Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chocolate Babka

Mysteriously, I was assailed with the desire to make special Christmas bread a full week and a half AFTER Christmas. I'd been eyeing this recipe for a while because it combines three of my favorite things: bread, cinnamon, and chocolate! Plus, it's pretty. The original recipe comes from the December 2009 issue of Cooking Light. Sooo, put some of that Christmas music back on and roll up your sleeves for a wonderful day in the kitchen!


1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)

3/4 cup warm milk (105F-110F)

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten

3 cups flour, divided

5 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces and softened

Cooking spray


1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped


2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1 tablespoon flour

1 teaspoon butter, softened

1. Dissolve 1 teaspoon granulated sugar and yeast in warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in 6 tablespoons granulated sugar, vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and egg yolk. Measure flour and level with a knife.

Add about 2 2/3 cups flour to milk mixture; beat with dough hook attachment at medium speed until well blended (about 2 minutes). (I absolutely love the kitchen-aide that my parents FINALLY invested in. The fact that it's pink? Even better!)

Add 5 tablespoons butter, beating until well blended. Scrape dough out onto a floured surface (dough will be very sticky). Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add about 1/3 cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will be very soft). I actually ended up having to add even more flour than that to keep the dough from being ridiculously sticky. Of course, I was cooking in 90 degree weather with ridiculous humidity, so I'm not sure how much of a difference that made. . .

2. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spary, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise ina warm place, free from drafts, 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size. Make sure that you let it rise long enough. I cannot stress this enough. I don't think I let mine rise enough in any of the stages, which caused the bread's shape to be a little off. Punch dough down; cover and let dough rest 5 minutes.

3. Line the bottom of a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper; coat sides of pan with cooking spray.

4. To prepare filling, combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, and chocolate in a medium bowl; set aside.

5. Place dough on a generously floured surface; roll dough out into a 16-inch square.

Sprinkle filling over dough, leaving a 1/4 inch border around edges.

Roll up dough tightly, jelly-roll fashion; pinch seam and ends to seal. Holding dough by ends, twist dough 4 times as if wringing out a towel. This will create a beautiful interior spiral once It's okay if some of the filling spills out during this phase.

Fit dough into prepared pan. It was a bit difficult to squeeze it all in, but the bumps create added interest while baking. Cover and let rise 45 minutes or until doubled in size. Again, make sure that it has actually doubled in size. You can see how much mine rose in the picture below, and I think I should have let it go for several minutes more until it filled out the pan more fully.

6. Preheat oven to 350F.

7. To prepare streusel, combine powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon flour, and 1 teaspoon softened butter, stirring with a fork until mixture is crumbly. The original recipe called for an entire tablespoon of butter, but when I tried that I ended up with a mixture that was very gooey and not at all crumbly. So if your mixture is a little dry, just add more butter. Then sprinkle the streusel evenly over dough.

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes until browned on top. Again, the recipe called for 40 minutes, but after about 35 my bread was overly browned on the top and the sides, so definitely check the oven after about half an hour.

Cool bread in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool bread completely on wire rack before slicing. Pull out the pretty Christmas china (even if it's the middle of January) and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


This afternoon my dad pulled out his ancient Aebleskiver pan to fix a batch of these delicious hollow pancake-like rolls for dinner. My dad has been making aebleskivers (pronounced auble-skeevers) for as long as I can remember. His mother was Norwegian, and he learned the traditional Danish dish from her. Although they are typically eaten as desserts, we've always put butter and jelly on them and eaten them for breakfast.
This recipe requires a special pan (pictured below). They can be purchased at most specialty cooking stores, and I've seen them online at Target's website as well (called a Pancake Puff pan). The one we've always used is cast iron.

2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla OR almond extract
4 tablespoons oil
oil for cooking

raspberry jam
confectioner's sugar

1. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the egg yolks, milk, extract, and oil. Beat with a wire whisk until frothy.

2. Beat the egg whites just until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold them in to the flour mixture. The batter should appear somewhat lumpy.

3. Heat the pan over moderate heat for about ten minutes or until droplets of water sizzle on pan's surface. Place a teaspoon of oil in each cup of the pan. Fill each cup with batter until nearly full.

4. When batter becomes bubbly, use a skewer or a fork (knitting needles or crochet hooks also work well here) to turn the aebleskivers inside the cup. At this point, you should be able to see the doughy inside of the aebleskiver.

Continue to turn them until they are cooked all the way around. (Although sphere-shaped, the aebleskivers often have an opening on one side. So don't worry if they are not entirely closed-it makes them easier to fill!)

5. Place cooked aebleskivers on a plate. They are traditionally filled with raspberry jam and sprinkled with confectioner's sugar, but you can be creative with you fillings if you like. They are definitely best eaten warm. Enjoy!