Beyond an episode of Seinfeld from years ago, I didn't know anything about babka. I tried figuring out what it was based on Elaine's insistence they have a chocolate babka as opposed to the "lesser babka" flavored with cinnamon, but then they started bickering about black and white cookies and I never did figure it out.
As it happens, babka can be one of three things: a yeast loaf stuffed with chocolate, cinnamon, and streusel, a more delicate cake dotted with raisins and a splash of rum, or a grandmother. Now, I have a distaste for the latter two, but a half bread/half cake swirled with chocolate and spiked with cinnamon? Sign me up.
It seems I have a knack for baking completely out of season, and this babka is no exception. Why, just this past weekend (on the 4th of July, no less) I made cupcakes with autumn-colored sprinkles baked in snowflake-flecked paper liners. I'm all over the place. It's difficult to focus when you have that eerie feeling you're being watched. I've been thinking of this recipe for so long, I thought it would be best just to get it on the table and out of my head so I could move on to other things like peach ice cream and dominating the CornHole Tourney.
As it turns out, babka is incredibly rich, devilishly chocolatey, loaded with butter, and with the help of crisp bits of streusel twisted through, it goes down incredibly smooth with a glass of ice cold milk.
I see what all the fuss is about, Mr. Seinfeld. But with this babka, you can have cinnamon and chocolate. The best of both worlds.
Now before I send you on your way, a few tips. First - the chocolate filling. The instructions say to use a pastry cutter or two knives to chop it up. This is a terrible idea. In case you've never chopped dark chocolate before, you can break a sweat doing so, and using two knives is pretty futile. I gave the chocolate a coarse chop with a knife, then added it to the food processor with the sugar and cinnamon and pulsed it until it was moist and crumbly. Worked like a charm.
Second - the streusel. The mixture looked awfully dry as I was mashing it together and I was skeptical it would ever turn into fat crumbs, but take heart! It does! If you don't break a sweat, you're not finished. It is awfully tricky making it stick into the center of the twisted roll, but you can do it!
And because SK's directions are clear and concise, I'll nudge you that direction for the recipe. Chocolate Babka from Smitten Kitchen - here.