Here in Peru, eating panettone bread and drinking hot chocolate for Christmas is a tradition. It hardly seems like Christmas without enjoying sweet drinkable chocolate with hints of cinnamon and cloves. The holiday isn’t complete without cutting into a loaf of panettone bread to accompany the chocolate.
There are small towns all over Peru which lack running water, have no electricity and streets are not paved. The people in these towns live a life of survival from one day to the next. They would never comprehend having a refrigerator with food inside of it. They buy only what they need for that day – if they can. Malnutrition is common and kids grow used to going without.
We are taking panettone bread, chocolate and toys to a few towns in the mountains and jungle of Peru. We are bringing their Christmas tradition to them and hope to offer a glimmer of hope and joy during the season of celebrating Christ’s birth. What a joy it is to see children’s faces light up and parents content. 132 loaves will not actually feed many, but several towns here in Peru will be blessed to celebrate a traditional Peruvian chocolatada.
The traditional panettone has raisins, candied fruit and nuts. Over the last few years, companies have created a number of varieties including wheat panettone, ones with golden raisins and orange peel, and the best ones – those with chocolate chips.
Morels and Musings is hosting a Festive Food Fair to showcase the various recipes which stretch across the cultures. In honor of this year’s Festive Food Fair, I tried making a mini version of panettone breads with a couple different flavors. I had saved this recipe for a number of years, wondering if I would ever be brave enough to attempt it. Thankfully, I have recently felt victorious on a number of occasions with yeast and decided that it was time to try Mini Cranberry Panettone Breads.
- 2 packages of dry yeast (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
- 1 1/4 cups of warm water (100F to 110F)
- 5 3/4 cups of flour, divided
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- 7 tablespoons of butter
- 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh orange rind
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 2 large eggs
- Add-ins (cranberries, ginger, chocolate – see below)
- Cooking spray
- 2 tablespoons of toasted almonds
- Dissolve yeast in water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon 1 1/4 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add to yeast mixture, stirring with a whisk to combine. Cover; let rise in a warm place (85F), free from drafts, 1 hour.
- Combine sugar, butter, rind, and salt in a large bowl; beat with a heavy-duty stand mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add eggs, beating until combined; beat in yeast mixture. Lightly spoon 4 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 4 cups flour to egg mixture, beating at medium speed until smooth. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 3 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel sticky).
- * For Cranberry Panettones knead in 2 cups of dried cranberries and 1/2 cup of finely chopped crystallized ginger until well incorporated. For Chocolate Panettones, knead in 2 cups of shredded dark chocolate until well incorporated. (Or, make three of each by halving these add-in ingredients.)
- Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85F), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Coat 6 (1-cup) muffin cups with cooking spray. Cut 6 (5 x 12-inch) strips of parchment paper; place paper in muffin cups to extend 3 inches from the top of the muffin cups. Divide dough evenly among the muffin cups. Lightly spray each muffin with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with nuts. Let rise in a warm place (85F), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. While muffins rise, preheat the oven to 375F. After muffins have doubled in size, bake at 375F for 25 minutes or until muffins are lightly browned.
Be sure to make the Peruvian Drinking Chocolate to go with these delicious panettones!