Our friend Deb Perelman, who runs the enormously adored cooking site Smitten Kitchen just published her first cookbook and I got to spend an afternoon in her kitchen making one of the recipes, an insanely decadent breakfast treat: think pretzel meets chocolate meets the most tender brioche dough you've ever laid teeth on. (Here's a peek into her kitchen!)
This is just one of over 100 recipes (and more than 300 photographs, all by Deb) 105-plus recipes. 300+ full-color photos. Smitten Kitchen fans will be pleased to know the book has almost all new material, with just a few old favorites from the site, re-tested and re-worked to perfection.
Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels
for the dough:
1/3 cup (80 ml) whole milk
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 1/4 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
8 tablespoons (115 grams or 1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (6 ounces or 170 grams) well- chopped chocolate (for the best chocolate flavor) or miniature chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest (optional, but lovely if you're into that
for the glaze:
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon water
Coarse or pearl sugar, for finishing
Make brioche: Whisk the milk and yeast together in a small dish until the yeast has dissolved. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, stir together fl our, sugar, and salt. Add the eggs and the yeast mixture, and mix at a low speed until the dough comes together in a shaggy pile. Raise the speed to medium, and beat for 10 minutes; the long mixing time creates the soft, stretchy strands brioche is known for. Add the butter, a third at a time, mixing the dough between additions. Now switch to the dough hook, and knead at low speed until a silky- smooth dough forms, another 5 minutes. Add the chocolate and zest, if using, and run the machine until it is mixed into the dough.
Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm spot for 2 hours, until almost doubled. Alternatively, you can rest the dough in the fridge overnight (or up to 24 hours), bring back to room temperature, and let the rise complete before continuing to the next step.
Meanwhile, line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Form pretzels: Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into eight pieces, about 3 1/4 ounces (93 grams) each. Working with one piece at a time, roll each piece into an 18-inch-long rope about 1/2 inch thick. Curiously, I find these ropes easier to roll and stretch on an unfloured or very lightly oiled surface, but if you find yours sticking too much, lightly fl our your counter before continuing.
To form the pretzel, draw the ends of a rope together to form a circle. About 2 inches from both ends, twist the rope ends together to close the circle-- a full twist, so that the rope end that started on the right side finishes there. Fold the twist down into the circle, adhering the loose ends of the rope at five and seven o'clock on the base. Repeat to make eight pretzel twists. Transfer them to prepared baking sheets, brush them with glaze, and let them rest for about 15 minutes, during which they'll puff slightly again.
To finish: Brush pretzels with glaze one more time, sprinkle with pearl or coarse sugar, then bake for 12 minutes, or until puffed and lightly bronzed. Cool slightly on a rack before serving, if you can bear it.
Cooking note: Unfortunately, I find this to be the rare bread dough that's radically easier to make with a stand mixer. Nevertheless, should you feel up for the challenge, you can vigorously "knead" the dough in a large bowl with a wooden spoon for a good 10 minutes before adding the butter. Yes, this takes longer than your average bread dough, but that long kneading time is what yields the long, stretchy strands essential to great brioche.
Excerpted from THE SMITTEN KITCHEN COOKBOOK by Deb Perelman. Copyright © 2012 by Deb Perelman. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
• Visit Deb's Blog: Smitten Kitchen
• Check out Deb's Book: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook: Recipes and Wisdom from an Obsessive Home Cook
(Images: Deb Perelman)