At first glance, you might not think that chocolate and apricots go together – or, at least, several of my tasters seemed to have this opinion when I brought this quickbread out. They were converted to the combination immediately after their first bite (at which time I pointed out that chocolate-dipped dried apricots are actually quite common). Fruit and chocolate make a great combination in almost all circumstances – and if it’s not working out, chances are that all you need to do is tweak the type of chocolate a bit until you find one that works.
Back to the bread, there is no tweaking necessary here. This is a straightforward loaf that is easy to mix and offers lots of flavor when it’s finished. It uses dried apricots, fresh apricots and semisweet chocolate chips in a sweet bread batter that is flavored with orange juice and orange zest. The orange flavor is very subtle, but does give a nice background flavor to the bread. The bread is very moist, thanks in part to all the fresh apricot included in the batter, and keeps very well for several days.
I’d stick with semisweet chocolate chips because they provide just the right amount of chocolatiness without being too bitter (very dark chocolate might distract from the fruits) and sweetness (milk chocolate might make the loaf too sweet overall). I garnished the top of the loaf with a couple of slices of fresh apricot, dividing one small apricot into pieces. This is entirely optional, but does give a nice look to the top of the bread.
Apricot, Orange and Chocolate Chip Loaf
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup orange juice (pref fresh squeezed)
1 tbsp orange zest
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large egg
3/4 cup diced fresh apricots
1/2 cup diced dried apricots
3/4 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375F and lightly grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add in in orange juice, orange zest, vegetable oil and egg and mix everything until just combined. Stir in fresh and dried apricots, and chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and spread into an even layer with a spatula. (If desired, top can be garnished with 6 thin slices of fresh apricot).
Bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn loaf out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.
Makes 1 loaf.