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Published September 13, 2009, 12:00 AM

In perfect harmony: Moist bread satisfies chocolate craving

I’m always in the mood for chocolate, but every once in a while I get an overwhelming desire for chocolate with a hit of cinnamon. Not too much, mind you, but just enough to give a whisper of sweet, warm and woody fragrance.

By: Sue Doeden, Bemidji Pioneer

I’m always in the mood for chocolate, but every once in a while I get an overwhelming desire for chocolate with a hit of cinnamon. Not too much, mind you, but just enough to give a whisper of sweet, warm and woody fragrance.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I recall a chocolate cinnamon roll frosted with deep dark chocolate. I’m not sure when or where I ate that delightful baked spiral of chocolate yeast dough, but the memory of its fragrance and flavor has lived on in my mind.

It must be that gastronomic experience from my past that has me automatically reaching for the cinnamon each time I bake with chocolate.

Being driven by one of my chocolate-cinnamon cravings, I wound up with Chocolate Pear Bread with Chocolate Honey Butter. The base of the loaf is the banana muffin recipe that has been in my family for generations. Buttermilk, butter, sugar and eggs create rich flavor. I simply added cocoa and cinnamon to the dry ingredients, left out the bananas and added sweet, juicy pears with crunchy walnuts. You’ll want to start eating the bread as soon as it’s cool enough to slice, but wait if you can. Wrapped up tight and allowed to sit at room temperature overnight, the flavors have time to develop and unite with each other, creating perfect harmony in one magnificent chocolate loaf.

Chocolate Pear Bread can be sliced into thick pieces and served with ice cream for a very satisfying dessert following an autumn dinner. But it’s not just for dessert. How about a big chunk of Chocolate Pear Bread slathered with a thick layer of Chocolate Honey Butter? Voila! Breakfast!

Slice a loaf of Chocolate Pear Bread for your next brunch. Pile the Chocolate Honey Butter in a pretty dish and invite your guests to help themselves. Be sure to store the flavored butter tightly covered in the refrigerator. Remove it about 30 minutes before serving so that it will be soft and easy to spread.

Chocolate Pear Bread with a small jar of Chocolate Honey Butter makes a lovely gift, too, for all of your chocoholic friends.

A moist chocolate loaf studded with chunks of fresh juicy pear and walnuts with a generous dab of Chocolate Honey Butter will definitely satisfy your sweet cravings. And, if you’re like me, and love chocolate with a little hit of cinnamon, this bread takes the cake.

Chocolate Pear Bread with Chocolate Honey Butter
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ripe pear, peeled, core removed, chopped
½ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9- x 5- x 3-inch loaf pan and set aside.

Measure buttermilk into a 2-cup glass measure. Stir in baking soda. Set aside.

Cream 1/2 cup butter in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add sugar, beating well at medium speed of an electric mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in buttermilk and soda mixture. Sift flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Add to creamed mixture in bowl, blending well. Fold in pears and walnuts.

Turn batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 1 hour or until wooden pick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Carefully remove from pan. Allow the loaf to cool completely on wire rack. Serve with Chocolate Honey Butter. Makes 1 loaf.

Chocolate Honey Butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
2 tablespoons honey

Combine all ingredients in bowl and beat until light and fluffy.

Tips from the cook

--Baking the loaf too long will result in dry, crumbly bread. Start checking for doneness after about 50 minutes of baking time.

--I often toast nuts before adding them to baked goods for added flavor. Spread the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in a 350-degree oven for about 8 minutes. Watch them closely. They burn easily. Once the nuts have cooled, chop them up and stir them into the batter.

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