Sunday, May 2, 2010

Swirls of sweetness

I have a secret, and I don't want anyone to judge me when I admit to this.
Ok, well I'll tell you then-I really feel like we trust each other!

Confession: Not everything I make is completely from scratch.
I know! I'm such a phoney. But honestly, I'd say 80% is from scratch and the rest is, to reference Sandra Lee (not my favorite food network chef but still fun to watch at the gym), "semi-homemade." I mean it when I say semi-homemade, I don't usually just take a box mix and make it according to the directions-I spice it up, make it more interesting! Brownies? Make a homemade caramel sauce and throw in some pecans. Cake mix? Add a mix in and make homemade frosting and filling. Hot Roll Mix? Wait, what?

You read correctly-I said hot roll mix. Wondering what in the world I use this product for? Challah bread. For my entire life Friday night has meant Shabbat dinner at home with my family. This has been, and probably will always be, my absolute favorite meal that my mom makes. Every Friday night we have grilled salmon, cheesy potatoes (twice baked potatoes for those of you who didn't grow up in my house!), sauteed veggies, salad, and challah. My parents both know not to mess with this menu or they will encounter a very unhappy daughter- I look forward to it every week.

Until recently we bought our challah every week. The moment that changed everything? My mom's best friend shared her secret to challah baking, which was of course the hot roll mix, and there has been no turning back ever since. You follow the directions on the mix, add an additional 3 tablespoons of sugar to the dry mix, and you've got your challah dough. Almost anything you affiliate with challah can be added to make it extraordinary-poppyseeds, sesame seeds, raisins, crainsins, nuts-to just name a few. But, last weekend I experiemented and made an incredible cinnamon swirl challah. Oh yes, it was just as good as it sounds-even better. I filled each strand to be braided with the cinnamon filling, then coated the risen bread with melted butter and cinnamon sugar. I hope you're salivating at this point.

So here's my filling recipe and directions on how to make this masterpiece-it will be sure to delight at your Shabbat dinner! Even if you don't do shabbos-I still recommend making this because it's delicious. It would also make excellent french toast bread...please just imagine that one morning-SO GOOD!

1/4 cup grated semi-sweet chocolate (about 2 ounces, I believe)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Once you've followed the directions on the hot roll mix box and the dough has rested for 5 minutes separate the ball of dough into 3 smaller balls. Roll the first ball into a long cylindrical shape, and then pat it out so that it's flat. Add the filling into the flattened dough and bring the sides of the dough back together to reform the cylinder shape making sure none of the filling peeks through. Repeat this for the other 2 dough balls. Braid the cylinders together into a challah shape. Let the bread rise according to the hot roll mix package (it says 20-30 minutes, but I usually let it rise for about an hour and a half). Once it has risen, before placing it in the oven, brush melted butter on the top. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the melted butter and pop the bread in the oven. When it's done you won't be able to resist, promise!

The challah all ready for shabbat-how amazing does it look??

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