Sunday, July 10, 2016

Yet Another Way to Eat Chocolate

Chocolate Chip Bagels
I suppose it’s possible that chocolate chip bagels are not high on your bagel shopping list.  I understand.  I am a chocoholic, and even I would not like to have my smoked salmon on a chocolate chip bagel. 

Luckily a chocolate chip bagel doesn’t need any topping.  There’s something special about eating one fresh from the oven, when the yeasty bread taste sets off the warm, gooey chocolate.  Heating the bagel in a toaster will produce a similar effect.

Bread and chocolate have been an irresistible duo for me since I ate my first chocolate croissant.  Frankly, chocolate croissants are way too complicated to make, but making your own chocolate chip bagels is easy. So is eating them.

Chocolate Chip Bagels – makes 16 
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter + more for greasing 
1 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast) 
2 tablespoons sugar 
1 1/4 cup room temperature water 
1 large egg 
4-5 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon canola oil 
2 6-ounce packages semisweet chocolate chips (there will be some leftovers) 
Melt the butter in a small pot over low heat.  Set aside to cool. 
Using a food processor or an electric mixer with a dough hook: Add the yeast and sugar to the bowl.  Then add 1/4 cup water and stir to dissolve.  (My food processor leaks if I add more water at this point.)  Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes. 
Add the egg, butter, 3 1/2 cups of flour, salt and the rest of the water.  Process or beat on slow speed to incorporate.  Add more flour as necessary, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough stops being sticky and becomes smooth and satiny.  In a food processor, this takes about 1 minute; in a mixer 5 to 6 minutes. 
Mixing by hand: Pour the water into a large bowl.  Sprinkle the yeast and sugar into the water.  Beat the egg and add to the mixture.  Add the butter and mix to incorporate.  Add 3 1/2 cups of flour and the salt and mix with a wooden spoon. 
Sprinkle 1/2 cup onto a dry, clean work surface and carefully transfer the dough onto the flour.  Knead the dough by folding it over and over on itself while pushing it with your hands, for 8 to 10 minutes.  Gradually add more flour as necessary, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough is smooth and satiny. 
Pour 1 teaspoon oil into a large bowl and spread around with a paper towel.  Be sure to grease the sides as well as the bottom.  Place the kneaded dough in the bowl and turn it over so that the top is greased.  Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel, set aside on a counter and let rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size. 
While the dough is rising, count out 16 piles of chocolate chips—20-25 chips per pile. 
When the dough has risen, knead it a few times and divide it into 16 equal pieces.  Use kitchen shears to cut the dough. 

Spread a clean tea towel on the counter.  Take 1 piece of dough and press it into 1 pile of chocolate chips and knead them together with your fingers.  Then roll the dough into a cylinder about 6 inches long and 1/2-inch thick.  Overlap the ends and pinch together tightly to make a ring—or simply make a 1-inch hole in the center of the dough.  Make sure the chocolate chips are covered with dough rather than sitting on the surface.  Lay the ring on the tea towel and repeat the process until you have 16 rings. 

Place an oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly rub a baking sheet with oil or use a silicone mat.  Set aside. 
Half fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil over high heat.  When the water is boiling, gently pick up a dough ring and drop it into the water.  Drop 3 more in, one by one, and let cook for about 1 minute.  They will puff up and double in size.  Gently turn them over with a metal spatula and let cook for another minute.  Flip them over again and cook an additional minute. 

Transfer the bagels with a slotted spoon to the baking sheet.  Immediately boil another 4 bagels, as described, and transfer them to the baking sheet.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.  Remove from the oven and transfer the bagels to a cooling rack. 

Repeat this process with the second batch of 8 bagels.  If you have 2 large baking sheets and want to bake all the bagels at once, place one oven rack in the top position and the other in the bottom position. 
These bagels freeze well, if there are any left. 
          For more chocolate recipes, get “Chocolate on the Brain”