Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

I am not a "Single's Awareness day." kind of person. Valentine's Day for me is simply a reason to be creative in the kitchen.

First, I made a maple brown sugar tea ring. It turned out a little dry since I over baked it.

So I thought I would try something else and made a Mocha Cream Cheese braid.


I thought it turned out pretty good. (Now my family had some different opinions.) I have one brother who has some definite opinions when it comes to food and he is not afraid to share all of them (the dislike for the coffee cream cheese glaze, and the cherries and the sprinkles were just a few of them.) The rest of the family loved it!

I suppose it is only fair to share the recipe. I got the basic recipe/idea The Prepared Pantry
Like any recipe that I make I alter it to fit what I like. Here is my altered recipe.

Ingredients:

3 to 3 1/2 cups white bread flour

2 Tablespoons dry instant yeast
3/4 cup cooled strong coffee
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling:
5 ounces cream cheese

3 or 4 ounces chocolate, melted (I used a dozen Hershey kisses)

3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

A dash of salt

Glaze:
3 oz cream cheese
3 Tablespoons strong cold coffee
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Dash of salt
Enough powdered sugar to make it thick and glaze-like.

Directions:
1. Mix about one cup of the flour, the yeast, and the coffee until smooth. 


2. Add the brown sugar, cocoa, butter, salt, egg  and vanilla and mix. Add enough of the remaining bread flour to make a soft dough.  Knead for about 10 to 15 minutes until the dough is smooth and has a stretch to it. (5 to 10 minutes in a machine I guess would be about equivalent.) Place in greased bowl and let rise till doubled, about an hour. 

3. To make the filling, beat the cream cheese until soft and smooth. Add the melted chocolate while it is still hot and mix until smooth. Add the sugar, flour, egg yolk, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt and mix until smooth.


4. Once the dough has risen, use a knife to divide the dough into three equal pieces. Roll the dough pieces with a rolling pin to rectangles 15 inches by 5 inches. Spread one-third of the filling down the center of each leaving a one-inch border with no filling. Roll the rectangle into fifteen-inch long ropes with the filling inside. Pinch any seams together and roll the ropes with your hands on the counter until smooth.


5. Braid the three ropes as if you were braiding pigtails. When you get to the ends, wet them, pinch them together, and tuck them under. You should have a neat, symmetrical loaf when you are through. You can shape the loaf somewhat with your hands. If you don't like how the loaf looks, simply pull the braids apart and start again. Place the loaf on the pan, cover the loaf, and let it rise until doubled, about one hour. (I brushed it with melted butter at this point to keep the top from getting dry.)


6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the bread for 25-35 minutes till done. The bread should “thump” when tapped on the bottom and the interior of the loaf should register 190 degrees with an insta-read thermometer. Let the bread cool on a wire rack.


7. While the bread is cooling, make the glaze. With a hand-held mixer mix the ingredients of the glaze till smooth. Drizzle the coffee glaze generously over the bread. Then garnish with sprinkles, nuts and/or cherries if desired. 


There you have it. A great sweet bread that is very moist and in my opinion pretty amazing. 
Enjoy!

Toodles.

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