(The Nosher via JTA) – There’s nothing more comforting than a slice of babka and a glass of milk to break a long fast. In my family, it’s pretty much all we eat. But I don’t always make babka, and I do always make challah, especially during the High Holy Days season.
So, for convenience, I started setting aside one portion of my challah dough, rolling it out like babka and filling it with chocolate, creating a babka-challah hybrid. It saves me time, tastes delicious and, since my challah dough is pretty enriched, works just as well as my babka dough.
Here I’ve adapted my challah recipe to yield just one round, perfect spiral filled with chocolate and spice. I’ve found that using both cocoa and melted chocolate in the filling creates the richest, gooiest interior. I combine chocolate with a bit of olive oil, salt, sugar and spice in a pot, and while they melt, I spread the dough with oil, cocoa and sugar. Then I drizzle the chocolate over the cocoa spread dough.
Rolled up in a log, twisted into a spiral and baked with a crown of buttery, cinnamon-flecked crumbs, it’s warm, melty and decadent. I can’t think of a better way to enter the New Year.
Variations: You can use margarine or Earth Balance in place of butter in the crumble to make it completely non-dairy. Not a fan of margarine? You can also combine 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of flour, 1/4 cup of vegetable oil, a dash of cinnamon and a sprinkle of salt for a butter- and margarine-free topping.
You could even add a drizzle on top: Combine 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar with 1/4 cup of hot water, a splash of vanilla and a pinch of salt, and whisk it well to combine. Drizzle over the challah while it’s hot.
Chocolate Babka Challah
For the challah:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose white flour, plus more for rolling out
1 cup lukewarm water (around 105 F.)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/3 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg, whisked, for egg wash
For the chocolate filling:
4 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup sugar
For the crumble:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, softened but cool
Make the challah dough: In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and the sugar in the water; set aside for 5 minutes until a bit foamy.
Whisk oil into yeast, then beat in the eggs, one at a time, with the salt. Gradually add flour.
When dough holds together, turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Clean out bowl and grease it, then return dough to bowl.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size.
Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another hour.
While the dough rises, make the filling: Melt the chocolate with the oil in a pot over low heat on the stovetop. Add the sugar, salt and spices to the pot and stir to combine. Refrigerate to cool until needed.
On a floured surface using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to an 18- by 10-inch rectangle, with the long side nearest you. Brush the 3 tablespoons of olive oil over the dough. Sprinkle the cocoa over the greased dough. Top with the sugar and mix with your hands to combine.
Top with the melted, spiced chocolate mixture and use a spatula to swirl it out over the dough.
Starting with the long side farthest from you, roll the dough into a snug log, pinching firmly along the seam to seal. Coil the log to form a round challah and place in a pan to rise, around 40 minutes.
Make the crumble: Combine all of the ingredients except for the butter in a medium bowl and give a quick stir to combine, making sure to break up any lumps of brown sugar.
Add the butter and use your fingertips to mix everything together until crumbs form. Set aside until needed. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Brush the top of the challah with egg wash. Sprinkle with crumble.
Bake until the top is a deep golden brown, about 40-50 minutes. Transfer the challah to a rack and cool to room temperature. Serve.
Chaya Rappoport is the blogger, baker and picture taker behind retrolillies.wordpress.com. Currently a pastry sous chef at a Brooklyn bakery, she’s been blogging since 2012, and her work has been featured on The Feed Feed, Delish.com, Food and Wine, and Conde Nast Traveler.
The Nosher food blog offers a dazzling array of new and classic Jewish recipes and food news, from Europe to Yemen, from challah to shakshuka and beyond. Check it out at www.TheNosher.com.