Chocolate Challah

Jewish holidays that fall on a Sabbath often include a sweet challah (HAH-luh) in their celebration, as a symbolic way of ensuring a sweet year.

+ enlarge image Dates, nuts, and orange peel add just the right twist to this traditional braided bread.
  • 2-1/4 to 3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 pkg. active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup soymilk
  • 1/4 cup margarine (at least 80% vegetable)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 1 Tbsp. finely shredded orange peel
  • 1 recipe Three Glazes

1. In a large mixing bowl stir together 1 cup of the flour, the cocoa powder, and yeast; set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan heat soymilk, sugar, margarine, and salt just until warm (120 degrees F to 130 degrees F) and margarine almost melts. Add milk mixture to flour mixture. Add egg; with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping sides of the bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in pecans, chopped dates, and orange peel. Stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.

3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic (about 4 minutes). Shape dough into ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl; turn once to grease the surface. Cover and let dough rise in warm place until double in size (about 1-1/2 hours).

4. Punch dough down. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into thirds. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Shape each portion of dough into a 16-inch-long rope (3 ropes total). Place the ropes on a lightly greased baking sheet about 1 inch apart.

5. Starting in the middle of ropes, loosely braid by bringing the left rope under the center rope. Next bring right rope under the new center rope. Repeat to the end. On the other end, braid by bringing alternate ropes over center rope. Press ends together to seal; tuck under. Cover; let rise in a warm place till nearly double (about 1 hour).

6. Bake in 325 degrees F oven about 35 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when tapped (if necessary, cover loosely with foil the last 10 to 15 minutes to prevent overbrowning). Remove from baking sheet. Cool on wire rack; drizzle with Three Glazes. Makes 1 loaf (about 24 servings).

Three Glazes: In a medium mixing bowl stir together 1-1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar and 4 teaspoons softened margarine. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons warm water until icing is of drizzling consistency. Divide evenly into 3 portions.

To one portion, stir in 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder, adding more warm water 1 drop at a time, if necessary, until icing is of drizzling consistency. For another portion, combine 1/4 teaspoon instant coffee crystals and a few drops of hot water until coffee is dissolved. Add coffee mixture to sugar mixture, adding more warm water a drop at a time, if necessary, until of drizzling consistency. Leave the third portion white. Use to glaze the bread.

Nutrition facts per serving: 144 cal., 5 g total fat (1 g sat. fat), 9 mg chol., 81 mg sodium, 23 g carbo, 1 g fiber, and 3 g pro. Daily Values: 4% vit. A, 0% vit. C, 2% calcium, and 6% iron.

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