Although I haven’t posted in about a month, believe it or not my days have been filled with foodie thoughts. I’ve been leafing through old issues of Saveur, bookmarking recipes in Everyday Food, and spending far more time than is healthy ogling things in my newest cookbooks: Savory Baking and Rustic Fruit Desserts. But when it came time to take these inspirations and make them manifest in my kitchen? That’s when I ended up in the nursery sorting baby clothes, or searching the internet for the perfect nightlight, or freaking myself out by reading books about caring for a newborn – all of which include a chapter on the dreaded colic. I pray our son does not visit this scourge upon us. Please. God.
Yesterday I decided to remedy my infrequent-baking situation by spending time in my toasty kitchen with a rich dough destined to become the sweet chocolate rolls you see here. Just look at them, all speckled with diced apricots, chocolate chips and raisins – don’t they look yummy? Looks do not deceive in this case. Next to eating these gems, the best part about making them is shaping the dough while it was rainy and cold outside. Rain is my favorite soundtrack to bake to.
The recipe comes from Max Brenner’s new book Chocolate: A Love Story, which is a delightful collection of chocolate-y goodness. The dough is very rich and sticky, partially because you use an entire stick of butter when making it. (Decadent!) Be sure to use plenty of flour when kneading – Max isn’t kidding when he says you’ll need an additional one to two cups of flour while doing this. Also, because the dough is weighed down by chocolate, apricots and raisins, don’t expect it to rise as much as a dough without all these goodies. Keep these tips in mind and in the end you shall be rewarded with a fluffy, sugar-crusted bun that has just the right amount of sweetness and the power to delight you with each bite – who knows whether you’ll get a taste of chocolate, or apricot or raisins, or all three put together in the next mouthful? I used vanilla turbinado sugar on the top, just because.
(Btw, I know this is late – sorry!! – but Caitlin, Laura and MC, you each won the November giveaway. I’ve emailed you so please send me your addys! I shall blame my tardiness on pregnancy brain because I have to use that excuse while I still can.)
I hope you all had a delightful Chanukkah or Christmas.
Plain Jane Sweet Chocolate Rolls with Diced Apricot and Raisins
Reprinted with permission from Chocolate: A Love Story, by Max Brenner
- 1 tablespoon warm water
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 envelope dry yeast
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 to 2 cups for dusting
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped dried apricots (I used 1/2 cup)
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped dates (I skipped these)
- 1/4 cup chopped raisins (I didn’t chop these)
- 4 ounces dark chocolate chips (I used 5 1/2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips)
- 1 cup warm milk
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- My addition: vanilla turbinado sugar, which I used for sprinkling instead of regular sugar
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the water and honey. Add the yeast and stir until the yeast and honey dissolve. Let the mixture sit until the yeast foams, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Sift together the flour and salt. Stir in the apricots, dates, raisins and chocolate chips. Set aside.
Mix on medium-low speed and gradually beat in the milk, butter, sugar and vanilla. Continue mixing until throughly combined. With the mixer still running, add 3 eggs one by one. Slowly add the fruit/flour mixture, making sure to stop when necessary to scrape any flour from the sides of the bowl. Continue mixing until the flour is completely incorporated.
Replace the paddle with the dough hook. Turn the mixer to medium and continue working the dough until it is smooth and sticky. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and continue to work by hand, about 5 minutes longer. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Set in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a bakers’ Silpat. Punch the dough down and cut into 12 equal pieces. Hold one piece of dough in both hands and, with your palms facing you, fold the edges of the dough away from you and toward the back of the dough, forming a small, tight ball. Roll gently to seal the ball. Place seam side down on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough pieces, making sure to space the balls 1 inch apart. Cover and let rise, about 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Whisk the remaining egg with 1 teaspoon water and brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash. Sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool before enjoying.