Yield: Makes 1 babka
Babka is an Old World Jewish favorite that has become an almost mythical bakery item because it is so difficult to find these days. Daniel Leader’s grandmother was a great baker who regularly turned out rugelach, mandelbrot, macaroons, and honey cake. She made a fabulous chocolate babka that he remembers with a mixture of nostalgia and regret, since he enjoyed it so much but never asked her to teach him how to make it. When he finally got around to coming up with his own babka recipe, he tried to make it just as wonderfully chocolatey and crumbly as hers. Babka is often made with cream cheese, but Daniel likes mascarpone for the hint of nutty flavor that it gives to the dough, but you may use regular cream cheese in its place if it’s more convenient.
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Best-quality European chocolate, such as Callebaut, is essential for this babka.
I made quite a few of these loaves to give away this holiday season, and I have gotten great feedback all the way around! Everything about this recipe worked. It does look like they shaped the loaf in the picture differently than the instructions though (you end up with a double swirl by following the instructions) and I think it looks even better than the one pictured. This is definitely a keeper.
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