This was the first thing I made post baby. The hubs put in a request for something sweet and tasty – a nudge to get me back in the kitchen (not in a 1950s way but in a thats my happy place kinda way) – and he would keep tabs on the nugget. He was probably thinking some quick and easy cookies that would be done by the end of the movie he had just settled in to watch, not a multi-stage project but since he did not specify, I decided to make this Dark Chocolate Toasted Almond Babka and two days later Chris got his tasty treat!! And I got my sea legs back. This recipe is not for the faint of heart but its a fun challenge for a snowy winter weekend.
Dark Chocolate Toasted Almond Babka
Yield: 2 loaves
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- ½ cup lukewarm water, plus a little more if needed
- 3 large eggs
- 4¼ cups (530 grams) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
- 4½ ounces (130 grams) dark chocolate (or approximately ¾ cup chocolate chips)
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- ½ cup (50 grams) powdered sugar
- ⅓ cup (30 grams) cocoa powder
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
- ⅓ cup water
- 6 tablespoons (75 grams) granulated sugar
- Make the dough: Whisk the yeast and water together in the bowl of an stand mixer. Add the eggs and whisk just to break up the yolks. Add the flour, sugar and salt and mix with the dough hook on low speed until it comes together into a rough shaggy dough. It’s okay if it’s on the dry side, but if it doesn’t come together at all, add extra water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
- With the mixer on low, add the butter a few cubes at a time, mixing until incorporated into the dough.
- Scrape the sides of the bowl, making sure there isn't a clump of dry flour at the bottom. With the mixer on med-hi speed, beat the dough until smooth and pulling away from the sides.
- Coat a large bowl with oil (or scrape the dough out onto a counter and oil this one) and place dough inside, cover with plastic and let rise 1 hour at room temp.
- Set the dough on a piece of plastic wrap and press it into a 1-inch-thick rectangle. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight - or make in advance and keep in the fridge up to 3-4 days.
- Make filling: Melt butter and chocolate in a small bowl set over simmering water. When chocolate is melted, stir in powdered sugar, cocoa powder and cinnamon. Set aside.
- Roll the chilled dough: Lightly coat 2 standard loaf pans with room-temperature unsalted butter. Unwrap the cold babka dough and set it on a lightly floured work surface. Dust the top with flour and roll out to a 9-by-24-inch rectangle, with a long side facing you. If it starts to stick to the counter or rolling pin, dust with a little more flour.
- Spread half of chocolate mixture evenly over the dough then half of the almonds sprinkled over top, leaving a ½-inch border all around. t Brush the end farthest away from you with water. Roll the dough up with the filling into a long, tight cigar. Seal the dampened end onto the log.
- Put the log on a baking sheet or cutting board and put in the fridge to firm up for 10-15 minutes.
- Repeat with the second piece of dough up to this stage.
- Trim last ½-inch off each end of log. Use a bread knife to slice the log in half lengthwise so you have 2 long pieces. With cut sides up, pinch the top ends gently together. Lift one side over the next, forming a twist and trying to keep the cut sides facing out. Pinch the ends together and transfer to prepared loaf pan, scrunching it together to fit snuggly with the layers of chocolate filling visible as much as possible.
- Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise another 1 to 1½ hours at room temperature.
- Repeat process with second loaf.
- Bake and finish cakes: Heat oven to 375°F (190°C). Remove towels, place each loaf on the middle rack of your oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes, check them after 25 minutes, and if they are getting too dark, tent them loosely with a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- To check for doneness, insert a skewer into the center of the loaf - an underbaked babka will feel stretchy/rubbery inside and may come back with dough on it, when fully baked, you’ll feel almost no resistance. If you babka needs more time, put it back, 5 minutes at a time then re-test.
- Make the syrup: Bring sugar and water to a simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside to cool somewhat. As soon as the babkas leave the oven, brush the syrup all over each. It will seem like too much, but will taste just right — glossy and moist. Let cool about halfway in pan, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way before eating.
- Do ahead: Babkas keep for a few days at room temperature. Longer, I’d freeze them. They freeze and defrost really well.
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