Friday, February 24, 2012

A love story - Chocolate Babka and me

You might be wondering where I have been for so long. It's been a month since I posted on the blog. Where has Kartik been this past month? (Well, I'm going to pretend that you were wondering.)

The bigger question is where I haven't been. For the past few weeks, I have been occupied with work and then I traveled to Irvine on the west side and Cleveland on the east for medical interviews. With that I'm finally done with my interviews! (YAY!) Now, it's a waiting game.
Since Ohio is Michigan's next door neighbor, I decided to take a little vacation and visit my family there. I took a little time away from everything and just relaxed. Throw a Detroit Wings game in there (I love you Wings!) and three weeks have gone by in a flash.

But prior to my trips, I baked a little bread known as a Chocolate babka...
The easiest way to describe this delectable Jewish bread is that it's almost like a braided jellyroll stuffed with so much chocolate that it's stuffed beyond expectations.

I will say that this is not the most easiest recipe. It's easy, but just a bit more time consuming than I expected. But the end results are amazing. Then again, anything with a pound of really good dark chocolate has to be good, right?

The recipe is straight out of Smitten Kitchen. I made very little modifications to the original recipe, because let's face it, it was really successful and I had no complaints.

Start off making the yeast-based dough and let it rise. 

"Hello! My name is Babka dough, what's yours?"

While it's rising, chop a ton of really really good chocolate. I used 72% bittersweet chocolate that I got from Trader Joe's.

 This is some good chocolate.

Grind it up and mix it with brown sugar (my modification) and cinnamon.

Doesn't it look like soil? But it's delicious.

Mix it with softened butter and the filling is set to go.

 The filling for the Babka.

Spread the filling in the dough leaving a half-inch border on all sides.
Spread the filling on the dough

Roll the dough tightly into a jellyroll, like you would roll a burrito. Fold the sides in and then roll it up.

Now, that's a pretty package.

Now, here's where it got tricky. Normally, you would twist the dough to give the Babka look, but I had so much chocolate in there that it was difficult for me to do it without risking breaking the dough. So I just folded it in half and stuck it in the loaf pan and it looked beautiful anyway.

The babkas folded in half.

The Strudel topping puts it over the top.

 The babkas are ready for action.
Bake it off in a 350 degree oven.

The Angels sing!

The hardest part of the recipe was chopping the chocolate and then grinding it into a fine powder. I couldn't really achieve that and I didn't fancy the idea of destroying my food processor, so I just had a mixture of chocolate chunks with the ground up chocolate. You could also do it as a mixture of really good cocoa powder and some chocolate if that's easier on your food processor.

Over the course of three days, I made three of these babkas and they received rave reviews. In fact, my colleagues in the lab told me that this was the best baked good I've made to this date, and considering that they are picky eaters, I'd say that's saying something.

I give this dish an A+.


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