Chocolate Orange Panettone

Take your holiday tradition to the next level with this chocolate orange panettone!  Sweet, moist Italian yeast bread, studded with citrus and chocolate. 

Panettone is such a classic for the holidays, but this version is totally next-level! The candied orange peel and bittersweet chocolate are studded all throughout this moist, sweet loaf, and the flavors are so spot on for Christmas! I'll be making chocolate orange panettone every year now.

My grandfather was first generation Sicilian-American, but sadly, not much from his culture was passed down.  He was probably more interested in assimilating, like many other immigrants at that time.

So no, I did not grow up with panettone.  And I did not have a little Italian nonna teaching me her ways in the kitchen.  I just grew up like most other American kids, eating candy canes and sugar cookies at Christmastime.

Which I still love of course.  You can tell that by looking at any of the numerous peppermint recipes or cookie recipes I have on this site.

But while I was putting myself through college, I worked as a pastry chef at a catering company that was run by an Italian-American family.  Many of the parties they hosted were also for Italian families, and so the food reflected that.  During that time, I discovered a passion for Italian food, and learned many of the wonderful traditions.

Panettone is such a classic for the holidays, but this version is totally next-level! The candied orange peel and bittersweet chocolate are studded all throughout this moist, sweet loaf, and the flavors are so spot on for Christmas! I'll be making chocolate orange panettone every year now.

Christmas was always a special time there.  There were so many dishes that only appeared during the holidays.  Especially desserts.  I remember piles of pizzelles, and zeppoli, and struffoli.  All the aunts and grandmas would join us in the kitchen, and teach me about their holiday traditions.  I ate it up.  Both literally and figuratively!

After I finished up with design school and moved on to a career in architecture, I still had such a passion for Italian food.  For years, it was all I ever wanted to cook or eat.  It seemed like it was just in my blood, and it made me feel connected to my dad’s family.

What you see here is my first attempt at panettone.  I’ve been wanting to make it forever, and am finally just now able to cross it off my baking bucket list.

It begins with a starter, which I had never done before.  The idea of it scared me, but don’t let it do that to you.  It’s just flour, yeast, and water, but you do have to let it sit for 8 hours, so you will need to plan ahead.

Panettone is such a classic for the holidays, but this version is totally next-level! The candied orange peel and bittersweet chocolate are studded all throughout this moist, sweet loaf, and the flavors are so spot on for Christmas! I'll be making chocolate orange panettone every year now.

It’s not a perfect panettone.  If you read my posts regularly, I’m sure you already know I’m not the most confident bread baker.  (Talk to me about cakes!)  I’m timid, and I need a recipe to start with and then riff on.  I’m not that good that I can develop one completely on my own.  I second-guess myself every step of the way.  But I’m learning.

There’s only one way to get better at anything and that’s to practice, practice, practice.  And that is what I hope to do.  Every time I venture into this category of baking, I learn so much.

My loaf is a little cracked on top.  I think it’s probably because I under-proofed it.  It never really doubled in size, which is probably because it’s enriched.  I’m sure the eggs and sugar and fruit and chocolate inhibit the rise a bit.

But it baked up tall, and light, and moist, and yeast-y, and a little sweet.  The candied orange permeates the whole loaf with a sweet, citrus-y perfume that tastes just like marmalade.  Big chunks of melting bittersweet chocolate are studded all throughout, and they balance out the orange in the loveliest way.

Eat it warm, if you can.  It’s a an unforgettable treat, and so perfect for this time of year.

Panettone is such a classic for the holidays, but this version is totally next-level! The candied orange peel and bittersweet chocolate are studded all throughout this moist, sweet loaf, and the flavors are so spot on for Christmas! I'll be making chocolate orange panettone every year now.

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Chocolate Orange Panettone

Take your holiday tradition to the next level with this chocolate orange panettone! Sweet, moist Italian yeast bread, studded with citrus and chocolate.

Yield: 1 loaf

Ingredients:

For the starter:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/16 teaspoon (just a pinch) instant yeast
  • 1/3 cup cool water

For the dough:

Directions:

To make the starter:

  1. Place the flour, yeast, and water in a large mixing bowl and stir together until combined.  Cover, and allow to rest for 8 to 12 hours, or overnight.

To make the panettone:

  1. To the bowl of starter, add the flour, sugar, butter, water, eggs, yeast, salt, vanilla, and orange blossom water.  Mix on medium-low speed (using a dough hook) until combined, then knead for 10 minutes.*  Cover, and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  2. Gently deflate the dough, then knead in the candied orange peel and chocolate.  Shape it into a ball and place it in a paper panettone mold.  Cover, and allow to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Bake the panettone for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375 degrees F, and bake for another 10 minutes.  Turn the oven temp down to 350 degrees, and bake for 25 minutes more.**

*The dough was very sticky, so I let my mixer do the kneading.

**Tent the panettone with aluminum foil if the top is becoming too brown.

Chocolate orange panettone keeps for up to a week, tightly wrapped, at room temperature.

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