This recipe for Chocolate Bread is from a book that Doris gave me. Doris was my first boss, and she hired me to be the greeter at her restaurant on South Padre Island back in the summer of 1983. She was kind, generous, and always had a sparkle in her eye. Trying to impress her, I greeted everyone with efficient gusto as they walked through the door. “Hello! Welcome! How many in your party?” I chirped to the bearded man that silently pushed through the restaurant. “Uh, I work here.” he responded flatly. It was Rusty, the owner of the restaurant, Doris’ husband.
My First Job in a Restaurant
I learned a lot that summer as the hostess of the sandwich shop. At night, the same space turned into an elegant seafood and steak bistro. She chatted with the dinner guests, asking about their family, or commenting on the nightly specials. He spoke lovingly about their well curated wine list to an eager audience. Doris and Rusty had a solid fan base, and their attention to detail remains legendary.
Many years later, I invited them to dinner to ask their advice about a ranch bed and breakfast idea I wanted to pursue. Doris gave me her copy of The Grant Corner Inn Cookbook, and inscribed the front cover with words of encouragement. I used the book in the bed and breakfast, and now it is tattered and stained from so many years of using it at home.
The Grant Corner Inn was in Santa Fe, New Mexico. From what I understand, it was a bed and breakfast that has since closed. But the recipes in the book are from two B&B’s, the other being The Camel Back Inn. The recipe for Chocolate Bread has always been a favorite, and I shared it with my friend Stephen, as he was looking for a good sweet roll recipe.
Chocolate Bread Brings Back Memories
As much as I wanted to share this recipe with you, I wasn’t prepared for the flood of memories that emerged when I opened the worn out recipe book. Doris is gone. Their restaurant is gone. The Grant Corner Inn is gone, and Stephen is gone.
If you are young, perhaps you think that I am being morose or maybe my post is unnecessarily depressing. But really, this is life. Friends, businesses, special occasions and moments in time come and go. Everything and everyone has an end date. As one writer put it “Eventually everything becomes fiction.” Dwelling on the sadness is pointless, but remembering the good stuff is the sweet, chocolatey glaze of life. It’s the good stuff we savor.
Thank you Grant’s Corn Inn for the lovely recipes. Thank you Doris for sharing, and thank you Stephen for the good conversations about baking sweet rolls. These are all good stories I remember, and I am grateful that we shared some time together over a cup of coffee, and some Chocolate Bread.Print
- Prep Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 3 hours
- Yield: 16 servings 1x
- Category: Sweets
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Continental
½ cup half and half (120ml)
¼ cup water (60ml)
1 envelope dry yeast (7g)
5 – 6 cups all-purpose flour (406g-438g)
½ cup sugar (100g)
3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa (27g)
1 tsp. salt (4g)
4 tbsp. butter, melted (62g)
¼ cup sour cream (62g)
1 tsp. vanilla (5ml)
Extra flour for kneading
½ cup sugar (100g)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon (2g)
¼ cup pecans, chopped (25g)
2 tbsp. softened butter for brushing (31g)
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate (28g)
4 tbsp. butter (62g)
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted (125g)
1 tsp. vanilla extract (5ml)
1–2 tbsp. half and half (15ml-31ml)
Place the half and half and water in a small microwavable bowl and heat for about 20 seconds, until the temperature reaches 110°F- 115°F (43°C- 46°C) on a thermometer. Remove from the microwave and stir in the yeast.
Place 3 cups of the flour in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the sugar, cocoa, salt, eggs, butter, sour cream and vanilla. Using the mixing paddle, turn on the mixer to combine the ingredients. Pour in the yeast mixture and allow the mixer combine for about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and remove the mixing paddle. Scrape down the dough in the bowl from the sides and stir once or twice.
Place the kneading hook on the mixer and begin to knead the dough while adding small amounts of the remaining flour. Continue to knead all of the dough for about 5 minutes in the mixer until the flour is absorbed. The dough will still be somewhat soft and sticky. Remove the dough from the mixer and knead by hand on a well-floured surface until the dough is cohesive, no longer sticky, but softer than a regular bread dough. Place in a clean bowl that has been greased, cover with a towel, and allow to rise for one hour until doubled in bulk.
Punch down the dough, and then roll out the dough on a large piece of parchment into a large rectangle about ½” (1cm) thick. Mix together the filling sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle evenly over the surface of the dough rectangle along with the chopped pecans. Starting with the long edge, roll the rectangle into a long roll, and join the ends together to form a ring. Using scissors, make 16 cuts into the ring without severing into separate pieces. Twist each section so that the pinwheel pattern of the interior of the roll faces up. Cover lightly with a towel, and allow to rise again for 1 hour.
Heat your oven to 350°F (176°C). Once the ring has completely risen, brush each portion with butter. Place in the oven, and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the bread is firm. Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly while you prepare the glaze.
For the glaze, heat the chocolate and butter in a double boiler until they are gently melted. Using a whisk, add the powdered sugar and vanilla, whisking until well combined. Remove the double boiler from the heat and drizzle the glaze over the ring while both the glaze and the ring are still warm. Allow to cool before slicing and serving.