No Día de los Reyes celebration is complete without a rosca de reyes, the traditional circular yeast-based sweet bread that's typically decorated with candied fruits and sugar. Try this chocolate-flavored version for your party this year!
1 envelope, or about 2 heaping teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more to butter your bowl and baking sheet
2/3 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/4 cup for dusting bread
5 large eggs, plus 1 egg for egg wash
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch kosher or coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons water, for egg wash
1/2 cup candied cherries, optional
1/2 cup candied orange rind, optional
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
1/2 cup Nestlé La Lechera sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners' sugar
To make the starter:
In a small bowl, pour the lukewarm milk, making sure it is not hot nor cold (or the yeast will not react), and stir in the dry yeast granules. Give the yeast a couple minutes to sit in the liquid, stir a little, pressing gently on the yeast that has not yet dissolved with the spatula.
Once it has dissolved, add the flour and sugar. Mix it thoroughly, until it has no lumps. It will be gooey, runny and sticky.
Leave it in the warmest area of your kitchen, where there are no drafts or wind currents, for about 20 to 30 minutes until it puffs up (to about double or triple its volume) and has bubbled on top.
To make the bread:
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and beat on medium-low speed until soft. Add 2/3 cup sugar and beat until combined and fluffy. Continue beating as you add one egg at a time, beating for a few seconds after each addition. Reduce to lowest possible speed and add the cocoa. Once it is well mixed, add the starter (milk and yeast mixture). Then gradually add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and a pinch of salt. Continue beating anywhere from 7 to 8 minutes, the dough will be elastic and sticky. Gather it all into a ball.
Butter a large mixing bowl, place the dough in the bowl, cover it with a cloth or clean kitchen towel and leave it in the warmest, draft-free area of your kitchen. Leave it to rest and rise for 2 hours or until it doubles its size.
Butter a large baking sheet or pizza stone.
Punch down the dough with your fist. Form it into a thick rope, or log shape, and bend the ends to form an oval shape on the baking sheet or pizza stone. Gently lift up a small portion, so you may insert a coin or figurine and push it inside the dough. Cover with a cloth or clean kitchen towel and let rise for about 45 minutes to an hour, until it doubles its size again.
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg and the water with a fork to make an egg wash. Brush all over the rosca or ring. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Decorate it with the candied cherries and orange rind, if using, spacing them out, leaving space for the icing you will add once the rosca is baked. Bake the bread for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool.
To make the glaze:
In a small bowl, pour the melted butter. Incorporate the sweetened condensed milk and the vanilla with a whisk or spatula.
Incorporate the confectioners’ sugar, and continue to mix until fully combined.
Once the rosca has cooled, make thick icing stripes, by pouring one heaped tablespoon on top of the rosca and letting it come down on both sides. Continue, making about 10 to 12 stripes.