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.
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!
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!
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!
Here is the recipe for the greatest mistake I ever made!
Picada is like a pesto. Made with chocolate and almonds it is lovely on the palate!
This is absolutely scrumptious. If you don’t eat pork, beef works really well here, too.