I’m not a huge proponent of Valentine’s Day. It’s never been one of my favorite holidays. I’m not going to rattle off a spiel on how bitter I am about how our culture fuels an irrational need for us to spend millions of dollars each year on a single day to prove our love to others, blah blah blah… It’s just that if I could choose tomorrow to be any holiday, I’d choose Christmas, or my birthday, over Valentine’s Day.
Yes, my birthday is a holiday. Enough on that.
That said, I do still like to show my loved ones how much I care about them. Valentine’s Day or not, they deserve to know they’re cared about. Sometimes, I do this by calling them on the phone. No, not texting. I actually pick up the phone and dial a number. Shocking.
Sometimes, I write them letters. Or put little love notes in random places around the house. Or give them belly rubs (oh wait, that’s just my cat).
And sometimes, I bake things for them. Take this chocolate peanut butter bread here, for instance. If I make this for you, it means love. Serious love.
Because, let’s face it — you’d only want to share something this amazingly delicious with someone you care about.
So, if you don’t know how else to show your better half, your soulmate, your BFF or even your mama that you love them oh so much (or if you don’t feel like buying them a teddy bear that squeals, “I love you!” when you squeeze it), make them this bread. Then, give them a hug, and tell them you love them. After all, you can never have too much of any of these things.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Bread
Adapted from The Bread Bible
Yields: One 8 x 4-inch loaf
3 1/2 tbsp Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa
3 tbsp hot water
1/2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sifted cake or unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
13 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter, preferably natural
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a small bowl, combine cocoa and water and whisk to form a paste. Allow to cool to room temperature, then whisk in vanilla and eggs.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fixed with the paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add in butter and half of the chocolate mixture and mix on medium speed (#4 if using a stand mixer) for two minutes to “aerate” the batter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the rest of the chocolate mixture in two batches, mixing on medium speed for 20 seconds each time.
Pour batter into a lightly greased loaf pan, smoothing and flattening the top of the batter with a spatula. Lightly spread peanut butter on top of the batter and, using a sharp, thin knife, swirl the peanut butter into the batter. Don’t over-swirl, or you’ll lose the “swirly” top effect once the bread is baked.
Bake bread for 50 to 60 minutes, covering the top loosely with lightly greased aluminum foil about 25 minutes into baking to prevent the top from over-browning. The bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, and a thermometer inserted in the center reads about 200 degrees F. Allow bread to cool in pan for 10 minutes, then completely on a cooling rack before slicing or serving.