It was a beautiful, perfect, delicious bread, and a perfectly wonderful superfun baking day. I had guest bakers! Meet Tracy and Antonia.
I used to work with them both, and I’d bring baked goods to work almost every day, and they were the two people I could count on the most to come a-running to try my wares. Not only that, they both have been incredibly encouraging to me in my healthy baking experiments, taste-testing everything, gushing when they love something, offering gentle and thoughtful opinions when they don’t, and boosting my baking confidence at every step. To top it off (the frosting on the cake, if you will), they come to the blog and comment, which warms my wee heart. So now that we’re not working together anymore, we needed a playdate.
We decided they’d spend the whole day, so they could sample Dave’s cooking as well, but they were very clear about doing some baking together. After poking around my Pinterest boards, we settled on a Dark Chocolate Espresso Pumpkin Bread. It was a great choice. The bread was beautifully light and soft, filled with the indulgence of chocolate chips, and extremely addictive. I had to give them the whole thing just so I didn’t devour it by myself the minute they left. Left to my own devices, I would have reduced or eliminated the chocolate chips, but Antonia & Tracy are huge chocolate fans and I wanted them to leave with their taste buds singing.
We got started: Antonia measured the whole wheat white flour, and Juliet tackled the whole wheat pastry flour.
I handled the wheat germ, but as the in-house photographer, I didn’t bother snapping a picture of myself.
Tracy took on the more spoon-y, less cup-oriented dry ingredients: baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.
And Nathaniel, Chief Nutmeg Grater in our household, took care of the nutmeg, so quickly that his hands became but a blur.
While Nathaniel grated, Tracy starting whisking. She whisked so quickly that HER hands were a blur, too.
But she slowed down a bit, once Nathaniel’s nutmeg was added.
We set the dry ingredients aside and measured the pumpkin. It was not one of my more refined measuring moments.
We decided to make this recipe a little healthier, so we swapped out half the oil for yogurt, then mixed both of those in with the pumpkin. Tracy, a champion whisker by now, whisked.
We added espresso powder, cane sugar, and brown sugar, using maybe a hair less of the sugars than the recipe called for, and whisked, then added the eggs and vanilla (omitting the water, because we forgot), and whisked again.
We were using semisweet chocolate chips instead of chopped chocolate, since that’s what I had on hand, and this recipe had the unusual step of adding the chocolate pieces in before combining everything. Usually you mix the wet and the dry and then fold in the chocolate (or any add-ins) right at the end, but this recipe said to do it before, so we did. They liked this part.
We mixed the chips in with the rest of the liquid ingredients, then added the dry.
Once properly incorporated, the contents of the bowl became visual proof that we were on to something special.
I suppose at that point we could have poured into glasses and then down our throats, but we exercised what little restraint we had, and poured, scooped, and scraped the batter into a loaf pan.
It took just over an hour to bake, and we had to give it another 15 minutes in the pan, but that didn’t stop us from smelling it.
We were rewarded for our patience.
Look at that. The crumb was beyond perfection, soft in the most delicious way possible. The bread was sweet and dessert-y, made even more indulgent by the chocolate chips. This is not a breakfast bread in its current state but it’s a delightful dessert and so tempting that I cut Dave a slice and then sent the rest of it home with Antonia and Tracy, as a means of self-protection; I don’t think it would have lasted the night. A wonderful recipe. I think I’ll give it another try at some point and see if I can bring down the sugar, skip the chocolate chips or use minis, and see if it’s still as spectacular.
We had a great day, complete with Dave’s magical turkey chili and lots of fun with the kids. Exhausting but fun! I think we’re going to try to make this a regular thing. Maybe I can even get them to guest blog sometime.
The evening ended, as so many do in our house, with night vision goggles.
Come back soon, guys!
DARK CHOCOLATE ESPRESSO PUMPKIN BREAD RECIPE (original)
Our version of Dark Chocolate Espresso Pumpkin Bread (adapted from Culinary Explorer)
2/3 cup whole wheat white flour
1/3 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons canned pumpkin
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
2 teaspoons espresso powder
1 cup (scant) cane sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
6 ounces (half a bag) Ghiradelli semi sweet chocolate chips
Heat the oven to 350, and butter and flour or spray a 9 x 5″ loaf pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, wheat germ, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, oil, and yogurt until thoroughly combined. Add the espresso powder and sugars and whisk again. One at a time, whisk in the eggs, then the vanilla. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Add the flour mixture to the liquid ingredients and fold just until incorporated, taking care not to over mix. This bread will have a perfect texture if you treat it well. Pour batter into a loaf pan and bake for 60-80 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool in the pan for another 15 minutes, then move to a wire rack.
I presume it stores well, but we never had a chance to find out.