Bready or Not: Braided Cocoa and Cookie Butter Brioche
This braided loaf, baked in a large tube pan, is an absolute show stopper with its swirled layers of cocoa and creamy cookie butter! It's as delicious as it looks, too. This recipe is fairly straightforward, but be warned, it requires a lot of dishwashing!
4teaspoonsvanilla extract or vanilla bean paste, divided
4 1/2cupall-purpose flour plus more if needed
3/4cupplus 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar divided
2/3cupcreamy cookie butter
3Tablespoonsunsalted butter melted
1/2cupunsalted butter softened
1/2cupsemisweet chocolate melted
1/3cupcocoa powder sifted
1large egg white
In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, stir together warm milk and yeast, letting it stand about 5 minutes to get foamy.
Mix in the eggs, 1 stick melted butter, and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Follow up with the flour, sugar, and salt, beating until combined. Switch to the dough hook and beat for about 4 minutes, until smooth.
Use nonstick spray on a large bowl. Lightly flour a flat surface and turn out the dough to form it into a round. Place it in a bowl, rotating it to grease the entire surface. Cover and let rise for about 1 hour, until it doubles in size.
Clean everything and return to the stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat the 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar with the cookie butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 3 Tablespoons melted butter, until smooth. Transfer the mixture to another bowl. set aside.
Clean the mixer and paddle attachment again. Beat the final stick of softened butter, the melted chocolate, cocoa, remaining 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, and last 1 teaspoon vanilla, until smooth. Set aside.
Lightly flour a flat surface again. Punch down the dough and turn it onto the surface. Use a food scale to divide the dough in half. Stash one half back in the bowl for now, covered to prevent drying. Roll the other half into a 20 by 9 rectangle. Use an uneven spatula to spread the cookie butter filling onto the dough, up to 1/2-inch of the edges all the way around. Starting on a long side, tightly roll up the dough, pinching the seam to seal. Set aside with the seam faced down.
Roll out the other dough in the same way, this time spreading on the chocolate-cocoa filling. Roll it up as well, placing the two dough rolls side by side. Use a bench knife to cut each roll in half, lengthwise. With the multi-layered middles facing up, twine the strips together.
Apply nonstick spray on tube pan. Lift braid into the pan and tug it to form a complete circle, tucking the ends beneath. Cover the bread and let it rise in a warm spot until it's puffed, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven 350-degrees.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg white and water. Brush the top of the dough, touching the cookie butter strands first, then the chocolate; this will prevent the chocolate from smearing too much.
Bake for about 50 to 55 minutes, covering the bread with foil halfway through to prevent too much browning. When done, the top should be golden and an instant-read thermometer should be above 190-degrees.
Let cool in pan for about 15 minutes. Turn out onto a plate, then tip it back onto a rack to completely cool, top-up.
The bread is best eaten within a day, but it can also be sliced up and frozen in pieces. It'll thaw later and taste beautifully fresh! Eat at room temperature or slightly warmed.