Jewish Chocolate Babka

If you’ve ever seen the Seinfeld episode titled, “The Dinner Party”, then Babkas will forever be etched in your memory.  As my husband and I are both Seinfeld fans, and often find ourselves putting in a disc of Seinfeld to watch before we go to sleep, it was then that I got the idea to make all our family members a Chocolate Babka for Christmas.  Using Scharffen Berger’s 70% Cacao baking bars makes this treat that much more guilt free as the chocolate is heart healthy.  Of course the yeast bread and butter makes it a bit more naughty, but worth every bite.

Jewish Chocolate Babka Recipe:
  • 3/4 cup warm milk
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting
  • 2 whole large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream or whole milk
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, well softened
  • 8-9 oz. Scharffen Berger chocolate bar fine quality, bittersweet, finely chopped, 70% cacao
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Special Equipment Needed:  a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, 2 loaf pans, parchment paper, food processor for chopping chocolate (optional)

1.  Make dough; stir together warm milk and 2 teaspoons sugar in mixer bowl.  Sprinkle yeast over mixture and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.  (If yeast does not foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)
2.  Add 1/2 cup of sifted flour to yeast mixture and beat at medium speed until combined.  Add whole eggs, yolk, vanilla, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until combined.  Reduce speed to low, then mix in remaining 2 3/4 cups flour, about 1/2 cup at a time.  Increase speed to medium, then beat in butter, a few pieces at a time.  Continue to beat until dough becomes stringy, about 3 minutes. (Dough will be very sticky and soft).
3.  Scrape dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap.  Let dough rise at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
4.  Meanwhile, line each loaf pan with parchment paper both length-wise and width-wise.  You’ll need to cut to size.
5.  Also, beat together yolk and cream and set aside.  Have chocolate, super softened butter, and sugar on hand ready for when dough is ready to roll out.
6.  Once dough has doubled in size, punch down with a lightly oiled spatula and halve dough.  Roll out 1 piece at a time on a well floured surface using a lightly floured rolling pin.  You may want to sprinkle flour on top of dough first as well.  Roll into an 18×10 inch rectangle.
7. Spread 2 1/2 tablespoons softened butter on dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Brush some of egg wash on long border nearest you.
8.  Sprinkle half of chocolate evenly over buttered dough, then sprinkle with half of sugar (2 tablespoons).  Starting with long side farthest from you, roll dough into a snug log, pinching firmly along egg-washed seams to seal.  Bring ends of log together to form a ring, pinching to seal. Twist entire ring twice to form a double figure 8 and fit into one of lined loaf pans.
9.  Make another babka with remaining dough, some of egg wash, and remaining butter and chocolate in same manner. Chill remaining egg wash, covered, to use later. Loosely cover pans with buttered plastic wrap (buttered side down) and let babkas rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until dough reaches top of pans, 1 to 2 hours.
10.  Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
11.  Brush tops of dough with remaining egg wash. Bake until tops are deep golden brown and bottoms sound hollow when tapped (when loaves are removed from pans), about 40 minutes. Transfer loaves to a rack and cool to room temperature.

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