Thursday, February 28, 2013

Chocolate Babka

   This time of year, with both Easter and Passover coming up, I like to make traditional cakes and cookies. As a teenager, I worked in a local Polish/Jewish bakery that not only had a delicious array of cakes and cookies, they also made traditional  Eastern European breads and pastries. Babka was one of my favorites.For those of you not familiar with it, it is a cross between a bread and a crumb cake.It is made with yeast,but has just the right amount of sweetness to make it the perfect accompaniment to your tea or coffee,and is incredibly delicious warm.This recipe comes from Martha Stewart, and would be a wonderful addition to your springtime celebrations!

1-1/2 c. warm milk(110 degrees)
2 packages of active dry yeast(1/4 oz each)
1-3/4 c. sugar
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
6 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
3-1/2 sticks of butter,room temperature
2-1/4 pounds of semisweet chocolate,finely chopped(I used chocolate chips,not chopped,worked fine)
2-1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp. heavy cream

Streusel Topping:
1-1/3 c. flour
1-2/3 c. powdered sugar
1-1/2 sticks butter,softened

   To make the chocolate filling, combine the semisweet chocolate,1 cup of sugar,cinnamon and 1-1/2 sticks of butter until combined. Set aside.

   Heat the milk to 110 degrees in a small saucepan. Pour into a bowl and sprinkle with the yeast and a pinch of sugar. Let sit 5 minutes until foamy.
   In the bowl of your mixer, whisk together 3/4 cups of the sugar , 2 eggs, and the egg yolk. Pour in the yeast mixture and whisk to combine.
   Using the paddle attachment on your mixer, Add the flour and salt and mix just until combined. Change to the dough hook,add 2 sticks of butter, and knead until the dough is smooth and only slightly sticky, about 10 minutes.
   Butter a large bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knead once or twice, the place in the buttered bowl. Turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size. About 1-2 hours.
   Butter 3  9x5x2 loaf pans. Line with parchment if desired. Once dough has doubled, gently punch down,and turn out onto your counter. Divide into 3 equal portions. Cover two of them while working with the first.

    Roll out the dough into a 16 inch square. Place about one third of the chocolate mixture in the middle, but not close to the edges. Brush the edges with a mixture of the last egg and the cream. Roll up, jelly roll style, and pinch the ends together. Twist the loaf 5-6 times. Brush the top of the loaf with egg wash again, and sprinkle another 2 Tbsp. of chocolate mixture on half of the loaf. Fold one side over the other,twist 2 times,pinch the edges together,and place in the loaf pan. Brush the top once more with egg wash, sprinkle with streusel topping.Repeat with remaining dough. Cover loosely with plastic and let sit for 20 minutes.

   Preheat oven to 350. Place the babkas in the oven and bake,turning halfway through, for about 50 minutes,or until golden. Lower the oven temperature to 325 and continue to bake until a deep golden color. Remove, let cool, the sprinkle with additional powdered sugar if desired.

*** Wrap well if not using immediately. These also freeze well for up to one month.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Chocolate Truffle Heart

   Here is a sweet treat that is sure to please the chocolate lover in your life! The mold is from, BUT, it was very difficult to unmold,so you may want to find something similar in a silicon or soft plastic mold. I also used pre-made truffle shells that I found at I discovered them after reading a post from another blog called Simply So Good! I love them! If you do not want to buy the shells, you can simply roll the truffles instead.The truffles are easy to make and delicious!

Heart Materials:
1 large heart shaped mold
chocolate melts(I use Merckens)

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.Pour into the mold.Let set for about 15 minutes, then unmold and set aside.

Truffle Ingredients:
Chocolate Truffle Shells
1/2 c. heavy cream
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate
4 oz. semisweet chocolate
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. french vanilla coffee(regular coffee works well too)

Heat the cream in a saucepan just until it boils. Add in the chocolate and whisk until melted. Remove from the heat, and add in the vanilla and coffee. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.You do not want it to set completely,but it must be cool in order to fill the truffle shells. Place the chocolate mixture in a pastry bag with a round open tip.Fill each shell ,then let set for 30 minutes. Melt additional chocolate ,and quickly dip the truffles in .Let set on a parchment lined cookie sheet.Decorate with sprinkles,sugar or colored chocolate if desired.

*** If you choose to roll the truffles, just refrigerate the chocolate mixture until set.Then scoop out about 1 Tbsp. and roll into a ball. Proceed with the dipping and decorating.

***Check out for some amazing recipes!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cherry Lollipop Valentines

This great idea comes from Tomkat Studios, and it is oh so sweet! These pops make great Valentine gifts for your children's classmates, or for any other sweeties in your life. The lollipops can be found at  . The personalized labels can be found at  . Once you have everything , it is as simple as printing the labels, cutting them out, and  stapling them onto the pops!

   Have fun!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Hot Chocolate

  It is quite cold today on Long Island, so I thought it would be the perfect day to make hot chocolate! This recipe comes from Ina Garten. It calls for either espresso powder or coffee powder. Since I am not a coffee drinker,I knew the espresso would be too strong for me,so I opted for the coffee powder. After does enhance the flavor of chocolate! Be sure to use the best quality chocolate you can find.

2-1/2 c. milk
2 c. half and half
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate
4 oz. milk chocolate
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp espresso powder or coffee powder

   In a large saucepan, heat the milk and half and half just until it is about to simmer. Remove from the heat, and add in the chocolates. Whisk vigorously. Once the chocolate has melted, add the sugar, vanilla and espresso powder. Reheat gently(careful not to scorch), and serve. Garnish with whipped cream if desired. Enjoy!