Double-Chocolate Loaf with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Spread

chocolate_loaf

I’ve recently discovered the merits of quality cocoa powder (and by recently I mean a year and a half ago). I’ve actually become quite a cocoa powder snob haha. I used to buy Hershey’s simply because it was conveniently at my disposable at almost any grocery store in America. I never even thought to special order it, let alone that there would be a difference between Hershey’s cocoa and any other cocoa. Kind of like granulated sugar- I just assumed it was all the same. Oh so naive… It wasn’t until I purchased my first Baked cookbook that I realized there were superior products out there. The authors insist on buying quality dark cocoa powder and chocolate. They mention over and over again that Valrhona is their favorite brand. Well, guess what? Now it’s mine too : ) haha And I’ve shopped around too- trying Ghiradhelli, Scharffen Berger, etc. I just really like the Valrhona!

This Chocolate Loaf is the perfect example of why having a quality cocoa powder is important- it calls for 1 whole cup! That is quite a bit. The flavor of the cocoa powder you use is going to drastically effect the flavor of your loaf. Hershey’s will of course work, I would use it in a pinch myself, and the results will still be good. If you use a quality dark cocoa powder though, it will be twice as chocolately in flavor though. Just sayin’.

That being said about cocoa powder and all, I want to switch gears and talk about the huge dent running down the center of my loaf. Yes, my loaf collapsed. No, this won’t happen to you. I opened the door before it was even halfway through baking and cursed myself. I know it’s a golden rule of baking never to do that- why would I do that!? BAH. I was really worried it was going to burn on the top and wanted to cover it with foil… I should have just waited. I have this little tiny European oven though and it tends to brown things a lot quicker so I was getting ancy I guess. You can bet I won’t do that again.

I will be making this loaf again though, if for no other reason than to just make the Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Spread. Wow, was that good! Oh boy. What a great idea to top a chocolate loaf! I’m a fan.

chocolate_loaf

Double-Chocolate Loaf with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Spread
Serves: makes on 9-inch loaf
 

Ingredients
  • ¾ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup dark unsweetened coco powder (like Valrhona), sifted
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (60-72%), coarsely chopped
  • For the Cream Cheese Spread:
  • 5 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tb creamy peanut butter
  • ⅓ cup sugar

Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and position the rack in the center. Butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, dust it with flour, and knock out excess flour.
  2. Place the brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Press out any lumps with the back of a large spoon. Add the cocoa, flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolk until blended, then add the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla; whisk until combined.
  4. Turn the mixer to low and slowly stream the wet ingredients into the dry ones, mixing just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chunks by hand.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  6. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. For the Cream Cheese Spread: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese and peanut butter until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until incorporated. (If you are not using the spread immediately, place it in a ramekin, tightly cover it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for up to 3 days.)
  8. Serve the loaf plain or toasted, topped with peanut butter spread.
  9. The loaf will keep, in an airtight container or wrapped tightly, at room temperature for up to 3 days.

adapted from “Baked Explorations“ by Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito

Laura is the publisher of Laura’s Sweet Spot- a blog making regular contributions about baking, cooking, and blogging tips!

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