My gosh this week is flying by!  My Mother-in-law went back to Canada and arrived safely.  My kids already miss her terribly.  I came home today after volunteering at school (my oldest child’s field day) to an empty house.  I was sad.  Usually, I get back from school and find music playing and candles lit.  Today I came home to a dark house with dogs waiting to be walked.  No music….no candles.  Sigh.  I know she feels better being back with her Sweetie.  That’s what’s important.  She was riddled with worry.  We certainly didn’t want that!  So here we are missing her but going forward with getting ready for Christmas.
My parents are here so the kids will have no lack of people who think they are the best thing since sliced bread around.  My parents adore those kids!  Speaking of my parents…this has nothing to do with anything but it was just so cool!  Down here in South Florida most people I know tend to have artificial trees rather than real ones because the journey those real trees have to take to get here usually leaves the trees in pretty poor shape.  For the first few years that I lived here I went for the real tree…just like up north.  However, by the time Christmas came those trees had dropped so many of its needles the tree looked half dead and the mess was a chore.  The last year we had a real tree I was scared that poor dried up tree  would start a fire every time I turned on the lights.  Oh, and when I turned on the lights all the bald spots from all the fallen needles were even more obvious (yes I kept the tree watered) !  Soooo…..we all have artificial trees…4 of them to be exact.
We take the time to get the best ones we can find.  Last year we replaced our main one with a really terrific tree.  We are so happy with it!  Or, I should say I was so happy with it….my parents replaced their tree this year and got a tree that is simply awesome!!!!  I mean not only is the tree gorgeous but it slowly spins!!!!!!  I mean it’s just so cool!  My Mother is an artist and has a great eye.  She decorated that tree to perfection on all sides.  I came home to our tree….while I love our tree so very much….it’s not spinning!  Lazy tree.  We have a truly gorgeous….lazy tree.  Sigh.
I have been doing some pretty heavy baking but that is nothing compared to the baking I will be doing over the next 6 days.  I have homemade gifts to make…candy to make…cookies to bake and cakes too!  By Christmas Day I have just enough energy to wake up…open gifts with the family…and make breakfast.  That’s it.  That’s all.  I refuse to get dressed.  I refuse to leave the house.  After a nice Christmas nap I wake up and play video games with my kids. I make hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows and that’s my entire contribution to the day.  Hubby makes dinner.  I can be found playing games with my kids or napping in a chair.  That my friends…is Christmas Day at our house.  Christmas Eve…well that is all about cooking…baking….music…friends and family.   It’s the reason for all the napping.
I wish you all peace, health and joy….
Homemade Chocolate Babka ~ Adapted from the Martha Stewart Handbook
For the dough:
1 1/2 cups warm milk [110°F ]
2 (1/4 ounce each) packages active-dry yeast
3/4 cup plus a pinch granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus more for bowl and loaf pans
1 tablespoon heavy cream
For the filling
2 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 sticks butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, at room temperature
For the streusel topping
1 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature


Make the dough
Pour the warm milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of sugar over the milk and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, 2 of the eggs, and the egg yolks. Add the egg mixture to the yeast mixture and whisk to combine. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour and salt. Add the 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 of butter and beat until the flour mixture and the butter are completely incorporated and the mixture forms a smooth, soft dough that’s slightly sticky when squeezed, about 10 minutes.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few turns, just until smooth. Butter a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Make the filling
Place the chocolate, sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add the 1 1/2 sticks of butter and, using two knives or a pastry cutter, cut it in until well combined. Set aside.
Make the babkas
Generously butter three 9-by-5-by-2 3/4-inch loaf pans and line them with parchment paper. Beat the remaining egg with the cream. Set aside.
Gently punch down the dough and transfer it to a clean surface. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
Cut the dough into 3 equal portions. Keep 2 portions covered with plastic wrap while working with the remaining portion. On a generously floured surface, roll the dough out into a 16-inch square that’s 1/8-inch thick. Crumble a scant 1/3 of the chocolate filling evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Brush the border with the egg wash and, starting at one side, roll the dough up tightly like a jelly roll. Pinch the ends together to seal. Holding one end of the dough in each hand, twist it 5 or 6 turns. Brush the top of the roll with the egg wash and carefully crumble 2 tablespoons of the filling over the left half of the roll, being careful not to let mixture slide off. Fold the right half of the roll over onto the coated left half, then fold the ends of the dough underneath and pinch it to seal. Twist the roll 2 turns and nestle it into the prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces of dough and the remaining filling. Don’t discard the egg wash just yet. (The babka loaves can be frozen for up to a month before baking. Remove from the freezer and let stand at room temperature for about 5 hours before baking.)
Make the streusel topping
In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, and butter. Using a fork, stir until fully combined, with the streusel ranging in size from crumbs to 1-inch clumps.
Heat the oven to 350°F
Brush the top of each loaf with the egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of the streusel topping over each loaf. Loosely cover each pan with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place 20 to 30 minutes.
Discard the plastic wrap and bake the loaves, rotating them halfway through, until golden, about 55 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 325°F and bake until the babkas are deep golden, 15 to 20 minutes more.
Remove from the oven and transfer the pans to wire racks to cool to room temperature.
 Slice the babka on the thick side.



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16 Responses to The Holiday Collection ~ Amazing Chocolate Babka…..BEST EVER!!!!!

  1. Alyssa Ozzi says:

    so is this going to be my reward on Friday???? Have I told you lately how much I love that pig of yours?! I am still giddy that she crawled up in my lap today and snuggled me:)…and the Porters Pigs keeps rolling through my mind LOL. I enjoyed,as always, hanging out today. I sent you pics of Hailey and Penelope:) See you Friday

  2. Charlotte Moore says:

    Oh, no, I can’t let my hubby see this. Haha!!! He loves him some chocolate, lots of chocolate that is. It sure looks yummy!!

    I hope you get it all accomplished without collapsing.

  3. Oh now that looks so yummy!

  4. Nancy Villanueva says:

    Hi Honey, thank you so much for my birthday Babka. As you know I am not a cake eater, so I am so happy to get my Babka instead. It is the most delicious, scrumshus and yummy pastery of anything you make. Now I’m looking forward to Christmas Eve dinner! Haha

    Thank you for the complements on my Christmas tree, this one is special.

    I wish you and all of your readers a very Merry Christmas and a healthy and Happy New Year.

  5. Charlotte Moore says:

    I have a question about cardamom? Since I have never used it I was looking today and found ground and the pods. I remembered you used pods, but I wasn’t sure how to use them. Do you grind them and use it all or do you break them open and use the inside? I knew you didn’t use them whole but not sure if the outsides could be used.


    • Charlotte Moore says:

      Good grief!! I went back and looked at your recipe again and thought you used pods and it was ground. Where in the world did I get that idea. Goodness knows I sure didn’t know anything about cardamom and sure would not have known in came in pods. I must have read that on another blog.

      Oh well, I bought the ground so now I will not take it back and swap it. (-:

      • Tamatha says:

        LOL, you had me moment. :) I’m glad you don’t have to waste a trip back to the store…though you could have ground the pods yourself if not. I can’t wait to hear what you think of the flavor of cardamom.

    • Tamatha says:

      I love whole cardamom pods. They would still need to be ground though. It’s nice to grind them fresh because the flavor is even better. In the recipe I have a jar of ground cardamom. Whole is not always available. I use a coffee grinder to grind our spices. Of course that grinder can never be used for coffee….yuck! :)

  6. Elena T says:

    Love love the dough – working with yeast is hugely satisfying and I cannot for the life of me remember why I stopped!! I made one chocolate and the other two with raisins, walnuts and cinnamon/sugar. My two oldest ate most of the chocolate (it was love at first bite). Today we made french toast with the raisin/cinnamon sugar loaf. Best french toast ever. I am going to work my way through the sweet & savory breads. We are carb addicts of the first degree and fresh bread … what can I say – heaven!
    I love to make tsoureki (for Easter) which is kind of similar – do you ever make them? Thanks for the fabulous recipes…

    • Tamatha says:

      Me too!!!! You can do lots with this dough. Oh, I’ve been so sick. Your french toast sounds so yummy. Might you share your recipe for tsoureki? I would love to try it. :)

  7. Elena T says:

    I would be delighted to share the recipe with you! However I am from South Africa and my measurements are weird – you will have to convert them. Do you want me to email it to you?

    Making your cheese and bacon bread tomorrow to have with spaghetti (I have a friend coming over for dinner). Since I work full time (and long hours) Sunday is my cooking and baking day! I wish I had more time, but such is life. I plan something for every weekend it is very relaxing and grounds me for the coming week. I hope you feel better soon!

    • Tamatha says:

      If you share the recipe right here in the comments section I will cut and paste it onto a full post so I can share your recipe with all of the readers. We all love food so much! I’m sure lots of us will enjoy your recipe. I’m not scared of converting measurements. I love old European recipes and always have to convert them.

      I hope you enjoy the bread. Enjoy your special relaxing day. :)

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