I know, I know, this isn’t a challah! I asked my instagram followers for ideas for this week’s challah flavor and many of you suggested some combination of orange, chocolate, and cranberry since it’s the holiday season.
I love anything that combines orange and chocolate, which is funny because I don’t actually like oranges! This babka is a fun way to combine all of those warm holiday flavors into a fun snack that makes the house smell amazing as it bakes!
All you’ll need to add is a fire roaring in the fireplace, some holiday music, and a nice warm cup of hot chocolate.
½ Cup milk, warmed
2 ½ Teaspoons instant yeast
1 Egg yolk
¼ Cup sugar
½ Teaspoon kosher salt
2 Cups flour
7 Tablespoons butter at room temperature
4 Tablespoons butter
¼ Cup cocoa powder
2 Teaspoons cinnamon
1 Teaspoon almond extract
½ Cup brown sugar
¼ Cup powdered sugar
Zest of one Orange
1 Cup dried cranberries (chopped small)
½ Cup dark chocolate chips (chopped small)
¾ Cup pecans (chopped small) if desired
Whisk egg, egg yolk, sugar, and salt in a large bowl until smooth and slightly pale in color. Whisk in warmed milk and yeast until combined.
Mix in the flour until almost fully mixed. Add butter (make sure it’s at room temperature!) and mix until incorporated. The dough should be smooth and slightly sticky.
Turn out the dough and knead for just a few minutes until very smooth. Transfer to a greased bowl and let rise for 1 ½ - 2 hours until doubled.
While the dough is proving, chop the cranberries and chocolate and place in a medium bowl. Zest the orange into the bowl. Add in brown sugar and powdered sugar.
Melt the butter for the filling and stir in cocoa powder and almond extract. Stir into the cranberries, chocolate, and sugar mixture until a thick paste forms.
Once the dough is done proving, place on an oiled and floured surface and roll into a large rectangle. The dough should be as thin as you can get it. This ensures the most swirls inside the bread.
Using an offset spatula spread the filling over the dough in a thin layer, sprinkle the pecanss on top of the filling if you desire. Starting on the edge closest to you begging to tightly roll the dough away from you until you run out of dough and are left with a log of dough. Pinch the ends together to ensure no filling leaks out while baking.
Cut the log in half length wise (hot dog way for those of you who think that way!) so that the layers of filling and dough are exposed. Weave the two strands together to create a plait.
The next step is up to you! You can place the dough in a greased loaf pan or do as I did and roll it up like a large cinnamon roll and place in an 8 in round cake pan.
Let the dough prove for an additional 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Bake the loaf for 50-60 minutes, turning halfway through. Once done, immediately take out of the pan and cool on a wire rack.