Chocolate Babka

( Slightly adapted from Martha Stewart Living , May 2000)*

When shaping the babka, twist dough evenly throughout the length of the roll a full 5 to 6 turns. The babka can be prepared up to step 8 and frozen for up to a month before baking. When ready to bake, remove from freezer; let stand at room temperature for about 5 hours, and bake.

Note: When twisting of the dough, it is normal for some of the filling to fall off. Once dough has had its final twist, gather the lost filling and tuck it between the strands of the formed dough once in the pan.

Ingredients:

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1 1/2 cups warm milk, 110 degrees

2 (1/4 ounce each) packages active dry yeast

1 3/4 cups plus a pinch of sugar

3 whole large eggs, room temperature

2 large egg yolks, room temperature

6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for flouring counter

1 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus more for bowl and loaf pans

2 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped (this can be done in the food processor by pulsing machine.)

2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon heavy cream

Streusel Topping:

Makes 3 3/4 cups (More than enough with some leftover.  The leftovers can be frozen for use on other baked goods.)

1 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

Directions:

Pour warm milk into a medium bowl. Sprinkle yeast and pinch of sugar over milk; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together 3/4- cup sugar, 2 eggs, and egg yolks. Add egg mixture to yeast mixture, and whisk to combine.

 In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. Add egg mixture, and beat on low speed until almost all the flour is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Change to the dough hook. Add 2 sticks butter, and beat until flour mixture and butter are completely incorporated, and form a smooth soft dough that’s slightly sticky when squeezed, about 10 minutes.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few turns until smooth. Butter a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, and turning to coat all sides. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until almost doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

Place chocolate, remaining cup sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Using two knives, pastry cutter, or the tips of your fingers, cut in remaining 1 1/2 sticks butter until well combined; set filling aside.

Generously butter three 9-by-5-by-2 3/4-inch loaf pans; line them with a strip of parchment paper that covers the bottom and extends over both of the ends of the pan. For egg wash, beat remaining egg with 1- tablespoon cream and set egg aside. Turn dough our onto a lightly floured counter and cut into 3 equal pieces. Cover two of the pieces with plastic wrap. Roll out remaining piece on a well-floured counter into a 16-inch square, 1/8 inch thick.

Brush edges of dough with reserved egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of the reserved chocolate filling evenly over dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border all around. Refresh egg wash if needed. Roll dough up tightly like a jellyroll. Pinch ends together to seal. Gently twist roll 5 or 6 turns. Flatten slightly on counter and brush top of roll with egg wash. Crumble 2 tablespoons filling over the left half of the roll, being careful not to let mixture slide off. Fold right half of the roll over onto the coated left half. Pinch and fold ends under to seal. Twist the roll 2 turns, and place into prepared pan, pushing down lightly on dough to evenly fill pan. Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces of dough and remaining filling.

Make Streusel Topping In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, and butter. Using a fork, pastry blender, or the tips of your fingers, stir mixture until fully combined with clumps ranging in size from crumbs to 1 inch.

Heat oven to 350 degrees and set oven rack in the center. Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of streusel topping over each loaf. Loosely cover each pan with plastic wrap, and let rest at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.

Remove plastic wrap and bake loaves, rotating halfway through, until golden, 45-55 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees and continue to bake babkas  until they are deep golden, 5-20 minutes more. Let babkas cool in the pans on a cooling rack for 5 minutes and then turn out of the pans to cool completely on a wire rack. Babkas freeze well for up to 1 month.

Makes 3 very rich loaves.

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