The awesome folks at Green & Black's Organic were kind enough to send me a couple of their products to whip up some Easter treats... luckily one of the most traditional Easter foods out there is Babka, Chocolate Babka to be exact (we all know who the lesser Babka is... don't we Seinfeld fans).
I received two bars of the Green & Black's Organic Dark 70% and some of their Cocoa as well. This recipe is going to make those two bars disappear. I had to take just a wee nibble first though, because I love dark chocolate. This chocolate is to die for. It's intense, bold and smooth.
Dark Chocolate Babka
Adapted/modified from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day
2 tbsp active dry yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm milk
6 tbsp salted butter, at room temperature
6 tbsp sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
3 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg & 1 tbsp water to make egg wash for top of loaf
200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped and frozen (I really recommend Green & Black's Organic 70% Dark)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chilled salted butter, cubed
1/4 cup chilled salted butter, cubed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
To start your dough, put the yeast and warm milk in a bowl, stir and set aside for about 5 minutes, until the yeast is starting to foam and get a bit bubbly.
Meanwhile, in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter until light and fluffy. Add in the sugar and continue beating on medium speed until again, light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well between each addition.
Switch over to the dough hook and add the salt and flour...
... as well as the yeast, milk mixture.
Bring the dough together on the lowest speed, then allow it to knead on speed 2 for about 4 minutes. You should have a soft and golden coloured dough.
Place the dough into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest in a warm place until almost doubled, about an hour to an hour and a half... depends on your yeast and kitchen. I find the best place for my doughs to rise is the microwave. While making the dough, I put in a mug full of water and put it on for 2 minutes. This makes the microwave nice and warm and moist... great for yeast!
While the dough is rising, it's time to prepare the filling. To do this, you would want a food processor. Place the frozen chocolate in the food processor and pulse until the chocolate gets quite fine.
Once the chocolate is chopped, add in the cinnamon and cubed, chilled butter. Pulse a few times until the butter is in smaller bits than the chocolate... it will all look like this:
Place the chocolate mixture in the fridge until the dough has risen. Once the dough is ready, you'll need to prepare a work surface to roll out the dough. The dough needs to be rolled into a 15" square, so I find the best thing to do is lay a clean sheet on my kitchen table and rub some flour into it. This is the ultimate non-stick surface for breads like this in my opinion.
Roll out the dough into that 15" square (ish), making sure from time to time that it is not sticking to the sheet (mine never did).
Top the rolled dough with the chocolate mixture, leaving about a 1/4" around the edge.
Roll up tightly like you would a jelly roll.
Once the dough is rolled up, seal the edge, pinch the ends close and using your hands lightly roll the log until it is about 20 inches long, then twist the log a few times (like you were very lightly wringing out a cloth).
Roll the log into a 'snail'.
Stand the snail up on end in a 9x5" loaf pan which has been generously buttered and lined with parchment paper. Push down the bread lightly, helping it form to the pan's shape. Lightly cover with a piece of plastic wrap which has been lightly sprayed with non-stick spray. Put back in the warm place (I do the microwave trick again) and allow to rise until the loaf fills the pan, about another hour.
Since you have your food processor already dirtied, make the streusel topping in it as well. Combine the chilled butter, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon and pulse until it is the texture of coarse cornmeal.
Once the Babka has risen, poke a few holes in the top with a toothpick and then brush it with egg wash...
... and cover it with the topping, just lightly pressing it on.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50 minutes.
Remove from pan as soon as you can handle it.
Allow the Babka to cool completely before cutting. It's at it's best at room temperature after the chocolate has had time to set.
As delicious and decadent as this Babka is, it goes over the top when you use it the next day to make French Toast. Seriously, this was the best French Toast I have ever eaten in my life. The extra sweetness and moisture turned it into warm and gooey chocolate-swirled Heaven. If you are having an Easter brunch, you have to make this! I made a basic French Toast with eggs, milk, a tiny bit of pure Nova Scotia maple syrup, a squeeze of orange juice and some orange zest. Fry it in a pan with some butter and top it with some more pure Maple Syrup... bliss, bliss, bliss.
Now to see what I'll whip up with the cocoa...
Disclosure: I received product to sample, but no other compensation was provided. Opinions, as always, are mine.