Holidays are the time that you get to show off your cooking and baking skills. At least that is how it is for me because I am usually cooking for one. I know I am a few weeks late, but I made this chocolate babka for Easter and I have to say it was an absolute hit. This recipe is from the New York Times Cookbook and makes 2 loaves. It is a long process, so I say get started three days before you want the loaf done. I made the fudge filling and chocolate streusel beforehand and it made the process go a lot smoother. As the New York Times said, read this recipe a few times before committing to making it, you’ll need it.
For the Dough:
- 1/2 Cup Whole Milk
- 1 Package Active Dry Yeast
- 1/3 Cup Sugar + a pinch
- 4 1/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 TSP Fine Sea Salt
- 1 TSP Vanilla Extract
- 1 TSP Grated Lemon Zest
- 1/2 TSP Freshly Grated Nutmeg
- 4 Large Eggs, at room temp, lightly beaten
- 10 TBSP Unsalted Butter, softened
For the Fudge Filling:
- 1/2 Cup Sugar
- 3/4 Heavy Crem or Half and Half
- 6 oz Bittersweet Chocolate (66-74% cocoa), coarsely chopped
- 8 TSBP Unsalted Butter, diced and softened
- 2 TSP Vanilla Extract
For Chocolate Streusel
- 1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour
- 3 TBSP Sugar
- 1 1/2 TBSP Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- 1/2 TSP Salt
- 4 1/2 TSBP Unsalted Butter, melted
- 1/3 Cup Mini Semisweet Chocolate Chips
For the Syrup:
- 2/3 Cup Sugar
- 2/3 Cup Water
Let’s Get Baking
Let’s start with the dough. Warm the milk in a small saucepan on the stove until it’s lukewarm. Remove from heat, and add in the yeast + pinch of sugar and let bloom for about 5-10 minutes.
Using a mixer with the dough hook [you can also do this by hand it just takes a bit more time] combine flour + 1/3 cup sugar + salt + vanilla + lemon zest + nutmeg and mix. Slowly add the yeast mixture to the dry ingredients along with the eggs. Beat until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes.
Add in half of the butter and beat until the dough is smooth, add in the rest of the butter and wait until the dough is smooth and stretchy about 5-7 minutes. Add in 1 TBSP of flour if the dough sticks to the sides of the bowl.
Butter a large bowl and form the dough into a ball. Roll the dough around in the buttered bowl so all sides are buttered. Cover with clean dish towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 1-2 hours.
Press the dough down and recover, let rise in the friedge over night.
Onto the filling: Combine the sugar + cream + salt in a saucepan over medium heat, bring to a simmer and stir occasionally until sugar is dissolved. Add in the chocolate + butter + vanilla stirring until the chocolate is smooth. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. This can be made up to a week beforehand.
Onto the streusel: stir together flour + sugar + cocoa powder + salt in a bowl. Stir in melted butter until it is distributed and the streusel forms large crumbs. Stir in the chocolate chips. This can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in the fridge.
To make the syrup: combine sugar & water into a small saucepan. Simmer over MED heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.
Butter 2 9-inch loaf pans and line with parchment paper
Remove the dough from the fridge and divide it in half. On a floured surface, roll one piece into a 9×17 inch rectangle. Spread with half the filling all over. Starting with the long side, roll up into a tight roll, transfer to a dish towel, and place in the freezer for 10 minutes. Do the same with the other piece of dough.
After the 10 minutes, slice the rolls length-wise in half and twist the halves together as you were braiding them. Fold the braid in half and place it in one of the prepared pans. Repeat with the other dough. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let rise in the fridge overnight.
When it’s finally the day to bake remove the dough from the fridge and let it come to room temp. Preheat the oven to 350F.
Using your hands, clump the streusel together and scatter along the bread. Bake the bread for 40-50 minutes, until a tester comes out clean with no dough.
As soon as the bread comes out, pierce it with a knife going all the way down to the bottom of the bread. Pour over the syrup. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool before serving.
Serve and share with family and friends.
Baked with Love,