Chocolate and Pistachio Marble Challah

Today I have a Chocolate and Pistachio Marble Challah for you. Well, sort of.

I hate humidity. I hate muggy. I don’t hate it because it makes me feel sluggish, sticky and sweaty.  I don’t hate it because it transforms my hair into a limp, Medusa like ‘doo’ of curly rat tails, or frizzes it out. I hate it because it affects my baking. I’ve complained about this for many summers on this blog; this blog that is now officially 4-years-old today!

Okay..now that I got that over with, here’s some more bitching.

Chocolate and Pistachio Marble Challah
Humidity can really affect bread baking, especially if you want to braid or knot loaves or rolls.  You add the amount of flour approximated in the recipe, plus a little more, going by feel as you knead, which is usually the norm.  When it’s humid, you keep adding flour, and the stickiness resurrects with each fold and push.  The moisture in the air transfers to the dough, which absorbs cup after cup after cup of flour, and it seems to melt into the never-ending moisture as if you’ve barely added any flour at all.  THEN, when you shape the bread and set it aside to rise, it spreads like a soaking mop across a fried chicken joint floor, obliterating any shape you created, and you can forget about oven-spring.

Humidity is the succubus of dough.

Of course a wave of humidity hit, and is still going strong as I type this, right when I decided to create and bake my challah for this month’s Daring Bakers challenge.

May’s Daring Bakers Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.

Chocolate and Pistachio Marble Challah
I decided to make the dough into two flavors (chocolate and pistachio) along with the basic white challah recipe Ruth provided us with, using that basic white recipe as a base for the two flavors.  I split the recipe in half, keeping one half white, then stirred 2 to 3 tablespoons dark cocoa into the other half of the warm water for the other dough. I also kneaded in some finely chopped dark chocolate.

I now had a basic white challah dough and a chocolate challah dough.  For the pistachio dough, I made half the recipe, adding about 2 tablespoons pistachio butter to the warm water, plus a drop or 2 of green gel food color.

After the initial rise of each dough, I realized that all three were way too tacky to braid, so I started adding flour to each batch again, kneading, then more flour, kneading, then more.  I finally reached a point where I felt all three could be braided and/or twisted into a cool knot, since there was probably enough dough for three challah braids now that I’d added more flour in my desperate attempt to fight off the omnipresent humidity beast.  I let them rise again; visions of the perfect marble braid tap-dancing through my head.

At this point I didn’t care about a tough loaf of challah, I just wanted it to look pretty! This goes against every cooking, baking, blogging rule I hold near and dear, but I didn’t give a shit. Humidity also affects my mood. Not in a good way.

Chocolate and Pistachio Marble Challah

So, once each dough had risen, it was time to braid. I started with the twisty knot and covered it to rise.  When I returned an hour later, it had not only spread, but the three strands in my braid had amalgamated into one freakin’ ball of mosaic! No high twisty bumps, no distinct ropes of dough, just a flat, mosaic boule, as you can see above and below. I finally gave up and baked it as is.

Chocolate and Pistachio Marble Challah

So, I decided to add more flour and try some braids with the remaining dough, using this 6-strand method, my favorite, alternating the pistachio, chocolate and white dough.  Within 15 minutes the damn braids were already starting to flatten and spread.

Eff you, humidity! Why must you seep through the walls no matter how high I crank the AC?

When an hour was up, I had two 6-strand braids that looked like this..

Chocolate and Pistachio Marble Challah

LOVE the sinkhole in the middle! I knew they were going to bake up flat, so no pretty braids here.

Obviously, I couldn’t separate them back into three colored portions of dough, so I cursed up a storm as if my foul-mouth might perform magic on them, turning them into perfectly separated, braid-worthy dough.  Nope, didn’t work.  I dumped both flat braids into an oiled bowl and let it chill in the fridge overnight; not even a modicum of an idea of what I was going to do with this mess.

When I got home the next night, this is what I was greeted with…

Chocolate and Pistachio Marble Challah.
Just as I was about to give up and surrender to another boule, an idea struck.  Thank you, baby jeebus.

Remember those tubes of multi-colored plastic goo from the 1980’s, where you would put a glob on the end of a straw and blow it into a funky, psychedelic balloon? It smelled like carcinogens, and was probably akin to breathing in lead paint, but it was fun! I just looked it up; my search term “blow goo on straw”.  Voila – Super Elastic Bubble Plastic by Wham-O!

So, I decided to divide this lump of Super Wet Elastic Boule Doughtastic into 12 pieces (I first made two 1 lb loaves), each piece a swirl of all three colors, like a glob of Super Elastic Bubble Plastic, then roll them into ropes, braid them together and pray.

Hmmm..this braid was looking okay since only the ends ‘melded’ into mosaic, braidless globs, but it had not flattened within 15 minutes, which was a good sign.

Chocolate and Pistachio Marble Challah

When it was fully risen, it was nowhere near as bad as the first two, but I knew I wasn’t going to get my usual, high, humpy, tight-braided challah.  One turned out pretty flat, and the other held some humps and looked okay, and that’s the one I photographed.  I had to slice it because I couldn’t fit the whole challah in my measly little Lowel Ego Light space.  Surprisingly, neither of the loaves were tough, and I think the humidity played a role in that too.  At least it was good for something..for once.

Enough cannot be said about climate controlled kitchens.  I will have one..one day, when I hit the lottery.

Chocolate and Pistachio Marble ChallahNow, because of the humidity gremlin reeking dough havoc, I can’t give you an exact recipe (although I did explain what I did in the 5th and 6th paragraphs, and I’ll explain again briefly), but, I can tell you to add dark cocoa to the amount of water in your favorite challah recipe (boil the water first, add cocoa, stir, then let cool before continuing), and knead a bunch of grated dark chocolate into the dough, for a chocolate dough.

For a pistachio dough, make or buy pistachio butter and add a couple of tablespoons into the amount of warm water listed in your recipe, like for the chocolate dough.  Add a bit of green food color, if desired.  Let the pistachio water cool, then go ahead with your recipe, kneading in some chopped pistachios to add some texture and more pistachio flavor, if you’d like.  After egg washing the loaves, I sprinkled turbinado sugar on top of  both for a sweet crunch.

I will make this again and return with an actual recipe, on a nice, cool, Fall or Winter day.

UPDATE: The recipe is finally here. It only took 6 years.

Chocolate and Pistachio Marble Challah
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: One 2 lb challah or Two 1 lb challahs
 
ingredients:
White Dough
  • ½ cup warm water minus 2 tablespoons for the yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2½ tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
Chocolate Dough
  • ½ cup warm water minus 2 tablespoons for the yeast
  • 2 tablespoons dark cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2½ tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup grated or shredded dark chocolate
Pistachio Dough
  • ½ cup warm water minus 2 tablespoons for the yeast
  • ¼ cup pistachio butter*
  • 1 to 2 drops green gel food color, if desired
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2½ tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup pistachio nuts, toasted, then finely chopped (optional)
Egg wash
  • 1 egg, beaten until frothy
  • turbinado sugar for topping, if desired
directions:
  1. Prepare all the doughs, one after the other, so they rise together for the 1½ hours.
For the white dough
  1. In mixer bowl/large mixing bowl combine the 2 tablespoons of warm water, the 1 teaspoon of sugar, and the 2 teaspoons of yeast. Allow to proof approximately 5 minutes until foamy.
  2. To the yeast mixture add the remaining water, 2½ tablespoons of sugar, vegetable oil, egg, salt and the 2 cups of flour. Knead (by hand or with your mixer’s dough hook) until smooth, adding flour as needed. Knead for approximately 10 minutes.
  3. Transfer dough to a clean, oiled bowl, turn to coat or add a bit more oil on top. Cover bowl with a kitchen/tea towel. Leave to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 ½ hours.
For the Chocolate Dough
  1. In mixer bowl/large mixing bowl combine the 2 tablespoons of warm water, the 1 teaspoon of sugar, and the 2 teaspoons of yeast. Allow to proof approximately 5 minutes until foamy.
  2. To the remaining warm water, stir in the dark cocoa until dissolved.
  3. To the yeast mixture add the chocolate water, 2½ tablespoons of sugar, vegetable oil, egg, salt and 2 cups of flour. Knead (by hand or with your mixer’s dough hook) until smooth, adding in the grated or shredded chocolate and kneading for approximately 10 minutes, adding flour as needed.
  4. Transfer the chocolate dough to a clean, oiled bowl, turn to coat or add a bit more oil on top. Cover bowl with a kitchen/tea towel. Leave to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 ½ hours.
For the Pistachio Dough
  1. In mixer bowl/large mixing bowl combine the 2 tablespoons of warm water, the 1 teaspoon of sugar, and the 2 teaspoons of yeast. Allow to proof approximately 5 minutes until foamy.
  2. To the remaining warm water, stir in the pistachio butter until dissolved. Stir in green food color if using.
  3. To the yeast mixture add the pistachio water, 2½ tablespoons of sugar, vegetable oil, egg, salt and 2 cups of flour. Knead (by hand or with your mixer’s dough hook) until smooth, adding in the finely chopped pistachios and kneading for approximately 10 minutes, adding flour as needed.
  4. Transfer the pistachio dough to a clean, oiled bowl, turn to coat or add a bit more oil on top. Cover bowl with a kitchen/tea towel. Leave to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 ½ hours.
Prepare, Braid and Bake Challah
  1. NOW, you can easily roll each flavored dough into its own strand and braid like you would any other 3- strand challah OR, you can do the cool marble effect I've got going on! To do that, punch down all three risen doughs, then dump them all in one large oiled bowl. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours to overnight.
  2. When ready, remove the bowl from the fridge and punch down the marbled dough. DO NOT TRY TO SEPARATE EACH COLOR and DO NOT KNEAD IT OR SQUISH IT TOGETHER because your dough is now marbled perfectly! Just dump the whole mass of tri-colored dough (like you see in my photo above, the 6th photo from the top) on a floured board, and cut it into three pieces (or 4 or 6 pieces, depending on how many strands braided you'd like your challah to be. I made a 6-strand braid challah). Roll each piece into a long snake, and taper the ends, then braid your challah.**
  3. Place braided challah on a parchment lined or greased baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap (loosely) and a towel. Let rise for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  5. Brush the top of challah with egg wash. (Sprinkle with seeds or toppings here if wanted. I sprinkled it with turbinado sugar.)
  6. Bake challah 30-40 minutes until done.
  7. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.
notes:
* You can purchase pistachio butter, or make it yourself. It's quick and simple!
** You can divide the dough into 12 pieces and make two 3-braid 1 lb loaves, if you'd like. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes. ALSO, you don't have to braid the challah(s). You can shape it into a round (a boule or a braided twist etc..), if you'd like, as shown in the photos. Once again, like the braided challah(s), One 2 lb boule or 2 1 lb boules.

Chocolate and pistachio marbled challah bread. YUM! #challah #bread #chocolatechallah #pistachiochallah

If you’d like the recipes Ruth provided for the Daring Bakers Challenge, which includes the one I used for my Chocolate and Pistachio Marble Challah (the honey white challah), CLICK HERE.

I’m submitting this Chocolate and Pistachio Marble Challah to Yeastspotting, hosted by the talented Susan of Wild Yeast.

 

Now to the Giveaway.  It’s a Giveaway you see all over the blogosphere, but in this case, it’s from ME to YOU..no one else involved, to say thank you for a great 4 years.

Photo from Amazon.com

It’s  a KitchenAid Professional 600 Series 6-Quart Stand Mixer – your choice of color.

To enter this giveaway, just leave a comment.

For three extra entries you can..

1. Follow me on Twitter @parsleynsage

2. Tweet this giveaway – I just entered to win a Kitchen Aid 6 -Quart Stand Mixer at http://bit.ly/KztFYz .  Leave a comment to enter.  Ends June 4th, 2012.  June 8, 2012.

3. Like or share this giveaway on Facebook.

Leave a separate comment for each of the three bonus entries you do.

Hope everyone had a great Memorial Day Weekend!

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