Cocoa brioche maritozzo

This recipe came about out of a necessity to use up my sourdough starter. I made the mistake of feeding dark chocolate cookie crumbs to my starter, which while it enjoyed profusely, the addition of cocoa powder caused my starter to take on a leather-brown color and produce a cocoa aroma. So I had to think through a few ideas on what I could do with that, and making brioches was one of the first things that came to mind! Growing up on 85 degrees C breads, I am more than familiar with chocolate brioches. However, I wanted this to be a little special. Mostly because it’s not every day that you can work with sourdough starter(even if it has been forever turned chocolate-flavored), and I wanted to do something more than just make brioche buns with them! Initially, I thought about doing pain au chocolat, but laminating dough takes… well, more time than I am willing to invest given the fact that I already invested 2 weeks into feeding this sourdough starter. So instead, I went with maritozzo.

All the rage in 2021, maritozzo are these super soft and pillowy buns that are filled with cream and maybe other things. I have done them before, but I wanted to do a different take on them. A while ago, there used to be a liquid nitrogen place in Little Tokyo that would serve their ice cream on toasted Hawaiian bread of all things. It sounded weird, but tasted really good! Sadly, that place closed down(I can’t even tell you what the name of it was at this point), but I figured why not do that with my maritozzo? And since this is all chocolate-themed, and because I was dumb and purchased what I thought were vacuum-sealed cacao pulp(it was actually just a chocolate bar with freeze-dried cacao embedded into it), I figured, why not garnish the maritozzo with pieces of that chocolate bar to finish?

For the brioche, I am infusing it with cocoa powder and sourdough starter to give it a chocolate-like flavor profile, but also an uber-fluffy texture. For convenience, my recipe uses cocoa powder, although for the ones I tested this recipe with, I simply used the sourdough that became cocoa flavored because of the chocolate cookies. Maritozzo are traditionally dunked in a soaking liquid to keep them from drying out, so I am using a creme di cacao(cocoa liquor) flavored milk to do that. Instead of a cream, which I found to be hard to eat(the cream kept getting pushed out the sides as I would go to take a bite), I went with a white chocolate-buttermilk sorbet instead(I used that ice cream for a parfait, so I figured, why not double-dip and use it here since it tasted REALLY good?).

For the dough:
8oz sourdough starter
2 eggs
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
4oz melted butter
4oz canola oil
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt

Knead together ingredients to form an elastic dough. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Tip out the dough onto a floured surface and divide into 8 pieces. Roll each into a smooth ball and place on top of a lined sheet tray, spacing them 3 inches apart. Allow the brioches to proof at room temperature for another hour. Then transfer to the oven and bake at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes. If you want to make these into maritozzo, allow the brioches to cool down before cutting them in half horizontally(think hamburger bun).

For the soak:
1 cup milk
2 tbsps creme di cacao
a pinch of salt

Mix together. Keep the soak chilled until time to assemble.

For the white chocolate-buttermilk sorbet:
8oz buttermilk
8oz white chocolate chips
a pinch of salt

Puree together in a blender until completely combined. If you do not have a Vitamix blender, in a pot, heat up the buttermilk with the white chocolate on low heat to melt them together. Allow the mixture to cool down before either churning in an ice cream machine and freezing for at least an hour or freezing the base solid(2-4 hours in the freezer), blending the frozen solid base, then re-freezing for at least another hour before using.

For garnish:
Dark chocolate
Cocoa powder

Dunk the buns in the soaking liquid first. Add on a scoop of the sorbet, then spread that evenly against the buns. Finish with pieces of dark chocolate and optionally a dusting of cocoa powder.

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