Bread, Chocolate, Orange

Chocolate and Orange Bread

I’m a fan of bread. I tend to make one loaf a week, usually using my no-knead recipe or my sourdough no-knead recipe (as I also have sourdough in my fridge). But sometimes I want to break out and try something brand new, and sometimes that experiment doesn’t work out that well. The flavors of this loaf are amazing, but I definitely messed up the braiding. I plan to come back to this recipe in the future.

For now though, I was inspired, as I often am, by the Great British Bake Off, and I decided to adapt Paul Hollywood’s Chocolate Cherry Loaf into a Chocolate and Orange braided bread.

Start to finish, this recipe takes about 3 1/2 to 4 hours to complete, but the majority of that time is for proving and baking.

A note on rising: when in doubt, rely more on how much the dough has grown rather than the recommended proving time in bread recipes. Ambient temperature affects proving time, and colder kitchens like mine usually require the maximum amount of time and then some to “double in size.” 

Chocolate and Orange Bread

  • 3 3/4 cups bread flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp rapid rise yeast
  • 1 3/4 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
  • the zest and juice of two oranges
  • 1 1/3 cups water*
  • 2.5 tbsp olive oil

*After removing the zest of a medium sized orange, juice it and add water to measure 1 1/3 cups total. Alternatively, just use 1 1/3 cups water.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, salt, brown sugar, yeast, and chocolate chips.

In another bowl, combine the zest, juice, water, and olive oil together.

With the mixer on medium-low speed, gradually add the liquid. Because you’re using a dough hook, it won’t fully incorporate, so use a spatula or your hands to periodically help the dough become a cohesive mass. Knead in the mixer on medium-low speed for 4-5 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for a couple turns just until it comes together as a smooth, elastic, and slightly sticky ball. Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover in plastic, and let it rest for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.

         

Split the dough into 3 pieces of equal weight and shape into a 3-strand plait. I used this tutorial by The Bread Kitchen to help me through this process. The resulting loaf is fairly short, and you may lose a few shards of chocolate along the way. Cover the braid and let it rise an additional hour.

I completely messed up the two-strand plait here, so don’t trust me with braiding instructions, ha!

In the meantime, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and prepare an egg wash by beating an egg with about half a tablespoon of water. Brush the egg wash over the bread, making sure to coat the braids and down the sides.

Bake the bread for 25 minutes at 400F, reduce the heat to 375F and bake for an addition 20 minutes. The loaf should be golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

 

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Chocolate, Cupcakes, Fruit, Orange

A Classic Flavor Combination: Chocolate and Orange

After a brief hiatus, I figured I’d dive back into my favorite treat: cupcakes. Now, I typically don’t like chocolate and fruit mixed together. Chocolate-covered strawberries? Give them to someone else.

But chocolate and orange? Now that’s a match made in heaven. These cupcakes are super easy to make too: just mix the dry goods together; mix the wet ingredients; mix dry and wet; fold in the chocolate chips. I love recipes like this.

Chocolate and Orange Cupcakes

yield: 24 cupcakes

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • zest of one orange
  • 2 six-ounce containers vanilla yogurt (not greek)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup miniature chocolate chips, plus more for decorating

Toss 1 tbsp flour with miniature chocolate chips to coat. Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, sift the remaining flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together the melted butter, zest, yogurt, and sugar to combine. Add in the eggs and whisk until homogeneous.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet. Mix until it comes together; a few lumps are okay, but it should not be overly lumpy. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Bake in an oven preheated to 325 degrees for about 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting with orange buttercream and topping with chocolate chips.

Orange Buttercream

yield: about 4 cups; enough to frost 24 cupcakes

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • the zest of one orange
  • 3-4 tbsp orange juice

Cream the butter and 2 cups of the confectioner’s sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes on medium speed in a stand mixer.

Add in 3 tbsp of orange juice and 1 1/2 cups of confectioner’s sugar. Cream until smooth. Adjust frosting according to stiffness and taste with the remaining orange juice and sugar.

Chocolate, Cupcakes, Orange

A Nip and a Chocolate Chip

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I love chocolate and orange. Inspired in part by Probably This’ Chocolate Chip Grand Marnier Cake, this is a light, gluten-free chocolate chip and orange cupcake. They are topped with a lighter version of my vanilla buttercream frosting – where I use whole milk in lieu of cream – and a dark chocolate and Grand Marnier ganache.

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Chocolate Chip Orange Cupcake yield: 24 cupcakes

  • 2 1/2 cups gluten-free flour (I’m using Krusteaz Blend, but your favorite blend, or all-purpose flour would work just fine)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 six-ounce container vanilla yogurt (not greek)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • zest from two oranges
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup miniature chocolate chips + 1 tbsp gluten-free flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line two muffin tins with 24 cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In another large bowl, combine the yogurt, butter, sugar, zest, and vanilla. Mix in the eggs, one at a time just until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until it comes together. Toss the chocolate chips in 1 tbsp of flour and fold them in.

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Using a 1/4 cup measure – or two large spoons, as I’ve recently found helpful – fill each cupcake liner and bake in the preheated oven for 15-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (though some melted chocolate may be attached).

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Let them cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

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Lighter Vanilla Buttercream Frosting yield: enough to generously frost 12 cupcakes

  • 1 cup salted butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted to remove lumps
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 4-5 tbsp whole milk

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter for at least 3 minutes on medium-high speed, until nearly white in color. Add in 2 cups of the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla, mixing on low to incorporate. Increase speed and mix on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes longer. Add the remaining 1 1/2 – 2 cups of confectioner’s sugar alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the sugar.

Frost the cupcakes and refrigerate them prior to topping them with the chocolate ganache (it helps the ganache cool more quickly)

Dark Chocolate Grand Marnier Ganache yield: more than enough to decorate 12 cupcakes

  • 6 oz dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp Grand Marnier orange liqueur
  • 1 tbsp butter

Chop the chocolate and place in a bowl. Heat the cream until at a simmer. Pour over the chocolate and let it sit for 1 minute. Add in the Grand Marnier and butter, stirring until smooth and glossy. Drizzle over the cupcakes.

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Bourbon, Cocktail, lemon, Orange, Waste Not Want Not

And now for something a little different…

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Let’s talk cocktails. Now, most of my recipes on this blog are going to be sweet confections and baked goods, but I’m a sucker for a good cocktail and a well-stocked home bar. I also hate wasting ingredients which is where the idea for this post originated: throwing away herbs.

If you’re like me, you will occasionally purchase a package of herbs in order to make a recipe that will undoubtedly only use a small portion of them. My rosemary and thyme chicken is one of my favorite go-to dinners. By the time I make it again, though, the herbs have wasted away, their flavorful life force succumbing to the ravages of time and neglect.

But no more!

I have two great uses for left over herbs: My Rustic No-Knead Bread becomes savory and delicious with the addition of rosemary, thyme, chives, garlic, or any or all of the above.

But if I don’t want to take the time to make bread, I’ll turn herbs and citrus fruit into a delightful Homemade Sours Mix for my bar. The addition of herbs to a sours mix adds a certain sophistication to your cocktail: orange-basil sours makes a delicious alternative to the classic “Old Fashioned” bourbon cocktail, and lemon-thyme sours is a perfect replacement for a Tom Collins (or pretty much any gin-based cocktail). So don’t let those herbs go to waste! All this recipe takes is a little patience and a little thyme.

Homemade Herb Sours Mix

This is a ratio recipe so it can be adapted to however much citrus juice you plan to use.

  • 1 part sugar
  • 1 part water
  • 1 part citrus juice
  • Left over herbs of pretty much any reasonable quantity

Peel the citrus fruit and set the peel aside.

Juice the fruit to determine the amount of juice you have. For example, when I juiced two lemons and one orange, I had a total of 3/4 cup juice, so I also measured out 3/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup water. Combine the sugar, water, and add the peel of the citrus fruit and all of the herbs wholesale. Just dump them all in, stems and leaves and all.

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Heat over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, and the mixture is barely simmering. The herbs should brighten up a bit and the peels should just begin to become translucent. Let it cool completely before straining. Make sure to press the peel and herbs to extract all of the flavorful goodness out of them. Once the syrup is cool, combine with citrus juice. Enjoy in a cocktail of your liking (ideas to come…).

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I love this little bottle I purchased at Michaels.

blueberry, Honey, Muffins, Orange

Blueberry Orange Honey Muffins

Plump, juicy blueberries and hints of orange and honey make for a perfect breakfast on a summer morning.

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With all of the confection and cupcake-baking I do, it’s easy to forget the simple pleasures of homemade bread and muffins. These blueberry muffins embody everything that is good about the summer.


Blueberry Orange Honey Muffins

yield: 12 regular-sized muffins or, if you’re a gluttonous fool like me, 6 – 8 large muffins

  • 1 large orange
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees or 350 if using dark pans. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin (or a 6-cup one if you prefer large, bakery-style muffins). You can also use cupcake liners in a pinch.

Zest and juice the orange. Measure out 1/2 cup of juice. If you’re a little bit under, add water to measure a half cup.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the zest, juice, butter, sugar, honey, eggs, and yogurt.

In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add the wet works to the dry goods, and whisk just to combine. Don’t over-mix; it’s okay to have lumps in muffin batter. Fold in the blueberries.

Divide the batter among the muffin tin, filling each cup about 3/4 full. Bake in the preheated oven for about 18-20 minutes, until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you’re making the larger version of these bad boys, you’ll bake them for 24-26 minutes.

Enjoy plain, or with butter and marmalade or jam.

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