This month’s Secret Recipe Club brought me to Evelyn’s blog – Cheap Ethnic Eatz. I was really excited because it was fun for me to be assigned such a diverse and wonderful blog – and written by a lovely lady who resides in my Mama’s hometown of Montreal, Quebec. I was able to visit Montreal, sadly only for a day, several years ago and see a bit of the city. I absolutely LOVED it! Loved everything about it and look forward to going back someday… probably when I’ve learned more French though. We were lucky enough to have my uncle take us on a tour of the downtown area, including the gorgeous Notre Dame Cathedral and some of the older buildings and fountains. He now lives in Ontario, but came down for the day to take us around and be our guide/interpreter.
Anyway, as I went through Evelyn’s archives for ideas on what to make, I came across a couple of recipes that intrigued me – because they were familiar… yet different. I just had to try them, but you know me, I never can leave well enough alone!
The first was for a version of Mexican Sweet Bread or Pan Dulce (conchas) that was different than my usual recipe that I use. I wanted to know what the differences would end up being like when they were made. I’m a big fan of my usual recipe, which originates from a gal who got it from a friend that owns a panaderia. The main differences I noticed in the new recipe and my old standby was that the dough uses less liquid and uses shortening instead of butter and evaporated milk. My usual recipe is more of a sweet, yeast bread, where this one looked like an overall leaner dough which ended up being slightly more cakey and tender.
Obviously from the pictures you can tell that I went off the rails with playing with the recipe anyway. I decided to turn the dough into a dough that hinted at chocolate and wasn’t quite as sweet as usual. I recently went to a blogger event where we got to attend an AMAZING class on Chocolate at a local market here in Salt Lake City – Tony Caputo’s Market & Deli – where I had my eyes opened to a lot of information and knowledge about the wonderful world of chocolate – including finding a new (to me) cocoa powder that smells absolutely dreamy – and the name is super fun to say too (which never hurts!) – Pralus (pronounced Pra-loos). I had to buy some and couldn’t wait to use it, so this Chocolate Pan Dulce was it’s first foray out of the pantry.
In fact, you need to go to Caputo’s new blog and check out the insane amounts of food knowledge they are sharing – this chocolate infographic they put together is incredible and just the tip of the iceberg! They are so dedicated to all things chocolate (real chocolate!) that they even have an online store that makes it easy to find and buy the good stuff.
Source: Caputo’s Deli
Obviously, I love what the Caputo family is doing and have no problem shouting it to my little bloggy world. In fact, back in my old days when I worked in downtown Salt Lake, Caputo’s was my favorite place to go eat lunch (and still is, just not as often since I’m not a couple blocks away every day). Funny enough, I even have a distinct memory of going in for one of their amazing sandwiches just a couple days before I had Aidan, which would put it right about now again almost nine years ago since Aidan’s birthday is Friday! (Trust me. I’ve been many other times since then, but I remember that time specifically because I had just gone over my due date and was impatiently waiting to go into labor!).
Anyway, I digress.
The other difference in the two recipes I noticed was that the new recipe uses confectioners’ sugar for the sugar crust that goes on top of the sweet bread instead of granulated sugar like I’m used to. It made a much more tender and crumbly, soft layer instead of the usual slightly crunchy crust I’m used to. I can’t say that I prefer one over the other now since both were great – I think it would just depend on personal preference. That said, I did find the confectioners’ sugar dough a little tougher to work with since it was softer… which actually helped keep it in place better, so overall, that was nice too.
Mexican Sweet Bread
Either recipe you try, these buns aren’t nearly as hard to make as they look and with such fun and fancy results are a real eye-catching addition to anyone’s brunch or to give as gifts.
Or seriously, just hang on to them and have them for breakfast yourself for the next few days. Your day will start off much nicer.
I won’t tell. Promise.
The other recipe I decided to try was for a Cherry Clafoutis. I’ve made this type of dessert in the past (including a chocolate/raspberry combination), but this one looked different – thinner and more tart/custardy than I was used to. I also realized that I had cherries on hand for once, just waiting to be used and that I’ve never actually made the original cherry version of this dessert.
As always, the batter and dessert are ridiculously simple and straightforward to make, with fun and stunning results. I adapted the recipe slightly to fit in my 10-inch pan and to use the method I’m more familiar with for assembly and serving, which is just a bit more on the rustic side. While cherries are in season, this is definitely the dessert to make (and to be honest, we usually serve it at brunch as well!).
My thanks to Evelyn for having so many wonderful choices and fun ideas to choose from! I hope you’ll follow the links below and check out some more of this week’s SRC reveal or even go and check out the Secret Recipe Club site.
Adapted from Cheap Ethnic Eatz
2 cups of fresh cherries, pitted and cut in half
1 1/3 cup whole milk
1/3 cup evaporated cane sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter
additional sugar for sprinkling (about 2 tablespoons)
10-inch oven-proof skillet
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
On the stovetop, over low heat, melt the butter in the skillet. Turn off the heat and add the cherries to the pan.
In a large bowl, whisk all ingredients except for the flour together well. Slowly add the flour while whisking to combine until just smooth, but don’t over mix. It will probably be a bit lumpy and you can strain it through a fine mesh sieve before pouring the batter over the cherries in the pan. Sprinkle evenly with the additional sugar.
Bake the clafoutis in the oven for 45-50 minutes or until it is golden and the sides have puffed and the center is no longer jiggly. It will deflate immediately out of the oven and can be served slightly warm, at room temperature or cold.
Chocolate Pan Dulce
Liberally adapted from this recipe on Cheap Ethnic Eatz
3 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour, plus more as needed (I used about 1/4 cup more)
1/4 cup cocoa powder (I used Pralus from CaputosChocolate.com)
1/3 cup hot water
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons evaporated cane sugar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons pure vegetable shortening (Spectrum)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
5 large eggs
In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, add the flour, yeast, cane sugar, salt and shortening. Mix together on low to combine and a mix the shortening into small crumbs.
In another bowl whisk together the eggs and vanilla to combine. In a small bowl whisk the cocoa powder, dark brown sugar and hot water till smooth. Add to the egg mixture and whisk to combine.
On low speed, add the wet mixture to the flour mixture and mix to combine and make a soft dough. Switch to the kneading hook attachment and knead on medium speed until a soft, smooth dough is formed, sprinkling with a little more flour as needed until the dough just starts to pull away from the sides and is still tacky, but not so sticky it sticks to your fingers.
Remove the dough and place it in a large buttered bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Make the sugar dough while the sweet bread dough is rising.
SUGAR DOUGH BASE:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Combine the ingredients together in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Divide into two equal pieces for two different flavors/colors.
For the chocolate dough:
Put one of the halves of the sugar dough base back into the mixing bowl and add the following and beat well until the dough is smooth again and all one color:
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
For the vanilla dough:
Put the other half of the sugar dough into a clean mixing bowl and add the following, beating well until the dough is smooth and all one color:
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
enough food coloring of choice to get the desired color (for the deep pink I used Wilton No-Taste red food coloring – about 1/8 teaspoon of it)
Wrap each sugar dough in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for a few minutes while the bread finishes its first rise.
Cut the chocolate sweet bread dough into 16 equal pieces (about 2 ounces each), and roll each piece on the counter to make a ball by cupping it in the palm of your hand and pressing lightly till a smooth ball is formed. Place 8 dough balls each on two separate baking sheets that have been lined with parchment, placing them at least 3 inches apart since they will rise again, but the sugar dough can also tend to slide or melt a bit and touch (I placed them on a half-sheet pan with a 2-1-2-1-2 pattern to leave just enough room).
Divide each of your sugar dough’s into 8 equal pieces. Flatten each piece between the palms of your hands, working quickly with one piece at a time and sprinkling a little more confectioners’ sugar on the dough to help keep it from sticking if necessary. Place the flattened disk on top of a roll – it should be flattened to a circle slightly larger than the dough ball so that it covers the surface and down the sides almost to the pan. Press the sugar dough onto the bread dough firmly, flattening the dough slightly so they stick together. Repeat the process with each sugar dough and dough ball.
Once all the pieces of bread dough are coated with the sugar topping, use a sharp small knife to slash a seashell pattern into the sugar dough (do not cut into the actual bread dough). Place the baking sheets in a warm place to let the dough rise for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the pans, one at a time, for 14-16 minutes. Allow the rolls to cool on the pan for a few minutes. If the sugar crust slides a little and touches another roll you can use a thin spatula while the crust is still warm to separate the rolls and gently press the crust back against each roll. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Makes 16 3-inch rolls.