Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter Brunch: Be sure and Make it Chocolate

Here are two make ahead Chocolate Recipes for Easter Brunch. The first is from Melissa d'Arabian (Food Network) for Chocolate French Toast. The second is from King Arthur Flour for Killer Chocolate Muffins.

This Chocolate French Toast Recipe is adapted from Melissa d'Arabian's recipe (Pain Perdu)
What I like about this recipe is that everything can be made in advance, ready to pull out of the oven and bake when you're ready. I've adapted it just a bit.

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup sweet butter, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla  (Madagascar)
Pinch kosher salt
1/2 cup dark chopped chocolate (I've used Akinoisie, Amano, Scharffen Berger of various % cacao and from different regions)
2 large eggs
6 slices brioche, crusts removed and cut into triangles (but you can use any white or egg/challah bread)
9- by 5-inch baking dish

In a small pot over low heat, add 1/4 cup cream, milk, sugar, 3 tablespoons butter, vanilla and salt and bring to a simmer.
Put the chocolate into a medium bowl and pour in the cream mixture. Let sit until the chocolate is melted, about 5 minutes.
Add the eggs and mix until well combined.
Grease the baking dish with the remaining tablespoon of butter, and line it with the bread slices, overlapping slightly.
Pour the chocolate mixture over the bread, making sure to cover the tips.
Push the bread down with your fingers to coat the bread completely.
Refrigerate, covered, for at least 2 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Bake until the custard sets and the bread turns golden at the edges, about 30 minutes.
Add the remaining cream to a chilled bowl and whisk until soft peaks form.
Serve the french toast on individual plates with a dollop of cream.

This recipe from King Arthur Flour is one of my favorite Chocolate Muffin Recipes. The King Arthur Website calsl it a Breakfast Muffin, but it can be served (and eaten) any time.  I really haven't changed the recipe much. Just a few tweaks. You'll love these for Easter Brunch and any time. I used the cups/tsp, etc. part of the recipe. And, you probably know I'm not really much of a measurer. It always works.

Chocolate Breakfast Muffins

2/3 cup (2 ounces) Dutch-process cocoa (highest grade)*
1 3/4 cups (7 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 cups (9 3/8 ounces) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon espresso powder

1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (6 ounces) dark chocolate, chopped (I use dark chocolate-75% cacao at least)
2 large eggs
1 cup (8 ounces) whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla (Madagascar)
2 teaspoons vinegar
1/2 cup (4 ounces, 1 stick) sweet butter, melted
coarse pearl sugar, for topping (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a standard muffin pan with paper or silicone muffin cups, and grease the cups.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking powder, espresso powder, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips. Set aside.
In a large measuring cup or medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and vinegar. 

Add the wet ingredients, along with the melted butter, to the dry ingredients, stirring to blend; there's no need to beat these muffins, just make sure everything is well-combined.
Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin; the cups will be heaped with batter, and the muffin will bake into a "mushroom" shape. 

Sprinkle with pearl sugar, if desired.

Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. 

Remove the muffins from the oven, and after 5 minutes remove them from the pan, allowing them to cool for about 15 minutes on a rack before peeling off the muffin papers or silicone cups. 

Serve with butter or strawberry jam (or both) 
You can also make this as a Bundt Cake, mini-muffins or cupcakes 

Have a Great Easter! 

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