chocolate pecan knots

A few weeks back, I had a hankering for sweet rolls so I tampered with the Ottolenghi Krantz cake recipe and made some chocolate pecan knots. My first version was very tasty but I found the knots a bit dry. I tried again but this time I adapted the dough recipe using my Dad's sweet roll recipe for reference and used the chocolate filling from the Ottolenghi recipe.

Dad's sweet roll recipe is very down to earth and simple. There's no complicated brioche type butter adding, it's all melt and mix and throw everything into the mixer.

I made some Swedish style knots but you don't have to bother. You could just roll it up swiss roll style, slice the mixture into 6 and go from there.

Here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional gas oven, so if your oven is fan forced, you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Chocolate Pecan Knots - makes 6 knots. 

The recipe is adapted from Ottolenghi Chocolate Krantz Cake recipe and my dad's bulkha recipe. Please note, it's best to start this recipe the day before.

For the dough
75g unsalted butter
100mls milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour, plus extra for dusting
¼ tsp salt
45g caster sugar
1 tsp dried yeast
1 egg
additonal 2 tbl melted butter
oil, for greasing

12g icing sugar
18g cocoa powder
35g dark chocolate, melted
30g unsalted butter, melted

50g toasted pecans, roughly chopped
1 tbs caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Glaze (optional)
⅓ cup water
⅓ cup caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick

To make the dough, melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat, add milk and vanilla and heat until lukewarm. Mix flour, salt, sugar and yeast in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Make a well in the centre, then, with motor running, pour the beaten egg into the well and gradually add the milk mixture and knead until smooth and shiny (2-3 minutes). The mixture will be quite soft at this stage. If it's not then you might need to add a little more milk.

Grease a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the greased bowl, turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (1 hour) or you can leave the dough to prove in the fridge overnight, which is what I usually do. While the dough is proving you can make the filling and the topping. In a small bowl, mix together the icing sugar, cocoa, chocolate and melted butter to form a paste. In a separate bowl combined the toasted nuts, sugar and cinnamon. Put to one side.

If you've proved the dough in the fridge you'll need to let it come back to room temperature first before proceeding with the next steps. Knock back dough on a lightly floured surface, roll out to a 25cm x 40cm rectangle. Brush the dough with half the extra melted butter. Cover half the dough with the chocolate filling. Sprinkle the chopped nut mixture over the chocolate paste. Fold the dough over to cover the chocolate filling and press the edges gently to seal. If the filling is leaking out everywhere put the dough parcel into the fridge for about 30 minutes to make the next stage easier.

The next part is a bit messy. Cut the dough crosswise into 6 even pieces. Loop each piece twice around your hand and tuck in the ends to form a knot. You'll lose some of the pecans and filing at this stage. Place the knots on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Coat the buns with the remaining melted butter and you can sprinkle any random pieces of pecan that have fallen off. Cover the knots with a tea towel and stand in a warm place to prove (from 30 minutes up to a few hours).

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Bake the knots for about 25 minutes or until the buns have risen and are well browned. Cool on tray for a few minutes and then cool to room temperature on a wire rack.

If you like you can glaze the buns and you can make the glaze while the knots are in the oven. Combine the water and sugar in a small pan. Bring sugar and water to a simmer stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove the pan from the from heat, pop in the cinnamon stick and set aside to cool somewhat. As soon as the knots come out of the oven, brush the syrup over each knot and allow to cool.

I think these are best served the day you make them. If you have any leftovers, like I did, store them in the freezer then reheat them before serving. I normally zap each knot for 10-15 seconds and then they're good to go.

These knots are a lot of work but I do think they're worth it. I hope you agree.

See you all again soon,


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