Paula Shoyer was at Linda Lebovic’s Swirl’s Best Picks. She has just come out with a cookbook (The Holiday Kosher Baker) and will come out with another right before Pesach (The New Passover Menu in Februrary 2015). I enjoyed meeting her so much – first of all, she’s fascinating (lived in Switzerland as a diplomat, then turned to cooking, ran a cooking school, catering company and now she’s writing cookbooks), filled with a joie de vivre, and her recipe is delicious! I had the opportunity to make it for the Swirl event. I’ve included her recipe below with my comments. My comments are marked by  and “Obs” (which stands for observation).
Babka Bites: Reprinted with permission from Sterling Publishing
Makes 46- 48 bites
- ¼ cup warm water
- ½ ounce (2 envelopes) dry yeast
- ¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- dash salt
- 4 tablespoons margarine, at room temperature for 15 minutes [Obs: NOT JOKING - if you don't have the margarine at room temperature it will not be "liquid" enough to handle the flour - then you'll have to add water to make up for it].
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 1 large egg plus one white
- ½ cup (1 stick) margarine, at room temperature for 30 minutes
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips [Obs: I didn't have mini chocolate chips, so I melted chocolate and and then added it to the cocoa - and I really liked how this turned out - it made the filling gooey]
Place warm water, yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and let sit 10 minutes, until the mixture bubbles and thickens.
[Obs: I don't do this - if your yeast is good (i.e. active) it will work. This step is to ensure your yeast isn't dead - if your yeast is dead and you don't do this step, then the dough won't rise, so that's why most people do it so they don't have to toss out the whole dough and start over - if your yeast is dead, you can throw it out and get a new package].
Add the ¼ cup sugar, flour, salt, margarine, oil, egg and egg white. Combine with a wooden spoon or a dough hook in a stand mixer until all the ingredients are mixed in. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise 1 ½ hours.
Meanwhile, make the filling. Place the margarine into a medium or large bowl and beat until creamy. Add the cocoa and sugar and beat until combined. Cover with plastic and let sit at room temperature while the dough is rising.
Preheat oven to 325°F. Place mini muffin papers into a 12- cup mini muffin pan. You will need to bake in batches.
[Obs: I did not use mini muffin papers. If you do use them, they're going to look cuter. I just put them in rows right next to each other on a cookie sheet. First, I didn't have mini muffin papers, and secondly, I didn't want to bake them in batches - I thought that would take longer than I had. As I did it, I doubled the recipe, and filled up 1.5 cookie sheets. These turned out fantastic, by the way.]
Divide dough in half. On a large piece of parchment paper [Obs: I used tin foil which I sprayed with cooking spray - I didn't need any extra flour] or other surface sprinkled with a little flour, roll each piece of dough into a 9 X 12 rectangle so that the 12-inch side is facing you. Sprinkle a little flour on the rolling pin if the dough starts to stick to it. Use a silicone spatula [Obs: I used a spoon, I had to sometimes take some of the chocolate mixture off the spoon, but I don't have a silicone spatula, so I couldn't use one] to spread ½ of the chocolate filling all the way to the edges [Obs: if you don't go to the edges, you'll have some dough without filling, and nobody wants to eat that]. Sprinkle ½ of the chocolate chips all over the chocolate filling and roll up tightly the long way [Obs: again, I had already melted and added the chocolate chips to the chocolate filling]. Cut into ½-inch slices and place one into each of the muffin cups, cut side up. You will have about 24 slices.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden. Repeat for the other dough. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store covered at room temperature for up to four days or freeze for up to three months.
[Obs: if you put them in the fridge they get harder - so keep them at room temperature for a yummier eating experience].
My husband said this was the best babka he ever tasted.