If Jerry Seinfeld knew me, he'd be proud. All considered, I think I did rather well for a shiksa on her first attempt at Chocolate babka. I'd never tasted this decadent dessert before making it so I have no nostalgic childhood expectations the way most babka lovers do. The only thing I knew was that Chocolate babka supposedly trumped the lesser cinnamon babka, according to Seinfeld lore. Having wanted to make this for Hannukah, I ended up procrastinating enough to miss it by at least a week and a half, but it seems that this dessert isn't strictly linked to the holiday anyway.
I found the recipe on Deb and Alex's excellent Smitten Kitchen who in turn got it from Martha Stewart, Queen of the Shiksas. So starting out I was in pretty good company. You can click on "Smitten Kitchen" for the recipe, itself.
As for me, I'll just tell you a couple of points about Babka from my first experience:
How to deal with Babka dough: Babka dough falls into the sticky, hard to handle brioche-like category, so I employed the survival tactics I developed to make Finnish pulla, namely resist the temptation to add extra flour and chill before kneading to keep sticking to a minimum. If you have a big Kitchenaid stand mixer like Deb and Martha, you don't even need to worry about this; brioche dough becomes effortless.
The streusel snafu: I may have screwed up the streusel topping. I have faith in Martha and Deb as great cooks so it must have been an error on my part that the topping resembled high-strength concrete rather than something edible. It broke off in big, extremely hard chunks that were not even chewable.
Death by Chocolate?: Finally the recipe called for more than 2 pounds of semi-sweet chocolate. I even mistakenly forgot one of the chocolate bars I was supposed to put in and the result was still very very rich, almost too much so. I was promised "unseemly amounts of chocolate" and I got them. I'm thinking the next time around I'll go for the cinnamon babka, which might be lighter. As Jerry, himself says, "Cinnamon takes a back seat to no babka...Lesser babka - I think not."
All in all, this is a lovely, rich deep dessert that if you have the nerve for it, (and the streusel ability) you'll love. Music to eat Chocolate Babka by: The Hannukah Song by Adam Sandler.