Monday, September 26, 2011

Time-Out: Chocolate Things

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It’s time for another Cook the Books Book Club selection!  I was so excited when I found out that it was going to be The Homemade Life by Molly Wizenburg.  She is the blog writer of Orangette, which is a beautiful blog that I started reading in college (and never stopped)! The recipes are always delicious and she has a great writing style.  I knew the book was going to be amazing.  Ms. Wizenburg (can I call her Molly?  I want to pretend we are friends) and her writing literally jumped off the pages and I devoured the book in one sitting.  It helped that I was on a train to NY at the time.  She has a ton of recipes in the book which made it hard to pick just one to feature here. 

She focuses much of the book on her family and her own culinary journey through moving away from home (to France and Seattle), starting her blog, and finally meeting, and marrying her husband.  The most touching ones, for me, were the remembrances about her father who passed away, and her family when she was growing up.  We had many similar memories; she starts the book with her dad’s potato salad.  My parent's macaroni salad has been featured on my blog.  She pulls a great number of other recipes from neighbors or family friends growing up; similarly, my homemade croutons mirror those stories.

Knowing that Ms. Wizenburg herself (maybe I really should just call her Molly), would be judging this round of Cook the Books made me look through the book a few times over before choosing a recipe.  I thought about Fresh Ginger Cake with Caramelized Pears (John's choice) or replicating her chocolate cake (The Winning Hearts and Minds Cake) and sending it in a care package to M at college (M loves her chocolate).  I thought I had decided on the chocolate cake.  But then I went home to see my mom and dad (where mom promptly stole the book to read herself).  I told her about the one recipe that stuck with me the most—bread and chocolate, which Ms. Wizenburg first had in France when she traveled there with her mom and dad as a young girl.  It is also the simplest, requiring just a french baguette and chocolate pieces.

You all know my family has never been to Europe but my mom said a co-worker of hers often has that as a snack (he is European).  She thought it was weird; but we all know Mom’s palate and mine differ.  Incidentally, bread and chocolate are two of my favorite things, so it was probably no surprise the combination stuck in my mind.  And then, I was hit with a ton of bricks.  I found this recipe at Dishing the Divine for “Chocolate Things”.  Call it a more complex recipe for Chocolate and Bread, but a delicious one all the same.
Chocolate Things (adapted from here)
Serves:  12 (12 buns)
1 cup heavy cream, divided
1 teaspoon white vinegar
2 1/4 teaspoon active yeast
2 1/2 cups flour
6 tablespoons salted butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, divided
6 ounces dark chocolate

In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of cream and vinegar.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Add the remaining cream and heat over low heat until small bubbles form around the sides of the pot.  Remove and pour into a large bowl.  Let cool until warm to the touch and then whisk in yeast.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Add the flour, butter, sugar, and half of the egg mixture.  Using a wooden spoon, stir until the dough forms a ball.  Add additional flour if the mixture looks soupy (I added one tablespoon), the dough should easily form a ball and keep its shape.  Turn the ball out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Cut the chocolate into small squares (I used Hershey's Dark Chocolate and cut each Hershey's mini-bar in half).  Add the chocolate into the bread and knead it just long enough to incorporate all the pieces.  Do not overmix!  Place the dough into a large oiled bowl.  Cover and let it rise until doubled, about 90 minutes (or, let it rise slowly overnight in the fridge; let it sit at room temperature for one hour before continuing).  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll it out into a rectangle.  Dip a pastry brush into the remaining egg mixture and brush it on a long edge.  Working from the other long edge, roll the dough up like a jelly roll.  Cut the roll into 6 one-inch slices and place on the cookie sheet. Cover them with a floured towel and let rise an additional hour.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Brush the tops of the rolls with remaining egg mixture.  Bake for 25-35 minutes, until golden brown.  Serve warm or cool. 

If you’re anything like me and feel like life is comprised of cooking, food, and family, this is the type of book you will love.

Until the next time my oven is on...


  1. I'm going to have to read this book. I love the recipe. Kind of reminds me of chocolate babka, one of my favorite things.

  2. I just called her Molly in my post b/c the same as you, I felt like she was a friend. Great CTB post and this "Thing" sounds decadent!!!!!

  3. This sounds like a really great "snackerel" as my hubby calls something tasty in the middle of the afternoon. So glad you enjoyed the book and joined us this time for Cook the Books.

  4. This is perfect! One of my favorite "snacks" (OK, sometimes breakfast...) is bread with olive oil, melted chocolate and a little sea salt--so good. Your "chocolate things" look even better. Thank you for joining in with Souper Sundays! ;-)

  5. Now I've got to try your Chocolate Things too. They sound delicious.

  6. Now I've got to try your Chocolate Things too. They sound delicious.

  7. Very nice recipe. Extremely tempting.


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Welcome! I'm Dani (aka the Growing Foodie), just a girl balancing her career and passion for all things edible in NYC. I hope you'll join me in my adventures in life, through food. (Click for More)
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