Chocolate Babka: Dessert for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

I’m not going to even try to start with a catchy beginning here. Instead, I’m just going to give you a heads up from the start: this recipe includes over a pound of butter, and over two pounds of chocolate. Consider yourself warned.

Now that you’ve had a chance to put your eyes back in your head where they belong and tell your wallet to stop crying, we’ll move on…because this week is a glorious week. One where phrases like, “financial savings” and “calories”, are swear words. This week, we’re going back to chocolate. And, since it’s been an entire two weeks since our last chocolate treat, I figured we had to bring it back in a big way. Like, two (plus) pounds of chocolate big. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for babka. Chocolate. Babka.

The inspiration for this one comes from Brian, the only other person I know who is just as sarcastic as I am. (Really, putting us in a room together is a bad idea.) Other than doing all the other stuff that a good friend does, Brian really went over the top when he introduced me to babka in college. Basically, it’s a delicious, buttery, yeast risen bread that has layers of chocolate, cinnamon, nuts…whatever you’re heart desires. You can eat it for dessert, breakfast…lunch, dinner, midnight snack… with zero regrets.

I couldn’t even try to make up a recipe for this. Perfection is not something I tend to experiment with. Therefore, our recipe this week comes from Baker by Nature. Another warning: this recipe is not a quick one. It’s not overly difficult, but I wouldn’t try to make it on a tight schedule. Rather, it’s a labor of love kind of recipe…that yields three freaking loaves! On to the good stuff!

First up, making the dough. Essentially, you’re activating the yeast with warm milk and a bit of sugar. While that’s getting foamy for a few minutes, you’ll combine the wet ingredients, which include sugar and eggs. The wets and yeast will then go together.

Once those are combined, the wets and drys will go into a stand mixer to mix until combined. Then, you can put that dough hook on there and add in the butter. The hook will knead the dough until it forms a ball and is elastic, about 10 minutes.

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Once the dough has been kneaded, it can be put in a greased bowl to rise. Put it in a warm place for about an hour, until it has doubled in size.

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During the rising period, the streusel and chocolate filling can be made. Take a deep breath here… these two components only involve putting all of the ingredients in a bowl and mixing.

Okay, now for the messy part: assembly. Remember, you’re making three loaves here, so cut the dough in thirds (preferably by weight). The other pieces can sit to the side, covered with plastic wrap, while you work on their friend.

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Roll the dough out into a 16 inch square.
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Cover the dough with a layer of the chocolate filling.
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Roll it up like a jelly roll and seal the ends with a pinch.
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Twist the roll four or five times and put a few tablespoons of the chocolate filling over half.
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Carefully fold the other half over the covered half and twist this twice.
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Fit the roll into your prepared pan and cover with a third of the streusel topping.

See, that wasn’t too bad. To be honest, writing about it was probably harder than actually doing it! Once your loaves are in their pans, you’ll let them sit for about a half an hour and then bake them in two phases. The first is at a lower temperature for about 55 minutes to bake the bread through, and the second is at a slightly higher temperature for 15 minutes to achieve a dark brown color. After you’ve removed them from the oven, let them cool in their pans on a wire rack. This is the time you can plan all of the ways that you’ll eat them for the meals mentioned above.

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Phew, that was a tiring one to write about. I think I need to refuel…with some babka. Next week will be a lighter week, as one can only spend so much time on the treadmill. Until then, stay tuned and stay hungry!

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