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Dark Chocolate Tea Bread

Cocoa powder is made from cocoa beans, which are native to the tropics. The beans are roasted and then, over the course of several steps, transformed into a thick paste that is dried and ground into unsweetened cocoa powder. In the process, most of the cocoa butter is removed, making cocoa powder an excellent low-fat addition to breads. Unless a recipe specifies otherwise, use Dutch-process cocoa, which has been treated with an alkaline substance to smooth out the harsh acidic flavor elements.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa
      powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 5 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts
  • 1 Tbs. raw or coarse sugar

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.

In a bowl, stir together the all-purpose and cake flours, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, combine the butter and cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in the granulated sugar until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. The mixture should be fluffy.

Add the flour mixture in two additions, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla and beginning with the flour; beat until smooth after each addition. Fold in the hazelnuts just until evenly distributed. The batter should be very thick.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. It should be no more than two-thirds full. Smooth the surface and sprinkle with the raw sugar. Bake until the loaf is firm to the touch and pulls away from the pan sides, about 1 1/4 hours. A cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf should come out clean. If necessary, cover loosely with aluminum foil during the last 10 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning.

Immediately turn the loaf out of the pan onto a wire rack with a gentle motion and let cool completely. Cut into thick slices to serve. Makes one 9-by-5-inch loaf.

Note: To toast hazelnuts, preheat an oven to 325°F. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven and toast lightly, stirring occasionally, 6 to 7 minutes. Set aside and let cool. Rub the nuts together in a clean kitchen towel to remove most of their loose papery skins.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Bread, by Beth Hensperger (Simon & Schuster, 2002).