Guest Feature: Irish Inspired Vanilla Bread With Chocolate Butter
Ah, the Emerald Isle. Ireland is special in our house (in our family, actually) because not only did my grandparents grow up there, my husband and I got engaged in Dublin. It’s a country steeped in tradition, and one to which we feel connected. International travel isn’t something we’re (yet) brave enough to attempt with a wee lassie so we’re using the St. Patrick’s Day holiday as an excuse to share a little bit of Ireland with the next generation.
Culinary talk of the Celtic nation is fraught with references to soda bread and corned beef hash, but there’s so much more to their food. On one of my trips there I purchased a cookbook with recipes of traditional baked goods (many of which are indeed variations on soda bread!) but when I selected a recipe to make with my little one, something different caught my eye.
I set out to bring Ireland’s culinary repertoire into our kitchen via a universally recognized delicacy, chocolate! Vanilla bread with chocolate butter, although not a well-known and traditional Irish dish, was a fun way to cook with my toddler and introduce her to our family history. I knew the delicious spread would catch her attention and taste buds. Full disclosure: Since this is a yeast bread, I made the dough while she was at preschool. I figured it was really the chocolate butter that she’d be after anyway and we made that together when she got home.
Enjoy sharing a tasty tidbit of our family history with your own. In addition to melting beautifully on the warm vanilla bread, the chocolate butter is excellent with all sorts of other foods as a spread, dip or snack. Who doesn’t love to share in a little Irish culinary delight come St. Patrick’s Day, especially when it’s so delicious!
Irish Vanilla Bread
- ¾ Cup - Milk
- 1 vanilla pod
- ½ oz. Yeast
- ½ Tablespoon - Sugar
- ½ Teaspoon - Salt
- 1 Tablespoon - Vanilla Extract
- 2 Cups - Flour
- CHOCOLATE BUTTER
- ½ Cup - Unsalted Butter
- 1 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate
- pinch of salt
- 1 Teaspoon - Vanilla Extract
- ¾ Cup - Powdered Sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F and coat baking sheet with cooking spray or oil
- Infuse the split vanilla pod in the milk for 10 mins then warm the milk in a large bowl and add yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes
- Add sugar, salt, vanilla extract and 4 tablespoons of the flour to the yeast mixture and beat for about two minutes
- Add the remaining flour and mix until a soft dough forms
- Knead dough on a lightly floured surface for 2-3 minutes then cover and let rest for 10 minutes
- Knead dough again until it becomes smooth and elastic and put it into a lightly oiled bowl and let rise for 2 hours
- Knock the dough back and divide into two equal portions. Using your hands, make two free-form loaves and place on oiled baking sheet. Cover and let rise for 30-60 minutes
- Bake for 45-50 minutes then let cool on a wire rack
- CHOCOLATE BUTTER
- Melt the chocolate and butter together – this can be done in the microwave at 20 second intervals, checking and stirring regularly until everything has melted
- Add sugar, salt and vanilla to the chocolate mixture and mix until smooth
- Transfer to a dish and serve
Meghan’s four-year-old daughter, Clara, keeps her busy. They make a point to play, read, learn or explore something together everyday, often in their town of West Hartford, CT. Meghan has always loved to cook but now that she doesn’t have the time to prepare elaborate foods (or the energy for it after a day with Clara), simple and kid-friendly recipes like jams and breads have taken the place of the Indian, Asian-inspired or Italian culinary concoctions she’d whip up previously. Before she was “Mommy”, Meghan was the Marketing Director at a boutique investment firm in Boston and she still enjoys putting her marketing skills to work by volunteering at her daughter’s Montessori school and organizations like the Noah Webster House and Malta House of Care.