Babka is nearly a weekly occurrence in my house, and I can think of few things better. But it’s not just me: Babka has really been getting the recognition it deserves all over the country, making appearances everywhere from artisanal bakeries to Jewish delis and even high-end restaurants.
My babka recipe is rich, buttery and loaded with eggs, more closely related to brioche than to the old, which is what I wanted for these babka-doughnut hybrids. I increased the flour content and the eggs, making for a sturdier dough, and I reduced the amount of butter — just by a smidge so the dough would stand up better to frying. For a little crunch and to offset the sweetness of the filling and dough I added cacao nibs, which impart a slightly bitter flavor and some nice crunch, too. Cacao (or cocoa) nibs are dried, fermented pieces of coffee beans – a very pure, intense chocolaty flavor. You can find them at Whole Foods, specialty food stores (like a health food store) or on Amazon.
With these doughnuts you get all the pillowy softness of babka, plus the moisture that deep-frying locks into the dough. The dark chocolate pastry cream would be lovely in a tart, cream puffs or on cake, but here, along with the cacao nib sugar, it serves to further complement the dough and turns the whole treat into something much more than just chocolate babka.
Both doughnuts and babka are time-intensive kitchen projects — usually, it’d be either-or — and that choice would be pretty hard to make. But with these doughnuts both are possible at once. And if that isn’t a Chanukah miracle, then I don’t know what is.
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