Here are my extra tips for making this irresistible holiday sweet:
Chocolate Orange Pecan Kugelhopf
1 cup whole milk
12 tablespoons butter, cubed
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoons orange zest
2 teaspons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
One 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast (2-1/4 teaspoons)
5 cups flour, divided
4 large eggs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
3/4 cup finely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)
In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and butter to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the butter has almost melted. Remove saucepanfrom heat and stir in the sugar, orange zest, vanilla and salt. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and allow to cool a few minutes, until lukewarm.
Add the yeast and 2 cups of the flour, mixing on low speed until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in remaining 2-1/2 cups flour until combined.
With floured hands (because dough will be very sticky!) turn the dough out onto a generously floured work surface; gently knead until smooth, about 3 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a buttered bowl, turning to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling: In a medium bowl, mix together brown sugar, pecans, chocolate, orange zest and butter. Add cranberries, if using.
Punch down the dough and give it a quick knead. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 14 X 22-inch rectangle. Sprinkle the filling over the top, leaving a 1-inch border.
Starting from a longer side, carefully roll up dough into a log. Cut the log crosswise into 12 even slices. Place the cut sides of 6 of the slices against the side of a buttered 10-inch tube pan. Place the remaining slices, cut sides pressed together, in a ring around the tube of the pan. Cover with plastic and let rise until doubled, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Bake kugelhoff until browned on top and a cake tester inserted into the center emerges clean, 35-40 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes, then carefully unmold and cool completely. Drizzle with an orange glaze (see tips, above), or dust with confectioners' sugar.