Chocolate babka

Chocolate Babka and “The Dinner Party”
Do you remember that one episode of Seinfeld with Chocolate Babka ? It was “The Dinner Party” episode who introduced me to this deliciousness.
I remember this one very well after so many years. The “team” goes to a dinner party and Elaine says they shouldn’t go empty handed, so she decide to buy a bottle of wine and a chocolate babka to bring to the party. While Kramer and George’s responsibility is to buy the wine, Elaine and Jerry stop at a bakery to take the babka. But as always, everything goes wrong and they have to settle for a “lesser” babka: the cinnamon one :).
And this was the first time I heard about babka. I must say that I was so curious about its taste back then, but silly me… I totally forgot about it. Until few days ago when, when while browsing through my magazines, I found an interesting pistachio babka recipe. I immediately remembered that Seinfeld episode and their chocolate babka and, of course, how curious I was in regards to its taste at that time. So, I did a bit of research on pinterest and then I decided to give babka a try. And how pleased with the results I was!!! Oh, my….I’ve done this recipe so many times now and I am still not bored with it. And must definitely try the “lesser” babka too.


Ingredients for the Chocolate babka dough:

150 ml milk (I used oat milk)
21 g active fresh yeast
40 g coconut sugar
290 g all purpose flour
70 g butter ( I used salted butter), room temperature
Pinch of salt
Sanding sugar, to sprinkle over (optional)

Ingredients for the Chocolate babka filling:

70 g butter, unsalted or salted
40 g coconut sugar (or caster sugar)
30 g cocoa powder
Vanilla powder
4 g instant coffee powder
130 g chopped good dark chocolate
20 g chopped good dark chocolate or milk chocolate to sprinkle over the filling (optional)
50 g green pistachio (optional)
For the Syrup (optional):
100 g sugar
50 ml water
vanilla powder


How to make Chocolate Babka:

Start off by making the dough and make the filling while the dough is resting.
  • First, measure all the dough ingredients and make sure the butter is at room temperature.
  • Place the milk in a small sauce pan and warm it until it reaches 37-45 degrees Celsius. Then add a tablespoon of sugar, the yeast, stir gently and then leave it to bloom, aprox. 10 minutes.
  • Next, sift the flour into a large bowl. Add the salt and the sugar, except for the tablespoon used already for the yeast. Whisk well to combine. Make a well in the middle and add the yeast mixture in together with the butter. Mix with a wooden spoon until combined and then start using your hands.
  • Knead the dough for about 15-20 minutes, until smooth and elastic. If you have a stand mixer, you should use it to knead the dough, it’s definitely easier (:D). Using a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, it takes about 7-8 minutes on low speed (2).
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled large bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave it rest in a warm place for about 1 hour (or until it doubles in size).
  • While the dough is resting, make the filling.
Chocolate Babka Filling:
  • Place all of the ingredients except for the pistachios and the 20 g of chocolate into a small saucepan and cook over low heat until fully melted and smooth. Stir constantly, to prevent the chocolate to stick to the bottom of your pan and burn. Remove from heat when all the butter and chocolate have melted and set aside for 20 minutes to cool down and thicken slightly.

How to assemble it:

  • When the dough doubled its size, transfer to a lightly floured work surface and punch it down few times to knock out the air.
  • Place the dough on a piece of parchment paper. Place another piece of parchment paper on top and roll it into a rectangle as even as you can.
  • When smooth enough, spread the chocolate filling over, leaving a 2 cm edge on all sides. Sprinkle with chopped chocolate and green pistachio and brush the edges with a bit of water.
  • Starting from the long side, and using the parchment paper, roll up the dough tightly into a log.
  • Place into the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes. The log will harden a bit which will make the cutting and braiding more easier.
  • Grease a 30 x 10 cm bread loaf pan with a bit of butter and set aside.
  • Remove the log from the refrigerator. Using a sharp serrated knife,  slice the log in half lengthwise all the way to the end.
  • Place both sides next to each other cut side up and gently start braid them by placing one pieces on top of the other until you reach the end. Press the ends together and trim off the excess.
  • Transfer to the greased pan and cover with a towel. Let it rest in a warm place for 45 minutes or less, depending on how warm or cold your kitchen is.
  • While the dough it’s resting, preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius (fan).
  • Make the syrup by placing the sugar, water and vanilla into a small saucepan and bringing to a simmer. Once the sugar has fully dissolved turn off the heat and set aside until needed.
  • Finally, when the babka has risen brush the loaf with a bit of milk and sprinkle with sanding sugar, then bake for aprox. 30-35 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • When ready, remove from oven and immediately brush with the sugar syrup and top it with more green pistachios.
  •  Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before cutting and serving it.
  • And finally: Enjoy!

Notes:

  • The instant coffee powder is totally optional as well as the pistachios.
  • Also, you can omit the chopped chocolate if you think it’s too much chocolate.
  • You can definitely use unsalted butter, I only had salted butter.
  • You might have some extra dough which you can use to make a smaller babka (if you have an appropriate loaf pan) or you can fill it with chocolate pieces, roll it and bake it like this.
  • The coconut sugar can be replaced with caster sugar. More, for the filling, you can use confectioners’ sugar which makes the filling much smoother.
  • You can also top your babka with a thick chocolate glaze. I bet it would be even more delicious.
  • You can totally make it vegetarian using plant based butter.



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