This is my chocolate and cherry version of a brioche: very rich, with a buttery interior that is actually very light to eat and practically melts in the mouth.
A filled brioche might not be the done thing but I will not lose any sleep over that! As I wanted dark chocolate and rum-soaked cherries in there, I decided to have them just in the centre of each brioche rather than worked through the dough, so you get a nice surprise as you bite into them.
Boozy cherries: a kitchen must-have!
The cherries I used here had been soaking in rum so they were very plump, juicy and boozy, but any liqueur will work well. I have a couple of kilner jars of cherries, one of which is permanantly soaking in kirsch; the other soaking in rum: perfect to use as the mood takes me!
When there is the fear of the jars becoming empty, I simply pop in a few more dried cherries or alcohol, give it all a bit of a stir and leave them alone until the next time.
About the recipe
I use a brioche recipe here that I have used for decades, as well as topping each with sugar nibs for a lovely sweet crunch, and giving them a light glaze of rum syrup.
I used small silicone brioche moulds for these but it can be made into one large brioche or simply as small bread rolls, in which case bake the larger one for about 40 minutes (covering with foil after about 3 minutes if it is getting too dark), and the rolls for 15-20 minutes.
Recipe: chocolate & cherry brioches (makes 9)
- a amall handful of dried cherries
- a generous splash of rum, kirsch or alcohol of choice
For the dough:
- 300g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 7g instant yeast
- 6g fine sea salt
- 40g golden caster sugar
- 50ml cold whole milk
- 3 medium eggs
- 2 medium egg yolks (the whites freeze perfectly in an airtight container)
- 180g unsalted butter, slightly softened
- the soaked cherries, above
- a few squares of dark chocolate (70% solids or thereabouts), broken into smallish chunks
- 1 egg yolk beaten with a splash of milk
- a few teaspoons of white nibbed sugar, sugar pearls or even demerara (optional)
- rum syrup (rum, water and sugar simmered together until syrupy)
(1) Mix the cherries and the rum together in a small bowl. Leave at least overnight to macerate and plump up. TIP: make up a large batch of soaked cherries by popping a bag or two of them into a large jar and covering with rum (or alcohol of choice!). They will keep for many months, becoming plumper and juicier the longer you leave them. You have an instant supply of gorgeously boozy cherries that you simply top up with more rum and cherries as you use them.
(2) Mix the flour, salt, sugar and yeast together in a large bowl. Add the eggs and milk to form a very soft and sticky dough. Knead for about 7-10 minutes in a mixer with the dough hook attached, using a medium-low setting.
(3) Add the butter, a bit at a time, with the machine still going, until the butter has been incorporated into the dough. You might need to push some of the dough from the sides of the bowl from time to time. Knead for a further 10-15 minutes on the medium setting until it becomes smooth and more elastic.
(4) Cover with clingfilm and leave at room temperature to allow the yeast to start to ferment – pop it in the fridge to firm up for at least a couple of hours but ideally overnight.
NB: the chilling makes the dough easier to handle as the butter firm up. It also gives a much better flavour as the yeast activity has slowed down.
(5) Remove the dough from the fridge and turn it out dough onto a lightly floured board. Split the dough into 9 equal pieces (about 75g per piece).
(6) For each piece of dough, split it into a large piece for the main body of each brioche and a much smaller piece for the head (about 1/5 of the piece for the head). Roll each piece into a smooth ball and pop the larger pieces into the bottoms of the brioche moulds (well buttered if not using silicone moulds).
NB: chill the dough at any stage if you feel it is becoming too soft and sticky. If the dough becomes too sticky, as the butter melts, the baked brioche will not be as light as they should be.
(7) Make a small intent on top of each of these larger pieces of dough and pop 3 pieces of the plump cherries along with a few small pieces of the chocolate inside, pushing them gently towards the base.
(8) Place the smaller ball of dough on top, making sure it covers the chocolate and cherries: as it rises, the two bits of dough in each brioche will stick together naturally.
(9) Leave at room temperature or a warmer place for a couple of hours until well risen. Towards the end of the rise, preheat the oven to 180C(fan).
(10) Brush the dough all over with the beaten egg and sprinkle over the sugar, if using. Bake for 10 minutes at 180C(fan) and then turn down the oven to 160C (fan) for a further 10-12 minutes until the brioche are a deep golden colour, covering with foil or greaseproof if they are looking too dark.
(11) Remove the broches form their moulds and place onto a cooling rack. Brush the hot brioches immediately with the rum syrup, applying it with as much generosity as you can, and leave to cool fully.