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:

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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:

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It’s good shit.

Gulab jamun are a pretty fantastic snack.  The last time I tried to make these (a bit over two years ago), they didn’t turn out so well (just a soft mess of soaked dough), but I think this time I’ve got them figured out pretty well.  The balls look a bit overdone, but trust me, they’re not burned.  I’ve seen these in both Jewish and Indian restaurants, but this is the first time I’ve actually been able to get something close to what I’ve had at home.

Gulab Jamun
Makes about 15 to 20 balls, depending on size

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 c nonfat dry milk powder
  • .25 c flour
  • .25 t baking soda
  • 3 T butter, melted and cooled (you could also probably use browned butter)
  • .25 c milk
  • vegetable oil for frying

Syrup

  • 2 c dark brown sugar (you can also use white or light brown)
  • 2 c water
  • ground cardamom to taste
  • (optional: rose water, if you have it on hand)

To make your dough, mix the dry ingredients together, and then add the melted cooled butter, mixing together until the dough is crumbly (see picture one). Slowly pour the milk over the crumbs, and then mix together until the dough just barely comes together. Knead briefly until the dough is smooth (whoops, forgot this bit. Still worked, though). Divide the dough into equal, ping pong sized balls (you’ll get about 15 to 20 out of the dough).

Heat an inch of vegetable oil in a pot over medium high. You’ll know it’s ready when you put in a small bit of dough and it starts to easily fry.  Add your dough balls and turn frequently, until they’re golden brown (usually takes about four minutes). Fish them out with a mesh strainer to drain most of the oil off the balls, and then let them rest in a small bowl to cool.  (I couldn’t quite get them out of the oil easily, so mine were a bit on the darker side, but not burned.)

To make the syrup, mix the water and sugar together over low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Increase the heat to medium, and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture has thickened.  (The original recipe recommends heating until a candy thermometer registers 225, but I don’t have one. The best you can do if you don’t is eye it.)

Stir the cardamom in once the syrup has thickened, and keep it at the simmer. Add the balls in, and let them soak until they’re soft and moist. They will swell as they soak; mine almost doubled in size. (insert jokes here.)  Remove them with a spoon and then let them cool.  

If not eating immediately, pour a small amount of syrup in with the balls in the container, and save the rest separately.