I’ll back up a bit. My nephew, Moe the Airedale, stayed with us for a week and while he’s a delightful dog, he’s not always the sharpest tool in the shed. He spent a whole morning barking at a pile of grass clippings the neighbor’s landscaper left on the sidewalk.
Picture it: four hours of a giant dog nudging the blinds in your front window aside so he can bark and bark and BARK at that pile of dead green stuff. Nothing could stop him, nothing could distract him.
And I was losing my sanity, not to mention getting a headache. After a summer spent watching Seinfeld reruns, yelling serenity now seemed only natural. While yelling didn’t help the situation, it did remind me that it’s been too long since the last time I made a babka.
After a long morning of trying to convince my nephew that yard debris is non-threatening, nothing could be more soothing than making babka.
But not just any babka! Babka filled with dark chocolate and tahini.
The chocolate-tahini combo is one of my favorites. Tahini isn’t a pronounced flavor in this tahini + dark chocolate babka. It just adds a subtle earthiness under the chocolate flavor. If you’re not a tahini lover feel free just to omit it.
This babka is really easy to make thanks to a little help from the food processor, which you use for both the dough and the chocolate filling.
If you’re unfamiliar with babka, it’s high time to get to know this gorgeous stuff. Babka is sort of like a cross between a pastry and a coffee cake. It’s absolutely delicious for breakfast or as an afternoon snack.
Or dinner. Let’s not forget that option.
Tahini + dark chocolate babka: it’s the dinner of champions. (Can we please make dinner of champions a thing?)
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose or bread flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
- 12 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup whole milk, lukewarm
- 6 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 cup well-stirred tahini
- sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
- pearl sugar for garnish (optional)
- Place the flour, yeast, salt, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, and 8 tablespoons of the butter in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the butter is evenly distributed. Add the whole eggs and one of the egg yolks and pulse several times.
- With the machine running, slowly pour the milk down the feed tube and process until the dough forms a ball. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Place the dough in a large mixing bowl sprayed with cooking spray and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 1/2 hours.
- Place the chocolate and cinnamon in the (clean) bowl of a food processor and add the remaining 4 tablespoons butter and 1/2 cup of sugar. Pulse until combined and very crumbly.
- Spray a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- Gently deflate the dough and transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Roll into a rectangle about 20 by 16 inches. Spread the tahini over the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border all around the edge. Top with all but 2 tablespoons of the chocolate mixture.
- Roll the dough into a cylinder starting with one of the short edges. Tightly pinch the seam shut and the ends closed. Roll the cylinder back and forth on your work surface until it measures about 18 inches long, then sprinkle the remaining chocolate mixture down the cylinder’s length.
- Fold the cylinder in two to make a tight U shape, then twist the U a couple of times. Pinch the ends together to seal. Place the loaf in the prepared pan and cover loosely. Set in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the remaining egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of water and brush over the top of the risen babka. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and/or pearl sugar (if using). Bake for 45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking, until the babka is deep golden brown. Set pan on a wire rack and allow babka to cool completely before slicing and serving.
Adapted from How to Bake Everything