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Chocolate babka -- can one get it in Chicago

I was wondering if it was more of an East coast dessert, or if it's sold anywhere in Chicago? Thanks.

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  1. Whole Foods, for one.

    1. Babka I've never heard of it...what kind of dessert is it?

      2 Replies
        1. re: LadyintheKitchen

          It's a filled (i.e. by layers), yeast-risen coffee cake, often found in Jewish bakeries. I don't think of it as brioche-y, as it does not have either the richness or the lightness of brioche. You can see a photo along with more information at

          For a more authentic one than Whole Foods, I would look in the Jewish-focused bakeries such as Tel Aviv Bakery on Devon Avenue, or Kaufman's on Dempster in Skokie.

        2. Definitely a NY thing . . . hard to walk into your standard NY bakery and not find babka. I've never purchased it in Chicago, although I believe I have seen them at Kaufman's (on Dempster in Skokie) and I know that Delightful Pastries on Lawrence sells them (not sure if they ever do a chocolate babka though). http://www.delightfulpastries.com/con... Quite frankly, I always thought they sounded so much better tasting on Seinfeld than they taste in real life.

          2 Replies
          1. re: BRB

            Thanks guys for breaking it down to me...it sounds really good! BRB it would take some research to see if they carry it in chicago. With the city being so diverse, I'm sure you can find it somewhere...I've just seen/heard of it.

            1. re: BRB

              Remeber that a cinnamon babka is not a lesser babka!

              And look to the cookie

            2. You can get overnight from Zabar's in NYC, but they're more loaf than flat like many I've had. Agreed with Tel Aviv on Devon, it's good.

              Also try Max's or Max and Benny's in Northbrook/Deerfield. Downtown you may be able to get at The Bagel in Lakeview or any Eastern European bakery.

              2 Replies
              1. re: jbontario

                I'm tellin ya. Whole Foods. My Eastern European Jewish mother used to make a variant and the one at Whole Foods is pretty good. Tel Aviv is just so-so.

                1. re: jbontario

                  It's not necessary to do overnight. They handle the regular UPS/FedEx just fine. And if you prefer flatter, try the Delancey Swirl Cake. Not exactly the same, but darn close. Or better yet ---- order BOTH!!!
                  And throw in some Zabar's brand deli mustard. Not for the pastries, of course, but a mild, a-little-sweet mustard that's my favorite sandwich mustard. Great in deviled eggs, too.
                  And the Grandma's Coffee Cake is the best I've ever had anywhere.
                  Zabar's shipping fees are high, but worth it, escpecially if you order several items at once.

                2. Don't know how resourceful you are, but my wife and I have been meaning to make this recipe for awhile. It sounds good, for certain:

                  1. Tel Aviv Bakery on Devon has very good chocolate babka. Best time to go is Friday morning as they have a lot of special things for the Sabbath. Closed Saturday. While you're there get some rye bread, challah, and big onion-filled rolls that they call French rolls. When they have it, the kiddush cake aka "nut cake", a rolled, nut-filled, honey-glazed coffee cake, is also good. I don't think much of their cookies but their breads and coffee cakes are wonderful.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Querencia

                      Gee, I didn't realize so many people knew about Tel Aviv Bakery when I mentioned it above; I thought it was one of those "hidden gems"! ;)

                      I agree with Querencia's comments (including about their cookies being nothing special). They have the best "sugar kichel" in the Chicago area; it's a light airy item made with eggs, flour, and sugar. They also have excellent poppyseed coffee cakes (what those from the East Coast would call "danish").

                      Querencia mentioned that they are closed Saturdays for the Sabbath; also keep in mind that the Sabbath starts at sundown on Friday, so they close early on Fridays (I'm not sure exactly when, but I'm guessing an hour before sundown).

                      Tel-Aviv Kosher Bakery
                      2944 W Devon Ave
                      Chicago, IL 60659
                      (773) 764-8877

                      1. re: nsxtasy

                        I will throw my voice in with the chorus - Tel Aviv Kosher is excellent - I will add the one cookie besides the kichel I enjoy is the chocolate rugelach and I agree whole heartedly that the poppy seed cakes are devine - to die for - also I think their challah if not the top is deifnitely in the top three in chicago -

                        1. re: weinstein5

                          Ohh, and their Egg Rolls are the best (Challah rolls). Also, hamentashen will be available in a few short week. :) Okay, probably 6, but still. mmmmmm.

                    2. First of all, it amazes me that so many people, not just in the Chicago area are ready to settle for anything that even resembles good food just as long as it is parve. It doesnt have to be that way. In this day and age, there are so many products that can be substituted and give the original flavor one expected. As to the chocolate babka, obviously nothing can compare with homemade. HOWEVER, there is a brand out of New York that distributes in kosher markets and butcher shops around the country called Greens Chocolate Babka. In the east where it is manufactured it will cost in the area of about $5.50 to $6.00 for the package. In Florida it runs about $1 to $2 more and depending on the store i have seen the charges go as high as $12 for that same section of cake. Many of the so called kosher bakeries in and around Chicago have a wide selection of goods, but there is absolutely no taste to any of them. I do, however, understand that Zeldas Sweet shop has won awards for its baking and perhaps if they dont carry a chocolate babka, if enough people request it, they can add it to their repertoire.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: faleentoby

                        Hi faleen, what do you suggest as a product to be substituted to make a chocolate babka that is parve and tastes as good as a buttery dough? Do you suggest that the only way to eat a good babka is to buy it from Greens. If you'd provide some more info maybe we can be enlightened to why you think Tel Aviv Bakery is not good and how I can go find a fresh one. I am not glatt, so any thoughts on a non kosher place would be good too.

                      2. I remember reading about a new-ish place (here in Chicago area) that was doing Kosher *dairy* baking - all made with butter and cream, etc. instead of margarine and veggie shortening, and whatnot. I can't remember the name, of course, but it sounded promising.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: leek

                          Ah - here it is -

                          from the CRC site (dated 2007 - may be outdated)

                          Bulldog Bakery, located at 3207 N. Elston, Chicago, IL, produces cakes and pastries that are certified cRc Dairy (non-cholov Yisroel). Please note, however, that the retail bakery is NOT under cRc certification and the breads and rolls are not certified by the cRc.Only those packaged cakes and pastries bearing the cRc-D logo are approved by the cRc.

                          Here's a link to the current certification

                          Bulldog Bakery
                          3207 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL

                          1. re: leek

                            This is on the north side huh? I am going to try it when I'm on that side of town.

                            1. re: LadyintheKitchen

                              It's really more the northwest side. It's just northeast of the Kennedy, and you can take either of two exits, the one at Kimball and Belmont, or the one at Diversey and California. It's less than a mile from either exit.

                        2. I actually saw a Chocolate and Cinnamon Babka in the bakery section of Treasure Island last night (the one on Wells & North Ave in Old Town) thought I'd share!