I had a little bit of a rough time making this dough and wasn't able to knead it very easily by hand, but it turned out really well, so I'm ok with it!
1 packet (1/4 oz or 7 g) active dry yeast
1/2 c (120 ml) warm water, 105-115F (40-46C)
2 c (265 g)bread flour
1/3 c + 2 Tbls (40 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 c (240 g) butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
1/2 c (100 g) sugar, divided
1 Tbls cream, if desired
Combine the yeast with the water in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment and and sprinkle in 1 Tbls of sugar. Let set until activated, about five minutes.
In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt, then add to the yeast mixture in 1/2 to 1 c increments. Stir on low speed until combined, then increase speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time. Mix until dough begins to pull away from and slaps the sides of the bowl, about ten minutes.
With the machine running, add the butter, piece by piece. It will look like it's not going to mix in, but just keep going. Add the remaining sugar and continue to mix until the dough is shiny, about 15 minutes.
Remove dough from bowl and pull into a tight ball. Place into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place until dough has risen by half, about 3 hours.
Deflate the dough, roll it into a tight ball and return it to the re-oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.
Grease an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan.
Remove the chilled dough from the fridge and shape into an 8" square. Fold into thirds, pinching to remove air pockets, and fold under ends. Place in oiled pan, pressing to ensure that the dough reaches every corner, then cover and let rise until it reaches the top of the pan, about 2 hours.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F (190C).
If using, brush the risen dough with the cream. Slit the dough, then bake for about 50 minutes, or until the the bottom of the loaf makes a hollow sound when unmolded and tapped. Cool in pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely before slicing.
Chocolate French Toast
This isn't an exact recipe because I've always just thrown stuff into a bowl while making French Toast. Never fails!
Slices of chocolate brioche, 1" to 1 1/2" thick
Milk or cream
(Maybe I should keep this to myself, but I think this would be awesome with Irish cream in it. Hey - it's 5 o'clock somewhere, and you can't pretend you don't pour some into your morning coffee anyway!)
Whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and almond extract (cream and Irish cream too, if you're being daring!) in a large, shallow dish and soak the slices of brioche for 1-2 minutes, then flip and soak 1-2 minutes longer. You want the bread to be fully saturated!
Melt some butter in a pan and cook the bread on medium heat until crispy on the outside and custard-y on the inside. Serve with powdered sugar, strawberries, rhubarb curd... Anything really - it's hard to mess this one up!