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Stollen-Inspired Cat & Bear Chocolate Bread: A Playful Twist on Tradition

Hey there, fellow baking enthusiasts! Today, we're embarking on a delightful baking adventure that combines the charm of traditional Stollen with a playful, imaginative twist. We'll be crafting Stollen-style Cat & Bear Chocolate Bread, a treat that's as fun to make as it is to enjoy.

I stumbled upon this captivating recipe on Cotta, and I couldn't resist sharing it with you. So, let's don our aprons, preheat those ovens, and get ready to create a magical bread that's perfect for any occasion.

Ingredients:

For the Bread:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm milk (about 110°F or 43°C)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

For the Filling:

  • 1/2 cup marzipan
  • 1/4 cup chopped candied orange peel
  • 1/4 cup chopped candied lemon peel
  • 1/4 cup chopped candied cherries
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds

For the Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Sliced almonds (for decoration)

Instructions:

1. Activate the Yeast:

- In a small bowl, combine the warm milk and sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over the mixture and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes until it becomes frothy.

2. Mix the Dough:

- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Make a well in the center.

- Pour in the yeast mixture, melted butter, egg, and vanilla extract. Mix until a dough forms.

- Knead the dough on a floured surface until it's smooth and elastic. This should take about 5-7 minutes.

3. Incorporate Chocolate Chips:

- Flatten the dough and sprinkle the mini chocolate chips over it. Fold the dough over and knead it lightly to distribute the chocolate evenly.

4. Let it Rise:

- Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover it with a clean kitchen towel, and let it rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until it doubles in size.

5. Prepare the Filling:

- While the dough is rising, mix the marzipan, chopped candied fruits, and chopped almonds in a small bowl.

6. Shape the Bread:

- Once the dough has risen, roll it out into a rectangle on a floured surface.

- Spread the marzipan and fruit mixture evenly over the dough.

- Roll the dough into a log and shape it into a cat and bear form. You can use your imagination and shape it however you like!

7. Second Rise:

- Place your shaped bread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover it with a towel and let it rise for another 30 minutes.

8. Preheat and Bake:

- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).

- Bake your adorable Stollen-style Cat & Bear Chocolate Bread for about 25-30 minutes, or until it's golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

9. Glaze and Decorate:

- While the bread is still warm, mix the confectioners' sugar and milk to create the glaze. Drizzle it over your bread.

- Decorate with sliced almonds to give your cat and bear character.

10. Enjoy the Magic:

- Let your bread cool slightly before slicing. Enjoy it warm or at room temperature.

Tips:

- Get creative with your shapes! You can make any animal or object you like.

- Don't forget to share the magic with your family and friends. They'll be charmed by your playful Stollen-inspired creation.

This Stollen-style Cat & Bear Chocolate Bread is not just a feast for the taste buds; it's a work of art that'll brighten any table and bring smiles to all who indulge. So, let your imagination run wild in the kitchen, and enjoy the sweet magic you've created!

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