I had just finished composing my blog’s menu for March when an email came through from Nazneen, the author of Coffee and Crumpets, asking if I would guest post for her blog. At the time, Pão de Mel (Honey Bread) was one of the treats that were on my mind!
I willingly accepted this opportunity to guest post for her– Nazneen is one of my favorite fellow bloggers, and because of this, I could not refuse her kind offer. I have no doubt that if we lived nearby, we’d be great friends.
So I asked her what type of dish she’d like to have appear in the post… She suggested a Brazilian chocolate dessert. From among several different ones that I had in mind, I picked pão de mel— “honey bread.” For those unfamiliar with this dessert popular in Brazil, pão de mel is a cake sandwich of European origin, made mostly from honey, chocolate, and spices, which is coated in chocolate to prolong its flavor and moist texture, and can be filled with dulce de leche, brigadeiro filling, jam, etc. It usually has either a square or round shape (resembling a cookie sandwich or alfajor). However, today I preferred to give ours the shape of a mini cake.
Pão de Mel has a rich, decadent taste of chocolate (of course) and especially of spices — oh, it is also a great dessert to have with a good cup of coffee. I thought that pão de mel would pair well with the concept of Nazneen’s blog. When I think about spices, Indian cuisine jumps immediately to mind… And where do I find great Indian recipes when I do need them? Coffee and Crumpets!!!
Although this pão de mel recipe has been adapted from a Brazilian pastry chef, I came up with the decoration.
Pão de Mel (Spiced Muffins w/ Caramel & Chocolate)
- 250 g light brown sugar about 8.8 ounces
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup milk 2 egg yolks lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup pure honey
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 egg whites
- 1 can dulce de leche for the filling
- 800 g semi-sweet chocolate (28.2 ounces) melted in a double boiler at 32º C or 89.5º F (for the topping)
Grease and flour a large-size or standard-size muffin tin. Preheat oven to 350º F (180º C).
In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir the brown sugar and water just until the sugar dissolves (Remember: You are NOT making a simple syrup). Remove from heat and set aside until cool. Whisk the sifted flour and spices on top of the water-sugar mixture. Add the cocoa powder and oil, whisking well. Dissolve both the baking soda and powder in milk and add to the batter. Add in the beaten yolks, honey, salt, and vanilla, stirring until combined.
In a mixer, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the beaten egg whites into the batter in 2-3 different additions to make the batter more aerated. Put into the tin (fill each well 3/4 full) and bake for about 20 minutes (standard) or 27-30 minutes (large). You will end up with the fluffiest cakes ever. Please, do not overbake or the cakes will turn out dry.
When cakes are cool, using a serrated/bread knife, remove top of the cakes. I reserved mine to make cookie sandwiches (whoopie pies). Next, slice cake so you end up with 3 layers. Spread them with dulce de leche. When cakes are assembled, brush them with simple syrup (this will help avoid releasing crumbs into the melted chocolate and will keep the cakes moist).
Place the cake on a fork and bathe in the melted chocolate. Place on a rack with a baking sheet underneath, and let excess chocolate drain off of the cake onto the baking sheet below. Transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let the chocolate set in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes.
Then, decorate each pão de mel as you wish. For mine, I used flower-shaped cupcake liners, ribbon tied around the middle, and Wilton sugar flowers. I also used melted pink chocolate melts to fill molds for the pink sculptures on top of our mini cakes.