I haven't been feeling all that great lately. Not being able (and now not caring) to run has a lot to do with it. Because of that, my inspiration to bake was waning until a cookbook I ordered arrived. Chocolate On The Brain: Foolproof Recipes for Unrepentant Chocoholics is an old favorite of mine. I found it at the library one day and kept renewing it as often as I could until the book was no longer available. Yeah. What I like the most is the humorous stories, little tidbits of chocolate history, and "mom hints" to ensure success. It's like a story, and that's the best kind of cookbook.
The book starts with an introduction by Kevin Mills, the author, who lets you know right from the beginning that he doesn't trust you if you say you hate chocolate. Along with the standard issue index, there's a secondary index for "Quick Relief for Chocoholics" that divides the recipes by how quickly you need a chocolate fix. The recipes are all given skill levels ranging from very easy, easy, and not so easy, like these bagels. (But they're easy, honest.) Even if you don't liken chocolate to oxygen, this is a worthwhile book to have.
One of the first recipes I ever made from Chocolate On The Brain was the chocolate chip bagels. I remember them being easy and the most delicious thing I've ever made. That distant memory prompted me to make them again, so yesterday I kneaded my angst away until it transformed into smooth, silky dough. After the dough had risen, I shaped sixteen bagels into rings and was about to plop them into a giant pot of boiling water until I noticed that I never turned the oven on. Oops. Due to the error, the bagels (I keep typing 'doughnuts') rose a little more than intended. I don't think it bothered the bagels, any.
Before you ask me why I think it's okay to eat chocolate chip bagels for breakfast, let me tell you that it's no different than many people's bowl of oatmeal. Really, oatmeal is just a vessel for brown sugar and although I like to eat brown sugar, I can make do with chocolate.
Other than the chips, the dough in enriched slightly with half a stick of butter and one egg. There's a measly two tablespoons of sugar (I'd use brown sugar next time). You could even replace half the flour with white whole wheat, but why bother. Right? Just enjoy the deliciousness.
To shape the bagels, knead one tablespoon chocolate chips into each portion of dough. After rolling the dough into a log, overlap the ends and pinch tightly. If it's not tight enough, the ring will separate in the water. It happened to me once.
As for my bagel skills, this was one of my better efforts. The bagels were still rather dimply, but not as flat as the last time I made bagels. And that's why I looked forward to this recipe - simple, easy, and successful.
I changed a few things up:
- I added a tablespoon of baking soda to the boiling water
- I moved the oven rack to the second highest position instead of the highest, otherwise they'd brown too quickly before cooking thoroughly
- This isn't a change, just a friendly heads up to make sure yu bake them for 20 minutes
- These bagels aren't as mini as you might expect. As you can tell in the above picture, it's about the size of my palm. I'm thinking each bagel is 2-3 ounces, but I didn't weigh the dough and can't be certain of that. I think they're the perfect size.
Once the first batch had cooled just barely, I sliced into a bagel. The chips were still warm and smeared themselves as the bagel was sliced. See all that chocolate? No, I didn't knead the chips in very evenly; it doesn't matter where the chocolate is, just that it's there. I was entirely satisfied after eating it, and for a brief moment life seemed a little bit brighter. I ate another one, toasted, this morning with coffee. I can't say it gave me an epiphany, but it made me happy.
I'm submitting this post to YeastSpotting.
Recipe after jump.
Mini Chocolate Chip Bagels
Recipe from Chocolate On The Brain: Foolproof Recipes for Unrepentant Chocoholics by Kevin Mills and Nancy Mills
Yields 16 mini-bagels
1/4 cup (1/2 a stick) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 large egg
4-5 cups flour
(I added 1 tbsp vital wheat gluten)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
(1 tablespoon baking soda)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- Melt the butter in a small pot over low heat. Set aside to cool.
- Heat the water to 100-110 degrees. Pour the water into a large bowl. Sprinkle the sugar and yeast into the water, and stir for a few seconds until the yeast dissolves. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes, or until it becomes frothy. Beat the egg and add to the mixture. Add the butter and mix to incorporate. Add 3 1/2 cups flour and the salt (and wheat gluten), and mix with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle 1/2 cup flour onto a dry, clean work surface and carefully transfer the dough onto the flour. Knead the dough by folding it over and over on itself while pushing it with your hands for 8 to 10 minutes, gradually adding more flour as necessary, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is smooth and satiny.
- Pour 1 teaspoon oil into a large bowl, and spread around with a paper towel, making sure to grease the sides as well as the bottom. Place the kneaded dough in the bowl and turn over so that the top is greased. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and set aside on the counter for the dough to rise for 1 hour. When it has risen, fill a large pot at least half full with water, cover, and begin heating over high heat.
- Place one oven rack on the second highest position and the other in the bottom position and preheat the oven to 400°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Take the risen dough out of the bowl, knead a few times to get the air pockets out, and divide into 16 equal pieces.
- Spread a clean tea towel on the counter. Take 1 piece of dough and 1 tablespoon of the chocolate chips and knead them together. Then roll the dough between your hands into a cylinder about 6 inches long and 1/2 inch thick. Overlap the ends and pinch together tightly to make a ring. Or simply make a 1-inch hole in the center of the dough, and shape into a ring. Make sure the chocolate chips are not exposed. Lay the ring on the tea towel and cover. Repeat the process until you have 16 rings.
- When the pot of water has come to a boil, gently pick up a dough ring and drop it into the water. Drop 3 more in, one by one, and let cook for about 1 minute. They will puff up and double in size. Gently turn them over with a metal spatula and let cook for another minute. Transfer the bagels with a slotted spoon to one baking sheet and boil another 4 rings. Transfer those to the same baking sheet and bake on the top rack for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.
- While the first batch is baking, boil the second batch, as before. Transfer them to the second baking sheet and begin baking them on the bottom rack of the oven. When you remove the first baking sheet from the oven, transfer the second sheet from the bottom to the top rack to finish baking. The bagels will brown better on the top rack.
- When the bagels are done, remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature, or reheat for 5 minutes in a 350° oven. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container or wrapped in foil or plastic wrap.