Chocolate Swirl Buns

These chocolate buns look like little caterpillars, don’t they? My bread kneading skills have improved after several failed attempts, and I think I’ve figured out how to achieve a pretty soft and fluffy texture. However, my shaping skills are still not quite there yet. I still have a long way to go before I can create good looking food. At least I can take heart in the fact that they taste good.

As you can see, I experimented with a few different shapes. I wasn’t really sure what I was doing but I figured it’d be edible anyway. The recipe for the bread is one that I’ve used several times now, and it has always worked for me. I think it’s an incredibly versatile one that can be used for both savory and sweet fillings – the last time I used it was for my hot dog buns.

The chocolate filling I actually made for this batch is actually a departure from the recipe I based it off on. I used all purpose flour instead of cake flour, and replaced the cocoa powder and butter with unsweetened chocolate. I intended on subbing it with an equal amount of unsweetened chocolate, i.e. 28g of unsweetened chocolate for 18g of cocoa powder + 10g of butter but I totally had a brain fart and added in 80g of unsweetened chocolate instead. The texture was fine, but as I tasted it, I grimaced at how bitter it was and added more sugar to it. Unfortunately, I didn’t measure how much I added in – so I recommend just following the recipe I posted below.

Chocolate Swirl Buns
Adapted from Christine’s Recipes
Makes 10 buns

Tang Zhong

25 gm bread flour
125 ml water (feel free to use milk or 50:50 milk/water; I used all milk)

Mix bread flour and water in a saucepan; continually stir over medium-low heat until your whisk/spoon leaves trails in the mixture. Take off heat and let cool.

Bread
350 gm bread flour
55 gm caster sugar
5 gm salt
56 gm egg (1 large egg)
7 gm milk powder (to increase fragrance, optional – I omitted)
125 ml milk
120 gm tangzhong (refer to this recipe for making tangzhong)
5 to 6 gm instant yeast
30 gm butter (cut into small pieces, softened at room temperature)

Chocolate Filling
Adapted from Happy Home Baking
20g cake flour
50g sugar
1 egg white (reserve egg yolk to be used as egg wash)
80ml milk (warmed)
18g cocoa powder
10g butter

Combine all dry ingredients: flour, salt, sugar and instant yeast in a bowl. Make a well in the center. Whisk and combine all wet ingredients: milk, egg and tang zhong, then add into the well of the dry ingredients. Knead until you get a dough shape and gluten has developed, then knead in the butter. Mind you, it’d be quite messy at this stage. Keep kneading until the dough is smooth, not sticky and elastic. (Tip: you might like to test if the dough is ready. Stretch the dough with two hands. If it forms a thin “membrane” that’s very elastic in texture. Use a finger to poke a hole. If the hole is a circle, not an irregular tear-off. That means you have successfully kneaded the dough to a perfect stage. Yet, don’t over-knead the dough. Otherwise all the tissues inside would be broken apart.) The time of kneading all depends on how hard and fast you knead.

Knead the dough into a ball shape. Place in a greased bowl and cover with a wet towel or cling wrap. Let it proof till it’s doubled in size, about 40 minutes (Note: the time will vary and depends on the weather. The best temperature for proofing is 28C.)

While waiting for dough to rise, make chocolate paste. Mix sugar and cake flour into the egg white until smooth. Place milk in a saucepan and heat till just simmering. Add coca powder into the milk and stir till cocoa powder is incorporated into milk. Add egg white mixture into the cocoa mixture and stir over low fire till mixture thickens. Add in butter and stir till incorporated. Leave chocolate paste to cool. Keep refrigerated before use.

Once dough has doubled in size, transfer to a clean floured surface. Deflate and divide the dough into ten equal portions. Knead into ball shapes. Cover with cling wrap, let rest for 15 minutes.

Knead each portion into a flat circular shape and place about two tablespoons of chocolate filling inside. Place rolls on a tray lined with baking paper, covered with cling wrap or a wet towel. Leave it for the 2nd round of proofing, about 45 to 60 minutes, until double in size.

Brush whisked egg on surface of rolls. (I omitted this) Bake in a pre-heated 180C (356F) oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer onto a wire rack and let cool completely.

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

This is how chocolate cake should be. With stout in it. Don’t be surprised if I sneak a spoonful of stout into future chocolate cakes and brownies. After attempting this recipe twice, I think stout is going to be my favorite alcohol to bake with. It complements chocolate extremely well, and the half cup that goes into a batch of a dozen cupcakes leaves you with more than enough beer in the bottle to sip as you work along. Baking whilst tipsy is quite enjoyable.
This recipe yields an incredibly moist cake that is also very straightforward to put together. I used a cream cheese frosting for this batch, but I think adding a tablespoonful of Bailey’s to the frosting would go wonderful with the cake. As a testament to how truly awesome this recipe is, I made it twice. In a row. The first time, I used Brooklyn Brewery’s limited edition Dark Chocolate Stout, and it was quite fabulous. Guinness is delicious too, but I would recommend using chocolate stout if you can find some. I also halved the original recipe, so click through if you want to scale up.

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes
Adapted from Cookie Madness
Makes 1 dozen cupcakes

1/2 cup Guinness Stout (or dark chocolate stout)
1 sticks butter (4 oz)
3/8 cup Dutch process unsweetened cocoa powder or Hershey’s Dark
1 cups all purpose flour
1 cups granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/8 teaspoons salt
1 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners.

Place butter in a saucepan and turn heat to medium. When butter is almost completely melted, add stout and cook over medium until mixture starts to simmer. Reduce heat slightly, add cocoa powder and stir or whisk until smooth. Remove from heat.

In a mixing bowl, thoroughly whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.

In a second bowl, using an electric mixer, beat eggs until thick and lemon colored – beat for a full five minutes. Add the sour cream and beat until combined. Add the stout mixture to the egg mixture and stir just until mixed. Add the flour mixture and stir until well mixed.

Divide the batter equally among the muffin tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes minutes or until cakes test done (toothpick inserted comes out clean). Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then let cool on a cooling rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Allrecipes
Makes 1 1/2 cups

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

Cream cream cheese and butter together till light and fluffy. Mix in the sugar. Refrigerate after use.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

As meaningless as the words “red velvet” as a flavor might be if you’re not American, I was very intrigued by it. Red velvet. Doesn’t that sound luscious, calling to mind imagery of rich, sensuous, luxury? And red velvet desserts are often visually very striking as well. (Unless you make an albino red velvet cake, like I did.) I know it’s all food coloring, but for me, the best part of a red velvet cake is its cream cheese frosting. What really got me into baking was cheesecake. I think my first ever successful baking experiment was a rainbow cheesecake, which you can view here. Since then, cream cheese and I have had a great affinity for each other.

What better way to maximize the cheesecake effect than to incarnate red velvet in a red velvet cheesecake brownie form? This recipe is very easy to follow. Texture-wise, it’s not quite as fudgey as I’d like, but I wouldn’t call it cakey either. It falls squarely in the middle of the two, but gets fudgier if you chill the brownies before eating. I also have a pretty hard time getting the cheesecake layer to marble nicely, but I think that’s because I put too much of the brownie layer on top. I think the trick is to reserve less of the batter than you think you might need.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies
Adapted from FoodNetwork.com
Makes 1 8×8 inch pan

Red Velvet Brownie Layer:

6 tbsps unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon red food coloring
1 teaspoon vinegar
2 eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Cream Cheese Layer:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter an 8 by 8-inch baking pan or line it with parchment/aluminum foil, and set aside.

Brownie layer: In a saucepan on medium heat melt the butter. Remove the butter to a large bowl and add the sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder, salt, food coloring, and vinegar, in that order, mixing between additions. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and stir it into the cocoa mix. Fold in the flour until lightly combined. Stir in the walnuts and pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, saving 1/4 cup of the batter for the top.

Cream cheese layer: Blend together the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Gently spread the cream cheese layer on top of the brownie batter in the pan. Dollop the remaining brownie batter over the cream cheese layer. Using a skewer or the tip of a knife, drag the tip through the cream cheese mixture to create a swirl pattern. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before cutting.