Rosemary & Bittersweet Chocolate Quick Bread

rosemary-chocolate-bread-recipe

My favorite baking book this year has to be Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole Grain Flours. The recipes are wholesome, accessible and appealing; the photography has a warm, rustic simplicity that I love. When I browse through the book I want to make – and taste – just about everything in it.

I’ve been experimenting with switching out butter for olive oil in baking, which led to Olive Oil & Cocoa Brownies a few weeks ago. I’ve also had this recipe for Olive Oil Cake from Kim Boyce’s book flagged for months, and after making it a few times I can say it’s definitely a keeper.

These are perfect little breads to give as gifts, or to snack on when you crave a bite of something not-too-sweet.

rosemary-chocolate-bread-recipe

I have a special place for rosemary in my cooking, so any time I see an opportunity to highlight its distinctive piney-lemon character I jump in to explore.

The first time I baked this lightly sweet cake (to me it’s actually more of a quick bread than a cake), I threw in some freshly grated lemon zest. Lemon is a nice partner with the fruity taste of the olive oil and chocolate, but it got a little lost in there.

Next, I tried adding some ground coriander, a spice that has essential elements of citrus and balsam. You barely notice it in the background, but I think it naturally unites the slightly unusual pairing of chocolate with rosemary and olive oil.

I couldn’t help gilding the rosemary, so I sprinkled rosemary sugar leftover from my Italian Greyhounds over the tops just before putting them in the oven.

Rosemary & Bittersweet Chocolate Quick Bread

Yield: 1 standard loaf or 4 mini loaves

Ingredients

3/4 cup spelt flour (or use an equal amount of all purpose flour)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

3 eggs

1 cup olive oil

3/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch or smaller pieces

Rosemary sugar

Instructions

  1. Position an oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly coat 4 small loaf pans (5" x 2") or one regular loaf pan with olive oil. Place the pans on a baking sheet. If using a single loaf pan, you can skip the baking sheet.
  3. Put the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and coriander in a large bowl. Use a whisk to blend the dry ingredients.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly. Add the olive oil and whisk together. Add the milk and rosemary and mix again just to blend.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, stirring gently to combine. Stir in the chocolate until evenly distributed.
  6. Divide the batter among the pans and smooth the top. Sprinkle tops evenly with some Rosemary Sugar, about 2 teaspoons each, or regular sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes for small loaves; 45- 50 minutes for standard loaf or until the tops are domed and a skewer inserted in the middle of the loaves comes out clean.
  8. Cool on a rack before slicing either warm or cool.
http://familystylefood.com/2011/04/rosemary-bittersweet-chocolate-quick-bread/

Olive Oil & Cocoa Brownies

Olive Oil and Cocoa Brownies

One of my all-time favorite food descriptions comes from Nigella Lawson writing about her Chocolate Guinness Cake, “magnificent in its black dampness”.

Along with her very being, she has a voluptuous way with words – surprise! I could go on quoting Nigella, but I’ll leave that topic for now or things might get sweaty.

I couldn’t help thinking of her words when I made these brownies. Instead, I suppose you could say they’re dark, moist and rich, but black dampness is so much more sensual and tempting, don’t you think?

Olive Oil & Dark Cocoa BrowniesOlive Oil and Cocoa Brownies

Olive oil baked into brownies might seem strange, but trust me, if you take your brownies fudgy these are for you.  And how healthy for us that olive oil and cocoa happen to be loaded with antioxidants, phenols, flavonoids and who knows what else.

I used extra virgin olive oil and extra dark Dutch process cocoa, Hershey’s Special Dark for the brownies pictured here. There’s no detectable olive oil flavor that comes through so if you must use regular olive oil rather than extra virgin that would be okay; however using good quality cocoa is key.

I’ve also made this recipe with natural cocoa (which simply means it’s not treated with an alkalizing agent) and ironically, while they are not as dramatically dark in color, the chocolate flavor is actually deeper.  Green and Black could be my favorite cocoa; I absolutely recommend you try it.

Olive Oil & Cocoa Brownies

Yield: Makes one 8-inch pan of brownies

Ingredients

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oi

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups unbleached flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup cacao nibs

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees for at least 25 minutes.
  2. Coat an 8-inch square baking dish (glass or porcelain) with olive oil. Cut a piece of parchment to fit just the bottom of the dish and oil that too.
  3. Put the eggs in the bowl of a heavy duty mixer and beat on low for a minute. Increase speed to medium high while adding the sugar 1/2 cup at at time. Beat until the eggs are pale, thick and creamy.
  4. Decrease mixer speed and slowly add the oil in a thin stream, as if you were making an emulsion like mayonnaise. Add the vanilla extract.
  5. Sift together the flour, cocoa and salt into a bowl. Stir into the egg mixture until just incorporated, scraping down the bowl as needed.
  6. Scrape the batter into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the cacao nibs over the top, if using.
  7. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies emerges with some moist crumbs.
  8. Cool the pan completely on a rack before cutting into serving pieces.
http://familystylefood.com/2011/04/olive-oil-cocoa-brownies/

Homemade Nutella

homemade-nutella-recipe

What comes to mind when you think of culinary pairings that seem to make magic together, so absolutely made for each other you can’t imagine tasting one without the other?

I can think of a few right off the bat, like:

lime + ginger

basil + tomatoes

olive oil + garlic

and last but not least:

chocolate + hazelnuts.

In one of my favorite new books, The Flavour Thesaurus, author Niki Segnit writes that when cocoa became scarce and  expensive during the late 19th century, chocolate manufacturers in the Italian Piedmont “bulked out” their product with a paste of hazelnuts, which grew plentifully in the region, thus introducing to the world the taste sensation known as gianduja.

All I can say to the genius who stumbled upon this marriage of convenience is THANK YOU.

Millions of hungry, sugar loving children and their families are grateful, since the discovery eventually led to the production of Nutella, and from there, well, we all know the story.

Let’s just agree that chocolate-hazelnut spread on a piece of bread kicks the ass out of your every day PBJ sandwich.

I love the idea of making my own version of Nutella – as much as I adore the store-bought version, it can be a bit cloyingly sweet. Also when I check the label I’m a little dismayed to see that these days the spread can be ‘bulked out’ with partially hydrogenated oils.

I was inspired by a few different recipes here – one from raw food chef Ani Phyo and another from the LA Times.

After applying my appropriate tweaks, I’m happy to share the results with you. Be aware that the texture is not completely velvety smooth, like the stuff that comes out of a jar. Food processors are a wonder, but can’t completely pulverize the nuts to an ultra fine puree.

However, I enjoy the resulting texture – plus the flavor of this homemade version is so real and luscious it’s almost beyond comparison to anything you can buy.

Homemade Nutella

Yield: about 3 cups

Ingredients

2 cups toasted hazelnuts *

1/2 cup agave nectar

1/4 cup neutral vegetable oil

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

about 1/4 cup cold water

Instructions

  1. Process the hazelnuts in a food processor workbowl until they form a coarse paste. You'll need to scrape the bowl down a few times to fully incorporate.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients except the water and continue to process until somewhat smooth.
  3. Slowly drizzle in the water until you achieve a smooth, emulsified consistency, keeping in mind that you might not need all the water, or might need a bit more.
  4. Scrape the spread into a container and chill in the refrigerator until spreadable; it will keep for about a week. Bring to room temperature before spreading on toast, pouring over ice cream, or directly into your mouth...

Notes

I like the organic, neutral flavor of Omega Nutrtion coconut oil

* To toast hazelnuts, spread on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, until the nuts turn light brown. I don't bother with trying to rub off the skins - I find it too much trouble and the results are about the same.

http://familystylefood.com/2010/06/homemade-nutella/