In 70% Dark Intentions, Carmen has been promoted to pastry chef at Felicity’s shop. She’s still using her signature cooking style – taking traditional pan dulce recipes and giving them a twist with spices and herbs. Here, she’s made conchas – but with a spicy chocolate-rosemary topping. The flavor of the topping itself reminds me of the Fireball candy from when I was a kid.
vegetable oil, for greasing the bowl
½ c. milk
3 ½ c. all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
½ c. sugar, plus 1 tsp. for proofing yeast
1 ½ tsp. active dry yeast
½ tsp. salt
½ c. unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 batch chocolate herb topping
Heat the milk until it is warm, but do not allow to boil. Add the yeast and 1 tsp. of sugar. Set aside. Grease a large mixing bowl and set aside. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low, just until combined.
Add the butter and mix thoroughly on medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing between each. Then add the vanilla extract and slowly pour in ¼ c. of the milk, slowly adding more and mixing between additions until you have a cohesive dough (you may not need all the milk).
Switch to the dough hook attachment and continue mixing about 7 minutes at medium speed, until the dough is soft and elastic. Shape the dough into a ball and place in the large greased bowl, rolling the ball to grease on all sides. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Place the bowl in a warm spot and allow the dough to rest until it doubles in size (roughly 1-2 hours).
Meanwhile, prepare the chocolate herb topping and set aside.
Turn the risen dough out onto a floured surface, and shape the dough into 16 equal-sized balls. Place them on the lined baking sheets. Use your fingers to generously grease the top and sides of each ball with shortening.
Place the topping balls one at a time onto a sheet of plastic and flatten them into discs. Peel each disc off the plastic and place it on one of the dough balls, pressing down firmly until the whole thing forms a dome shape. Use a knife or a concha cutter to mark the top with “swoop” shapes, to resemble a shell.
Place the baking sheets in a warm place, and allow the conchas to rise until almost double in size.
Preheated your oven to 325º degrees. Bake the conchas for 20 minutes, or until the bottoms are lightly browned. Allow to cool completely, and serve with a strong cup of coffee.
NOTE: You can freeze shaped, topped conchas on a sheet tray before baking and store in a plastic bag in the freezer until ready to bake.
Chocolate Herb Topping
½ c. vegetable shortening, plus extra for greasing dough
1 c. confectioner sugar
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
2 tsp. dried rosemary, finely ground
½ tsp. cumin, ground
½ tsp. cayenne pepper, ground
¼ tsp. cracked black pepper
Place the shortening in a medium bowl, and whip it with a spatula or spoon until it becomes very creamy. Add the remaining ingredients and mix to combine. Divide into 16 balls, and use to top the conchas before baking.