Sunday, February 20, 2011

Those Italians...

...have done it....again.  Il pane al cioccolato.  Chocolate bread.  Bread with chocolate.  I came across the recipe twice over the past week while flipping through cookbooks.  Since this is the year I've decided to improve my yeast-bread baking skills, what could be a better try than chocolate bread.  Besides, I was intrigued by the concept.  I know there are chocolate filled croissants, but pane al cioccolato just seemed to fall into a different category.  Maybe the Italian in me just wanted it to be different.

For the first attempt, I only made a half recipe.  Next time around, I'll make the full recipe and I'm thinking about making them in mini sizes.  Small enough to fit in the palm of one's hand.  Happy with the results.  It's not over the top like a filled croissant.  Barely sweet, subtly chocolatey, nice texture.  According to my recipe, this is traditionally served as a snack, spread with either marscapone or gongonzola and a glass of red wine. I want to try both options.  Love the idea of the pungency of the Italian blue with a bite of chocolate. I slathered the bread with butter while it was still warm and this morning, lightly toasted it before spreading with butter.

Chocolate Bread (Pane al cioccolato)
Adapted from 'The Italian Ingredients Cookbook'

Makes 2 loaves.

4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips
melted butter, for brushing

Sift flour and salt in a bowl, cut in butter with knife or pastry blender.  Stir in sugar, yeast and cocoa powder. Gradually add 1 1/4 cups of tepid water to flour mixture, stirring with a spoon then bringing together with your hands.  Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.  Cut the dough in half and knead half the amount of chocolate chips into each piece of dough until evenly distributed.  Shape into rounds, place on lightly oiled baking sheets and cover with oiled plastic wrap.  Let rise in warm place for 1-2 hours, until dough has doubled in bulk.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Uncover loaves and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F and bake for 15-20 minutes.  Place loaves on wire rack and brush with melted butter.  Cover with dish towel and let cool.

Pane al Cioccolato

What I ended up changing--I made half the recipe called for and produced a loaf of bread with about a 9-10 inch diameter.  Plenty enough for me.  I also used instant yeast instead of active dry yeast.  I totally omitted brushing butter atop after taking it out of the oven and don't feel as though I lost anything by doing so.  Easy to bring together and wonderful for a weekend breakfast.


  1. It looks yummy!! I need to try baking bread too.

  2. Bread baking=Science + throwing it all together and see what comes out...