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Image design by Mollie Suss

Valentines Babkas Are Our Love Language

Nothing says “I love you” like this Jewish pastry.

As Jews, we know that every holiday can be improved with food. That’s as true for Jewish holidays as it is for secular ones, like Valentine’s Day. 

While food is wrapped up in Valentine’s culture, from a box of fancy chocolates to inventive uses of canned whipped cream, these gestures always feel slightly performative and never like the star of the show. As a Jewish woman for whom food is front and center both in and out of work — that doesn’t work for me. 

Even when I was young, wild and childless, my perfect Valentine’s day involved cozying up on the couch in sweats, feasting on indulgent eats. Now that’s romance. 

So you can imagine how delighted I was when I spotted a trend for Valentine’s babkas emerging a few years ago. Polishing off an entire babka (as opposed to delicately nibbling on say, a pink-frosted heart-shaped cookie) is a challenge. It demands your full attention, stomach and evening. It’s a true front-and-center treat.

1. Honey & Co.

Israeli chefs Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer — partners in life and work, and founders of London’s Honey & Co. empire — arguably began the trend with their limited-edition Valentine’s babkas. “Made with lashings of cardamom cream & swathes of our house raspberry jam, then topped with pretty rose petals,” this year’s gorgeous bab feeds eight and can be yours for £35 (around $44) – if you live in the U.K. (they deliver nationwide). Preorder here. 

2. Mamaleh’s Delicatessen

For those Stateside, don’t despair! Massauchesettes-based deli Mamaleh’s is baking up a dozen babka roses, tucked into a heart-shaped tin for $16. If you want a taste of these cinnamon roses, drizzled with white chocolate and topped with dried strawberries, you’d better preorder now.

3. Modern Bread and Bagel

New York can feel like the loneliest place in the world on Valentine’s day for singletons, but Modern Bread and Bagel’s strawberry cheesecake babka makes a sweet companion (and delivers nationwide). At $35 it’s not the *cheapest* date but, you never know, the delivery person could be cute! Plus, it’s gluten-free! Just make sure to preorder 18 hours in advance.

4. Babka Zana

From the city that never sleeps to the city of love, Paris’ cult Babka Zana bakery presents theiraptly named Babka Amour, flavored with raspberry confit, caramelized almonds, roseberries and rose water. This sugary stunner is available for preorder for €23 (around $25).

5. DIY Babka

Of course, you can make your own Valentine’s bab’ at home, too. Why not get funky with this retro swirl babka from Lo’s Kitchen? Or check out The Nosher’s extensive babka archives, with everything from s’mores to banana bread babka recipes. 

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