Chocolate Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread

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My friends and I have four items that make regular appearances at our dinners: cheese, bread, wine and chocolate. These four things are basically the way to our hearts.

I got together with two of them last night for a wine, cheese and bread night. I said I would bring some of the bread I make in class and a dessert (because making dessert is kind of my thing).

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I was sitting on my couch, thinking about what fun new thing I could whip up for dessert when it came to me.

We love chocolate and bread so it’s only natural that the two come together, right? And chocolate has to make bread at least 100 times better. Never underestimate the power of chocolate.

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Pull-apart bread is the best because its just really fun to eat. It’s already sliced up and you just pull it apart. Couldn’t be easier.

Like most breads, this can be a little time consuming to make. Yeast needs time to rise to create a really good product, so you just have to be a little patient. And don’t be intimidated by the yeast. It wants to work for you.

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When you get to kneading the dough, you’ll find that it’s kind of sticky. That’s okay. If you’re using a mixer just let it do it’s thing. If you’re like me and think kneading dough is therapeutic, just sprinkle on a little more flour as you need it to help it come together.

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Once it’s kneaded, let it rise for at least one hour. You want your little ball of dough to double in size.

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We’re making two loaves of bread (because why not?) so once the dough has risen, divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, roll out into a rectangle. Spread on some melted butter, sprinkle with a cinnamon-sugar mix and throw on some mini chocolate chips. Go crazy.

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Then you’ll cut the dough into squares, stack them on top of each other and put them in a loaf pan. Once in the pan, you’ll need to let it rise for another hour. Be patient. It’s worth it.

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Bake it and wait (or don’t) to dig in.

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This was a hit at girls night. It’s kind of ooey, gooey chocolatey magic. This bread will just make you smile.

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Nothing is better than food that makes you smile.

Chocolate Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread: 

Ingredients: 

Dough:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 oz. butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (combined with 3 tbsp. warm water & a pinch of sugar)
  • 1 egg

Filling:

  • 2 oz. melted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions: 

  1. Heat milk, butter and sugar until butter is melted and sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. In a bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, salt and cinnamon.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine milk mixture, yeast, egg and 2/3 of the flour mixture; combine well. Add remaining flour in two additions, combining well after each addition. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, until a smooth ball forms.
  4. Place in a greased bowl and cover with a towel. Let double, about 1 hour.
  5. Grease two 9″ loaf pans. Combine cinnamon and sugar for filling.
  6. Cut dough in half. Roll into rectangle and brush with 1/2 the melted butter, sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar and chocolate chips. Slice dough into squares. Stack strips and place in loaf pan. Repeat with the other half of dough.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375°.
  8. Bake 25-30 minutes. Let cool slightly and remove from pan.

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Sweet Potato Cheesecake

So here’s the thing.

A few months ago, my friend Jabari challenged me to make a sweet potato cheesecake. At the time he was new to Portland and even though I made him some overly chocolatey fudge cookies to welcome him, he still doubted my baking skills.

Rookie mistake.

He said his aunt makes the best sweet potato cheesecake and bet that I wouldn’t be able to match it.

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Now, I don’t make a lot of cheesecake. Mostly because I’m not a fan, but this cheesecake was delicious. Even my family, who were a little weirded out by the idea of sweet potatoes in a cheesecake, loved it.

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After having half a cheesecake sitting in my freezer for two months, I finally gave Jabari the cheesecake a couple of weeks ago so he could try it. Later that night I got a text saying “Nailed it!!!!” and I was feeling pretty good about myself. Especially since I made the recipe up off the top of my head.

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A couple of days later, I asked him if my cheesecake or his aunt’s was better and he said…

“Aunts…Yours was good though.”, which kind of burst the happy little bubble I was in.

And after all of that, he won’t even let me share my magical recipe with you guys. So mean, right?

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Culinary School: Final Quarter

I’m procrastinating.

I shouldn’t be, but I am. And I’m very good at it.

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This is my last quarter of culinary school and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the quarter that kicks my butt. I’m only taking two classes, which is totally manageable, but one of the classes is my capstone which is a lot of work. We have 10 weeks to come up with a pretty comprehensive business plan for a restaurant we want to own.

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This includes a concept, location, mission statement, business philosophy, menu, recipes, costed recipes, a floor plan, food & beverage purchasing options, hiring processes, job postings and more things than I can even think of off the top of my head.

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On top of that we have a book that goes along with our class and we’re supposed to answer the chapter review questions. I don’t think I’ve answered chapter review questions for a class since high school and I’m not really sure how answering these is going to help me but I’m just going with it.

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At least I have my breads class. There are 16 people in my class which is way too many when we’re making 4-6 breads a day. The good news is my group is pretty much the best group in the class. We get there at 6:30, start the bread-making process (which can take a long time), and walk out the door with bags full of bread at 12:00. {Sidenote: we make a lot of bread…if you’re in the Portland area and ever want some, let me know!}

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Everyday we make what we call a Parisian Daily Bread (because we make it everyday, get it?) 🙂 We also have three or four other breads we make that change each day. I like making bread at home, but because I don’t have all the fancy equipment like a proof box, I don’t do it very often. It’s nice having all the the tools we need at school to make really good bread.

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My dog is obsessed with bread and when I come through the door when I get home she is far more excited to sniff out the bag of bread than greet me. It’s a little heartbreaking. I then have to lock the bread up in a room so she doesn’t eat it all.

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I had plans to share a recipe with you all this week, but the person I made it for has decided he doesn’t want me to share my recipe with anyone so I won’t. But keep your eyes peeled for something fantastic this time next week!

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