As I had mentioned in an earlier post, I received a package of Ghirardelli Intense Dark chocolates as part of a Foodbuzz Tastemaker program. The thin, luscious squares of chocolate are great to enjoy on its own, but as I was browsing through their Chocolate Pairing Guide, I was thinking about what else I could try with all this chocolate. I thought about assembling some smores, but I didn’t have any marshmallows. And then I remembered these awesome Chocolate Baos from Wow Bao in Chicago. Those sweet steamed baos filled with a warm, creamy chocolate center was really tasty. Instead of making a chocolate-filled bao, I decide to make something very similar – chocolate swirl mantou.
What’s a mantou?
Mantou is a Chinese steamed bun, made with flour, water, and yeast. Mantous may be plain or made with a sweet filling (like a creamy custard) or savory filling (minced meat or vegetables). They are very similar to baos, but while baos are buns with filling, the term mantou is commonly used to refer to buns without fillings. They are often served warm, freshly steamed as a breakfast or snack item, or to accompany other dishes. Its soft, fluffy texture makes it great for dipping. It also makes a tasty dessert. As a child, I used to love deep fried mantou dipped in condensed milk.
So the idea was, instead of making a plain mantou, I was going to incorporate the Intense Dark chocolate and make a swirly mantou. Fun!
The idea is to use two flavors of dough (one plain and one chocolate) and roll them together to form a cute swirl. I used the Basic Yeast Dough recipe from Andrea Nguyen’s Asian Dumplings book as a reference and made a few modifications. (By the way, her book is excellent. There’s a lot of basic recipes that easy to follow, good to have on hand, and very adaptable.) I used a mix of whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour and also added almond milk to the bread. The plain dough and the chocolate dough are basically the same, except one uses unsweetened almond milk while the other uses a chocolate-almond milk mixture.
Ingredients for the plain dough:
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup lukewarm water
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 2 tbsp organic cane sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
Ingredients for the chocolate dough:
- same ingredients as plain dough, with the addition of
- 1.75 oz dark chocolate (I used 1/2 of the Ghirardelli Intense dark Twilight Delight bar and crushed it into pieces.)
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
For the chocolate-almond milk mixture:
- In a small pot, bring the almond milk to a boil.
- Lower the heat and add the chocolate pieces and the maple syrup.
- Stir for about 30 seconds and turn off the heat.
- Keep stirring until the chocolate is melted and everything looks mixed well.
Directions for the dough (adapted from Andrea Nguyen’s Asian Dumplings):
- In a small bowl, combine the yeast and water and set aside for 1 minute. Whisk in the oil to blend and dissolve the yeast.
- In a large bowl, combine the sugar, baking powder, and flours.
- Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture.
- Slowly stir, moving from the center toward the rim, to work in all the flour.
- Pour in the almond milk (or the chocolate almond milk mixture, if you’re making the chocolate dough).
- Keep mixing and the dough will start to form.
- Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough for ~5 minutes.
- Keep kneading until the dough is smooth and slightly elastic. Press your finger into the dough and it should spring back with a slight indentation remaining.
- Place the dough in a large bowl that has been lightly oiled. Cover with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place to rise. Let it sit for ~45 minutes until the dough has nearly doubled.
So now I have two balls of dough. I rolled them out and divided each ball into 16 rectangles of about the same size. Then I went on to assemble the buns as follows:
Lastly, you’re ready to steam them!
I used one of those stack and steam pots, but a bamboo steamer would be perfect. Line the bottom of each piece with a small piece of parchment paper and make sure you space them out on the steamer. The buns will expand in size. Steam them for about 15 minutes. You can leave the parchment paper on the buns, but just remember to remove them before eating. 🙂
When the buns are ready, you’ll notice that they’ve puffed up. Carefully remove them from the heat and serve warm. The wonderful thing about these buns is that they also freeze very well. I packed them up into zip lock bags and tossed them in the freezer. They can keep in the freezer for up to a month, so you can always have them handy. To reheat, just steam them again.
And the next morning… chocolate swirly mantou for breakfast!
I was quite impressed. They turned out pretty great for a first time. The bread was not as airy as I’d like, but luckily still soft. The whole wheat flour made the bread a bit dense I think. The chocolate taste is light but noticeable. I only used 1/2 a bar of the 72% cacao dark chocolate, so maybe I’ll try with more chocolate next time. The mantou is neither sweet nor salty. I think it’ll go really well with some kind of spread… peanut butter or perhaps a chocolate hazelnut spread.