Bread & Chocolate -- Comfort & Joy
by Tish Boyle
As much as we enjoy baking fragrant loaves of whole wheat or rye bread, we prefer
baking breads made with soft doughs that act as the perfect cushions for smooth,
melting chocolate. In these pages we offer five recipes: a festive quickbread combining
tangy cranberries and subtle white chocolate; tender brioche rolled around a creamy
bittersweet chocolate filling that swirls with the crumb; buttery Pains au Chocolat, or
chocolate-filled croissants, that are readily welcome at the breakfast table; supple "snail"
rolls filled with a rich chocolate-almond mixture; and dark chocolate bread that startles
the palate while pleasing it with an unusual marriage of pure chocolate flavor and
decidedly bread-like texture.
* When we investigated the best chocolate for our breads, we discovered that any
semisweet or bittersweet works well, but there were some distinct advantages to using a
European-style bittersweet. These often are more refined that other chocolates, due to
longer conching times during processing. The refinement lends a depth and richness
that stands up well to elastic bread dough. What is more, because these breads are
inspired by European prototypes and because European-style baked goods claim center
stage in many American bakeries and restaurants, we thought it important to use a
chocolate that might be used by a baker in Switzerland or France.
* "Dark, rich bittersweet Swiss chocolate melts to a satiny, liquid pool like no other
chocolate," says Arthur Oberholzer, national food service manager for Lindt &
"We take great care that our chocolate maintains the quality demanded by the most
exacting pastry chefs in Europe."
* We consider ourselves as exacting as any other baker and turned to these chocolates
when developing the recipes. Pleasingly, we found that Lindt Excellence, a Swiss
bittersweet chocolate, was the ideal bar for the Pains au Chocolat. A single row of the
tiny squares nestles snugly inside the unbaked croissants, thus alleviating the trickiness
of assembling them for baking.
* "We are thrilled our bittersweet works so well for the Pain au Chocolat, " says Mr.
Oberholzer. "Our bars are stamped into small squares to facilitate baking and eliminate
the need for a lot of chopping. This helps greatly for melted preparations-and now we
see it helps, too, for croissants."
* To help the baker further, our breads are all made using a heavy-duty standing
mixer with paddle and bread hook attachments. This dispenses with the usual 10 or 15
minutes of kneading necessary when making bread by hand. Let the mixed dough rise
in a warm, draft-free place, filling the kitchen as it does with the marvelous smell of
active yeast. After the dough rises and is shaped in loaves for popping in the oven, your
kitchen will next fill with the heady aromas of baking bread mingled with chocolate. We
ask: what could be better?