These are just as delicious as they look, and how could they not be when they have white chocolate inside and dark chocolate outside? What a lovely idea for a breakfast bread served in bed on Valentine’s Day. After all, that’s the day that we allow ourself to indulge in chocolate, and I think that should start at sunrise, don’t you?
There is a love story behind these rolls, but not the kind you might think. I never set out to make brioche for Valentine’s Day. These little beauties evolved from a tribute to my friend, Annie, who died this past new year’s eve of cancer. It came suddenly and took her life far too early.
I wanted to bake something special for the memorial service, and decided to try to create a recipe with white chocolate. She loved candy, and I wanted it to be sweet and special, just like she was. And, my hope was that her husband and friends, who loved her so dearly, would be comforted. I could have saved myself a lot of trouble looking up a recipe, but I had this need to bring something new to life.
We celebrate with food, and we talk and write about our celebrations a lot. We also grieve with food, and we don’t talk about that as much, but isn’t that the time when we most need the comfort to be given to our spirit and to our body, a reminder that we are not alone? A carried supper, or a freshly baked bread, made from scratch, not only does the recipient some good, but the preparer as well.
As I kneaded this bread for Annie, I think I let a few tears drop into the dough, and it was my way of saying goodbye, and I thought, “this is my last way to spend some time with you.” Although, to be honest, I feel she is right here with me as I write this, and I’m not quite finished saying goodbye.
Valentine’s Day might seem to be an odd time to talk about this, but isn’t it about love? And, if you could have seen the relationship she had with John, her husband, you would think this to be quite fitting.
Annie’s Bread, pictured above, was filled with white chocolate and was just a bit too dense, which is why it may have cracked, but it caused me to trial and error my way to a delicious sweet bread. I like to think of my little brioche rolls as something Annie left behind for me and maybe for you too.
Although I put white chocolate inside the bread, I also drizzled in on the top. It’s delicious and festive. When I ran out of white for the rolls, I used dark chocolate, and that was an even better idea. That hit of dark chocolate with a really good breakfast cappuccino is perfection!
When you read the recipe, you’ll note the options for adding more cinnamon and fresh orange flavorings and some options for the sweetener. I cook (and bake) from a creative heart and soul; and I am constantly changing the ingredients for my mood, and I always encourage my readers and friends to be improvisational. I know how tricky that can be with baking, and I have a lot of
bread pudding to show for that insistence.
Venetian plaster backdrop created by Angela Roberts
Orange Cinnamon Bread Pudding, a result from a bread that didn’t pass the test.
Have a a Happy Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t have to be about a romantic lover…it can indeed be a time to show your love to anyone or many. How are you going to spend your day? Do you have anybody special you would like to prepare a dish for or with?
3/4 cup warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon (gives a slight cinnamon flavor, you may desire more or less)
4 eggs, slightly beaten
juice of 1/2 orange (gives a slight orange flavor, you may desire more or less)
zest of half orange
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar (keep in mind the white chocolate will add sweetness)
4 ounces softened cream cheese, cut into tablespoon sizes
4 ounces softened unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon sizes
1/2 cup chopped white chocolate (use premium baking chocolate, instead of chips
2 ounces dark chocolate for melting
1 egg, beaten for glazing prior to baking (to give that beautiful golden tone)
Place into large bowl, yeast, warm water (let sit for a few minutes. )
Add flour, salt, cinnamon, eggs, orange juice and zest, vanilla, sweetener
Knead for few minutes, making sure the dry and wet ingredients are incorporated. You can use your kitchen aid, but, I did this all by hand.
Add butter and cream cheese, kneading in a little at a time. Knead for about 5 minutes, until it looks like a slab of marble. (add flour when necessary). This is the therapeutic part.
Add chopped white chocolate until evenly distributed.
Place in bowl, cover and sit out for two hours.
Refrigerate covered overnight.
The Next Day:
Before baking, allow to warm up a bit, and put into greased stone muffin pans, or bread loaf pans.
Allow to rise for two hours.
Bake rolls for 20-25 minutes at 350. (This was in a stone muffin pan (no paper wrappers used. You may need to make your own adjustments with different cookware.)
Bake loafs of bread for 45 minutes at 350.
To add chocolate drizzle, melt chocolate in microwave at power 5 and check every 60 seconds, stirring to just melted enough to be able to drizzle, using a fork.
Drizzle over bread AFTER it is taken out of the pans. Enjoy!
Notes on Ingredients in this Recipe
Chocolate: Chocolate is a matter of the quality of the beans, the amount of cacao, taste and what is affordable. I like dark chocolate and I seek it out with at least 70% cacao. Purchased at Whole Foods, I used El Rey Apamente 73.5% cacao and El Rey white chocolate discs, made only with cocoa butter which accounts for its 55% cacao composition.
I suggest reading labels on the white chocolate you purchase. I avoid waxy chips.
The loaf makes an excellent bread eaten as is, but is extra good when toasted. It can made as french toast or can be made into a delicious bread pudding that will not require much sugar to prepare. I will post my bread pudding recipe at a later date.