November 17, 2018

Simple chocolate babka-kokosh for summer

Chocolate kokosh, a simple version of babka, bakes quickly and tastes delicious. Unlike babka, it does not need time to rise.

Hungarian Jewish roots for kokosh would probably involve poppy seeds, as Gil Marks notes in his Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. Someone suggested to me just throwing some poppy seeds into the chocolate mix; let me know if that works for you.

Kokosh from the Freezer

Frimet Goldberger, aka The Babka Lady, reminisced about the easier and faster kokosh of her mother’s baking. It was “the cake my siblings and I would covertly nibble at from my mother’s hidden stash of delicacies in the basement freezer.” In her childhood, the kokosh was always chocolate. It was “perfect for dunking in cold milk,” she said in a phone conversation. Now she makes and ships her chocolate or cream cheese kokosh out of her own home kitchen.

A video of prepping chocolate kokosh at the babka haven, Oneg Heimishe Bakery may be found here. During the summer, they relocate to Monticello, NY, from Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Enjoy this easy to bake treat in your own summer or winter home.

Chocolate Kokosh (aka Simple Babka)

1 packet (2 ¼ teaspoons) instant dry yeast or active dry yeast
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
¼ cup warm water, about 110-115º
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
⅓ cup orange or lemon juice (optional lemon zest)
1 ½ sticks (6 oz.) butter, softened
3 cups packed all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
canola or vegetable oil, or butter for spreading
1 egg mixed with 1 teaspoon sugar, for brushing

1 stick butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup cocoa powder
2 ¼ cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch salt
3 egg whites
optional chocolate chips

In the bowl of your mixer with paddle attachment, mix yeast with teaspoon of sugar. Pour warm water on top and let mixture foam for 5-10 minutes. Combine the dough ingredients and add yeast. Knead on medium speed for a couple of minutes. Or beat briefly and then knead by hand. If dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour.

In a medium bowl, mix cocoa powder with melted butter. Add in rest of filling ingredients and stir until combined and mostly smooth.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Flour the work surface and rolling pin. Divide dough into 2-4 balls, depending on number of logs desired. Roll out first piece of dough into rectangle about 1/8 inch thickness. Spread a light coating of oil or melted butter on top of dough. Then, spread a layer of chocolate filling over dough, leaving about an inch of dough bare on all the edges. Roll up dough from shorter side, flattening the dough slightly between each roll. Brush top of log generously with the beaten egg and sugar mix. Repeat process with rest of dough. Lay seam down onto the prepped pan and prick with fork along the top. Experiment with the layering; one calzone type roll works as well. Bake for about 30-35 minutes (depending on size of loaf) or until tops and bottoms are a deep golden brown. Depending on the oven, rotate the pan midway. Serve warm or room temperature.

Suggestion: The filling also could be baked into a delicious gluten free cookie. Drop teaspoonfuls onto prepared cookie pan and bake 8-10 minutes.

Quantity: 2-4  loaves

Modified from: Truffles and Trends and Food52

Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz lectures about chocolate and religions around the world. The second edition of her book, “On the Chocolate Trail: A Delicious Adventure Connecting Jews, Religions, History, Travel, Rituals and Recipes to the Magic of Cacao” is scheduled for fall of 2017. She co-curates an exhibit about “Jews on the Chocolate Trail” for Temple Emanu-El’s Herbert and Eileen Bernard Museum, New York City. It opens October 20, 2017 and continues through February 25, 2018. Free admission and tours.

Cross posted from the Jewish Week: Wine and Food