My Mormor (grandmother) strongly believed in tying in our multifaceted heritage to every dish she cooked. Her beloved Oaxacan chocolate challah embodied her three cultures: Jewish, Mexican and Swedish (this side came out with her need for each slice to be dipped into a hot cup of coffee). This challah transports me to her home in Mexico city, sat in a little market stall eating pan de yema (a flaky, airy bread made with egg yolk) accompanied by Oaxacan hot chocolate.
Although this recipe works with any melting chocolate, the magical addition of Oaxacan chocolate elevates it. High-quality Oaxacan chocolate is arguably the most decadent Mexican chocolate, as Oaxaca is the central hub in Mexico for chocolate production. Interestingly, cacao does not grow in the state of Oaxaca, but rather in neighboring regions. But Oaxaca’s location on an ancient trading route has reeled in travelers from far and wide to join in on this sacred tradition.
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs + 1 egg, for glazing
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 2¼ tsp yeast
- ¾ cup water
- 3 cups bread flour
- 5-7 tabs of Oaxaca-imported chocolate (Chocolate Mayordomo)
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- Place oil, eggs, sugar and salt in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook.
- Mix yeast with water and add to the bowl.
- Add flour by the cupful until a dough forms. It should be soft and smooth to the touch – make sure it doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl!
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead until smooth and not sticky. Cover and let rise for 1-1.5 hours.
- While the dough rises, set a pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Melt tabs of Oaxaca-imported chocolate in a dry metal bowl that fits snugly over the top of the pot of water, ensuring that the bowl doesn’t touch the surface of the water at any point. Remove melted chocolate from the stovetop and let cool for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Divide risen dough into three pieces. Roll each piece out into a long oval, and slather 1-2 teaspoons of the melted chocolate onto each piece. Fold over the dough strands and firmly seal shut, rolling each piece of dough into a longer strand.
- Proceed to braid. Place braided dough on parchment paper, and then glaze with a beaten egg. Sprinkle cinnamon on the surface.
- Let the challah rise again for 20 minutes, then bake for 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.