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  • Writer's pictureSusie Csorsz Brown

Dark Chocolate-Pecan Braid

Sometimes, the point of making something is to impress. Even better, when you can impress without having to break a sweat! This loaf is such, and it also allows flexibility for the filling so you can include what filling you and your impress-ee like. maybe you want something more dessert-y, maybe something a little more breakfast-y. The filling I include in the recipe below is not-too-sweet, but will still pack a chocolate-y enough punch for any choco-phile.


This bread is also quite easy to make and assemble. Several steps, but none are complicated. I've included a pic of each of the steps to help guide you through the process. Making a faux-braid is an easier option that yields a lovely result.


This recipe is also super easy to double. Just sayin'.


Dark Chocolate-Pecan Braid


Yield one loaf, about 16 slices


Ingredients


Dough


2 teaspoons instant yeast

1/4 cup warm milk

1/2 cup to 3/4 cup lukewarm water enough to make a soft smooth dough (start with 1/2 cup, adding more if needed)

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat four

1/4 cup potato flour or 1/2 cup dried potato flakes (instant mashed potatoes)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1 teaspoon table salt


Filling


1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Pinch table salt

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 1/4 teaspoons water

1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (or chop a bar)

1/3 cup pecans, toasted, and coarsely chopped; optional


Egg wash


1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water


Directions


To make the dough: In the bowl of your mixer, or in a large bowl (if you are planning to mix by hand), combine warm milk, water and sugar, and stir in yeast to dissolve. Allow to sit for a few minutes to activate (read: get foamy and bubbly). Add remaining ingredients and mix to make a soft, smooth dough. Start with the smaller amount of water, adding more bit by bit if the dough is not soft and supple.


Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for 60 minutes, until it's nearly doubled in bulk.


Meanwhile, make the filling: In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients, stirring until smooth. Set aside.


To shape the bread: Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface, and roll or pat into roughly 10" x 15" rectangle. Hint: Rolling on parchment makes moving the bread to the baking sheet much easier.


Lightly press two lines down the dough lengthwise, to divide it into three equal sections.


Spread the chocolate filling mix evenly down the center section, and sprinkle with the chocolate chips and pecans, if using.


To form the mock braid: Cut 1" crosswise strips down the length of the outside sections, making sure you have the same number of strips down each side.


Beginning on the left, lift the top dough strip and gently bring it across the filling diagonally. Repeat on the other side with the top dough strip, so that the two strips crisscross each other. Continue down the entire braid, alternating strips to form the loaf.


Cover the loaf with lightly greased plastic and a cloth or towel, and set it aside to rise until noticeably puffy, about 45 to 50 minutes.


While the braid is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F., Once ready to bake, brush the braid lightly with the egg wash. Bake the loaf for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown.


Remove the braid from the oven and place it on a rack to cool before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Enjoy!


Storage information: Store any leftovers, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.


Hint: I like to slice the loaf, and freeze it that way, so it's an easy grab for breakfast.

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