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Pareve Chocolate Babka (not chocolate challah)

I have tried a few recipes for chocolate babka but they wind up being way too doughy. Anyone have a recipe that's more cake-like?

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  1. I'm all in favor of cake-y cakes, but isn't babka supposed to taste bread-y? Ask an Israeli to give you a recipe for "kokush." You might like that better.

    16 Replies
    1. re: SoCal Mother

      Kokosh isn't an Israeli food, it's Hungarian. My mother used to make it all the time and it's definitely a yeast dough.

      1. re: helou

        Yes, but it may have a texture that EmpireState will like better than babka.

        1. re: SoCal Mother

          If kokosh is the cake with the chocolate cream filling, that's not what I am talking about. Maybe what I'm looking for is officially called a chocolate roll or chocolate loaf. The problem is that some bakeries either call it a babka or I just have to point to what I want. If anyone knows what I'm talking about and has a tried and true pareve recipe, please let me know!

          1. re: EmpireState

            if you use pareve substitutes for the milk & butter in this one, it might be close to what you want:
            http://www.marthastewart.com/336341/y...

            ETA: wouldn't you know, Deb featured the recipe on Smitten Kitchen a few years ago, and several people posted comments that they had successfully tweaked it with pareve ingredients (just do a word search on the page for "pareve" and you'll find the info):
            http://smittenkitchen.com/2007/09/mmm...

            1. re: EmpireState

              No, it's not cream. It's the same sort of filling as babke has but a lot more of it, and it's rolled up. It tastes similar to babke but more gooey. Babke looks like a loaf of bread that has swirls of chocolate or cinnamon inside. Kokosh looks like a flattened rollup cake with a shiny top. Google a picture of the two and you'll see what I mean.

              1. re: SoCal Mother

                Thanks for the clarification, SoCal Mother. Now all I need to find is a kokosh recipe that's not meant for an army! (All the ones that I found make at least 6 cakes/rolls).

                1. re: EmpireState

                  You might like to try this one, which I've been using for years:

                  KOKOSH CAKE (2 rolls)
                  1pkg dry yeast
                  1/2 c warm water or fruit juice
                  1/2 c margarine, room temperature
                  1/2 c oil
                  3 TBSP sugar
                  3 1/2 c flour
                  1/2 tsp salt
                  2 eggs

                  Sprinkle the yeast onto the liquid & leave for 5 minutes.
                  Cream margarine with sugar, then blend in yeast mixture & remaining ingredients.
                  Chill dough.
                  Divide into 2 parts & roll each half out on a lightly floured surface, guiding it with your hands into a rectangular shape, till it's 1/8 thick. It's helpful to lift the dough occasionally as you roll so it doesn't stick to the surface.
                  Brush dough with oil (walnut or hazelnut oil -- leftover from Pesach? -- is especially good for this).
                  Sprinkle with a mixture of:
                  3/4 c Dutch process cocoa powder
                  3/4 c sugar
                  1/4 c powdered sugar

                  (Optional but gives great texture to your filling) Drizzle the filling with a couple of tablespoons of rice syrup or barley malt.

                  Sprinkle filling with a spoonful or two of water.
                  Roll cakes up loosely. You can glaze at this point but my kids & I prefer unglazed.
                  Bake about 30 minutes at 175 degrees C.

                  1. re: almond tree

                    Thank you so much! How long should the dough chill? I look forward to try this soon!

                    1. re: EmpireState

                      at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days
                      Sometimes I make the dough Wed or Thurs, refrigerate, then fill & bake on Friday so it's nice & fresh for Shabbos.
                      Hope you like it.

                      1. re: almond tree

                        So I just made the chocolate kokosh using your recipe, almond tree. I wound up taking it out of the oven and putting melted chocolate chips on top.
                        It is much better than the chocolate babka/challah than I've made, but it is still a bit too doughy for my taste. Maybe I will reduce the yeast next time- what do you think? Anyway, thanks for sharing the recipe and Shabbat Shalom!

                        1. re: EmpireState

                          Reducing the yeast would be a good idea to give it less of a challah-like texture. I'd like to try the melted chocolate chip topping - I'm sure my kids will approve!
                          Shabbat shalom.

                    2. re: almond tree

                      What is rice syrup? I've heard of barley malt, but have no idea what that is either. Are these commony sold in supermarkets? What brand names?

                      1. re: helou

                        Eden or Lundberg brown rice syrup should be available in the baking aisle (look near the honey). Whole Foods definitely carries it, as do some other large supermarkets and most natural foods stores. barley malt syrup is a little harder to find - i know i've seen it at some WFMs, but you might have better luck finding it at a smaller health food store.

                      2. re: almond tree

                        What about letting the dough rise? Isn't that always a step when using yeast? I know that you can have slow rising in the refrigerator, but if you only do the 2 hour chill, is that enough? I'm asking because I was given a recipe for something else, and I thought they must have left out the rise-punch down-rise again steps.

                        1. re: helou

                          The chill, plus the amount that the cake rises in the oven, is enough. You end up with a denser texture than challah, but that is desirable. If your recipe is for cake, sounds like it is okay.

                          1. re: almond tree

                            I made the chocolate babka on Friday for Shabbat. Came out excellent, but not like what I've tasted from bakeries. The dough part was kind of crumbly and not too sweet.. which I liked. Thanks for the recipe!

          2. I don't have a recipe to offer you but I did buy a product called Delancey Chocolate Russian Coffee Cake produced by Gertels Bake Shop in NY. I did some investigating online and found out that this was a bakery that used to have a store front location in NY but is now only selling wholesale. Their cake was substantial and very very chocolatey. I purchased it at a Price Chopper location in Vermont. At 8.69/lb it seemed a little expensive but it was delicious!

            10 Replies
            1. re: lukfam

              I agree about the Delancey cakes - I find that they're all pretty good. I see them all over in kosher stores, or supermarkets in Jewish neighborhoods. I'm pretty sure Fairway on the UWS has them.

              1. re: helou

                Can you tell me is 8.69 lb the "normal" price for the Delancey cake?

                1. re: lukfam

                  Sorry, not a clue. I'm embarrassed to say that there are some foods that, if I'm out shopping and I need them, and they don't seem egregiously overpriced, I just buy them.

                  Speaking of egregiously overpriced, has anyone else stepped into Gracefully, that new fancy convenience type store on West End Ave. at about 64th or 65th Street? They do seem to carry a lot of very nice hechshered snacks and packaged foods, but wowie wow do they have some nutty prices for the same stuff you can often find elsewhere!

                  1. re: helou

                    agree re Gracefully...I'm def not a very price aware person-usually if I see it and need/want it, just buy it. But I was walking by WEA one nite, late, hungry and stressed out so went in. Also was happy that they had a lot of heckshered food but thought they're prices were astronomical. Picked up a stonyfield yougurt and had sticker shock. Was appx $1.50 more than Fairway! Can't imagine they'll manage to stay in business that long-altho' for ppl who live in the new(ish) bldgs on WEA & 60-64th St, I guess it's a choice btwn this place and Western Beef.

                    1. re: sanekosher

                      West End is FAR from most decent supermarkets in that area. They may not get too many people making large shopping trips there, but if you live nearby and are in the middle of cooking something and realize you forgot 1 ingredient, you're going to go there and pay up the couple dollars rather than walk 15 minutes each way to shop at a cheaper store. Also you can't really compare prices to fairway. Food Emporium and Girstedes are much more expensive than Fairway and they're doing fine. In fact, the Food Emporium at 68th and Broadway might be the next closest supermarket.

                      1. re: avitrek

                        Yes, we used to live at 101 WEA and the loss of Gristedes was a big one.

                  2. re: lukfam

                    I just saw it today in Fairway in Queens for 6.99. No idea what the Manhattan "surtax" might be.

                    1. re: queenscook

                      actually, packaged baked goods like that are exempt from grocery tax in NY State.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        It was a joke; I meant the higher price goods in Manhattan tend to have!

                        1. re: queenscook

                          i completely missed the Queens vs Manhattan aspect :) when i saw your use of the British "surtax" my mind read it as a post by a visitor from across the pond who saw the price on the label but didn't know how it would ring up at the register!

              2. I use a Joan Nathan babka recipe. Sorry, I can't remember which of her books it's in, other than it's not "Jewish Cooking in America," or "Jewish Holiday Baking." It's the one that uses almond paste, but not apricot jam. Either way, she gives versions for both dairy and parve. I nearly always make the dairy version, but the parve works very well, too. However, I increase the filling amount by about a third and I add some additional butter/margarine to the almond paste shmear (even above increasing the total filling amount). Those changes might make the cake more to your taste.

                1. I would appreciate it if we could please keep the Postings on topic. Thank you.

                  1. Hey @empireState here is a great recipe for Parve Chocolate babka http://www.ilanasoven.com/2011/03/cho...