Chocolate Babka

This year I have been really trying to delve deeper into my Jewishness and teach my kids more about their Jewish heritage.  I think that may be me approaching 50, or maybe because my kids are in their late teens, and I am worried they do not know enough about it.  For whatever the reason, I have been doing my best to teach them about the holidays and therefore I made a traditional Rosh Hashanah dinner, including the apple dipped in honey and a nice roast.  But I wanted to make a special dessert, and scoured the internet for something I had never made before and that was a “traditional” food.  Also, since our Jewish ancestors emigrated to the United States from Poland and Romania I wanted to pay homage to that ancestry as well.

So with all of that in mind I looked and looked, and came across Chocolate Babka.  A sweet bread with chocolate mixed in the dough.  Well, they had me at chocolate.  So I dove in!  I found this recipe on one of my favorite cooking sites:  Smitten Kitchen!  She has wonderful recipes and great instructions on there, you should definitely check her out!!

Chocolate Babka

Makes 3 loaves

1 1/2 cups warm milk, 110 degrees
2 (1/4 ounce each) packages active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups plus a pinch of sugar
3 whole large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus more for bowl and loaf pans
2 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped*
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Streusel topping (below)

1. Pour warm milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast and pinch of sugar over milk; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

2. In a bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs, and egg yolks. Add egg mixture to yeast mixture, and whisk to combine.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. Add egg mixture, and beat on low speed until almost all the flour is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Change to the dough hook. Add 2 sticks butter, and beat until flour mixture and butter are completely incorporated, and a smooth, soft dough that’s slightly sticky when squeezed is formed, about 10 minutes.

4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few turns until smooth. Butter a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, and turn to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

5. Place chocolate, remaining cup sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Using two knives or a pastry cutter, cut in remaining 1 1/2 sticks butter until well combined; set filling aside.

6. Generously butter three 9-by-5-by-2 3/4-inch loaf pans; line them with parchment paper. Beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon cream; set egg wash aside. Punch back the dough, and transfer to a clean surface. Let rest 5 minutes. Cut into 3 equal pieces. Keep 2 pieces covered with plastic wrap while working with the remaining piece. On a generously floured surface, roll dough out into a 16-inch square; it should be 1/8 inch thick.

7. Brush edges with reserved egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of the reserved chocolate filling evenly over dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Refresh egg wash if needed. Roll dough up tightly like a jelly roll. Pinch ends together to seal. Twist 5 or 6 turns. Brush top of roll with egg wash. Carefully crumble 2 tablespoons filling over the left half of the roll, being careful not to let mixture slide off. Fold right half of the roll over onto the coated left half. Fold ends under, and pinch to seal. Twist roll 2 turns, and fit into prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces of dough and remaining filling.

8. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of streusel topping over each loaf. Loosely cover each pan with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place 20 to 30 minutes.

9. Bake loaves, rotating halfway through, until golden, about 55 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake until babkas are deep golden, 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove from oven, and transfer to wire racks until cool. Remove from pans; serve. Babkas freeze well for up to 1 month.

Streusel Topping

Makes 3 3/4 cups.

1 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, and butter. Using a fork, stir until fully combined with clumps ranging in size from crumbs to 1 inch.

Now for the pictures:

Ingredients
Ingredients
Yeast #1
Yeast #1
Yeast after activating
Yeast after activating
batter before flour added
batter before flour added
mixing in flour mixture
mixing in flour mixture
all mixed up, switching to hook
all mixed up, switching to hook
mixed up. :-)
mixed up. 🙂
in bowl, getting ready to cover and set to rise.
in bowl, getting ready to cover and set to rise.
chocolate mixture ready to go
chocolate mixture ready to go
rolling out dough.  Please excuse the blur, Karol took the photo while my hands were moving...
rolling out dough. Please excuse the blur, Karol took the photo while my hands were moving…
all rolled out
all rolled out
putting chocolate on dough
putting chocolate on dough
rolling it all up.  again, sorry for the blur
rolling it all up. again, sorry for the blur
getting ready to twist it up.
getting ready to twist it up.
all twisted and ready to put streusal on and fold over in pan
all twisted and ready to put streusel on and fold over in pan
ready for the oven
ready for the oven
Done baking!
Done baking!
So Good!!!!
So Good!!!!

 

Notes:

** I did not use all of the chocolate in the recipe, it just seemed like too much!

** I made two large loaves and three mini loaves.

**  This bread was amazingly rich.  But AMAZINGLY yummy also!!!

 

Sweet Sunday: Flourless Chocolate Cookies (Gluten free)

I LOVE the chocolate meringue cookies I get at Starbucks.  They are chocolatey, chewy, and only 160 calories! I was trying to find a recipe to make these cookies and found one at Recipe Girl.  I adapted it some.  I used less sugar, and a different kind of chocolate chip, but otherwise they are so simple there are no changes to be made. They turned out delicious.  No more spending money on cookies at Starbucks for me!!  I can freeze these bad boys and take one out  to defrost whenever I need a fix.

So here is the recipe and pics:

FLOURLESS CHEWY CHOCOLATE COOKIES

makes 24 cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghiradelli cocoa)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 4 large egg whites, at room temperature (I ended up using 3)
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cups dark chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. If you use parchment paper, give it a light swoosh of nonstick spray.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together powdered sugar with cocoa powder and salt. Whisk in egg whites (start with two) and vanilla extract and stir until the batter is just moist. You want a thick brownie like batter. It will be shiny and very fudgy. If it seems too thick, add another egg white– then the fourth one if it still seems too thick. Gently stir in chocolate chips.

3. Spoon batter onto the prepared baking sheets in 12 evenly spaced mounds per cookie sheet. I used a spring-release cookie scoop.

4. Bake about 14 minutes, until the tops are glossy and lightly cracked. Slide the parchment paper (with the cookies) onto wire racks. Let cookies cool completely, and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

**You need to let the cookies completely cool before removing them from the parchment paper.

Chewy Flourless Chocolate cookies!
Chewy Flourless Chocolate cookies!
Pan with parchment paper and a bit of cooking spray
Pan with parchment paper and a bit of cooking spray

 

batter on cookie sheet going into the oven
batter on cookie sheet going into the oven

 

Chewy Flourless Chocolate cookies!
Chewy Flourless Chocolate cookies!

Triple Berry Crumble. Delicious summertime dessert!!

I had some fruit in my freezer I wanted to use, and decided to make individual fruit pies.  However, I really wasn’t in the mood to fuss with pie crust, so them my next thought was: make a cobbler.  But again, didn’t want to deal with crust.  So, I settled on a “crumble”.  Now, with most crumbles, there is only the crumb topping on the top of the dish.  In this recipe I decided to put some of the crumble underneath the fruit as well to make it a sort of crumble-berry-sandwich thingy.

Full disclosure: while you definitely CAN make this recipe sugar free by using splenda brown sugar mix, I did not have any, and really don’t use splenda products anymore, so I used organic light brown sugar.  That is why it is low sugar, and not sugar free.  The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of brown sugar and that is spread between 6 crumbles, so the amount of sugar in each individual crumble is low.

Additionally, I ALWAYS use white whole wheat flour when I bake, so it keeps the white flour taste but has whole grain goodness instead.  Nobody can tell, and my baked goods are usually scarfed right up, so in my opinion using white whole wheat as opposed to white makes no difference in taste.  It will change the color of baked goods, making them a bit more brown, so do keep that in mind if you choose to make this substitution in your own baked goods.

Also, I used the triple berries in 4 of the ramekins, and in 2 of them I put frozen peaches and blueberries.

TRIPLE BERRY CRUMBLE

1.5 cup blackberries

1.5 cup raspberries

1.5 cup strawberries

2 tbsp Truvia baking blend

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1 cup uncooked oatmeal

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar  (can use less according to taste)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

3 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350.  Place berries (if using frozen thaw and drain them first) in a large bowl and sprinkle Truvia baking blend on them.  Mix and set aside. In a separate bowl combine flour, oatmeal, cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg.  Cut the cold butter into quarters. Using a pastry cutter cut in the butter until mixture is crumbly. Place some of the crumble in bottom of ramekin, place some fruit on top and top with more crumble. Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes until fruit is bubbly and topping is golden brown.

Options:  If you want to bake in a 9×13 pan you can put fruit in and put all the crumble on top, or you can divide the crumble and do half on bottom and half on top.  Part of the fun of baking (in my opinion) is the experimentation.  Play around with it and find what works and tastes best to you!

 

tripberry2
Berry crumbles about to go into the oven
Triple berry (raspberry, blackberry, strawberry)
Triple berry (raspberry, blackberry, strawberry)

tripberry3tripleberry1

Blueberry, peach crisp
Blueberry, peach crumble
Blueberry/peach crisp
Blueberry/peach crumble

 

These tasted very fresh and delicious.  Super easy to make, and a nice light dessert.  You could top with whipped cream or ice cream if you like, but I preferred the fruit taste.  A bit tart, and summery!!

One of the things I liked about this recipe is that it was really just fruit and a bit of sweetener in the filling.  No corn starch, or pectin was used.  The next time I make this I will use fresh fruit, as I think it would have been a bit “juicier” with fresh as opposed to frozen.  Or if using frozen, pour some of the juices over the fruit before the final crisp topping.

Enjoy this delicious summertime treat!!