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I need a recipe for an impressive baked good for a fund raiser...can you help?

k
kmlmgm Nov 29, 2011 05:06 AM

I am asking all of you exceptional bakers to recommend a baked good recipe for a charity raffle I've been asked to participate in. It's essentially a bake sale to a slightly higher degree. There is a certain amount of bragging right to the treats that get the highest bid, and an invitation to join again next year of course. It doesn't need to be too fussy, but definitely a little more is expected than just brownies or rice krispie treats. It does need to be dropped off the day before it is sold, however, and preferably something that doesn't require refrigeration as I'm a control freak and never trust a stranger to put a dish in the fridge if I drop and run. Thank you!

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  1. TrishUntrapped RE: kmlmgm Nov 29, 2011 05:16 AM

    Parisian Macarons or Coconut Pyramids perhaps...

    http://www.marthastewart.com/319525/p...

    http://www.marthastewart.com/336659/c...

    11 Replies
    1. re: TrishUntrapped
      roxlet RE: TrishUntrapped Nov 29, 2011 05:23 AM

      I make those coconut pyramids every year for my New Year's Day open house, and they are delicious. I will say, however, that they are not the most popular dessert I make, though they definitely have their fans who would squawk if I took them off the menu.

      How about Pecan Tassies? They hold well, and disappear in a trice. Think of them as mini pecan pies.

      1. re: roxlet
        k
        kmlmgm RE: roxlet Nov 29, 2011 05:34 AM

        Good idea! Fairly simple too. I have a bunch of lyle's.....any recipes you can recommend for tassies that call for lyle's or should I just sub my pecan pie recipe?

        1. re: kmlmgm
          roxlet RE: kmlmgm Nov 29, 2011 12:36 PM

          This recipe, from the wife of the former governor of Georgia, uses neither Lyle's nor corn syrup. They are phenomenally good, and getting the dough in the tins is the only fiddly part. I always double it.

          PECAN TASSIES

          Crust
          1 3-ounce package of cream cheese
          1 cup plain flour
          1 stick butter

          Have all ingredients at room temperature. Mix together with your hands and chill for about 2 hours. Pinch off dough and shape into a 24 one-inch balls. Place balls in miniature muffin cups and with your fingers, press dough on the bottom and sides of the muffin tin. Set aside and mix filling.

          Filling

          1 egg, beaten
          ¾ cup brown sugar firmly packed
          1 tablespoon soft butter
          1 tablespoon vanilla
          2/3 cup chopped pecans

          Mix all ingredients together. Fill each tassie ¾ -full. Bake at 325 for 25 minutes. Cool on cake rack. To remove, run a sharp knife around the edge and lift our. Yield 24 tassies.

          1. re: roxlet
            c
            cstout RE: roxlet Nov 30, 2011 11:46 AM

            Glad to find a recipe like this that does not use Syrup...does anyone know of a pecan pie recipe that does not use Karo syrup? Thanks for the recipe roxlet/

            1. re: cstout
              k
              kmlmgm RE: cstout Nov 30, 2011 01:10 PM

              Yes! I used it for our Thanksgiving Pecan Pie....I'll try to figure out how to post a link...http://allrecipes.com/recipe/pecan-pi...

              1. re: kmlmgm
                c
                cstout RE: kmlmgm Dec 5, 2011 01:52 PM

                Thank you kmlmgm, I am trying to get to that site, but no luck. I shall sign on & search for pecan pie, that should get it. I just can't stand that gooey Karo syrup. Am looking forward to trying the one you found.

                1. re: cstout
                  biondanonima RE: cstout Dec 5, 2011 02:46 PM

                  Cook's Illustrated just published one that uses maple syrup instead of Karo. I haven't tried it, but it's supposed to be excellent.

                  1. re: biondanonima
                    c
                    cstout RE: biondanonima Dec 5, 2011 03:14 PM

                    Thanks biondanonima, I don't get that magazine, but maybe I can search & find it. I remember why I don't like Karo, reminds me of castor oil (something that my granny would stuff down me for no reason at all).

              2. re: cstout
                goodhealthgourmet RE: cstout Dec 5, 2011 04:29 PM

                Google results for "maple pecan pie":
                https://www.google.com/search?q=maple...

                and for "pecan pie without corn syrup":
                https://www.google.com/search?q=pecan...

                and prior CH discussions:
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/362782
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/668913

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                  c
                  cstout RE: goodhealthgourmet Dec 6, 2011 08:00 AM

                  Goodhealthgourmet, thanks for doing the work & finding these sites. I think I need to find out how to search for things on Chowhound...just never find a "hit" on things. Anyway, super for posting this.

                  1. re: cstout
                    Caitlin McGrath RE: cstout Dec 8, 2011 09:54 AM

                    I've made this maple pecan pie: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                    I believe I skipped the 1/4 cup white sugar and increased the amount of pecans. It's very rich and maple-y. And super-simple to make (with your own crust if you prefer, of course)..

      2. gmm RE: kmlmgm Nov 29, 2011 05:55 AM

        Cranberry Bliss Bars - delicious, pretty and people are always impressed by them.

        http://www.topsecretrecipes.com/Starb...

        Use a ruler to cut them precisely so they look nice. You can get a disposable tray and some clear cellophane from a party store for pretty cheap. Cover the tray with plastic wrap to keep them fresh, and pul the cellophane up around the tray and tie with some curling ribbon.

        3 Replies
        1. re: gmm
          p
          pine time RE: gmm Nov 29, 2011 11:45 AM

          +1, I make these every year, and I always get rave reviews.

          1. re: pine time
            k
            kmlmgm RE: pine time Nov 30, 2011 03:20 AM

            Is this the recipe you used, pine time?

            1. re: kmlmgm
              p
              pine time RE: kmlmgm Dec 8, 2011 07:30 AM

              sorry for the delay, kmimgm. I've compared the topsecretricipes to mine, and it's mostly the same. There's some controversy over orange peel or not, but I prefer "not."

        2. Hank Hanover RE: kmlmgm Nov 29, 2011 11:39 AM

          If it has to be a baked product, I would go with lemon or key lime bars.

          However, if I was going to provide something special for a raffle, I would provide chocolate truffles!

          They are easy to make, very impressive, and more than expected. I would sell them by the dozen and before the raffle, I would provide small, free samples to the potential bidders.

          Have to sell or you will have a riot on your hands.

          18 Replies
          1. re: Hank Hanover
            Hank Hanover RE: Hank Hanover Nov 30, 2011 12:11 AM

            What would also work is chocolate mousse in a chocolate cup. You can make the cups by painting 3 or 4 layers of chocolate on the inside of a foil cupcake liner then peel away the liner. You can then pipe in the mousse. You can make them prettier by putting a raspberry on top.

            I'd bid on that!

            1. re: Hank Hanover
              k
              kmlmgm RE: Hank Hanover Nov 30, 2011 03:21 AM

              I did truffles last year, and you are right, they were a big hit!

              1. re: Hank Hanover
                c
                cstout RE: Hank Hanover Dec 5, 2011 02:09 PM

                Hank, care to share the recipe for chocolate truffles? I have never made them, so this will be a treat for me. I want to put them in tin boxes for Christmas gifts. Uum, this gives me an idea for a post. Thanks in advance.

                1. re: cstout
                  Hank Hanover RE: cstout Dec 5, 2011 05:54 PM

                  Sure.. sorry for the long post. I decided to post the recipes for 5 of my favorite truffles.

                  Dark Chocolate Genache
                  16 oz dark chocolate (I use Callebaut 815 semisweet) finely chopped
                  7 oz heavy cream
                  3.5 Tbls unsalted butter, softened
                  4 Tbls Liqueur (I use half Ameretto & half Grand Marnier)
                  4 drops of Loran flavor oils, optional (I use half Ameretto & half Grand Marnier)
                  1 Tbl corn syrup (optional especially if you are using semi sweet chocolate)

                  Black Forest Genache
                  16 oz dark chocolate (I use Callebaut 815 semisweet) finely chopped
                  7 oz heavy cream
                  3.5 Tbls unsalted butter, softened
                  4 Tbls Liqueur (I use DeKypers cherry brandy)
                  8 drops of Loran flavor oils, optional (I use cherry)
                  1 Tbl corn syrup (optional especially if you are using semi sweet chocolate)
                  ½ cup dehydrated cherries that have been chopped and rehydrated with the cherry brandy

                  White Chocolate Peanut Butter Genache

                  16 oz white chocolate (I use Callebaut)
                  9 oz heavy cream
                  8 oz creamy peanut butter (The commercial stuff. The homemade stuff separates too much
                  • See note

                  Almond Joy Genache

                  16 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
                  8 oz heavy cream
                  3 Tbls unsalted butter, softened
                  8 drops of Loran flavor oils, optional (I use half Ameretto & half coconut)
                  ½ cup Sweetened coconut
                  ½ cup toasted chopped almonds

                  Pina Colada Genache
                  16 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
                  5 Tbls + 1 tsp heavy cream
                  3 Tbls unsalted butter, softened
                  6 Tbls dark rum
                  8 drops of Loran flavor oils, optional (I use pina coloda)
                  ½ cup Sweetened coconut
                  6 Tbls dehydrated pineapple, chopped and rehydrated in the rum

                  1. Melt chocolate in microwave with 30 second bursts on level 8.
                  2. Heat cream in pot to about 180.
                  3. Combine cream, corn syrup, and chocolate and stir together until blended.
                  4. Add liqueur and flavor drops. Stir.
                  5. Let set until about 85 degrees.
                  6. Add butter 1 pat at a time
                  7. Whip
                  8. Allow to set up in refrigerator at least 2 hours.

                  When making the White Chocolate Peanut Butter Genache, do not whip it, in fact just gently stir it to combine. If you beat it the oil in the peanut butter will separate and float to the surface of the genache.

                  When the genache is set, you can scoop out balls with a melon baller or I use a #70 disher scoop (sorta like a small ice cream scoop). Roll the scoops into balls and dip them in chocolate or nuts or coconut or cocoa.

                  You could also make the genache in a shallow pan with parchment paper on the bottoms and sides. Pull the set genache out of the pan and cut the genache into squares and dip them.

                  Link to where one of many places you can buy flavor oils: http://www.amazon.com/LorAnn-Flavorin...

                  1. re: Hank Hanover
                    c
                    cstout RE: Hank Hanover Dec 6, 2011 08:21 AM

                    Hank, your posts are always a welcome treat around here. Wish me luck, I don't think I can go wrong, you give all the "details" that help people "walk" through the process. Anyway, truffles are my next project.

                    1. re: cstout
                      Hank Hanover RE: cstout Dec 6, 2011 11:30 AM

                      You're actually going to be upset that they are so easy and that they taste so good.

                      Try to use good chocolate. We have a high end store where I am that sells Callebaut. World market sells 1 lb bars of pretty good chocolate. Dove makes good chocolate. Some people are but I'm not impressed with Ghirardelli.

                      Oh.. you are near Luckenbach. I'm in Austin.

                      1. re: Hank Hanover
                        c
                        cstout RE: Hank Hanover Dec 6, 2011 12:00 PM

                        Hank, I will not be upset in the least about something being so easy, I will be mighty thankful that it turns out though. Yes, I am about 8 miles from Luckenbach, you are close to Elgin, I believe, we chatted in previous posts quite a while back. I too was not impressed with Ghirardelli, but that is the top of the line at my store. Guess I will try Dove. No high end stores around here unless I go to SA.

                        1. re: cstout
                          goodhealthgourmet RE: cstout Dec 6, 2011 12:23 PM

                          you might be better off ordering chocolate online & having it shipped. life's too short to eat the mediocre stuff!

                          and if you plan to travel to an area that has Trader Joe's, stock up on their "Pound Plus" bars - they're relabeled Callebaut.

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                            c
                            cstout RE: goodhealthgourmet Dec 6, 2011 12:33 PM

                            Yes, goodhealthgourmet, life is too short, I must get out of the rut of choosing quantity over quality. Thanks for the reminder.

                            1. re: cstout
                              Hank Hanover RE: cstout Dec 6, 2011 02:21 PM

                              Central Market in Austin has Callebaut in chunks in their bulk sale area.

                              When I make a lot of truffles (like 24 dozen at a time), I order Callebaut in 11 pound bars. Dang that's a big candy bar!

                              Since you are so close, email me at hank.hanover99@gmail.com. Maybe we can swap some recipes.

                            2. re: goodhealthgourmet
                              j
                              julesrules4food RE: goodhealthgourmet Dec 8, 2011 03:10 PM

                              Wait ghg.....Are you saying that TJ's pound plus bars are relabeled as Callebaut? OMG..now I know why pound plus bars are my dad and son's favorites! And boy am I glad we moved from a TJ freezone to a TJ zone!

                              1. re: julesrules4food
                                roxlet RE: julesrules4food Dec 8, 2011 03:20 PM

                                They're Callebaut relabeled as TJ'S Pound Plus.

                                1. re: roxlet
                                  j
                                  julesrules4food RE: roxlet Dec 8, 2011 03:28 PM

                                  Sorry, I had it backwards but the point's still there. Great quality chocolate bars under TJ's name at a great price!

                                  1. re: julesrules4food
                                    goodhealthgourmet RE: julesrules4food Dec 8, 2011 03:42 PM

                                    you knew what i was saying - they are indeed :)

                              2. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                c
                                cstout RE: goodhealthgourmet Dec 8, 2011 07:26 PM

                                I am not close to a Trader Joes, might be one in the big city of San Antonio, will look & see. I sure have heard a lot about that place. Yes, life is too short, for mediocre anything, BUT.......oh well, thank you.

                                1. re: cstout
                                  j
                                  julesrules4food RE: cstout Dec 8, 2011 09:55 PM

                                  Sorry to tell you but there are no Trader Joe's per their website anywhere in Texas. The closest is New Mexico and that's sure nowhere near you. The 15 years I lived in Austin TJ's was the store I missed the most.

                                  1. re: cstout
                                    goodhealthgourmet RE: cstout Dec 9, 2011 06:45 AM

                                    i'm so sorry if i confused you with my TJ's comment. i *know* you don't have them in TX, which is why i suggested it if you planned to *travel* to a place that does. or if you have friends or family near one, you could have them ship it to you.

                                    but good news for those of you in the Houston & DFW areas, it looks like they're planning to break into the TX market next year...
                                    http://www.star-telegram.com/2011/11/...
                                    http://www.chron.com/business/article...

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                      c
                                      cstout RE: goodhealthgourmet Dec 9, 2011 06:57 AM

                                      Yes, I certainly would welcom a TJ store around here. Thank you.

                    2. goodhealthgourmet RE: kmlmgm Nov 29, 2011 12:24 PM

                      a big +1 for macarons or truffles - those were my first two thoughts!

                      other random ideas:
                      - bags of homemade marshmallows in seasonal flavors
                      - chocolate-dipped biscotti
                      - whoopie pies
                      - mochi squares
                      - savory scones
                      - fudge
                      - chocolate bark

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                        Emme RE: goodhealthgourmet Nov 29, 2011 08:20 PM

                        mini whoopie pies was my second thought. in a bunch of different flavored cakes -- pumpkin, berry, mocha, etc.

                        my mind kind of went in the other direction though too in terms of impressive... nostalgic novelty. personally, i might do an array of homemade mini pop tarts, confections like peanut butter cups or other flavored butter cups, homemade Mallomars/Pinwheels, Oreos, candy bars, etc.

                        or...
                        Alfajores
                        Baklava (i like to do a raspberry balsamic variation)

                        does it have to be baked? some nice jars of jams/preserves in unique flavor combinations? or do some shortbread cookies (with more interesting additions) and complementary jams!

                        1. re: Emme
                          TrishUntrapped RE: Emme Nov 30, 2011 03:17 AM

                          Speaking of Whoopie Pies. These gingerbread ones are very festive looking and super easy. I made them the first time last Christmas and will be making them again this year.

                          http://www.mccormick.com/Recipes/Dess...

                          1. re: Emme
                            meatn3 RE: Emme Dec 8, 2011 09:40 AM

                            I am very intrigued by the idea of a raspberry balsamic baklava!

                            Please give details about your recipe.

                            1. re: meatn3
                              Emme RE: meatn3 Dec 8, 2011 09:31 PM

                              this is a bit rough, as i do this by feel, so apologies in advance...

                              basically, i start by making "Raspberry Butter," which involves pureeing and deseeding raspberries, then cooking with dark brown sugar til thickened (i do it in spurts in the microwave).

                              i mix ground pepitas (pistachios are good too) with a bit of brown sugar, salt, and sometimes a pinch of cinnamon.

                              in a greased pan, 2 sheets of puff pastry, spread with butter, 2 sheets pastry, butter, raspberry butter, 2 sheets pastry, butter, 2 sheets, butter, then raspberry butter, then some of the pumpkin seed mixture. 2 sheets of pastry, butter, 2 sheets of pastry, butter, raspberry butter, seed mixture. 2 sheets of pastry, butter, 2 sheets of pastry, butter, raspberry butter, 2 sheets, butter, 2 sheets, butter. bake til golden and crisp, scoring first if desired.

                              while it bakes make simple syrup. also reduce a good amount of balsamic (i personally prefer using white, so the whole thing doesn't turn brown, and i prefer the flavor) by a lot... i'll take 3/4 - 1 cup and reduce to about a 1/4 cup or less. add as much as you like to the simple syrup. pour over baked baklava as soon as it comes out... and sprinkle with a bit of coarse salt or fleur de sel. let cool completely.

                              1. re: Emme
                                meatn3 RE: Emme Dec 9, 2011 07:02 AM

                                Thanks - you were able to give me enough to go on - sounds tasty!

                                Just to be sure, you use puff pastry rather than filo?

                            2. re: Emme
                              c
                              cstout RE: Emme Dec 9, 2011 05:47 AM

                              Emme, gosh your mind does go off in different directions....buit i LIKE it...sameness is so boring. This is the time when we can conjure up so many delights, don't you just love it? Yesum, you are out there!!!!! Take us for a spin anytime.

                            3. re: goodhealthgourmet
                              Hank Hanover RE: goodhealthgourmet Dec 6, 2011 12:05 PM

                              Chocolate bark would be excellent. Talk about low effort - high impact treat. You couldn't beat bidders off with a stick.

                              1. re: Hank Hanover
                                c
                                cstout RE: Hank Hanover Dec 6, 2011 12:18 PM

                                Chocolate bark is an excellent idea, I have never tasted it though. I will get some.

                            4. n
                              nemo RE: kmlmgm Nov 29, 2011 02:21 PM

                              The NYT filo torte, also on Cioachowlinda's website. I've been trying to post the link, but my internet keeps dropping out.

                              Alternatively, doggy biscuits. Perhaps packaged by the dozen in vacuum-sealed bags, a number of bags piled into a doggy water dish, wrapped in cellophane. Dog-owners love their pets!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: nemo
                                waver RE: nemo Dec 9, 2011 08:29 AM

                                I was thinking along similar lines: we made a batch of dog cookies last night and look great in different sized dog bones or even cat shapes. There's probably a dog safe icing out there too to dress them up. I like the idea of wrapping them with a dog dish.
                                Here's the recipe that the dogs are now trying to get off the counter:
                                http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                              2. l
                                Lady_Tenar RE: kmlmgm Nov 29, 2011 10:16 PM

                                I've made galettes--free-form tarts--for several dinner gatherings, including a recent Thanksgiving potluck and they've been very well-received. And since they're meant to be rustic, they're not as fussy as regular tarts or pies. You basically just role out a circle of pastry, and then fold it in pleats around a filling, so it is open in the middle, and bake. My favorite one to make is an apple/almond galette. There are plenty of different recipes all over the internet but the one thing I would recommend is to use half butter and half pure lard for your crust. I find this makes this most flavorful, flaky crust (although if you can't get pure, NON-HYDROGENATED lard, just use all butter and it will still be delicious.)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Lady_Tenar
                                  c
                                  cstout RE: Lady_Tenar Dec 9, 2011 05:57 AM

                                  Lady_Tenar, I would love to get my hands on some pure lard, I read read an article on how to make it from pork fat, but I can't even get pork fat, these folks around are just so scared fo the word, much less the real thing. Apple almond sounds so good. Thank you.

                                2. l
                                  Lady_Tenar RE: kmlmgm Nov 29, 2011 10:48 PM

                                  Oh, and for something savory and quite a bit more middle-brow, might I suggest bacon-cheddar-apple muffins. Yes, muffins with crumpled bacon, shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese, and some diced apple in them. For the muffins themselves, I use a basic buttermilk corn muffin batter and sweeten it with a little pure maple syrup. (I know some people balk at sweetened cornbread but that bit of sweetness really offsets the savory flavors of the bacon and cheddar wonderfully and, obviously, maple syrup brings more than sweetness.) Muffins are easy and you can make lots of them!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Lady_Tenar
                                    k
                                    kmlmgm RE: Lady_Tenar Nov 30, 2011 03:26 AM

                                    I like this idea but there's going to be a lot of kids (elementary school aged) going as well. I'm not sure enough youngstwers appreciate bacon. The idea is they see enticing treats and beg mom and dad to bid higher. I'm saving your idea, though, for any upcoming holiday parties we are invited to (and it's going to be a sublime way to use up the bacon we got from our neighbor's award winning pig!). Thanks!

                                  2. r
                                    rainey RE: kmlmgm Dec 5, 2011 02:55 PM

                                    Is there still some time? Are you up to yeast dough?

                                    I have had this recipe for stollen for a couple years. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/16/din... I never made it because a very good friend makes it every year and sends me one. Can I say YUM!?

                                    This year her kitchen is out of commission so I made it for her. I also made a practice batch without the fruit and nuts and that's the one we're enjoying now. It's delicious and rich even without them.

                                    This keeps for weeks. You might just want to request that whoever conducts the auction dust a fresh coat of confectioners' sugar over it.

                                    Bet it will wow them. Believe me, this thing IS the holidays. And it's not that hard. It just takes time. ...and most of that is passive time.

                                    Good luck!

                                    1. l
                                      lisaonthecape RE: kmlmgm Dec 5, 2011 03:26 PM

                                      If nuts are permitted, biscotti are always a good choice--easy to package, easy to transport. The Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti in The Gourmet Cookbook (yellow book, a/k/a Gourmet Yesterday) are delicious

                                      1. pilotgirl210 RE: kmlmgm Dec 6, 2011 11:03 AM

                                        My black bottom cupcakes always get raves. So easy but deeeeelish.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: pilotgirl210
                                          c
                                          cstout RE: pilotgirl210 Dec 6, 2011 11:13 AM

                                          pilotgirl210, rule #1, anything that gets raves has to have the recipe posted here. I just made that rule up in the last 2 seconds, but it sounds like a good idea. so let's hear it for the black bottom cupcake recipe!

                                        2. Berheenia RE: kmlmgm Dec 6, 2011 11:46 AM

                                          Something with booze in it IMHO. Barbados rum cake - Irish creme Cheesecake- baba anything.

                                          1. r
                                            rainey RE: kmlmgm Dec 7, 2011 09:58 AM

                                            Still time? The dough for this can be made with a bread machine. It's wonderful dough to work with and the flavor and texture of the finished babka is excellent. I have no idea what the 12" loaf pans the recipe refers to are so I just baked mine in the round paper Panetone-type bakers.

                                            I'm sure there won't be a ton of these in the auction and it's more than worthy of some bragging rights. And the good part is you can keep one loaf to enjoy yourself.

                                            I have no idea where I got the original recipe. The ingredients are from the original but I've rewritten the method to greatly simplify it.

                                            Chocolate Babka
                                            Yield: TWO 2 1/4 pound loaves or THREE 1 1/2 pound loaves

                                            SPONGE
                                            • 1/2 ounce (2 envelopes) active dry yeast
                                            • 1/2 cup warm water
                                            • 1 teaspoon sugar

                                            DOUGH
                                            • 5 cups all-purpose flour
                                            • 1/2 cup sugar
                                            • 1 cups (2 sticks) butter, softened, divided
                                            • 2 large eggs plus 1 white, lightly beaten
                                            • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten

                                            FILLING
                                            • 2 cups sugar
                                            • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
                                            • 2 cups (4 sticks) butter
                                            • cinnamon, optional
                                            • walnuts, coarsely ground, optional

                                            • 1/2 cup mini or regular chocolate chips, plus 1 tablespoons for the tops of finished babkas
                                            • baking spray, for greasing pans
                                            • 1 large egg yolk

                                            1. BLOOM THE YEAST
                                            Place the 1/2 cup warm water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of the sugar in a large mixing bowl and let sit 10 minutes, until the mixture bubbles.

                                            2. MAKE THE DOUGH
                                            Add 1/2 cup of the sugar, the flour, 2 sticks of the margarine, and the eggs which have been beaten together. Combine by hand with a wooden spoon or with a dough hook in a stand mixer until all the ingredients are mixed in. Cover the bowl with plastic and let rise 2 to 4 hours, until the dough has increased in size at least 50 percent.

                                            3. MAKE THE FILLING
                                            Meanwhile, make the filling. In a medium bowl, combine the remaining 2 cups of the sugar with the cocoa and cinnamon, if used. Add the remaining 4 sticks margarine and the walnuts, if used, and mix well with a hand-held or stand mixer or by hand with a whisk. You can let the filling sit out covered while the dough is rising.

                                            4. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease two 12-inch-long loaf pans with spray oil.

                                            5. SHAPE THE BABKAS
                                            Divide the dough into four pieces. On a large piece of parchment, roll each piece into a 10 x 7-inch rectangle. Spread 1/4 of the filling on one of the rectangles taking care to avoid the edges and then sprinkle on 1/4 of the chocolate chips. Roll the dough up working with the long side of the rectangle. Make certain to seal the ends well so that filling will not lead. Repeat with the next dough rectangle. When you have the two rolls, twist them around each other, trying to keep the seam on the bottom. Tuck the ends under and place into one of the loaf pans. Do the same with the other two pieces of dough. Brush the tops of the loaves with the reserved egg yolk mixed with a little water.

                                            6. SECOND PROOFING
                                            Cover shaped loaves with some plastic wrap sprayed with a baking spray and set aside for another 90 minutes or so to rise.

                                            7. Bake for 45 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes in the pan. Run a knife around the babka and then remove from the pans and let cool, sprinkling a few reserved chocolate chips on the surface before it is fully cooled so that they will adhere.

                                            8. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar to serve. Store wrapped in foil or plastic at room temperature for immediate use. Wrap airtight and seal in plastic for freezer storage for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for 4 hours and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar to serve frozen babka.

                                            Notes:

                                            http://www.ivillage.com/chocolate-bab...

                                            • Despite the large quantity of flour in this recipe it can be mixed in the bread machine. However, the dough needs to be transferred to a large bowl for the first rise.

                                            • The dough will be extremely soft. I kneaded in another 3 tablespoons to a 1/4 of a cup of flour before the first rise. Once it's risen, however, it will hold together for handling.

                                            • Take real care to keep the filling away from the edges of the dough and to seal the dough well around it. Otherwise, once the filling is subjected to the oven heat, the butter will melt and the pan will be swimming in it.

                                            • I had my best success spreading the filling by using the back of a fork. Extra filling will squeeze through the tines to be placed elsewhere on the dough while the tines themselves will spread the filling without distorting the dough.

                                            • Extra filling makes a very tasty chocolate spread for scones. Drop the excess in the middle of a piece of parchment. Fold the parchment over the top and use a strong straight edge like a spatula or the edge of a cookie sheet to press the filling back tight into the fold. It will fill the space available in a tidy column. Unwrap the parchment, roll the column to the edge of the paper, roll it up in the paper and twist both ends for fridge storage.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: rainey
                                              c
                                              cstout RE: rainey Dec 8, 2011 04:39 AM

                                              rainey, your instructions were so well defined, I wish some cookbooks would take note of your structure & clear presentation. If they did, I think we would have more success in our baking/cooking. Thank you.

                                              1. re: cstout
                                                r
                                                rainey RE: cstout Dec 8, 2011 12:38 PM

                                                Thanks. I had to rewrite that recipe because it glommed everything into about 3 steps. Not that this recipe is in any way difficult but, when you cook from the screen of an iPad, you want to go back to the step you were working on when the battery saver kicked in. ;>

                                            2. greygarious RE: kmlmgm Dec 8, 2011 07:52 PM

                                              http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipe...

                                              The above recipe and assembly directions makes 12 (not 10 as it says) mini-gingerbread houses that are very appealing and very easy to assemble. I commented on that site about the geometry error in the recipe. I would make a second batch, using brownie batter.
                                              Frost that one with white frosting and sprinkle coconut "snow" on the roofs. You could get a little more elaborate on the decorating without it being too daunting. You'll have one square left over, which you could use to transform one of the houses into a church. Arrange the village on a holiday tray from the thrift store or dollar store, or a foil-covered sheet pan. Maybe a few little evergreen sprigs (stuck into Hershey's kisses to hold them upright) as trees, and a bed of coconut snow.

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