Today, I’m sharing another favorite recipe from Bread Toast Crumbs: Chocolate-Studded Panettone. Scented with vanilla, loaded with dark chocolate, this sweet bread is a nice one to have on hand this time of year for holiday brunches or teas, and it makes a great gift. Panettone classically is baked in large paper molds (as pictured above) but if you can’t find them, you can fashion your own (see recipe notes) or simply divide the dough in half and bake it as the original recipe in two 1-qt Pyrex bowls.
Over the weekend, inspired by a photo in the King Arthur Flour catalog, I made mini panettone and sprinkled the just-baked, butter-brushed domes with pearl sugar. Wrapped with baker’s twine, the festive little loaves assured me that no matter how behind in holiday-gift buying I may be, a homemade chocolate-studded parcel can always come to the rescue.
From Bread Toast Crumbs
Around the holidays, it’s nearly impossible to walk by an Italian market and not feel lured by the loaves of panettone bundled in cellophane and tied with bows, like presents begging for a home. It’s almost a cross between a cake and a bread, and while it couldn’t be more beautiful, I’ve never loved the traditional flavorings: citrusy, floral extracts and candied fruit. But when these seasonings are replaced with vanilla and chunks of chocolate, which suspend in the buttery crumb, well, this is a panettone I can get behind: a treat freshly baked, and even better one day later, toasted, spread with butter, and sprinkled with sea salt.
If you make a little mark on the side of the paper mold, it will help you know when the dough has doubled and is therefore ready to be baked:
From Bread Toast Crumbs
Yield= One 1-lb panettone; serves 10-12
Find Panettone molds online or in specialty stores:
- 4 cups (512 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ¼ cup (55 g) sugar
- 2½ teaspoons instant yeast
- 1½ cups 2 percent or whole milk
- ½ cup boiling water
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Softened unsalted butter, for greasing
- 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 60% to 70% cacao, coarsely chopped into ¼- to ½-inch pieces
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, and instant yeast. In a medium bowl, combine the milk, water, 4 tablespoons melted butter, and vanilla. Stir to combine, then add to the flour. Using a rubber spatula, mix until the liquid is absorbed and the ingredients form a sticky dough ball. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot to rise for 1½ to 2 hours, until the dough has doubled in bulk.
- Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 375°F. Grease a panettone mold (see Note) with the softened butter—be generous. Sprinkle the chocolate pieces over the surface of the dough. Using two forks, deflate the dough by releasing it from the sides of the bowl and pulling it toward the center. Rotate the bowl quarter turns as you deflate, turning the mass into a rough ball. Keep turning the dough in this manner until the chocolate is incorporated.
- Use your two forks to transfer the dough to the prepared mold. If the dough is too wet to transfer with forks, lightly grease your hands with butter or oil, then transfer it to the mold. Do not cover the mold. Let the dough rise on the countertop near the oven (or another warm, draft-free spot) for 20 to 25 minutes, until the dough has doubled in bulk—it may not crown the rim, but it will come close.
- Set the mold on a sheet pan and transfer it to the oven. Bake the mold for 40 to 45 minutes, or until uniformly brown. Remove the pan and mold from the oven and set the mold onto a cooling rack. Brush the top with the remaining tablespoon melted butter. Let the panettone cool for at least 1 hour before cutting it.
Note: Find panettone molds in specialty stores and online, or make your own: Use a 6- to 7-inch round baking dish. Stand a piece of parchment paper vertically along the inside edge so that it extends past the height of the pan at least 5 inches. Cut as needed and use a stapler to secure multiple sheets as necessary. Nonstick cooking spray will be easier to use than softened butter. Or, if you don’t feel like making your own mold, you can also divide the dough in half and bake it in two 1-quart Pyrex bowls.
If you're making mini panettones, divide the dough into 6 portions.
If you'd like to use pearl sugar, remove the loaves from the oven 5 minutes before they finish baking, brush with butter, sprinkle with sugar, and return to the oven for 5 minutes more.