Chocolate Bread

Where are all the Queen Esthers and Mordecais? For almost my entire life every Jewish little girl wanted to be queen Esther on Purim. Here was the once-a-year chance to be the heroine queen who saved her people from annihilation! And also, of course to wear flowy chiffon scarves and skirts and maybe a tiara and a few bracelets and your mother’s best fake-rhinestone necklace.

And the boys always wanted to be Mordecai, who refused to bow to Haman and thus provoked that man’s rage into a fury.

Today a lot of the kids will dress up as ladybugs or Spiderman. Or princesses — hey, don’t they realize that a QUEEN has a higher rank and more jewelry than a princess??

And a lot of other Hallowe’en leftover stuff.

I guess it doesn’t really matter as long as it’s fun. Still, this year is the 100th anniversary of the founding of Hadassah, the worldwide Jewish women’s volunteer organization. Hadassah is named for Queen Esther. So it seems fitting that there should be more Queen Esthers out there celebrating. 

Anyway, our local Hadassah hosts an Afternoon Tea every other Tuesday for cancer patients and their caretakers at Stamford Hospital. I am one of their bakers. I often make quickbreads because they are moist, sweet and easy to eat. Like this Chocolate Bread, which is rich and dark and luscious. It’s a good choice for a Tea, afternoon snack or dessert. To celebrate Purim, Hadassah, Queen Esther or any time at all!

Chocolate Bread

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate

1-3/4 cups all purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1-1/4 cups sugar

1/3 cup shortening

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1-1/4 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup chopped pecans, macadamia nuts, cashews or walnuts, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9”x5”x3” loaf pan. Melt the chocolate and set it aside to cool. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt into a bowl and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer set at medium, cream the sugar and shortening until well mixed. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat the ingredients until they are well blended and smooth. Add the flour mixture in portions, alternating with the buttermilk. Blend the ingredients thoroughly. Blend in the melted cooled chocolate. Fold in the nuts, if used. Spoon the batter into the loaf pan. Bake for about 45 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes then invert onto a cake rack to cool completely. Makes one bread