November 21, 2018

Happy Babka-ka: Chocolate Babka for Chanukah

Think chocolate babka for Chanukah. Of course, a great Chanukah gift. Or, how about a babka for each night of the festival?
A group of chocolate babka gluttons gathered for a chocolate babka tasting in Brooklyn the day of the recent New York Marathon (Sunday, November 6th). The eleven tasters carried precious babka on the train, in cars, on bike and by runner, though a number of the loaves could have been ordered on-line (see below). They eagerly took on the ten samples of different heights, weights, textures, and flavors, worth close to two hundred dollars worth of babka.
Undaunted by the weight gain ahead, the group earnestly reviewed the categories for the blind test–appearance, chocolatey-ness, gooey-ness, slice-ability, texture, dough, and overall appeal–and went to work.
The table boasted chocolate babkas from Babka Lady, Breads, Brooklyn Larder, Green’s, Mekelberg’s, Moishe’s, Oneg Heimishe, Ostrovitsky, Petite Shell, and Sadelle’s. Several of these have received press at Grub Street, the New York Times, Serious Eats, and Tasting Table. Bakeries have their own spin on how to prepare the Ashkenazi treat: Breads bakes batches at least three times a day. Brooklyn Larder includes buckwheat and rye flours, along with chocolate and honey filling. Sadelle’s features chocolate shortbread crumbs in the filling.
Ultimately, there were two finalists: Oneg Heimishe once again, followed by the Babka Lady in second place. The two winners share a few characteristics including significant size, generous chocolate fillings, and family recipes with Hungarian roots. The small Williamsburg Oneg Heimishe bakery, with kosher certification, also makes a flatter version called kakosh. Babka Lady’s Frimet Goldberger bakes out of her kosher home kitchen and also sells halvah, cream cheese and pumpkin filled babkas, along with smaller babkalach. Her chocolate babka  braids separate strands of chocolate and cinnamon.
Sure, we missed a few chocolate babkas, so there will have to be another Babkathon, after we recover a bit more. In the meantime, Happy Babka-kah.

Want to make a chocolate babka?
Watch a video of Melissa Clark of the New York Times demonstrating chocolate babka basics using her recipe.

Find Deb Perelman’s favorite recipe for “better chocolate babka” based on Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe, at her Smitten Kitchen blog.

Cookbook author, Leah Koenig, created a raspberry chocolate babka.

Would you like to purchase chocolate babka on line?
Babka Lady 

Rabbi Prinz lectures about chocolate and Jews around the world. Her book, On the Chocolate Trail, is used in adult study, classroom settings, book clubs and chocolate tastings. It is a great gift for Chanukah, especially bundled with a chocolate babka or some Chanukah gelt or your favorite chocolate. She is developing a new project about women and chocolate.