Friday, March 28, 2014

Pain Au Chocolate (Chocolate Bread, or Bread with Chocolate)

What is Pain Au Chocolate? Well, it's literal translation from French to English is "chocolate bread" but that name just doesn't seem to do it justice. Something more along the lines of Insanely Good Chocolate Filled Bread would describe it better, but not roll off the tongue as well. When I hear "chocolate bread" I think of more like a loaf of quick bread that is all chocolate (like a chocolate zucchini bread or Chocolate Amish Friendship Bread). I guess, that "bread with chocolate" would convey what this heavenly concoction really is. So, think of it that way.
   I got the idea for this when I was watching an episode of The Best Thing I Ever Ate on The Food Network. It's a show where chefs tell viewers some of the best foods they have ever eaten, and where they can go and get it for themselves.Well, if I remember correctly, one of the chefs said that they had the best Pain Au Chocolate at a specific bakery. It went behind the scenes and showed the pastry chef folding a ton of dark chocolate chunks into some bread dough. So, that is what I did and it turned out AMAZING!
    I wanted a contrast of slightly salty dough to the sweet melted chocolate, so I used my recipe for No-Knead French Bread. It worked out perfectly, because the recipe makes two large loafs. So I made one loaf into French Bread for dinner and then used the remaining dough to make this Pain Au Chocolate.
It couldn't be simpler, but it tastes ridiculously good. You may have to lock up away so you don't eat the whole loaf yourself. (At least I had a hard time not consuming it all myself. Luckily I have 5 other chocolate lovers in my house that helped gobble it up before I could. It was gone in just a couple hours.)

Here's all I did:

I rolled out the dough into a large rectangle (just as if I were going to roll it into a French Baguette).

Then I poured on a ton of dark chocolate chunks. It was a little more than half a bag, so I think that is 1 cup. But really, there is no need for measuring here. I just spaced the chocolate out evenly, so that there would be some chocolate in every slice.

Then I rolled it up. (Think cinnamon rolls)

After it was all rolled up, I flattened out the roll.

And added more chocolate. This time I used mini chocolate chips because I wanted to make sure that there was a little chocolate in every bite. Again, I just poured the chocolate on and then pressed the chips into the dough.

Then I rolled it up the opposite direction as before.

And pressed it flat again.

One last addition of mini chocolate chips, (pressed in so they really got into the dough),

and then rolled up one last time.

You can certainly leave it as a loaf shape like this:

But the guy on t.v. made his into a round, so I wanted to also. I just folded my loaf into thirds. (Think billfold.)  My Baby Girl couldn't resist going in for a mini chocolate chip that fell onto the table bu the bread.

I place the bread seam side down and sort of round it out a bit.

Then I placed the chocolate filled bread right next to my French Bread loaf on a parchment line sheet pan.

I sprayed both loafs with some no-stick spray to keep them moist while they rest.

After 30 minutes, I put the bread into the oven. 350F for 30 minutes or so.

The bread is done when it is brown and sounds hollow when tapped.

To make the bread have a softer, saltier crust, I like to rub it all over with salted butter. This has to be done immediately after it comes out of the oven, so that the butter and get absorbed into the crust. (And yes, I just took the whole block of butter and rubbed it on the loaf. It's easier that way. It only takes about a tablespoon. You just want to cover the whole loaf with some butter. The hot bread melts the butter and it coats it really quickly.)

See? All shiny and pretty. Now this is the hard par . . . you have to WAIT! I know. It's torture, but you don't want to cut into it now, or the bread will not have the proper time to set up and it will squish and be a little too doughy. Just do yourself a favor and wait at least 30 minutes before digging in. You'll thank me later.

After you have waited the required minimum 30 minutes you may cut into your beautiful loaf.

See how there are lots of chocolate bits running through the chocolate, but also places where the bread dough is still unadulterated? That;s what you want.

I cut one big slice and then cut that slice in half to be more manageable. But don't think I didn't eat both pieces . . .and then two more . . . and maybe two more after that.

This is my favorite picture. It shows the soft and fluffy white bread and the tempting pockets of melted chocolate within. There are no words that could describe how good this is . . . and how much I wish I had another loaf right now.

What are you waiting for? Go make it!!

Here's the recipe:

Pain Au Chocolate
1/2 recipe of No-Knead French Bread
1 cup dark chocolate chunks
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
no-stick cooking spray
salted butter

Roll the dough out into a large rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick. Spread out the chocolate chunks into an even layer. Roll it up (like cinnamon rolls). Flatten the roll out and spread out 1/2 of the mini chocolate chips, and press them into the dough. Then roll the opposite direction as before. Flatten the roll out, and press the other 1/2 of the chocolate chips into an even layer on the dough. Roll one last time, in the opposite direction and place seam side down. You can bake it in this oval roll/loaf shape but if you want it more round, then fold the loaf into thirds (like a billfold) and place seam side down onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Spray with no-stick cooking spray (or rub with butter). Let the dough rest and rise for 30 minutes. Then heat the oven to 350F and bake for 30-40 minutes. The bread is done when it is brown and sounds hollow when tapped. Take the bread out of the oven and rub it all over with the butter. Let sit to cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Krispies Treats

Ok, so I know the title is a mouthful, but so are these treats. They are wonderfully complex. They are salty and sweet. Crunchy and chewy. Chocolatey and peanut butter-y (are those words?). Anyway they are really something.
   I have had this recipe pinned for a couple years to try. I was watching an episode of Mad Hungry a while back and she was making these rice krispies treats. She told a story of how her college-aged son called her up and asked her to make something quick and easy for a bake sale they were having, and she just threw a bunch of things together and this is what came out. He evidently raved about them, and they sold out in minutes. I did change the recipe from what was written, because it didn't look like it would hold together very well. The ratio of goo (marshmallow) to mix-ins were off. I read some of the reviews and found that to be the case. Some people mentioned how the treats just fell apart. I changed it and they worked marvelously. :)
Here's how they start:

Prepare a 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper. Then spray the parchment paper with no-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
In a large pan, melt together the peanut butter and butter over medium heat.

While the peanut butter is melting, chop 1 1/2 cups of pretzels. Any shape is fine. Just chop them up so that there will be some pretzel in every bite.
When the butter and peanut butter are melted,

add the marshmallows. One 16 oz bag of mini marshmallows.

Over low heat, stir everything together.

When the marshmallows are melted, you can start adding in your mix-ins.

 pretzel pieces.

Rice Krispies cereal and chocolate chips. Turn off the heat and stir everything together with a heat resistant rubber spatula until everything is well combined.

Dump the mixture into the prepared 9x13 dish.

Flatten everything out into an even layer. I find the best tool for this is your hand, but it is very messy, so I recommend only using one hand (so you have a hand free to do things like: answer the phone, console a child or get your hair out of your face).

One everything is pressed together, set it aside to set up. 

After 30 minutes or so you can remove them from the pan and cut them into squares. (This is where the true value of the parchment paper comes into play.)

These treats are definitely not your every-day rice krispies treats. You can see the pretzels and chocolate and little nuts from the peanut butter. 

They are far more interesting.

Have they dethroned my brown butter rice krispies treats? No, but they are a welcomed change from the norm.
Try them for yourselves and see just how amazing they are. :)

Here's the recipe:
adapted from Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Krispies Treats

4 tablespoons butter
16 oz mini marshmallows
1 1/2 cups crunchy peanut butter
6 cups rice krispies cereal
1 1/2 cups mini pretzels, broken/chopped into small pieces
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Line a 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with no-stick cooking spray and set aside.
In a large pot, melt the butter and peanut butter over medium heat. Once they are melted, turn the heat down to low and add the marshmallows. Stir frequently. When the marshmallows are melted, add the pretzel pieces, cereal and chocolate chips. Turn off the heat and stir to combine. Dump mixture out into the prepared dish and press into an even layer. Cool to room temperature. Remove from pan and cut into squares.  

Peanut Butter Crunch Rice Krispies

So my Facebook friend, Lorena posted this link for these Peanut Butter Crunch Rice Krispies Treats. I really wanted to make them that day, because I had everything already in my cupboards, but I knew that if I made them I would eat the whole batch myself (it only makes an 8x8 dish, if that makes me sound any less of a piggy). My hubby was away on a fire, so I couldn't take the bulk of these sweets to him at the station. So, I was good and I waited.
  Almost a week later and I finally broke down and made them. And yes, I sent most of them to the station with my man. (I'm only human, I can't resist a sweet temptation forever.)  These treats are a nice change up from your traditional Rice Krispies Treat, with the additions of peanut butter, chocolate and corn flakes. The recipe also called for the whole thing to be made in the microwave, which intrigued me. I don't use my microwave much except to warm up left overs or melt chocolate.  Full disclosure, I did change the recipe a bit, but not much.
   I ended up making two kinds of Rice Krispies Treats on this same day. The other version (Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Krispies Treats) I have had pinned for a couple years and never got around to making it. It calls for pretzel pieces and chocolate chips right in the mix (instead of the layered look like these ones have). While I really enjoyed both kids of treats, the original (with browned butter) is still my absolute favorite. If you want to stretch your Rice Krispies Treat making wings, then I highly recommend both peanut-buttery treats. Super easy, and really tasty.

Here's how it starts:

Generously butter an 8x8 dish

In a microwave safe bowl, add 1/2 cup of peanut butter (I used crunchy) and 10 oz of marshmallows (I guessed that was a little more than 1/2 of my 16 oz bag of mini marshmallows). The original recipe called for only 1/4 cup of peanut butter, but I found that the marshmallows didn't have enough liquid to thin out. The marshmallows were too gooey and stuck together in a large sticky mass. The extra 1/4 cup of peanut butter helped to smooth things out a bit.

Microwave for 1 minute. The marshmallows will grow A LOT, but don't be afraid. (If you have a bigger bowl than I did I recommend using it. All my large mixing bowls are made of metal, so they are not microwave safe. This is all I had to work with, and it worked o.k.)

While the peanut butter and marshmallows are getting happy in the microwave, measure out the rice krispies cereal into a large mixing bowl. -5 cups please

Mix the melted peanut butter and gooey marshmallows together. (I used a spatula that I sprayed with no-stick cooking spray.) It's VERY sticky!!

Pour the peanut butter/marshmallow mixture into the cereal, and stir.

It will take a few minutes. And you may think to yourself, "There's no way that these are going to come together." But if you work quickly and persistently they will - I promise. 

Dump the whole mixture into the buttered 8x8 dish and press down into an even layer. (The best tools for this is always your hands!)

Now for the second layer. In a microwave safe bowl or Pyrex measuring cup, add 3/4 cup peanut butter and 2 Tbsp butter. (If I make these again, I might omit the butter completely because the final product was a little soft for my taste.)

Melt them together in the microwave for 30 seconds and then stir.

Add 1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips,

and stir until all the chocolate is coated with all the peanut butter mixture. Then microwave for 30 seconds, and stir again.

The chocolate should be melted and your mixture should look something like this. (If your chocolate is not melted after 30 seconds, then stir and microwave for another 20 seconds and stir again.) Remember, I used chunky peanut butter, so there are little nuts in my chocolate.

Next comes the corn flakes. 2 cups. Just add it right into the chocolate mixture,

and stir until every flake is coated.

Spoon the mixture out on top of the rice krispies you made earlier and spread the chocolate layer evenly over the top.

Set this aside to firm up for a couple hours (you can refrigerate it to make it go faster).

When they are set up, just remove them from the pan and cut into squares.

 Here's the recipe:
adapted from Something Swanky Peanut Butter Crunch Rice Krispies Treats

Peanut Butter Crunch Rice Krispies Treats

1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
10 oz mini marshmallows
5 cups Rice Krispies Cereal

3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
2 cups corn flakes cereal

Generously butter an 8x8 dish. Place the peanut butter and the marshmallows in a large microwave safe bowl, and heat for 1 minute in the microwave. Stir until smooth. Mix the melted marshmallow/peanut butter mixture into the Rice Krispies Cereal. Stir with a spatula (sprayed with no-stick cooking spray) until the cereal is completely coated. Gently press into a buttered or lined 8x8 baking dish. Set aside.
For the topping: In a microwave safe bowl, heat together the butter and peanut butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir until smooth. Add the chocolate chips and stir to coat. Microwave for another 30 seconds and stir. (If the chocolate is not yet melted, you can heat it again for another 20 seconds.) Add the corn flakes and stir to coat. Spoon the chocolate/corn flake mixture on top of the rice krispies treats you made earlier and spread into an even layer. Set aside to cool for 2 hours. (You can refrigerate them to make them set up faster.) When they are set, remove from pan and cut into squares.