Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Braid #TwelveLoaves

Chocolate yeast dough and peanut butter yeast dough, braided together, make a wonderful loaf. Two very different flavors that complement each other, intertwined so each bite contains a piece of both.

In many cultures, braids are a sign of unity, symbolic of a bond that is not easily broken. After all, what is a braid but the weaving in and out of three or more strands that become one and are generally stronger for the weaving? You can see where I am headed here.

This month’s theme for #TwelveLoaves is chocolate but I decided that chocolate would not stand alone. This is a loaf of love. Chocolate with peanut butter chips and peanut butter with chocolate chips. Because we are all a little sweet and all a little salty and it’s the combination of the two that makes life interesting.

The chocolate dough has been slightly adapted from David Lebovitz’s Chocolate Bread and the peanut butter dough has been adapted from Celine Steen’s Peanut Butter Bread.

For the chocolate dough:
6 tablespoons or 90ml milk, heated until just tepid
1 envelope active dry yeast (1/4 ounce or 7g)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 ounces or 45g bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 egg - yolk and white separated
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups or 190g flour
2 scant tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I used the special dark.)
1/3 cup or 60g real peanut butter chips

For the peanut butter dough:
1/2 cup or 120ml milk
1 envelope active dry yeast (1/4 ounce or 7g)
1/4 cup or 65g smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 cups or 190g flour
3 tablespoons, packed, dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup or 65g semi-sweet chocolate chips

First we’ll make the chocolate dough.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk. Add one tablespoon of the sugar and it set aside in a warm place for 10 to 15 minutes or until it gets foamy.

Put your butter and chocolate in a microwaveable bowl and give it a few quick zaps of 20 seconds, stirring in between, until both are just melted and form a smooth chocolate syrup.

Add the remaining sugar, the egg yolk, vanilla, and sea salt to the yeast bowl and mix well. (Reserve your egg white for glazing the loaf before baking.)

Stir in half the flour and cocoa powder.

Add the chocolate syrup and stir again.  Now add the remaining flour and stir until completely incorporated.

Beat for five minutes with the dough hook in your mixer or knead by hand.  The dough will be quite moist but I found that the butter kept it from being too sticky.

Cover the bowl and let rise in a warm place for two hours.

Now we’ll make the peanut butter dough.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the milk. Add one tablespoon of the sugar and it set aside in a warm place for 10 to 15 minutes or until it gets foamy.

Add the remaining sugar, vanilla, and sea salt to the yeast bowl and mix well.

Stir in half the flour.

Now add the peanut butter and the remaining flour and stir until completely incorporated.

Place dough on a clean, lightly floured surface and start kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Add extra flour if the dough is too sticky. I tried to knead in my mixer with the bread hook but this dough was just too soft.  Kneading by hand worked best.

Cover and let rise for 1 – 1 1/2 hours in warm place.

The two doughs. The chocolate has risen a little and the peanut butter is just ready for rising.

When both of your doughs have done their rising, it’s time for the braid!

Punch down both doughs, adding in the chocolate chips to the peanut butter dough and the peanut butter chips to the chocolate dough, reserving a few to poke on top for decoration before baking. Knead a little bit to work them in.

Now break or cut each ball in half and roll the pieces out into dough snakes about 16 inches or cm long. The chips will keep wanting to fall out. Just poke them back in.

Now lay all four “snakes” out on your baking pan which has been lined with a sheet of parchment. In order to get the best braided look, start with the two chocolate ones and the two peanut butter ones next to each other. I took photos of every step of the braiding but I have to admit, they are hard to follow. So I am going to send you to the link I used to make the braid where the illustrations are clear and the instructions are easy to follow: How to braid challah. Go ahead, I’ll wait here.

Okay!  Now put the braid in a warm, draft-free place to rise again for another hour. My house is still quite chilly, so I covered the loaf with a big plastic container and set the whole thing over the sink filled with hot water.  Then I put a pan on top that was filled with hot water. You do what you need to!

About 10 minutes before the rising time is finished, preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.

When the rising time is finished, whisk your egg white and brush it gently on the loaf. Add the reserved chips if desired.

Bake in your preheated oven for about 30-35 minutes or until it sounds hollow when you tap it.  Mine got a little too dark because somehow my oven shot up to 375°F or 190°C while the bread was baking. Don’t let this happen to yours! The chips got quite dark as well, but fortunately, they didn’t taste any different. Mr. Lebovitz offers the useful tip that you can insert an instant read thermometer in the middle (I poked mine in from the side so the hole wouldn’t show.) and a ready loaf will read 180°F or 82°C when it’s done.)

Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing.


The perfect bite, with some of each flavor!

The first warm slices were excellent with the dark chocolate perfectly complementing the rich peanut butter. If you really want to take this over the top, toast slices the next morning for breakfast and spread them with a little more peanut butter while still warm.

Looking for more chocolately bread goodness? You have come to the right place!


  1. What an innovative loaf, Stacy!!! Gorgeous and oh, so yummy!!!

  2. Stacy! I love this bread! and love the meaning behind it. . can I say that I love the photo showing your hand with the dough ball? I think you can tell so much about a person from looking at their hands .. beautiful! and I would totally devour a big slice of this chocolate peanut butter bread!

  3. Being Italian I'm not used to peanut butter. Your recipe is convincing me to try it...with chocolate and bread.

  4. A loaf of love for sure and one I'd totally love to eat. Wow. Be still my peanut butter and chocolate loving heart!

  5. I love the symbolism behind the braid....and...I mean...chocolate and peanut butter are always a match made in heaven!!

  6. Wow-- as if the two flavors of bread dough weren't enough you had to go over the top and add those chips-- wow, wow!!

  7. Wow what a braid! Peanut butter and chocolate AND peanut butter and raspberry jam are one of my all time favorite flavor combos and you've used that in a bread! Delicious!

  8. That is a beautiful loaf! I love the dough with the chips. Such a beautiful contrast and my most favorite flavor combo!

  9. I've died and gone to bread heaven. I wonder how long it would take to ship this to New York... :)

  10. That looks so wonderful = and yet so complicated! You did a wonderful job because it looks like a piece of artwork. Bet it tastes great too!

  11. Chocolate AND peanut butter AND bread - there is just way too much goodness for me to handle here!

  12. Why, thank you! I was pretty pleased with myself. :)

  13. Oh my goodness. I need to make this bread! I needs to be in my life and it's beautiful!

  14. I love how you braided the bread. I tried this once but the instructions were confusing, so thanks for including the link to explain it. I imagine that any leftover bread (if there is any) would make a yummy bread pudding too.

  15. It would make an amazing bread pudding, now that you mention it, Felice!

  16. Thanks, Susan! I was pretty pleased with it myself.

  17. It was indeed seriously decadent, but somehow, a glass of cold milk cuts right through the sweet and it's just perfect then.


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