This chocolate babka will make you swoon! Soft brioche bread ribboned with rich dark chocolate, and topped with a crumbly chocolate streusel.
I am so excited to be bringing you this recipe today!
I’ve had it in the works for some time, and I just couldn’t wait to tackle it.
Isn’t it so pretty? I just love how the soft, stretchy bread swirls and loops around all that luscious chocolate!
My yeast bread archive is filling out nicely! I’m beginning to feel much more confident as a bread baker, now that I have developed so many fabulous bread recipes.
But today we are taking things in a sweeter direction, with a luxuriously rich bread that’s made even more so by the addition of chocolate!
WHAT IS BABKA?
Babka is a classic bread that derives from Eastern Europe.
It consists of a rich, soft, and moist bread that’s swirled with a sweet filling, such as cinnamon sugar, fruit, or, as you see here, chocolate!
It’s often topped with a crumbly streusel, to give it added texture and sweetness.
You’ll often find babka at a Jewish deli (remember that Seinfeld episode?), but this version is way better, because it’s homemade!
HOW TO MAKE AUTHENTIC CHOCOLATE BABKA
This bread has 3 main components:
- The brioche dough
- A chocolate filling
- The chocolate crumb topping
The dough takes the longest, so let’s start with that!
Brioche is what’s known as an “enriched” dough, which means it has eggs and butter added to it. This makes it so rich and luxurious!
I’ve adapted my homemade brioche hamburger buns recipe to make the dough for this babka.
Start by putting flour, water, yeast, sugar, salt, eggs, and egg yolks into a large mixing bowl.
Using the dough hook attachment, mix everything together for a few minutes on low speed.
Once you have a sticky dough, work in the soft butter.
Add the butter a tablespoon at a time, allowing each addition to completely incorporate before adding the next.
Once all the butter has gone in, knead the dough on low speed for a full 10 minutes, then turn the mixer up to medium and give it another 15.
This dough needs a lot of kneading! It helps to make the dough easier to work with, and it will also develop the glutens so that the babka has a nice texture.
Next just cover the bowl and allow the dough to chill in the refrigerator. It needs at least 6 hours, but I find it much easier to just leave it in overnight and finish things up the next day.
The filling for this babka is as simple as melting chocolate, butter, and sugar together and whisking until smooth.
You can do this in the microwave or over a double boiler.
I would not recommend using chocolate chips, unless you can get your hands on a premium-quality brand. Most chips contain stabilizers that will prevent them from melting smoothly. Baking bars will work much better. Just give them a rough chop.
Once your filling is made and your dough has chilled, roll it out to a large, thin rectangle and spread the filling all over in an even layer.
Then just roll it up into a log, just like if you were making cinnamon rolls.
Starting near the top, slice through the log vertically, creating two separate halves.
Twist the two halves around one another and pinch them together at the bottom.
Then just transfer that to a standard-sized loaf pan, cover it loosely with a sheet of greased plastic wrap, and allow the babka to rise in a warm place for 4 to 5 hours.
CHOCOLATE CRUMB TOPPING
For the chocolate streusel, melt butter then add in flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt.
You can use regular or Dutched cocoa powder for this. Whichever you prefer!
Just toss everything together with a fork until crumbly, then sprinkle it all over the top of the babka, just before baking.
You’ll know your chocolate babka is done when it’s a deep brown color and it feels really crusty on top.
Allow it to cool completely in the pan, then remove it, dust it with powdered sugar, and slice.
HOW TO SERVE CHOCOLATE BABKA
Chocolate babka is perfect any time of day.
I love it for breakfast or brunch, or for a nice afternoon pick-me-up, along with a cup of coffee or tea.
And it’s great for dessert as well!
CAN THIS BE MADE AHEAD?
You will want to allow yourself plenty of time to make this chocolate babka! It needs several hours to chill and rise, and it takes a while to cool down after it’s been baked too.
I think it’s best to start the recipe at least a day before you plan to serve it. Maybe even two days!
It will last at room temperature for 5 to 7 days. Just keep it tightly wrapped so that it doesn’t become stale or dried out.
If you still have leftovers hanging around after a week or so, pop them into the fridge and they’ll keep for several more days there.
CAN YOU FREEZE IT?
Yeast breads like this one freeze beautifully. Just wrap this babka up tightly in plastic wrap and slip it into a freezer bag. It will last in the freezer for around 2 months.
Thaw it at room temperature and it will taste fresh as the day it was made!
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For the Brioche Bread Dough
For the Chocolate Filling
For the Chocolate Crumb Topping
To Make the Brioche Bread Dough
- Place the flour, water, yeast, sugar, salt, eggs, and egg yolk in a large mixing bowl and mix on low speed (with a dough hook attachment) for 6 to 8 minutes, stopping halfway to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula.
- While continuing to mix, add the butter in one tablespoon at a time, allowing each addition to fully incorporate before adding the next.
- Knead the dough for a full 10 minutes on low speed, then turn the mixer up to medium speed and knead for another full 15 minutes.
- Chill the dough (covered) in the refrigerator overnight, or for a minumum of 6 hours.
- Knead the dough a few times to soften and warm it slightly, then roll it out to a large rectangle with a thickness of about 1/8-inch.
- Spread the chocolate filling in an even layer all over the dough.
- Starting at one of the shorter sides of the rectangle, roll the dough into a log shape.
- Beginning near the top of the log, slice vertically through and then twist the two halves together, pinching back together at the base.
- Transfer the unbaked loaf to a lightly greased, standard-sized loaf pan, cover loosely with a sheet of greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise in a warm place for 4 to 5 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and sprinkle the bread with chocolate crumb topping.
- Bake the bread for 35 to 45 minutes, or until deeply golden and crusty.
- Cool completely in the pan before dusting with powdered sugar and slicing.
To Make the Chocolate Filling
- Place the chocolate, butter, and sugar in a medium bowl and melt together, either in the microwave (for about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes on full power), or over a double boiler, whisking until smooth.
To Make the Chocolate Crumb Topping
- Melt the butter in a small pot over low heat.
- Add the flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt, tossing together with a fork until crumbly.