Chocolate Babka

 

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As of late, I have been on a pastry kick something serious.  There is something about working on the dough and kneading it that gives me this feeling like I just spent the day at a theraputic spa.  A bit much, but baking pastry, as finicky as it can be, is SUPER relaxing.  Plus, I love how pretty pastries look straight out of the oven.

This weekend has been a whirlwind, from working, to kickball practice, to a gala.  Needless to say, I wanted to create something that I never made before but also had a bit of inactive time–because no one has time to be working on dough constantly all day.  Low and behold, coming in from stage right, babka!  I’ve noticed this Jewish brioche making quite an appearance everywhere.  It has been around for ages, but as of late, and through the mighty power of  social media, everyone and their mama has been creating this delicious pastry.  I would not consider myself as any particular expert on this bread, but after trying a slice at General Muir Bakery, here in Atlanta, I had a challenge presented to me, and I gladly accepted. So in the words of this millennium’s favorite Snapchatter and motivational speaker, DJ Khaled, “let’s see this major key.” Well, let’s see the major key to successful babka.

 

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Looks like a lot of goodness! You have milk, flour, sugar, yeast, chocolate, cocoa, butter, and more.

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Dough and my chocolate paste ready to roll.

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Rolled out and filled!

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Time to twist it out.

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Oh boy, these are going to be pretty!

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Yummy!

 

Chocolate Babka

(yields two 9-inch loaves)

Ingredients

Dough (adapted by Pretty Simple Kitchen)

  • 3.5 cups of all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm (110 degrees) whole milk
  • 2 large eggs , room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Grated zest of half of a medium orange
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature and cubed
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt (kosher or sea salt)
  • Canola oil for greasing

Chocolate Filling

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (make sure that your chocolate is not more than 60% cacao)
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder or cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, dutch processed
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate chunks or chopped hazelnuts (optional)

Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Syrup

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Method

  1. Make the dough: Combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and orange zest in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Once dry ingredients are well combined, add the eggs and milk, mixing on a low speed setting, allow the dough to come together (this will take about 3 minutes). With the mixer still on low, add in the salt and the butter, one cube at a time until it is well incorporated into the dough. Once butter is well incorporated, turn mixer to a medium speed and allow the dough to mix for 8-10 minutes.  The finished product should be smooth and elastic.
  2. Take the dough out and place into a lightly oiled bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in your refrigerator for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
  3. Make the filling: melt the butter and the chocolate together until smooth.  Stir in the cocoa, powdered sugar, and espresso powder/cinnamon until the mixture is spreadable and the texture is like paste.
  4. Making the egg wash: Beat the egg yolk and cream together, until well incorporated and set aside.
  5. Making the loaves: Line two 9-inch loaf pans with parchment paper (or generously grease with butter). Remove dough from the fridge, and cut in half (leave the other half chilled). Roll out the dough on a clean and well-floured surface. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough into an 18- by 10-inch rectangle with the longest side facing you.
  6. Spread half of the chocolate mixture, chocolate chunks, and/or hazelnuts evenly over the dough, leaving about a 1/2-inch border all around. Brush the border with the egg wash (chill the remaining wash). Starting on the long end furthest from you, roll the dough into a tight log. Gently pinch and seal the end of the log.
  7. Trim about ¾ inch off  of both ends of the log. Using a sharp knife, gently cut the roll in half lengthwise. With the cut sides facing up, lift one side over the next, forming a twist/plait, ensuring that the cut sides are facing up. Gently pinch together the other end. Repeat the entire process with the second loaf
  8. Transfer loaves gently to prepared loaf pans. Cover with a dampened towel to let loaves rise at room temperature for an 1 to 1.5 hours.
  9. While loaves are rising, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, ensuring that the oven rack is placed in the middle.
  10. Baking loaves: Remove towels, brush the loaves with remaining egg wash, and bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and a skewer or toothpick comes out clean with no resistance.
  11. Making Syrup: While the loaves are baking, combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, and ensure that the sugar is well dissolved.  Once sugar is dissolved, take off heat and let cool to room temperature.
  12. Take the loaves out of the oven and immediately brush or spoon them with the syrup. Let the babkas completely cool in the pan before taking out or eating.
  13. Eat and enjoy the babka sliced. Babka will keep for up to 4 days at room temperature, but freezes nicely for up to 2 months when wrapped in plastic wrap and foil.

As always, let me know if you liked or tried this recipe.

With peace and love,

The Shy Girl.

 

Valentine’s Day Dessert: Chocolate Ganache Tart

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Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and it is time to show your sweetie, your family, or your friends (Galentine’s Day is everything by the way) a sweet treat.  If you love chocolate, then you will love this dessert.

Sidenote, this recipe looks and sounds fancy as fudge, but you can be fancy as fudge on a not so fancy budget.  This dark chocolate crust, well just check out the recipe and see what I used to make it.

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What? You can’t be serious! You used Oreo cookies (or for all of you Trader Joe fanatics like me, Joe-Joe’s) in this recipe. You are absolutely right, I used cookies for the crust.

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I placed those cookies into a food processor and pulsed the living daylights out of them.

 

imageThey became cookie dust, finely ground.

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Added the ground cookies with melted butter and patted them together in a tart pan.

Chocolate chunks, sea salt, heavy cream, butter, and a splash of Grand Marnier for good measure.

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Yes to this velvety smooth goodness!

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Time to enjoy!

Alright, as one of my lovely Canadian friends always says,  “allons-y”.  So let’s go to this recipe.

Chocolate Ganache Tart

Ingredients

Crust

  • 25 chocolate sandwich cookies (i.e. Oreo cookies, Joe-Joe’s, etc.)
  • 4 tablespoons of melted butter

Ganache Filling

  • 10 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chunks
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon of softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon Grand Marnier
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Sea salt to taste

Garnish

  • Berries (optional)
  • Sea Salt (optional)

Method

  1. For crust: in a food processor, add the cookies and blend until the texture is course and mealy, add the butter and make sure that it is well incorporated (it should look like rich soil).
  2. Press crust down into a 9-inch tart pan. Using a glass with a flat bottom, press down the crust so it is smooth on the bottom and even on the sides.
  3. Place crust into the fridge for at least an hour before filling.
  4. For the ganache filling: In a large bowl place the chocolate chunks with a dash of sea salt and set aside.
  5. Heat the cream, butter, and Grand Marnier in a small saucepan.When the cream mixture begins to simmer around the edge of the pan remove immediately from the heat.
  6. Pour the cream mixture over the chocolate and let it sit for 1-2 minutes.
  7. Stir mixture until smooth and velvety. Mix in vanilla.
  8. Pour mixture into your chilled tart crust and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or best overnight to set.
  9. When ready to serve, garnish with either berries or finish with sea salt. (I did both)
  10. Eat and enjoy!

Like always, leave a comment if you tried this recipe or like this recipe. I want you all to have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.

With peace and love,

The Shy Girl.

 

 

Caramel and Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I have been craving sugary baked things these last few days.  Plus, I’ve felt like this was a treat-yourself-because-you-deserve-it type of week. I have started apprenticing and learning the ropes in a professional kitchen. Trying to get all of this culinary experience under my belt.  This is a leap, I won’t lie, I miss teaching full-time, but I also know that running my own culinary/catering business is what’s in the cards for me.

Back to the deliciousness that are these cookies!  When I tell you all, I had an intense craving for a Snicker’s bar, it hit me to make these sinful decadent cookies.  Fair warning, THESE ARE NOT A HEALTH FOOD, so if you are looking for a healthy cookie, this is not the recipe.  But let me tell you, the few calories for your cheat day are oh so worth it!

Now let’s stop playing and find out more about the cast of characters in these.

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As you can see, I had a MASSIVE 4-lb bag of chocolate chips (BJ’s, Restaurant Depot, and I have all become friends since I’ve started this catering journey), some caramels, and vanilla.  Forgot to picture, about 3-lbs of roasted and salted peanuts.

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Fast forward, I creamed butter, sugar, and eggs together, added the flour, baking soda, vanilla, chocolate chips, and crushed peanuts.

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I cut the caramels in half and scooped some dough and placed the caramel in the middle.

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Rolled those little angels into a ball and placed them into the oven to bake.  Let me tell you butter, sugar, and chocolate baking, you can never go wrong.

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Out of the oven to rest on a wire rack.  These cookies were just waiting for a glass of milk.

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Caramel Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1.5 teaspoons warm water
  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cups chopped roasted and salted peanuts
  • 18 unwrapped and halved caramel candies

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. Dissolve the baking soda in the water and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour and the salt.
  4. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugars until smooth in texture.  Beat in eggs one at a time until they are well incorporated. Then, stir the vanilla into the mixture.
  5. Add the flour and baking soda mixture to the butter mixture.  Stir until the dough is combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and the peanuts.
  6. Scoop out 2 tablespoon-size balls of dough and press in a caramel candy half into the center of each dough ball and place on baking sheet. 
  7. Bake until edges are golden brown, about 11-14 minutes (I baked mine for about 12).
  8. Take the cookies out of the oven, let them rest on baking sheet for about 5 more minutes (this is so the caramel won’t ooze everywhere).
  9. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Eat and Enjoy!

Let me know in the comments below if you tried them!

With peace and love,

The Shy Girl.