wheat flour

1-¼ c oats

1 t cinnamon

¼ t salt

1/2 scoop protein powder

½ c creamy peanut butter

¼ c applesauce, all natural/no sugar added

⅓ c all-natural maple syrup

1 T honey

2 t vanilla

¼ c dark chocolate chips

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, oats, cinnamon, salt, and protein powder; set aside.

Cream the peanut butter, applesauce, maple syrup, honey and vanilla in a large bowl until well-combined.  Add the flour and oats mixture and stir until combined.  Add dark chocolate chips and stir well.

Scoop heaping tablespoons of dough and roll into balls.  (I just used a small ice-cream scooper.) Recipe makes about 12-16 dough balls.

Refrigerate before serving.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

Yep, this pretty much did the trick.

The dough tastes similar to most (peanut butter chocolate chip) cookie doughs I may have allegedly sampled in the past.  And it so filled my craving for something bad – without being that bad.

They are a little sticky, so be prepared to wash your hands afterwards.  But it’s a small price to pay for a little sanity happiness.

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We’ll be out-of-town camping this weekend and won’t return until Tuesday… so don’t expect to hear from me until Wednesday.  And wish us luck – a two-year old and five-year old… in a tent… for several days.  Oh, boy.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups {My Way, Your Way, Any Way}

You all know I love chocolate.

And I kinda think peanut butter is amazing, too.

(Yes, I have been known to occasionally eat a spoonful on its own – and I admit that while I was pregnant with my both my boys, my favorite snack was dipping bananas in peanut butter.)

But together… together they are a match made in sweet/salty treat heaven.

I’ve always enjoyed those peanut butter cups you can buy in the store… but they’d never been exactly what I was looking for – the ratio always seemed off, you couldn’t get crunchy peanut butter, and dark chocolate was just a dream.  Of course, they’ve added those options, but they’re hard to find and still not exactly perfect.

So, when I was younger, my mom and I invented our own version – and it’s a super, super easy way to get the exact treat you are looking for.

The Recipe:

Peanut Butter Cups

chocolate chips

peanut butter

muffin liners

Line muffin tin (either mini or regular) with muffin liners.  (You may want to lightly grease liners if you want really easy removal.  Usually I don’t, and just have to carefully remove the liners.)

Melt chocolate in a double-boiler (or in a glass bowl in the microwave at 50% power in increments of 25 seconds, stirring after each, until the chocolate is melted).  Pour 1/2 your desired chocolate in each liner.  Add your desired amount of peanut butter.  Top with remaining chocolate.  Refrigerate or freeze until solid.  Remove liners and enjoy.

(Notice there are no actual amounts listed – basically because it’s all up to you.)

The Results:

I admit I’d almost forgotten about this recipe.  It wasn’t until a friend of mine solicited help for using up some leftover melted chocolate that I remember these awesome goodies.  And I’m so glad I did.

(This is a great recipe to use up those half/quarter bags of chocolate chips you may have lying around.  Which is exactly what I did.)

And the best part is that the possibilities are endless.  For the outer chocolate part you could use dark, semi sweet, milk, white, a mix; heck you could make an inside-out cup with peanut butter chips.  As for fillings, why not try crunchy, creamy, almond butter, nutella… and the lists and combinations could just go on and on.

My personal choices for this evening: bittersweet chocolate and creamy peanut butter (only because we’d used our crunchy on all those sandwiches the last couple weeks) in a regular-sized muffin liner.

Please ignore the fingerprints…I couldn’t resist taking them out before they were completely set.

You’ve got to see the inside, too…

Yes, I took this picture from my lap on the couch.

Notice the ratio of chocolate to peanut butter – a little more chocolate than you’d find in the store brand ones – and absolute perfection for me.

So start your weekend off right, use up those partial bags of chips you have in the cupboard, and make some of these personalized and decadent dessert snacks.

So worth it.

Ooey-Gooey Brownies

When I asked Hubs what he wanted for his Father’s Day dessert, he promptly replied, “Ooey-Gooey Brownies.  Pure chewy chocolate brownies.”

(Just proving he’s a man I can love for the rest of my life.)

Since he’d pretty much taken over his own FD dinner (and who can blame him), I knew I needed to blow this dish out of the water.  And considering chocolate is my specialty, I was all over this.

The Recipe:

Ooey-Gooey Brownies, adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

1/3 c Dutch-processed cocoa

1 1/2 t instant coffee

1/2 c plus 2 T boiling water

2 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

4 T (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1/2 c plus 2 T vegetable oil

2 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

2 t vanilla extract

2 1/2 c sugar

1 3/4 c all-purpose flour

3/4 t table salt

6 oz bittersweet chocolate chips

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9 x 12 baking pan with two sheets of aluminum foil (perpendicular to each other).  Spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk cocoa, instant coffee, and boiling water together in large bowl until smooth.  Add unsweetened chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted.  Whisk in melted butter and oil. (Mixture may look curdled.)  Add eggs, yolks, and vanilla and continue to whisk until smooth and homogeneous.  Whisk in sugar until fully incorporated.  Add flour and salt and mix with rubber spatula until combined.  Fold in bittersweet chocolate chips.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted halfway between edge and center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes.  Transfer pan to wire rack and cool 1½ hours.

Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan.  Return brownies to wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour.  Cut into squares and serve.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

Yep, I think I hit the nail on the head with this one.

(Kind of overdoing the idioms today, sorry.)

The only bad part of this recipe is waiting the requisite 2 hours for it to cool completely.  (Pure torture – so prepare yourselves accordingly.)

These brownies are exactly what he was looking for – and so rich and chocolately, it’s hard to believe.  They were chewy and fudgy, with bursts of chocolate flavor from the bittersweet chips.

I took a picture of the cross-section, so you can see all the goodness.

For some people who are not quite the chocolate connoisseurs we are, serving with a big glass of milk or a dollop of vanilla ice-cream may be in order.

And Hubs was happy – which was all that really mattered.

(Though I was pretty darn happy, too.  Yummy!)

~~~~

This is your last chance to enter the giveaway here… I’ll pick a winner this afternoon.  Can’t wait!

Chocolate Bread

Yep, you read that correctly.

I found a recipe that combined my two most favorite cooking things ever: bread and chocolate.

I needed something pretty spectacular to celebrate getting back in the kitchen, and I was really stoked to be able to use my giant counter-space to knead my dough.

But I think my expectations were a little too high…

The Recipe:

Chocolate Bread, from David Lebovitz

3/4 c whole or low-fat milk, heated until just tepid

1 envelope active dry yeast (1/4 ounce or 2 1/4 teaspoons)

6 T  sugar

4 T butter

3 oz semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 1/2 t instant coffee

1 large egg

1/2 t vanilla extract

3/4 t sea salt

2 cups bread flour

1/4 c unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

3/4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the milk.  Add one T sugar, then set aside in a warm place for 10 to 15 minutes, until bubbles form on the surface.

While the yeast is activating, in a small saucepan, melt the butter and 3 oz chocolate over a pan of barely simmering water.  Stir occasionally, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.  Remove from heat.

Once the yeast mixture is frothy, mix in the remaining sugar, the instant coffee, the egg, vanilla, and sea salt.

Stir in half the flour and cocoa powder, then the melted butter and chocolate, then the remaining flour mixture, stirring until well-incorporated.  If using a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and beat for five minutes, until smooth.  If making by hand, mix vigorously with a flexible spatula for the same amount of time.  The dough will seem quite moist, resembling sticky brownie batter when ready.

Cover the bowl and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours.

Butter a 9-inch loaf pan.

Stir in the chocolate chips.  Then use a spatula to fold the dough over on itself in the bowl for about thirty seconds, then transfer it to the buttered pan, pressing a bit to spread it to the corners.  Let rise in a warm place for one hour.

Ten minutes before you’re ready to bake the bread, preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, until it feels done and sounds hollow when you tap it.  You can stick an instant-read thermometer in the bottom if you’re unsure; the bread is done when the temperature reads 180ºF.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting…maybe something sweeter…maybe something yeastier.  I’m not sure, but what I got was something completely different – not in bad way, mind you, just in a different way.

Anyways, let’s go back to the beginning when I kept making some (minor) mistakes.

First off, I misread tablespoon for teaspoon as I started to add my yeast – but I caught myself after one tablespoon.  And I figured 1 tablespoon is 3 teaspoons, which is pretty close to 2 1/4, right?

(Let’s just say if this happens to you, keep your eye on the rising dough – it may be ready sooner than expected.)

Secondly, I let my bread raise on top of my warm oven…which seemed to, um, make the dough warm up and toughen a little (I’m thinking it was a little too warm with it being in the metal bowl as opposed to the glass bowl I usually use).   It ended up fine, but I think my bread would’ve been lighter if this hadn’t happened.

Oh, and as an added benefit, because the dough was warm, it melted a bunch of the chocolate chips I’d added.  Awesome.

Thirdly (which technically wasn’t a mistake, just a disappointment), I was so excited to knead my dough on the counters.  It was the main reason why I went with bread for my first recipe back.  And when looking at the pictures on David Lebovitz’s site, it shows him kneading a dark, chunky, chocolate loaf.  Only after I had gotten halfway through the recipe did I realize that that was a picture of one of his ‘test’ recipes and that his final recipe was all done in the bowl.  I was really bummed.

Anyways, even with all those things happening, the bread turned out pretty good.  Now, it’s not the prettiest bread in the world (in fact, Hubs referred to it as looking like a big, um, insert bathroom related word here.)  It is very chocolately – dark chocolately, that is.

I’ll let you decide for yourself what you think it looks like…

It really is a loaf of bread, that is chocolate flavored.  Not a quick bread or sweet loaf – a real loaf of chocolate bread.  It’s kind of overpowering in flavor on its own, but with a tiny dab of butter, everything mellows out and tastes great.  I’m thinking, also, that I might try using it for french toast tomorrow.

Nobody else really liked it except me, and it wasn’t my absolute favorite (which made me sad), but it wasn’t bad.  And I’m excited to try the slices in some fun and different ways (maybe even a pb&j sandwich), just to experiment a bit.

Oh, and don’t feel bad for the counters… Hubs inaugurated them properly with some flour and pizza dough.

(And I got to wipe them off, straight into our new undermounted sink.  It was amazing!)

(And yes, I know it’s probably sad that that makes me so happy, but I don’t care.)

Have a fantastic weekend!