Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Double Chocolate Quick Bread with Cream Cheese and Peanut Butter Spread

Food styling and presentation have never been a strong suit of mine.  The family was lucky to get dinner on one plate, and hopefully the ingredients somehow worked together.  Making it look pretty?  Who has time for that?

Passing Liv Life's two year anniversary just yesterday, I took a moment to look back at my early photos and posts and, well... I've gotten better.  New camera equipment most definitely makes a difference, but presentation is what it's all about.

Presentation need not be fancy to be pretty, nor does it need expensive props or serving dishes.  Simplicity works well for me, but now I take a moment before setting the plate on the table to perhaps add a sprig of cilantro, to slice the avocado and then fan it out on top of the salad, or spoon the mango salsa nicely on the pork tenderloin rather than just dumping a spoonful on the side.

Hence, I've become somewhat protective of my kitchen creations before they have been photographed for the blog.  The family is now accustomed to asking, "Can I have some of this or do you still need to take a picture?" before diving into a plate of brownies or cookies.  They even occasionally offer suggestions for styling, and Liv has become quite adept at placing the perfect dollop of whipped cream atop nearly anything sweet.

With my protectiveness, you can imagine my surprise upon entering the kitchen where Liv and her girlfriend were working on their broadcasting claymation project.  There, I found one of my perfectly shaped, freshly baked and most importantly, non photographed Chocolate Bread Loaves had been turned into nothing less than a volcano complete with a peanut butter cream cheese lava in the middle of a candy world.  A slight miscommunication of "use whatever you need" had them indeed, using whatever they needed.

While I was lucky to have 2 remaining loaves pristine and waiting for their moment in the spotlight, I do have to admit that this delectable chocolate bread inspired by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito's Double Chocolate version from their awe inspiring book, Baked Explorations, did indeed make an ideal volcano.

Chocolate at its best, we "heathified" our version with the addition of spelt flour and the replacement of some of the oil with a nice, tangy yogurt.  Intense without being too sweet, it was the peanut butter/cream cheese spread that had me gushing and reaching for another slice.  While the spread also made a beautiful lava flow on the girls' volcano, I prefer mine spread ever so lightly across a nice warm piece of the chocolate chunk studded bread.

Double Chocolate mini loaves with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Spread

Treating myself to a copy of the book Baked Explorations last Christmas, this is one of those books that you can't put down until you finish.  Recipe after recipe received the comment, "Oooh!!  I must make that!", and every recipe I've tried has been an instant hit.
The Double Chocolate Loaf was no exception, though I did make a few changes to better work it into my car pool of dance girls' pre-dance (it's supposed to be healthy) snack.  

3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup spelt flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
3/4 cup rice milk (the original recipe calls for buttermilk - Liv is somewhat lactose sensitive, hence we subbed the rice milk)
1/2 cup yogurt (Liv's lactose sensitivity can tolerate yogurt)
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 ounces good-quality dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350º F.  Spray 3 small loaf pans with cooking spray and set aside.

Place the brown sugar into a large mixing bowl, pressing out lumps with the back of a spoon.  Add the cocoa, flours, granulated sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Whisk ingredients to combine.

In a medium mixing bowl whisk the eggs and egg white until blended, then add the rice milk (or buttermilk if desired), yogurt, oil and vanilla, again whisking until combined.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring just 5 or 6 times.  Add the chocolate chunks and stir 5 to 10 times more, just until the flour is incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and sprinkle with raw sugar if desired (Liv sprinkles all of her breads with raw sugar).

Bake for 20-30 minutes (time will vary depending on the size of your pans), or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Liv Life Note - Actually, a Baked Explorations Note:  In place of mini loaf pans, pour the batter into a prepared 9x5 inch loaf pan and bake 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Spread

5 ounces light cream cheese (we used a whipped version)
3 Tbs creamy peanut butter

Place ingredients into a small bowl and blend with a fork or a whisk until blended.

Liv Life Note - again, really a Baked Explorations Note:  The original recipe calls for 1/3 cup of granulated sugar to be whipped into the cream cheese and peanut butter.  Frankly that was a little too sweet for me, but if you like sweet it will be awesome!


  1. We must have our lives in sync right now because I made Dudette a chocolate cake with peanut butter filling and a chocolate cream cheese frosting. I know she'd be all over this as well since chocolate and peanut butter are her favorite combination.

    Happy blog anniversary, my friend. I'm so glad that I've had the opportunity to get to know you and Liv via this medium, even if just a little. Your writing brightens my day.

  2. My husband is so impatient while I work on styling the food he's ready to be eating :) I love this bread though (and the ways you've healthified it). Gorgeous pictures!

  3. Liv,
    Congratulations on the second anniversary of your blog! I thank you for your friendship and support.It means a lot to me. I love reading about your family, and your pups, and your recipes of course. I have made many of your recipes, and they have been wonderful.

    I love this chocolate quick bread, which can also be used as a volcano, if needed:)
    Have a great week!

  4. My husband has started to ask me, "Do you need to take a picture of this first?" LOL And my photos, too, are getting better, but not as lovely as yours! This recipe sounds wonderful. How can you loose with chocolate, cream cheese, and peanut butter!

  5. Congratulations on 2 years of blogging ... wish u many more to come!

    I'm hosting a giveaway over at my blog and would love for you to stop by and participate.


    Looking forward to seeing you there.

  6. Happy 2 years my friend - this is the perfect celebration :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  7. This bread looks great! The addition of the peanut butter spread is killer! Congrats on your two years! Mine is coming up!!

  8. You are right Kim, I don't have any fancy food photos in my blog, reason I have two kids, one is 3 year old and other is 4 and 1/2 month old, it very difficult take a picture with one is constantly taking everything from the table. She want to take pictures to, so picture has to be done in a split of second. if not your food is gone for ever.
    By the way I like your volcano of peanut butter.
    The chocolate quick bread looks absolutely yumm.

  9. 2 years...!!! Congratulations...!!!
    I know your filling with your pictures, mines are not as good as I wanted, ok, I recognize my pictures had some kind of improvement since I started the blog but it's not easy, I mean, have a nice picture takes time and light, I used to bake in the night after work.
    And of course, I have to deal with my husband who always want to eat everything as soon as it comes out, and my little girl that always want "special" decorations for my pictures, like you volcano.

  10. Oh my!!! That would be gone so fast in my house, like SO fast

  11. I think your photos look great. I had to laugh, though, because I have Mr. Hungry Couple perfectly trained to wait for photos. Even in restaurants (we do reviews) he immediately hands over his plate of hot food for me to take a picture. :)

  12. Happy Blog Anniversary! This looks amazing, I could eat it for dinner!

  13. Yummy Kim! And I have to laugh at your dilemma, yes us bloggers are quite particular about our food! I know my family must get annoyed sometimes when they have to wait to eat so that I can get my photos but they never complain, or maybe just to themselves!

  14. There aren't very many things better than chocolate bread. One of the very first recipes I ever posted on my blog was a chocolate bread, too, but I was not very experienced with working with yeast then. Would love to try this quicker version.

    I think it's so cute that the girls found creative use of your bread! Glad you had an extra one to photograph.

    Congrats on your recent anniversary. So happy to have gotten to know you over the last couple of years, Kim. :)

  15. I love how you tried to "healthify" this recipe. I often do that where I can to minimize the guilt (for amd and the kids!) It looks realy good ..

  16. I love how you tried to "healthify" this recipe. I often do that where I can to minimize the guilt (for amd and the kids!) It looks realy good ..

  17. Chocolate volcano? That is indeed a presentation to remember. GREG

  18. Nice healthy twist and I love peanut butter with anything (especially chocolate).

  19. This gets a huge yum from me and I think Mr. Picky would like it. LOL about the family asking if they can eat or if you need to take a picture first. ;)

  20. What a great way to top chocolate cake and a host of other things I'd imagine as well!


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