Category: chocolate

Babka, the Trendy “New” Dessert

I could barely write that title without laughing. You see Babka has been around at least as long as I can remember and really even longer. Jewish housewives started making it, in the 1800’s, with extra challah dough. It wasn’t the chocolate cinnamon version we know today. It was usually filled with jam or fruit and topped with some kind of streusel. Chocolate Babka hit the scene in the 1800’s and mostly here in America, not so much the “old country”.

When I was growing up, it was one those desserts that was always out on Friday night, Saturday lunch and Sunday dinners. It was easy to bring to somebody’s house and I’m sure my mom ate her share with a cup of coffee while playing bridge and gossiping. As a kid it was a take it or leave it dessert. If there was nothing else on the table then I would take a slice or not.

When babka was first made in Russia and Eastern Europe, it was usually a Pareve, or neutral, dish. This was for the kosher home and meant it could be served with milk or meat dishes because it was made mostly with water and oil. This made for a little bit of a drier cake. Once in America, bakeries started adding butter for a moister, richer cake with a brioche like density.

I knew Babka was having its moment in 2016 when Trader Joes started selling it. It seems only natural that I would share a recipe now. This is one of those that are not super hard to make but will make great impression. You may even bring back some memories and tears for your older friends and family.

As are all my recipes, this Babka recipe is a compilation of lots of recipes. However, I want to give specific credit for technique to Paula Shoyer, http://thekosherbaker.com . in addition to twisting the babka, she opens it before twisting which really allows the flavors to meld together beautifully. Each bite has a little bit of all the flavors.

Double Chocolate Brown Sugar Babka
Print Recipe
Servings
2 loaves
Servings
2 loaves
Double Chocolate Brown Sugar Babka
Print Recipe
Servings
2 loaves
Servings
2 loaves
Ingredients
Dough
Filling
Streusel Topping
Servings: loaves
Instructions
  1. Pour yeast into warmed (110°) milk, let sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy. Meanwhile cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in vanilla and egg yolks, until well blended. Whisk together flour and salt.
  2. Give the yeast mixture a quick stir and pour into egg mixture. Slowly start adding flour/salt mixture into yeast/egg mixture until dough starts to form. I reserve about 1/4 cup of the flour mix. You want the dough to be soft.
  3. Use some of the reserved flour and turn soft dough out onto floured board. Knead slightly and add flour if necessary. Place kneaded dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise for at least an hour until doubled in size.
Filling
  1. While dough is rising you can make your fillings and streusel. Melt together dark chocolate and oil. Set aside. I like to make the milk chocolate filling in a food processor. Make sure your butter is very cold. Pulse milk chocolate and butter in processor until small pea-sized pieces. Put back in refrigerator until ready to use.
Streusel
  1. Using the same processor, pulse together brown sugar, flour, and cold butter. It should be very crumbly. Put in refrigerator until ready to use.
Putting it All Together
  1. Cut a piece of parchment to a little bigger than 14"x18". Place it on cutting board and lightly flour it. Roll out your dough almost to the edges, in a rectangle.
  2. Using a pastry brush, spread the melted dark chocolate all over the dough, edge to edge. Then sprinkle the milk chocolate all over the dough. Try to get edge to edge here too.
  3. Using the parchment paper as a guide, start rolling the dough on the long side. Press as you go to keep the roll tight. pinch the ends closed and wrap in parchment. Place in refrigerator for 5 minutes to firm up. While dough is refrigerator line bottom of 2 loaf pans (9X5) with parchment paper, then spray whole pan with non-stick spray.
  4. Take roll out of refrigerator and remove from paper. Cut in half. Take each half and, making sure the seam side is down, cut the rolls in half length wise, leaving one end in tact. Essentially you are "opening" them.
  5. With cut sides up, start twisting pieces over each other, keep the open side up. Tuck other end under and place in loaf pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise another hour. You should have 2 twisted loaves.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk together reserved egg white and 2 Tbs. milk. Once dough has risen, brush tops with egg wash and gently press streusel topping into dough.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Here's the trick, if it looks just slightly golden brown but not quite done, it's ok. It will continue to cook in pan and you DON'T want to overcook it or It will be dry.
  8. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto rack. You can serve it warm or it is certainly good at room temperature.
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Double Chocolate Brown Sugar Babka

Double Chocolate Brown Sugar Babka
Print Recipe
Servings
2 loaves
Servings
2 loaves
Double Chocolate Brown Sugar Babka
Print Recipe
Servings
2 loaves
Servings
2 loaves
Ingredients
Dough
Filling
Streusel Topping
Servings: loaves
Instructions
  1. Pour yeast into warmed (110°) milk, let sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy. Meanwhile cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in vanilla and egg yolks, until well blended. Whisk together flour and salt.
  2. Give the yeast mixture a quick stir and pour into egg mixture. Slowly start adding flour/salt mixture into yeast/egg mixture until dough starts to form. I reserve about 1/4 cup of the flour mix. You want the dough to be soft.
  3. Use some of the reserved flour and turn soft dough out onto floured board. Knead slightly and add flour if necessary. Place kneaded dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise for at least an hour until doubled in size.
Filling
  1. While dough is rising you can make your fillings and streusel. Melt together dark chocolate and oil. Set aside. I like to make the milk chocolate filling in a food processor. Make sure your butter is very cold. Pulse milk chocolate and butter in processor until small pea-sized pieces. Put back in refrigerator until ready to use.
Streusel
  1. Using the same processor, pulse together brown sugar, flour, and cold butter. It should be very crumbly. Put in refrigerator until ready to use.
Putting it All Together
  1. Cut a piece of parchment to a little bigger than 14"x18". Place it on cutting board and lightly flour it. Roll out your dough almost to the edges, in a rectangle.
  2. Using a pastry brush, spread the melted dark chocolate all over the dough, edge to edge. Then sprinkle the milk chocolate all over the dough. Try to get edge to edge here too.
  3. Using the parchment paper as a guide, start rolling the dough on the long side. Press as you go to keep the roll tight. pinch the ends closed and wrap in parchment. Place in refrigerator for 5 minutes to firm up. While dough is refrigerator line bottom of 2 loaf pans (9X5) with parchment paper, then spray whole pan with non-stick spray.
  4. Take roll out of refrigerator and remove from paper. Cut in half. Take each half and, making sure the seam side is down, cut the rolls in half length wise, leaving one end in tact. Essentially you are "opening" them.
  5. With cut sides up, start twisting pieces over each other, keep the open side up. Tuck other end under and place in loaf pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise another hour. You should have 2 twisted loaves.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk together reserved egg white and 2 Tbs. milk. Once dough has risen, brush tops with egg wash and gently press streusel topping into dough.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Here's the trick, if it looks just slightly golden brown but not quite done, it's ok. It will continue to cook in pan and you DON'T want to overcook it or It will be dry.
  8. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto rack. You can serve it warm or it is certainly good at room temperature.
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National S’mores Day!

Chewy, creamy, crispy and sweet. Add the word chocolate and I’ve probably given away that I am talking about S’mores. These delectable treats evoke so many great memories. Whether you made s’mores at sleep away camp or even camping with your family, most of us have a story to tell about making s’mores. I’ve always been a traditional girl with Hershey’s, marshmallow and graham crackers. But I’ve heard tell of s’mores made with Reese’s and Rolos!

When my daughters were younger it was such a special treat to make s’mores at home. We even had a special s’mores making burner and dish. As they got older we would make them in the fire place and when it was too hot to have a fire, we’d make a “dip” in a cast iron skillet. I’d layer Hershey bars and marshmallows in my cast iron skillet and let it melt and brown in the oven. Then I’d serve it with graham crackers. Excellent!

So, when I heard that August 10th is S’mores Day, I was all in. The ideas were endless. How about a S’mores pizza with a chewy graham cracker crust, melted chocolate sauce and brûléed marshmallow topping? I thought about making popcorn and dusting it with graham cracker crumbs and tossing in mini marshmallows and chocolate chips. There were even a couple of cookie options, marshmallow stuffed chocolate chip cookies, anyone?

After looking at so many recipes, I decided on Molten S’mores Lava Cakes and Chocolate Kiss Cookies with Graham Flour and Marshmallows. When I was making the cookies, my thought had been to use my kitchen torch to “toast” the marshmallows and melt the Kiss. I ran out of butane, so, had to go to plan B. I turned on the broiler and put the cookies in for minute and a half, for the first batch. They are the nice golden-brown ones pictured. During the second batch, I got on the phone and, we’ll, I got distracted. I got the cookies out before they were totally burnt. But guess what, in, family we always let our marshmallows set on fire anyway. The second batch tasted just like that perfect burnt marshmallow flavor.

The lava cakes were fascinating to me.  When I started my research for recipes, I was surprised to find that it’s not a two-step process, it’s just ingredients. They are also pretty easy to make. There are always lessons to be learned. My ramekins were a little too big; so, the regular size marshmallow I used wasn’t fully covered. I would say to err on the side of too small and just make more. I also think I would use a handful of the mini marshmallows, rather than the regular size. I also cooked them for the full 12 minutes and then cooled for 1 minute. Everyone’s oven is different, but for mine I think I’d bake for 10 minutes then cool for 1 minutes.  You really want a good lava ooze.

Summer is, sadly, winding down. However, you decide to celebrate S’mores day, make a special  summer 2018 memory!

S'mores Cookies
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Servings
4 dozen
Servings
4 dozen
S'mores Cookies
Print Recipe
Servings
4 dozen
Servings
4 dozen
Ingredients
Servings: dozen
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350° Cream together butter and both sugars. Add egg and vanilla until blended.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients. Mix dry mixture into butter mixture until a workable dough forms. Scoop 1 inch balls onto a lined cookie sheet and give them a soft pat down.
  3. Bake cookies for 7 minutes until top is golden brown, do not overcook here. Remove from oven and push a marshmallow, sticky side down, into each cookie. Return to oven and bake another minute or two. Remove from oven again and top each marshmallow with a Kiss.
  4. Here is where I would have liked to use my kitchen torch to brown the marshmallow and melt the chocolate. You can do this or put the cookies under the broiler for a moment or two. WATCH THEM, or they will burn.
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Molten S'mores Lava Cakes
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Servings
4 6-oz. cakes
Servings
4 6-oz. cakes
Molten S'mores Lava Cakes
Print Recipe
Servings
4 6-oz. cakes
Servings
4 6-oz. cakes
Ingredients
Servings: 6-oz. cakes
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450°. Butter and lightly flour 4 6-ounce ramekins.
  2. Melt together butter and chocolate. You can do this in a microwave at 15 second intervals, until melted or over a double boiler. Let cool slightly.
  3. In a medium bowl beat together eggs, egg yolks, sugar and salt, until thick and pale yellow.
  4. Temper the egg and chocolate mixtures by first stirring, quickly, a tablespoon or two or egg into chocolate mixture and then a tablespoon or two of chocolate mixture into egg mixture. Then quickly whisk remaining chocolate into egg mixture and add flour until combined.
  5. Place one tbs. of marshmallows in the bottom of each ramekin and then spoon batter, evenly into each dish. Bake for 10-12 minutes. The sides should be firm but the center should still shake a little.
  6. Remove from oven and cool for 1 minute. Carefully, they will be hot, cover each ramekin with a dessert plate and turn over to unfold the cake. Garnish each cake with a rim of graham cracker crumbs. Serve immediately!
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Grandmother’s Fudgy Frosted Brownies

Oh, my Grandmother’s brownies! I remember and crave them still. She never made any secret about using a box mix for the brownies. I vaguely remember a Betty Crocker box. But she always made this frosting. It was more like fudge, but she wouldn’t put fudge on a brownie, or would she?

The frosting was thick and chocolatey. It had a graininess that let you know how much sugar was in the frosting, but it was so good. The whole brownie was sweet yet not cloying. My Grandmother always put nuts in her brownies., usually walnuts or pecans. I know that cooks are hesitant with nuts these days. I say give nuts a chance!

I tried many “southern” fudge frosting recipes and none matched my grandmother’s. So, I went to a good old-fashioned fudge recipe and changed it up a little.

It’s not too late for a quick Valentine’s Day bake so quickly run to the store and get your ingredients and get to it!

Follow the directions on the box for your brownies. While they are baking get started on your frosting. If you can pour the frosting over the brownies when they come out of the oven its great!

 


Grandmother's Fudgy Frosted Brownies
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Grandmother's Fudgy Frosted Brownies
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Combine sugar, milk, and butter in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a full boil, stirring constantly.
  2. Let boil for 4 minutes, while constantly stirring.
  3. Remove from heat and add in chocolate chips, salt and vanilla.
  4. Stir until chocolate has melted and it is smooth.
  5. Pour over brownies and let set-up for 2 hours. You can refrigetrate them, but it is optional. Let them cool completely before cutting.
  6. Cut into 24 brownies and serve.
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Mark’s Cookies from Spain!

This summer I had the greatest trip to Spain with my husband. I’ve written about many parts of the trip and shared many recipes. However, it has taken me months to duplicate a most important recipe. Double Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies from The Principal hotel. You have to understand my husband is not much of a sweet eater and chocolate would never be his first choice. So, when he asked the maître d’ if he could have some cookies to take on the airplane home, I almost fell over.

When we did finally arrive at home I made it my quest to duplicate the recipe. I wrote to the chef. I explained how my husband coveted his cookies and asked if he would share the recipe with me. While I waited for his response I played around with some other recipes. I found a few online and even tried a couple of Dorie Greenspan’s. Each time he tried them and each time the verdict was, “Not the same.”.

I was delighted when I got an email from the chef with his recipe, but it was just chocolate chip cookies.  I wrote back and explained it was the dark chocolate chip cookies and he replied right away with the adjustments to make the recipe into the dark cookies. I will say that there were still adjustments to be made. For example, Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion wasn’t an exact science, nor were weight measurements versus cup and tablespoon measurements. So again, I made many versions and they were “Not the same”.

One more try and I got it. Let me tell you that my husband really likes a crunchy cookie and it was hard to get that right without having either burnt or just dry cookies.  Remember every oven is different and every taste too.  Adjust for your oven and preference.

I hope you enjoy these as much as my husband did.  Please put your comments.  I love to hear from you.  Happy Holidays!

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies with White Chocolate Chips
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Servings
3 dozen
Servings
3 dozen
Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies with White Chocolate Chips
Print Recipe
Servings
3 dozen
Servings
3 dozen
Ingredients
Servings: dozen
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
  3. In an electric mixer, with paddle attachment, cream together butter and both sugars.
  4. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time.
  5. Beat until well mixed.
  6. Gradually add flour and mix util "dry".
  7. Stir in dark chocolate.
  8. Fold in white and semi-sweet chocolate chips.
  9. Scoop onto ungreased baking sheet. Leave them kind of roundish for best texture.
  10. Bake at 350° for 13-16 minutes.
Recipe Notes

 

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Gateau au Chocolat

Here is the recipe for the greatest mistake I ever made!

Gateau au Chocolat
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Gateau au Chocolat
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Grease and line with wax paper a 9x5x3 loaf pan.
  2. Melt chocolate and beat in butter with a spoon or spatula.
  3. Beat egg whites with a hand mixer to stiff peaks; set aside. With same beaters beat egg yolks until thick and light in color.
  4. Slowly add the sugar, beating constantly. Add the flour and beat until just combined. Stir egg yolk mixture into chocolate mixture, then fold egg whites into this mixture. You will have some egg whites still showing.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan. Reduce oven heat to 350°F and bake 25 minutes.
  6. Let cool completely in pan. Cake will settle like a cheesecake. Turn out. Refrigerate for 4 hours until well chilled. Decorate with abandon!
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Charred Cauliflower with Picada Sauce

Picada is like a pesto. Made with chocolate and almonds it is lovely on the palate!

Charred Cauliflower with Picada Sauce
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Charred Cauliflower with Picada Sauce
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat oven broiler to high
  2. Toss florets with 2 T. olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Broil, turning once, half way through, until charred and tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat garlic and remaining oil in skillet an cook, over medium heat until golden, about 5 minutes. Be sure to watch and stir, so garlic doesn't burn. Transfer oil and garlic to a a medium bowl an let cool.
  4. Stir almonds, parsley, chocolate, sherry, salt and pepper into garlic oil. Toss with cauliflower while it is still hot. Garnish and serve immediately.
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Cacao Nib & Fennel Encrusted Pork Tenderloin

This is absolutely scrumptious. If you don’t eat pork, beef works really well here, too.

Cacao Nib & Fennel Encrusted Pork Tenderloin
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Cacao Nib & Fennel Encrusted Pork Tenderloin
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425° F.
  2. Using a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder (depending on hoe fine you want the rub) grind the cacao nibs and fennel seeds, together. Add the brown sugar, cocoa powder, salt cinnamon and cayenne powder. Combine thoroughly. The mortar and pestle will give you a coarser rub and a more pungent flavor. A coffee grinder or food processor will give you a finer rub and a more subtle flavor.
  3. Massage the tenderloin with 1 T. of oil and then rub with the cacao mixture until well coated.
  4. In a large skillet, over a medium-high flame, heat the remaining oil. Brown the tenderloin on all sides, turning often.
  5. Transfer to a roasting pan and cook until a meat thermometer reads 145, about 15 minutes. Pork can cook very quickly so check at 10 -12 minutes. Adjust time for beef.
  6. Once at proper temperature, take out, tent with foil and rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.
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