1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk, warmed
1/4 cup sugar
1 package active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon finely ground Sichuan peppercorns (see Note)
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
7 large eggs
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- In a small bowl, combine the warmed milk and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and stir lightly. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the flour, cocoa, salt, ground Sichuan peppercorns, chocolate chips and the remaining 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of sugar and mix well. With the machine at medium low speed, beat in the yeast mixture. Add 6 of the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until thoroughly incorporated; scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times. The dough should be soft, smooth and slightly sticky.
- Transfer the dough to a floured bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let stand in warm place until risen and puffy, about 1 hour.
- On a floured work surface, pat down the dough. Gather it into a ball. Flour the bowl and return the dough to it. Cover and let stand again until risen, about 45 minutes.
- Generously butter two 9-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pans. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and cut it in half. Pat each half into a 9-by-8-inch rectangular loaf and transfer to a prepared loaf pan, seam sides down; neatly fold in the ends. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let stand until the dough fills the pans, about 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Beat the remaining egg and brush some over the tops of the loaves. Using a sharp knife, make a lengthwise slice in the center of each loaf. Bake for 35 minutes, rotating the loaves halfway through baking, until they sound hollow when tapped. Transfer the pans to a rack to cool slightly, then run a knife around the edges and turn the loaves out onto the rack. Serve the brioche warm or at room temperature.
The loaves can be wrapped well and frozen for up to 1 month.
Fragrant, mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns from China are available at most Asian markets and at thespicehouse.com.