If you’re looking for an awesome dessert, this is it.  This babka is fantastic and rich, and as Deb points out, even if you think it looks not that pretty, that syrup makes everything look fantastic.  And plus, it gives you two loaves – one to share with friends, because you’re nice like that, and one to keep and eat for you.  Or maybe use for things like french toast.

(Better) Chocolate Babka
Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients

Dough

  • 4.5 c flour
  • .5 c sugar
  • 1 packet instant yeast (2 t)
  • (zest of lemon or orange; didn’t add this this time)
  • 3 large eggs
  • .75 t sea salt
  • 2/3 c unsalted butter (just take 2 1/3 sections of a stick of butter)
  • (optional oil to grease)

Filling

  • 4 oz dark chocolate (equivalent to one baking bar)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • .5 c powdered sugar
  • 1/3 c special dark cocoa powder
  • cinnamon to taste

Syrup

  • 1/3 c water
  • 6 T sugar

Combine all your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, yeast, zest) in a bowl, and mix together with your eggs and water until the dough comes together.  If you have a stand mixer to do this, great!  If not, you’re gonna be using a plastic spoon.  It might be a bit dry – if it doesn’t quite come together, don’t be scared to use some extra water.  Add in your salt and butter, and mix together until the dough is completely smooth (see picture 3).  This took about ten minutes of working the dough with my hands to have it come together perfectly – the dough should start pulling away from the sides of the bowl once it’s ready.  

Coat a bowl with oil, transfer the dough to the bowl, cover, and put in a fridge overnight (or half a day if you’re doing it same day).  The dough won’t quite double, but it will grow by at least half.

When you’re ready to assemble the babka, take your dough, let it warm up slightly, and split it in half and then roll one half out into a 12 by 10 rectangle.  After rolling out the dough, make your filling.  Melt your butter and dark chocolate over medium high heat (put your butter in first, and break the bar down into small chunks), and then stir in the cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and cinnamon until you have a nice paste, and remove from heat.  Take half the filling, scoop it out onto the rolled out dough, and use a rubber spatula to spread it out all over the dough, leaving a half inch border, like so:

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To assemble the loaves, brush the furthest end from you with water (in this case the right end) and then roll into a long tight cigar, like so:

image

Seal the water dampened end onto the dough.  Cut off a half inch off each end of the log and then slice each loaf in half length wise, so that it looks like picture 6.  Lay them so that they’re laying long ways with the cut sides laying up, and pinch the two top ends together.  Lift one side over the other to form a nice twist so that the cut sides face up and fan out, making a nice S shape (see picture 7).  Repeat this with your other dough, and feel free to make a small little baby babka like I did with the dough ends.  Transfer into greased loaf pans (or a rectangular cake pan in my case), cover with a damp hand/tea towel, and let rise for an hour and a half.  Preaheat your oven to 375.

Once the hour and a half is up, put the loaves in the middle of the oven and bake for 30 minutes.  You’ll know it’s done when you’re able to stick a fork or skewer into the middle of a loaf with no restistance (instead of it feeling rubbery/bouncy).

While the babka bakes, make your syrup by simmering together your water and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.  As soon as the babka is ready, take it out of the oven, drizzle the sugar syrup over the two loaves, and enjoy the fantastic.  The final pic is how your babka will look after you drizzle the syrup on it.  This was what was left of the babka less than twenty minutes later:

image

It’s good shit.

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These were made on something of a last minute whim, as the students at my new workplace are having a brunch-ish thing for Valentine’s Day tomorrow, and I wanted to have something interesting but still breakfastish to provide. And thus, these, which have been sitting in my to-make queue for a while, seemed like the perfect choice.  

They’re pretty time consuming (I’ve been working on these since about 6:30 this evening), but absolutely worth it (I nommed the last picture down pretty quickly after taking it). A few pointers – I mixed some existing vanilla sugar I had with some normal sugar for this, and even if you don’t have vanilla sugar made up, straight up normal sugar will be great. And if you don’t have a pastry bag/tip, no worries – all you need to do is take a ziploc bag, cut off one corner, and just squeeze the bag.

Chocolate Cream Filled Vanilla Sugar Donuts
Makes appx 14 or so donuts

Ingredients

Donuts

  • 2 T water
  • 1 package active dry yeast 
  • 3.5 c flour
  • 1 c milk
  • .25 c (.5 stick) butter, melted
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 T sugar
  • .5 t cinnamon
  • 1.5 t salt

Vanilla Sugar

  • 1 1/3 c white sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • pinch salt
  • (alternatively, if you have some on hand, mix however much you have with white sugar to make about a cup)

Chocolate Pastry Cream

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • .25 c white sugar
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 3 T cocoa powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 c milk
  • 3 oz bitterwsweet chocolate, chopped small
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • at least enough vegetable oil to fill your pot two inches deep

To make your donut dough, mix your water and yeast together and let sit five minutes, until foamy.  Then, add all remaining ingredients and mix them together (either using a stand mixer or a wooden spoon and your hands) until you have a ball of sticky, soft, coherent dough. Cover the bowl with a towel, and let that dough sit for about two hours, until it’s doubled in size (see the below inserted picture, and the second picture for an approximate size difference). 

While your dough rises, make your chocolate pastry cream.  Mix your yolks, sugar, corn starch, cocoa powder, and salt together in a pot, until you get a thick mixture.  Then, slowly whisk your milk in, and turn the heat to medium high, stirring constantly so that the eggs and yolk don’t cook.  Right before the mixture starts to boil, it’ll rapidly thicken (see pic 2, row 3); when it gets to that point, remove it from the heat, and stir in your chocolate, butter, and vanilla extract.  Whisk until smooth, and once you have a smooth, thick cream, put it in a bag (pastry, ziploc, whatever works best for you), and chill for two hours.  

While everything is chilling and rising, if you haven’t made your vanilla sugar, do that by combining all ingredients (sugar, salt, vanilla bean scrapings) in a small bowl, or mixing your premade vanilla sugar with the white sugar. Whichever works best for you.

After your donut dough is done rising, sprinkle a work surface with flour, and roll out till about a foot wide and a half-inch thick.  Use whatever sort of cutter you usually use (I honestly just used my glasses) to cut out round shapes from the dough, and line them up on a baking sheet of some sort.  Cover the circles again with a towel, and let them puff up a bit for another half hour (see pic 4). 

Meanwhile, pour about two to two and a half inches of vegetable oil in a pot, and heat to medium high.  Do this about ten minutes before your half hour is up.  That way, you can throw your dough right into the oil, and fry for about two minutes on each side, until golden brown.  Use a spatula or slotted spoon to flip the donuts in the oil, and then remove to where your bowl of vanilla sugar is waiting.  Flip the donuts a few times in the sugar, until coated, and then remove to some waiting paper towels to dry.  Repeat this until you run out of dough.

Once completed, either take the stem end of a spoon and dig a hole into your donut, or, if you’re me, give up and slice the donut open.  Then, take your pastry cream, and squeeze until you think there’s enough cream; if you sliced it open, its gonna look like a sandwich.  

Don’t worry if it’s not that pretty!  It’s fucking delicious, and that’s all that matters!

Sometimes, you just need to make yourself a quick treat.  This definitely qualifies.  There are some shortcuts involved, and depending on what you keep in your pantry/fridge, you may not have it on hand right away, but the end result is fantastic.  Bailey’s and chocolate? Hell yeah.  Make it into a pie form, and really, there is literally no way you can go wrong with this.

Bailey’s Chocolate Pie
Lasts 6 lunches as a dessert

Ingredients

  • 6 oz semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 c whipping cream
  • 1 T sugar
  • 2 oz (aka .25 c) Bailey’s, any flavor
  • 1 pre-made chocolate pie crust (you can make your own, but honestly, some days you’re just lazy)

Melt your chocolate chips according to the directions on the package (typically, 1 minute for a 6 oz package, stop it halfway through to stir it to prevent burning).   Set them to the side.

Combine your whipped cream and sugar, and mix with an electric mixer for about five minutes on low, until it gets stiffer and peaks form.  Once that happens, mix in your melted chocolate and Bailey’s, until combined.  

Then, spoon the mixture into the pie crust and refrigerate overnight, until the chocolate Baileys’ mixture thickens.

And then, enjoy the chocolate boozy pie goodness.

It’s pudding pop o’clock!  Summer’s finally decided to show her gob around here, so, besides lots of cool drinks (alcoholic and non alcoholic alike), I need ways to stay cool, seeing as I lack AC, and I live in an older house. Frozen treats are one of them.  

Saw a recipe for this, and I kind of remember this from when I was a little kid, and decided to make some improvements.  Such as: MOAR CHOCOLATE.  (The original recipe had plain Cool Whip.  I decided to up the chocoholicness by adding chocolate cool whip.  I could probably add a bit of candy bar vodka to make it a boozecicle, too.  There’s enough left over that I can make a second batch.)

I’ll get to see how these turned out tomorrow, just in time for it to hit the 80s!

Pudding Pops 
Makes enough for at least 2 batches of 6 popsicle molds

Ingredients  

  • 3 c cold milk
  • 1 package chocolate pudding
  • 1 c powdered sugar
  • 1 10 oz package chocolate Cool Whip (they’re calling it Cool Whip Frosting now if it’s flavored? or at least the stuff I picked up had that branding)

Take your milk, pudding powder, and powdered sugar, and mix it together with a whisk for 2 mins, until smooth (pic 1).  Then, add your chocolate Cool Whip (pic 2), and whisk again until smooth (pic 3). And then pour into your popsicle molds, and freeze.

EDIT: Fun, boozy variation – add appx 1/3 c of candy bar (chocolate caramel) vodka to mix (post adding Cool Whip), whisk, and then pour into molds and freeze.