Chocolate-Hazelnut-Cranberry Wreath with a Cocoa-Date Filling

Tuesday November 19, 2013


Elemental Custard

Who says dessert needs copious amounts of butter and sugar to create a sinful snack?

I think that the ability to transform healthier ingredients into something that people want to eat is a major talent. If I was ever in a pageant that would be my special skill. Creating healthy dessert options. That or my astounding ability to hide vegetables in anything. Stay tuned for that variation.

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And thus continues my use of natural sugars and healthier options. This beautiful cinnamon bun inspired wreath is edible art. The combination of dates and cocoa create a delicious and flavourful filling, studded with hazalenuts and cranberries. Very festive for the holidays!

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If you want a more cinnamon-bun style - Drop the cocoa, cinnamon and hazelnuts- Add 2 tsp of cinnamon to the dates instead and scatter with pecans. Also fantastic.

Cocoa-Date Hazelnut and Cranberry Wreath

Serves ~8-12

Ingredients:

Dough
2 cups whole wheat flour ( I have also made this with spelt!)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 banana (1/2 cup mashed) OR 1/2 cup apple sauce
2 tbsp agave or maple syrup
1 egg (optional) can be replaced with another 1/4 cup banana/apple sauce OR milk (soy/almond/regular)
3 tbsp coconut oil or sunflower oil
2 tsp vanilla extract

Cocoa Filling:
1 1/4 cup pitted dates (can be any type)
1/2 cup hot water *don't need this if you use medjool dates
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup hazelnuts - roasted and chopped (reserve a tbsp for topping)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (reserve a tbsp for topping)

Topping/Glaze:
1 tbsp agave
Reserved dried cranberries and hazelnuts

Alternative: Cinnamon Filling
- 1 1/4 cup pitted dates
- 1/2 cup hot water (not necessary if using medjool dates)
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup roasted pecans, chopped

Method:

Dough: In a large mixing bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer), whisk together the flour and salt. In a small saucepan - combine the agave, oil, vanilla and banana (or apple sauce). Heat gently until warmed (not hot or this will kill the yeast!). The temperature should be no warmer then 110 degrees C. Add the yeast and let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk in the egg.

Using either a wooden spoon or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the wet ingredients into the dry. If using a mixer- switch to the dough hook and knead for ~5 minutes (add flour a tbsp at a time if too wet, or add water if too dry). If mixing by hand, once a dough forms, empty onto a lightly flowered surface and knead for ~5-10 minutes or until the dough is soft and elastic.

Lightly oil a large bowl and place dough inside turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise for 1.5 hours in a warm spot until doubled in size.

Filling: In bowl, combine the dates and the water- let sit until the dates are softened (~5 minutes). Using a food processor, pulse the dried cranberries until diced finely. Set aside. Combine the dates and cocoa powder in the food processor and process until a paste forms

Roll out the dough into a rectangle (~25x50cm). Smooth the date-cocoa paste over the dough leaving a 1/2 inch border. Scatter the dough with the chopped hazelnuts and cranberries.

Using the long edge, roll the dough into a log. You can either cut the dough into buns OR you can make a wreath.

Buns:(refer to these instructions if needed) cut about 2 inches each and place cut side up on a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm spot for ~1 hour.

Wreath: (see above photos) Slice the log in half length-wise (see picture above). Twist the 2 strands around each other. Then form a wreath by combining the two ends. Place on a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm spot for ~1 hour.

Bake: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for ~30-35 minutes. Cool for a few minutes before brushing the agave overtop and sprinkling with the reserved cranberries and hazelnuts. Serve warm.

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