Smoky, spicy, lightly sweet, and studded with candied chili peppers and dark chocolate, our chocolate chili sourdough lends a flair of visual drama to any Halloween table. Its strong flavors pair well with the heavier dishes that come along with the season’s cooler weather.Print
For the candied chilis:
A small handful of hot cherry chilis, sliced (or other fruity, moderately hot chili peppers of choice)
Sugar, for simple syrup
Water, for simple syrup
For the bread:
320 grams bread flour
80 grams freshly milled or storebought khorasan/kamut flour
40 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
320 grams water
88 grams levain, at its peak
4 grams / 1.5 Tablespoons chipotle chili powder
46 grams light brown sugar
10 grams salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon OR a few drops of cinnamon oil
15 grams candied chilis, with or without seeds, chopped
60 grams dark chocolate, chopped
Candy the chili peppers
While your dough autolyses, place the chili peppers in a small saucepan and add equal volumes of sugar and water to the pot until the peppers are covered. Set the saucepan over a burner set to high heat, bring to a boil, then immediately turn down to hold a low simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Keep simmering for an hour, or until the chili peppers are translucent. You may need to top the mixture off with a little water at a time if the level gets too low. Strain the chilis from the syrup, reserving the syrup for other uses, and lay the chilis on a cooling rack to dry out for 24 hours. Once the peppers are either almost dry or are completely dry, chop and set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix the flours, cocoa, and water together until no dry flour or cocoa remain and the dough is lump-free. Cover loosely and set aside to rest for two hours.
Add levain, chipotle powder, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon to the bowl and mix via dimpling, pinching, and stretch and fold. You’ll likely have to mix in a couple of sessions, so if your dough starts to tighten up a lot and tear, give it a five minute rest before continuing to mix.
Once the dough is fully mixed, cover it and let it rest at room temperature to rise. 30 minutes into bulk, give the dough one round of stretch and fold. After an hour of bulk, perform one lamination by turning the dough out of the bowl onto a moistened countertop or bench and stretch it in all directions into a large oval-ish shape. You aren’t going for an extreme lamination in this case, so stretch only until the dough just starts to resist the stretch.
Sprinkle the candied chilis and chocolate across the dough, then fold the top and bottom flaps of the dough towards the middle so they overlap in thirds, then repeat with the other sides, squaring the dough off.
Flip the dough over so that it is seam side down, then perform a few french pulls to round the dough. Place it in a clean glass bowl, seam side down, and cover to continue bulk for three more hours or until well-proofed.
Gently dump the dough onto a lightly floured counter or bench and shape simply into a boule. Let the boule rest on the bench for a few minutes to allow the seams to seal, then move to a prepared banneton. If the dough needs a bit more proofing, let it rest at room temperature for an hour or so before moving to the refrigerator overnight; if the dough is already well-proofed and ready to retard, move it to the refrigerator immediately .
Score and Bake
The following morning, place your Challenger Bread Pan into the oven and preheat at 450°F / 230° C for 45 minutes. Once the pan is fully preheated, remove the boule from the refrigerator. Dust the baking surface of your bread pan with rice flour or fine corn meal, then invert the loaf onto the baking surface. Score the loaf (we are partial to a simple “+” symbol for this one) and place the cover on the pan, then bake for 25 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for 11 minutes more, then remove the loaf from the oven and let cool thoroughly before slicing.
The flavor in this loaf develops quite nicely as it sits over the first day after baking, so if you can stand the wait, we suggest making sure you don’t consume the entire loaf right away. Keep some around, and you’ll see how the flavors meld and mature as it ages. If you do end up with leftovers after a few days, this loaf makes a statement when used for French Toast, bread pudding, and grilled cheese sandwiches.
Nicole Muvundamina is a freelance baking instructor and recipe developer specializing in sourdough and freshly milled whole grain baking. Armed with a tabletop stone mill and a pantry overflowing with grains, she is on a mission to introduce people to the fantastic flavors and characteristics that come along with fresh, whole flour. To see what grain-based tomfoolery she is getting herself into each day, follow her on instagram at @nmuvu.
Candied chilis: We used hot cherry peppers here because they have a great balance of fruity flavor and heat, but use whatever chilis you can find that fit your heat tolerance, and be sure to plan for the 24 hours of drying time the peppers need before they’re ready to chop and use. For the simple syrup you’ll use to candy the peppers, we don’t give weight measurements for the sugar and water because the amount you need will depend on the size and shape of pot that you use, and it’s much easier to just use an equal volume of each until the mixture covers the peppers in the pot. Lastly, be sure to save the chili-spiked syrup that you’ll have leftover once candying is complete. It’s an incredible ingredient to have on hand for cocktails and homemade candies.
If spicy food isn’t your thing, feel free to omit the candied chilis, as the loaf is still delicious without the extra hea
Keywords: Chocolate, Chili, Sourdough, Savory, Sweet, Halloween, Holiday