Friday, December 2, 2011

Chocolate Covered Cherries Braid

Don't know why I'm thinking chocolate today.  Maybe it's because I'm trying to diet . . . again.  And someone offered me a Tootsie Roll today thinking that would take care of the chocolate craving I was experiencing.  I'm sorry.  Sweet thought.  Not chocolate.

So I've never tried chocolate bread before.  But I think we just might have a winner.  My mom always loved chocolate covered cherries at Christmas and I just happened to have some dried cherries in my pantry.  It just all sounded too good not to try.

The 2 Loaf Recipe . . .

2 cups warm milk (about 140 degees)
1/2 c. melted butter
1/2 c. greek yogurt (I used non-fat)
2 beaten eggs
3/4 c. honey
1 1/2 Tbsp. yeast
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. cocoa
1/4 c. gluten
2 tsp. salt
8-10 cups whole grain flour (about 6 cups grain before milling)
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli)
1/2 c. dried cherries

Chocolate Glaze:
2 Tbsp butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
(add more powdered sugar or milk to thin or thicken as needed)

First, pour wet ingredients into bowl.  Add about 4 cups of the flour and yeast.  Stir.  Cover and let sponge about 15 minutes or until dough has bubbled up about double in volume.

While your dough is sponging, reconstitute your cherries by soaking in hot water.

To the dough, add vanilla, cocoa, gluten & salt.  Begin adding flour until dough clears the side of the bowl.  Knead for 6-8 minutes, then check for gluten development with window pane test.

And this is where we begin . . . one big beautiful brown plump of chocolate dough.

Divide into two parts.  Cover the dough you're not working with under a big bowl to keep it from drying out.

Divide 1st portion into 3 parts.

Roll each section out into a long rectangle about 5 x 15".

Sprinkle 1 oz. of chocolate bits down the center as well as some of the re-hydrated cherries.

Roll up into one long log, making sure to crimp the edges tight to seal.

Repeat with other two parts.

Braid the three chocolate logs together into one beautiful braid.  Tuck the ends.

You can drizzle the glaze on the entire loaf or you can just leave the glaze in a bowl to be drizzled on separate slices.  This bread is also great  just left unglazed & toasted or warmed with morning coffee.

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