This Greek Mini Two Tone Cocoa Tsoureki with Syrup (Easter Bread) are pretty little portions of cocoa (chocolate) flavoured Tsoureki.
Tsoureki is a sweet brioche type bread which is extremely popular in Greece on Easter (Pascha). Tsoureki has a unique combination of spices that sets it apart from brioche and other types of bread. Tsoureki is popular all year round and its recipe has evolved throughout the years. In this recipe, I will take you through my Greek Mini Two Tone Cocoa Tsoureki with syrup.
What sets this Tsoureki recipe apart from other recipes?
The authentic traditional Tsoureki (Easter bread) does not contain cocoa. In my Greek Mini Two Tone Cocoa Tsoureki with syrup recipe you get to taste the original, authentic Tsoureki along with a delicious ‘cocoa’ version. Furthermore, the traditional tsoureki does not contain syrup. In this tsoureki version the syrup adds not only sweet taste but also a different texture to Tsoureki.
Traditional tsoureki (Easter bread) is braided, whereas here I have prepared individual (mini) portions of tsoureki shaped into knots. Perfect individual treats! Greek Mini Two Tone Cocoa Tsoureki with Syrup are small, sweet and pretty little portions of the original, traditional Tsoureki (Easter bread) with the added flavour of cocoa and infused in syrup.
Lastly but not least, this Tsoureki recipe is easy to follow and make!
How do I prepare this Greek Mini Two Tone Cocoa Tsoureki with Syrup?
To prepare this Greek Mini Two Tone Cocoa Tsoureki with Syrup start by making the syrup. In a large saucepan pour water, sugar, orange juice and lemon juice as well as orange and lemon peel. Bring the sugary mixture to boil and let it boil for approximately 8 minutes. The syrup needs to be sicky and not runny. Set the syrup aside to cool.
One of the most important parts of this recipe is to have the syrup cold and the Tsoureki hot. When infusing the hot Tsoureki with cold syrup, these mini Tsoureki portions will absorb better the syrup in this combination.
Another important step in this recipe is to prepare the yeast. Make sure you are using good quality in date yeast, otherwise the Tsoureki will not rise.
Dissolve the yeast into lukewarm milk and add one tablespoon of sugar (from the sugar you already have for this recipe). Let the yeast work for 15 minutes. You will see it becoming foamy.
Whilst waiting for the yeast to become activated, melt the butter.
Once the yeast has become activated, continue by adding the eggs, sugar, mahlab, vanilla, salt along with orange and lemon zest.
This recipe does not necessarily need either a stand or a hand mixer and you can knead the dough with your hands. The only trick is to know when to stop kneading. Tsoureki does not require a lot of kneading as it is not bread. Over kneaded Tsoureki will have a dense interior. Tsoureki needs to be fluffy and stringy! The exact opposite of dense.
Here, I describe some steps with an electric mixer and some without for ease of this recipe.
Beat the eggs mixture with the flat beater for approximately 2-3 minutes. Now add the activated yeast and 600gr of the flour. Beat the mixture with a dough hook for a further 5 minutes.
It is now time to prepare our cocoa dough. So, divide the original dough into two portions. Place one in a separate bowl. Add cocoa in one of the dough portions and beat it for 3-4 minutes on low speed. Beat it until the cocoa is incorporated into the dough, your ‘cocoa dough’. Continue by adding 40gr of melted butter slowly and continue to beat for another 3-4 minutes. Again, you want the melted butter to be incorporated into the dough.
Now turn the original ‘white dough’ portion and add 50gr of flour. Knead it by hand for 2-3 minutes until the flour is incorporated into the dough. Continue by pouring slowly 40gr of melted butter and knead for 3-4 minutes. Knead until the butter too is incorporated into the dough.
One you have completed these steps, cover each bowl with cling film and kitchen towels and store in a warm place for 35-35 minutes to proof.
Whilst you wait for the dough portions to rise, lightly oil the baking dishes and your work surface. It is now time to start shaping the dough (please see separate section below with steps and pictures).
Once you have rolled each into rectangular shapes, brush them with butter ( at room temperature). Now fold them, slice the dough portions into stings and shape them in to knots.
Place them in the baking dishes and let them further proof for 25-30 minutes in a warm place.
Following this final proof, brush them with the egg wash and bake them at 160C or 320F in the middle shelf of the oven for 25-30 minutes. Please bear in mind that baking time depends on the size of the mini Tsoureki portions. This recipe makes approximately 20-25 pieces.
How do I shape the dough in this Greek Mini Two Tone Cocoa Tsoureki?
In order to shape the dough for this Tsoureki (Easter bread) recipe, start by rolling each dough portion into a rectangular shape.
Once you have achieved this, brush gently each dough portion with butter at room temperature.
Now fold each dough lengthwise. In the original, ‘white’ dough you can add the ground almonds. They will stick better on butter. Continue by shaping each dough again into a rectangular shape.
Slice each dough into 4cm strings along their length. Place the cocoa dough on tip of the ‘white’ dough and twist. Form a loop and pass one end through it as if making a knot.
How can I store this Greek Mini Two Tone Cocoa Tsoureki with syrup?
Storing these mini Tsoureki portions is easy. Place them in an airtight container and store in the fridge. They can last up to 5 days!
Can I freeze this Greek Mini Two Tone Cocoa Tsoureki with syrup?
This Greek Mini Two Tone Cocoa Tsoureki with syrup can freeze extremely well. Simply store the little portions in the freezer after you have baked them, ie before infusing them with syrup. When you wish to serve them, defrost them, and merely prepare the syrup. Ladle the syrup and you are ready to go. Enjoy!
You can store roasted almonds in an airtight jar. Why not roast a larger quantity than necessary in your recipes and store them in airtight containers? In that way you won’t have to repeat roasting them when needed. I find this especially useful during Lenten period when making batches and batches of Tsoureki.
Greek Mini Two Tone Cocoa Tsoureki with Syrup (Easter bread)
For the dough:
- 15gr dry yeast
- 700gr strong flour (protein content 12%)
- 240ml milk
- 100gr sugar
- 80gr butter (for the dough)
- 80gr butter (for folding the dough)
- 30ml sunflower oil
- 20gr cocoa
- 5 eggs
- 7g mahlab or Mahalepi
- 3-4 vanilla drops
- zest of 1 lemon
- zest of 1 orange
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 150gr almonds (optional)
For the syrup:
- 1L water
- 850gr sugar
- juice from 1/2 orange
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- orange peel
- lemon peel
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
You will need the following equipment: kitchen scale, kitchen thermometer, hand/stand mixer, 1 large saucepan, 2 medium sized bowls, rolling pin and 2 large baking dishes.
- Always start your recipes by gathering your equipment and weighing all your ingredients.
For the syrup:
- Prepare the syrup first as it needs to be cold when you ladle it over the mini hot tsoureki.
- In a large saucepan pour 1L of water and add the sugar, orange juice, lemon juice as well as orange and lemon peels. Let the syrup boil for approximately 8 minutes (start counting after the sugar mix has reached its boiling point). The syrup needs to be fairly sticky and not runny.
- Set it aside to cool.
For decoration and dough:
- Lay the almonds in a baking tray and roast them for 8-10 minutes at 160C or 320F. Grind them in a food processor once they have cooled.
For the dough:
- To prepare this Mini Two Tone Cocoa Tsoureki you need to start by dissolving the yeast. In a saucepan pour the milk and heat it to 30C (lukewarm). Once the milk has reached this temperature, remove it from the stove and add the yeast and one tablespoon of sugar. Set is aside for 15 minutes. You will see the yeast becoming foamy; that means the yeast is alive.
- Whilst you await for the yeast to become activated, melt the butter.
- In mixer bowl add the eggs, vanilla drops, oil, sugar, mahlab, salt,orange and lemon zest and beat them for 2-3 minutes using the flat beater.
- Add the activated yeast and 650gr flour into the above mixture. Change the flat beater to the dough hook and beat the mixture for 5 more minutes.
- Divide the dough into two portions. Keep one dough portion in the mixer bowl and place the other one in a separate bowl.
- In order the make the cocoa tsoureki, add the cocoa in the dough present in the mixer bowl. Beat the dough for 3-4 minutes on low speed until the cocoa has been incorporated into the dough.
- Pour slowly 40gr of the melted butter and continue to beat the dough (3-4 minutes) until the butter is also incorporated into the dough.
- In the bowl with the original ‘white dough’ add 50gr of flour and knead the dough for 2-3 minutes until the flour is incorporated into the dough. I prefer to knead the dough for this and the next step with my hands.
- Pour slowly 40gr of melted butter and knead the dough (3-4 minutes) until the butter too is incorporated into the dough.
- Cover each bowl with cling film and a kitchen towel. Leave them to proof in a warm place for 35-45 minutes.
- Whilst you wait for the dough to rise, lightly oil the baking dishes and your work surface.
- Once both dough portions have risen, lightly oil your hands.
- Roll each dough with a rolling pin into a rectangular shape gently. Brush each dough with butter (at room temperature) and fold it lengthwise. At this point you can in the original ‘white dough’ the ground almonds. Now roll each dough again into a rectangular shape.
- Slice each dough along their width into 4cm strings. Place the cocoa dough on top of the ‘white’ dough and twist them. Form a loop and pass one end through it, ie making a simple knot (overhand knot).
- Place them into the baking dishes sparsely and cover them with kitchen towels. Let the Mini Tsoureki knots proof for 25-30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 160C or 320F.
- Bake these delicious two tone cocoa tsoureki at 160C or 320F for 25-30 minutes in the middle shelf of the oven. Bear in mind that cooking time will depend on the size of your tsoureki.
- You can cover the tsoureki with aluminum foil at 15-20 minutes to prevent them from browning.
- Once the tsoureki has been baked, ladle the cold syrup into the hot tsoureki. Let the tsoureki soak all the syrup and enjoy. You can also sprinkle a few almonds and serve.