Valrhona Dulcey Project, Part Un: Dulcey Viennoise

Alen and I left the Valrhona New Americana class completely inspired and ready to put Dulcey chocolate to the test. On the ride home to Los Angeles, we were brainstorming, and came up with a great collaborative idea, which we dubbed our “Dulcey Project.”

The first part of the collaboration was to create a beautiful soft breakfast bread incorporating Valrhona’s newest chocolate addition, Dulcey. This “blonde” chocolate is sweet and milky with soft and creamy caramel notes that just don’t quit. We figured that tucking into a fresh warm viennoise with chunks of caramelized chocolate wouldn’t be a bad start to our morning, even if it wasn’t a total success.

Unfortunately, none of the Dulcey Viennoise even made it long enough to last for breakfast. The toasted and roasted flavor of the chocolate intensified the sweet richness of the bread, and some chocolate pieces became even more caramelized as it baked. The viennoise and Dulcey complimented each other perfectly.

Alen began by roughly chopping the Dulcey in the robot-coupe to create chocolate chunks to incorporate into the dough. After that, gathering mise en place and getting ready to mix. Our viennoise is a simple rich dough with plenty of milk, eggs and butter, along with flour, sugar, salt and yeast.

Shaping 300g loaves
Shaping 300g loaves

Next, after about an hour proofing, we egg wash, score and top with pearl sugar, which provides a great contrasting crrrrunch to the soft bread.

Finally, we bake at 325F, high fan for around 14 minutes. The finished product is golden with extra caramelized pieces of Dulcey chooclate peeping through the crust.

Finished Dulcey Boule
Finished Dulcey Boule

After the tortuous wait for the bread to cool, we sliced one of the boules to find our treasure – the Dulcey had melted slightly to create caramelized chocolate pockets throughout the crumb. Now, onto the second leg of our Dulcey journey – creating the ultimate “Dulcey de Leche” spread for our amazing viennoise! Stay tuned for the Valrhona Dulcey Project, Part Deux!

Viennoise6

 

 

 

Panettone

The rich, light and fruity bread that the Milanese call¬†pan del ton, which translates to “bread of luxury” is what we, here in the US, commonly refer to as panettone. I like to think of it as my little holiday bonus – a true luxury and Christmas tradition for Alen and I. Every year, as Christmas approaches, I begin to dream of thick slices of panettone, my all time favorite bread.

Alen begins to macerate fruit for our panettone a couple of weeks before we mix. Candied orange and lemon peel, golden and dark sultanas and when we feel like it, candied chestnuts, all get to know each other in a sweet syrup, spiked with orange blossom water and dark rum. Just like at the holiday office party, a little booze goes a long way, and before you know it, everybody’s best friends. We also add chunks of dark chocolate to our panettone, but not until the mixing begins.

Panettone Dough
Panettone Dough

Once we’ve mixed the dough, the fermentation process takes the most time – 15-20 hours, depending on the temperature of the room and of the dough. The benefit to such a long fermentation is a beautiful marriage of flavors as well as a light, airy and moist crumb.

When we are ready to bake, the risen dough gets topped with a soft croustillant, which will bake into a crusty, crunchy crust – and will serve as a barrier to keep the moisture inside of the bread, once it is baked, in order to prolong the shelf life of the panettone. We garnish with whole almonds and pearl sugar and we are ready to bake!

Ready to Bake
Ready to Bake

When the panettone comes out of the oven, it is important to preserve the integrity of that light airy structure that we worked so hard to develop. Large breads like this will quickly deflate and sink, which will lead to a dense final product. The solution is to hang the fresh from the oven panettones upside down until they are completely cool – and have no chance of collapsing. The hanging loaves are giant Christmas ornaments, ready to be unwrapped and treasured.

Hang Time
Hang Time

Waiting for them to cool is a painstaking practice of patience – but so worth it in the end. The scent of citrus and orange blossom with roasted almonds, dark chocolate and rum raisins mingling with freshly baked sweet, buttery bread is absolutely divine – and the taste is well worth the wait. And speaking of waiting –¬† only 9 months to go until it’s time once again to begin the beautiful process of our panettone. Already dreaming of this year’s holiday bonus!!!