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Chocolate “Chunken” Bread

March 3, 2012

I had something happen to me recently that made me wonder.  I was looking through my collection of cookbooks.  (Actually, I was going through all the books we have, cooking or otherwise, and deciding what to keep and what to donate to the library because the few bookshelves we have are overflowing.)  During the course of my “research”, I came across a 25-year-old Nestle Toll House cookbook.  While I’m sure everyone is very familiar with the original Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies (see my very first post), this book contains north of 200 different recipes, all involving chocolate.

Now, it is important to note here that I suffer from a terrible disease – chocholism.  I love chocolate and usually the darker the better (up to a point – I just can’t enjoy anything much higher than 85% cacao.)  So, a cookbook filled to the brim of chocolate-related recipes could not go into the “donate” pile.  Moreover, I couldn’t allow this rediscovery to go uncelebrated, and I know exactly what recipe I was going to try again.

Back when I was a teenager, I found a recipe inside call a “Chocolate Filled Kuchen“.  Kuchen is the German word for “cake” but is also used to describe different types of sweet deserts or pastries.  When I attempted to make this back then, it was a disaster.  It seemed too complicated and took too long, but when I finished it, it tasted absolutely great!  If you had asked me at the time, I would have told you that I would never make it again, but, as the saying goes, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”  I guess over 20 years was just enough time to make me remember the good part of that experience and not the bad.  All I can say is that I am very glad that I did.  This bread turned out great, didn’t seem to be too difficult relative to any other yeast bread, and according to some of my friends that tried it, this was one of the best things I’ve ever made.  To me, that’s a pretty solid recommendation.

One quick aside, the reason my version is called Chocolate “Chunk” Bread was that my version dramatically kicks up the chocolate, not just in quantity, but uses multiple types.  That and when my kids tried it and saw the original “Kuchen” name, they immediately proclaimed it, “The best Chocolate Chunken Bread we’ve ever had!”  Thus, a name is born.  Now, screw up your courage and fire up your mixer and give this bread a shot.  If you like chocolate, this will be worth the effort.

The FaT Chocolate “Chunken” Bread                    Print Chocolate Chunken Bread Recipe

Based on the Nestle Toll House Recipe Collection Chocolate Filled Kuchen, 1987

Serves 16-35 (just depends on how you cut it)

***** quick note – You will need about 4 hours from start to finish, although you will be waiting for over 3 hours of that time!

1 package Active Dry Yeast

1/4 cup warm water (around 110’F)

3/4 cup milk (we will scald it)

1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp Kosher Salt

3 eggs

1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

450g Bread Flour (you can also use All Purpose Flour)

160 g Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

160 g Milk Chocolate Chips

100g Dark Chocolate bar (around 70% cacao), chopped fine

To begin with, break out the bowl of your mixer (you will need both the whisk attachment and a dough hook attachment), a small saucepan to scald the milk and a 1 cup or larger measuring cup.  Start by filling that measuring cup with the 1/4 cup of warm water and add the active dry yeast.  It’s important that the water not be too hot because you don’t want to kill all the yeast that will make your bread rise wonderfully.  Once you’ve done that, set it aside.  Next, pour your milk into the saucepan and put it over medium-high heat.  Keep an eye on it.  Now, to the mixer bowl, add your butter, sugar and salt.

Go back to watching your milk as it heats.  Once you start seeing bubbles forming along the edge of the milk, it is ready.  Pour your scalded milk into the mixer bowl with the other ingredients, set in the mixer and, with the whisk attachment and the mixer set on the lowest speed setting, stir until the butter is melted.  Once it’s melted, turn up the mixer speed to help cool things down.  You want to feel the bowl is warm but not hot when you put your hand against it.  (On the outside of the bowl.  Not the inside.  That would just get ugly!)  In a separate bowl, crack 2 of the eggs and add the vanilla extract.  Lightly beat the egg/vanilla mixture.  (What I mean by “lightly beat” is scramble them as if you were going to make scrambled eggs, but you don’t have to completely combine them.)

Now that your butter has completely melted and the mix has cooled a bit, add the egg/vanilla mix.  The reason we don’t add it right away is that we don’t want our eggs to scramble, and while I like scrambled eggs, they just don’t belong in our bread.  Beat the mix for a minute and then add the yeast/water mixture you set aside at the beginning.  Make sure you get most of the yeast out of your measuring cup with a spatula.  You don’t want to leave those guys behind.

Here we’re ready to add our flour.  What I suggest is that you measure out your flour into 350g in one place and the other 100g in another.  We will definitely be using the 350g, but the remaining 100g will completely depend on the conditions in your kitchen.

Taking the 350g of flour you’ve set aside, and continuing to use the whisk attachment in your mixer, add about 1/4 at a time, making sure you fully combine it before adding the next 1/4.  Once you’ve added all of it, stop the mixer, remove the whisk and replace with the dough hook.  Take this opportunity to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.  Here, we’re looking to use the dough hook to knead the bread for us.  What you are looking for is a dough that doesn’t completely separate from the sides of the bowl.  It will be sticky but most of it will be on the hook.  Using that extra 100g of flour, keep adding flour as the hook turns until you get about that consistency.  For me, it only took about 50g more, but it will be a little different for everyone.  Make sure the hook is running at medium speed for about 4-5 minutes to properly develop the gluten.

Take another bowl large enough to hold at least double to dough you’ve got in your mixer and grease it.  (The best way is to spray it with PAM or a similar oil spray.)  Remove your mixing bowl and scrape out the dough with your fingers into the other bowl.  It will be sticky.  Now, either turn the dough over so it is completely covered with grease or, if you used my PAM suggestion, just lightly spray the other side with it as well.  Cover this bowl with a dish towel and put it in a warm spot for 1 1/2 hours during which it will just about double in size.  (I find that my garage is usually warmer than my house, but then again, I live in Florida.  Choose appropriately for your climate!)

Now that you’ve caught up on your favorite reruns or read part of your current novel during your 1 1/2 hour wait, lightly flour your kneading board.  A “kneading board” is just any flat, solid surface that you can use to roll out dough.  I also find that the easiest way to flour a board is to put a scoopful of flour in a fine mesh strainer and shake it over the board.  Gives me a pretty even coat.  Turn your dough out onto this board and knead for about 1 minute.  You are just looking to punch it down a bit, and you will need to add some flour to the surface of your dough or else your hands and fingers will stick something aweful!

Once you’ve finished your quick punch down, start spreading out the dough with your hands or a rolling pin until you get a rectangle roughly 22″x14″.  There is no need to break out the rulers here.  Just eyeball the dough until it’s about 2 feet by 1 foot.  You may have to fight with the corners to get them to stay.  Spread out each kind of chocolate over the entire dough.  I usually start with the chips and then sprinkle my chopped chocolate after that.  Lightly press the chocolate into the dough.

Now, starting on the long end closest to you, start rolling up the dough jellyroll-style.  (For the former scouts and summer campers, imagine you’re rolling up your sleeping bag.)  Once you’ve reached the end and making sure the seam is on the bottom, you want to form a circle by bringing the two ends together.  Pinch the dough at the join so that it’s continuous.  Lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking spray, and move your ring over to the sheet.

Using a very sharp knife, cut about about 1/2 way down about 12 times around the dough.  You want to see the chocolate coming out.  If you made any cuts that show very little chocolate, add a few chips to “bulk it up”.  Cover this with a dish towel and put it back into the warm place for about an hour.  It should double in size again.

Cover this with a dish towel and put it back into the warm place for about an hour.  It should double in size again.

Preheat your oven to 350’F.  Beat the remaining egg to use as an egg wash.  Brush the egg over the bread.  Place in the over for 25-30 minutes, turning the bread 180′ once about midway through.  You want the bread to be golden brown all around.

Cool it on a cooling rack and serve.  Enjoy!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 28, 2014 4:28 am

    Greetings! Very elpful advice within this article!

    It’s the little changes which will make the biggest changes.
    Thanks a lot for sharing!

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  1. moelleux au chocolat | The Beach House France

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