Sweet Bread Chocolate Babka

Sue Freeman posted 4-27-98


2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2-cup milk
1/2-cup sugar
1-Tbsp. vanilla extract
2, 1/4-oz pkgs. dry yeast
1/4-cup warm water
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3-cups all-purpose flour

1/2-cup walnut pieces, lightly toasted
7-1/2-oz. almond paste
3-Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2-tsp. almond extract
1/2-cup all-purpose flour
1/3-cup powdered sugar
3/4-cup dried sour cherries, dried cranberries or raisins
2/3-cup semisweet chocolate chips
powdered sugar for dusting

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the butter, milk and sugar and cook until the butter melts.

Add the vanilla and set aside to cool to 100 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand for 5 minutes.

Add the butter mixture, eggs, flour cocoa and salt and beat until smooth.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 24 hours or up to 48 hours.

The dough will double and have a cracked surface.

Lightly butter a 12-cup tube pan.

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, grind the walnuts to a fine texture.

Add the almost paste, butter and almond extract and pulse until well combined.

Add the flour and powdered sugar and pulse until the mixture forms coarse crumbs.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and divide into 2 equal pieces.

Roll each piece into a 16 x 10 inch rectangle.

Crumble half the filling evenly over each piece. Sprinkle each with half of the cherries and half of the chocolate chips.

Roll up, jelly-roll style, beginning at the long side. Place, seam side down with the ends slightly overlapping, in the prepared pan.

Repeat with the remaining dough and let rise in a warm place for 2 to 3 hours, until doubled.

Place an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degress F.

Bake the babka for 45 to 50 minutes until it is firm and dry on the top.

Let cool completely in the pan. Gently invert onto a plate and dust with powdered sugar.

Serves 12.

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