Chocolate rum baba
Baba au rum are delicious sponge cakes soaked in a sticky- scented boozy syrup and they are widely popular along France, being the stars in most Parisian patisserie shops. Although the French love it, this much-loved dessert originated in Central Europe where there the former king of Poland had the genius idea of soaking a dried out kugelhopf (a traditional cake from Germany) in liquer. The soaked cake was so well-received (as anything soaked in alcohol if you ask me) that pastry chef Nicholas Stohrer changed it to a rich and buttery sponge and what is now known as the modern baba au rum. My version of this is a classic baba sponge soaked in dark chocolate syrup (because chocolate=happiness) and finished with vanilla chantilly. This recipe makes 6 generous portions of babas baked in individual moulds, but baba can also be done in a bundt pan and served in slices. Either way, they are finished with a generous dose of chocolate and rum syrup and more rum for drizzling. Want to make it even more impressive? Serve the rum in pipettes and push them inside the babas just before serving for a little diy fun!
Ingredients for the baba dough
- All purpose flour: Using all purpose flour will make the dough lighter and easier to rise. We will use 15g of the amount of flour together with the yeast and milk to create a Polish pre-fermented sponge, which we will then allow to develop in a warm place.
- Fresh yeast: I prefer to use fresh yeast whenever I can get my hands on some as it stays active for longer. You also use 2g of instant dry yeast.
- Caster sugar: As the syrup is sweet already there isn’t much sugar going into the actual baba dough.
- Whole milk: The percentage of fat in the ingredients that you use plays such a vital role in the finished product. Make sure to always use full fat milk unless the recipe says otherwise.
- Unsalted butter: Make sure that the butter is at room temperature so it incorporates easier in the dough.
- Eggs: Two medium eggs will be used for the recipe, which should give you around 100g.
Ingredients for the chocolate syrup
- Rum: I absolutely love spiced rum but you can use any type of rum you prefer. Some of the rum goes into the actual syrup and then more is drizzled on the top because can you really have too much rum?!
- Caster sugar: I used caster sugar for my simple syrup but you can also use light brown sugar for a more molasses flavour.
- Cocoa powder: I would really encourage you to get your hands on some good quality cocoa powder for a real chocolatey flavour.
- Dark chocolate: I use 54% cocoa solids dark chocolate for most of my recipes but the 70% dark chocolate really balances out the sweetness of the syrup.
For the vanilla chantilly
- Whipping and double cream: I really like using these two types of cream for my chantilly as you get both stability and creaminess as a final result.
- Caster sugar: Caster sugar is ideal for chantilly cream as it dissolves better while whipping.
- Vanilla seeds: You cannot have a proper chantilly cream without the heavenly addition of vanilla. You can use 1tbsp of vanilla essence instead.
For the baba dough (60g each/makes x6 brioche moulds (10cm) or a bundt pan)
- 38ml whole milk
- 12.5g fresh yeast
- 145g plain flour13g sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 100g eggs (2 eggs)
- 62g unsalted butter
For the chocolate syrup
- 200ml water25g rum
- 190g sugar
- 25g cocoa powder
- 25g dark chocolate (70%cocoa solids), roughly chopped
For the vanilla chantilly
- 70ml whipping cream
- 70ml double cream
- 12g caster sugar
- ½ vanilla pod split in half
- 100ml spiced rum for drizzling
How to make the baba dough
- Place the milk in a saucepan and heat gently to a temperature of about 30°C- be careful not to overheat or you will kill the yeast. Pour the milk into a mixing bowl and add in the yeast; stir until dissolved. Mix in 15g of the sifted flour and leave in a warm place for 20 minutes until doubled in size (this is the sponge ferment).
- Put the remaining flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer with the hook attached and combine on medium speed. Add the eggs and sponge ferment and mix on medium speed until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes. Alternatively knead by hand in a large mixing bowl (*see Notes).
- Gradually mix in the butter until fully incorporated. Cover with a cloth and leave to prove in a warm area until it has doubled in size, about 30-45 minutes.
- Lightly grease the moulds (*see Notes) using non stick spray. Knock back the dough and transfer to a piping bag, snip a small hole and pipe into the greased moulds so that they are just over half full(about 60g each mould). Leave to prove until the top of the dough rises just above the level of the mould, about 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Bake the moulds in the oven for 15-20 minutes, then lower the temperature to 160°C to dry out for a further 15 minutes. Remove from the mould and let cool.
How to make the chocolate syrup
- In a medium saucepan place the water and sugar and bring to the boil. Add the cocoa powder, re-boil and cook over low heat for a further 2 minutes. Pass through a fine sieve over a bowl containing the chopped chocolate and mix until fully combined.
- Pour the syrup into a shallow tray (the syrup should be warm and the babas should be cooled) and add in the babas. Use your hands and keep flipping the babas in the syrup until they completely coated (*see Notes). Once they are fully soaked, carefully lift them and place them on a cooling rack with a tray underneath to catch any excess syrup.
How to make the chantilly and assemble
- To make the chantilly cream, whisk both creams, the vanilla seeds from the pod and the sugar together until soft peaks form and spoon into a piping (pastry) bag ready for piping.
- To serve, place the babas on a serving dish, pipe the cream on top and drizzle more rum on top.
- The babas are best on the same day, but you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- There is the misconception that baba dough is the same as brioche and let me clear that one out for you… it is not! While they contain similar ingredients for richness such as eggs and butter baba is much eggier, which makes it lighter and a bit more cake-like. Baba almost resembles a very dry brioche as it comes out of oven, hence why while brioche dough is made by beating it until it passes the’’ windowpane test’’, baba dough is simply ready when the dough slightly comes away from the sides of the bowl and the butter is incorporated.
- I used these brioche moulds for my baba, which are a personal favourite and mainly used for brioche but you can also use a bundt pan. If you choose to use a bundt pan simply let it cool, place on a cooling rack and use a ladle to soak the cake with syrup.
- Do you know what is worse than dry humour? DRY BABAS! The babas are very dry after they come out of the oven and for a good reason… so they can be soaked in the delicious syrup! I normally soak my babas for 1 minute on one side, flip them over and soak them for a further minute on the other side. Heaven!