In addition to the Breads product, one of my favorite babkas is from tiny Zucker Bakery on the Lower East Side. Their Chocolate Babka ($13.50) is stunningly beautiful, and in my opinion it belongs in New York's top-most babka tier. Its most striking attribute is the uniform and tightly woven bands of dough that make up the loaf that take on the appearance of leather or twine. The top of the loaf is unglazed, a matte finish without need for streusel or sugar coatings.
Inside, the maze-like pattern of dough layers a perfect distribution of chocolate into the crumb with no big pockets or dry sections. The loaf isn't very sweet, so eating it feels more like breaking into a slice of dense brioche with some added chocolate. When fresh, (or reheated in the toaster) the aroma from the dark chocolate and warm dough is irresistible.
Zucker's babka comes in its own box and makes a perfect gift. When Serious Eats published their Babka roundup almost four years ago, neither Breads Bakery or Zucker existed—perhaps it's time for an update.