This Chocolate Babka is a soft and fluffy yeast dough just bursting with chocolate. It makes the most perfect breakfast with a hot cup of coffee or even dessert. It’s a work of love and is a family favorite.
A chocolate babka is no easy feat to tackle! It’s not that it’s impossible. It is time consuming and it can get a little messy when you’re spreading the chocolate filling and rolling it. I do include some babka step by step photos to help you.
I suppose it’s everywhere because Bon Appetit last year declared it the new bagel. The Jewish baking goddess Marcy Goldman said about babka…”Variations or derivatives of it are everywhere: Greek Easter Breads, Italian panettone and Russian kulich.” I found it interesting that she feels that a panettone is a variation or derivative of a babka. She also mentions that babka derives from babcia, which in Polish means grandmother. I like to think of it is piccola nonna (little grandmother)and imagine her making this every week for her grandkids. She also thinks that this is a hybrid of the French pain au chocolat. She also talks about the famous Cheskie bakery babka that sells by the chunk and it’s $6 a pound (wow!).
I made something similar to this one time back in 2013 (my Mexican Hot Chocolate Bread)and it had a little kick from the cayenne that I added to the chocolate. The dough is a very soft brioche type of a dough. It has eggs, margarine (or butter) and milk (I used hazelnut milk)and is very easy to work with.As for the chocolate spread, the last time I made this I did use Nutella and it was wonderful to work with. Sort of like spreading a very sweet chocolate frosting on the dough. I made my own chocolate filling and it was less sweet. I happened to have about a cup of ground pecans, cinnamon and sugar on hand leftover from this cake’s topping.
Feel free to omit that from the recipe if you don’t have pecans or don’t want the extra sweetness. If you do have pecans on hand (even ground walnuts or hazelnuts would work fine as it goes to what I was mentioning above about the bread from Alto Adige in Italy. Since we have a diary free family member, this dough is actually dairy free. I made it with vegan margarine and a hazelnut milk instead of regular milk. It still turned out fantastic (just minus the buttery flavor)! Feel free to use butter and your favorite milk when you make it.
HOW LONG DOES A BABKA STAY FRESH?
The chocolate is like a thick fudge. It’s easier to spread as soon as you mix the sugar and cocoa powder with the melted margarine (or butter if you’re using that)and the the melted chocolate. The more it sits out the harder it gets.
Chocolate Babka-Babka al Cioccolato
- 1 cup hazelnut milk to keep dairy free, use your favorite non-dairy milk. Use regular milk if you're not dairy-free
- 1 1/2 ounce envelope active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water 100 to 110 degrees
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup margarine melted (I use Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks. Use unsalted butter if you're not dairy-free)
- 4 1/2-5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 6 oz dark chocolate melted* (I used a dairy free brand)
- 1 cup margarine or use unsalted butter if you’re not dairy free, melted, plus 2 Tablespoons for brushing on before baking
- ⅔ cup chocolate chips or chunks
- 1/2 cup ground pecans or hazelnuts or walnuts
- 1/2 cup ground pecans or hazelnuts or walnuts
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Heat the milk (I used hazelnut milk) in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and let stand until cooled to room temperature. Meanwhile, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in a large bowl. Add 1 T of the sugar and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
- Beat in the remaining 2 T sugar, eggs and margarine (or butter). Beat in cooled milk.
- Gradually add the flour and salt, scraping down side of bowl, until a
- soft dough forms.
- Beat in the remaining 2 T sugar, eggs and butter. Beat in cooled milk. Gradually add the flour and salt, scraping down side of bowl, until a soft dough forms.
- Turn dough onto a floured work surface and knead the remaining flour into the dough, adding more flour if too sticky. Knead for about 10 minutes until smooth. The dough will be soft.
- Grease a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl. Swish the dough around the oil so it's covered all over with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 1/2-2hours.
- Line 2 loaf pans with parchment paper. (or one regular size loaf pan and 4 mini ones. If you don't have a mini loaf pan, you can use a muffin tin) . Spray with baking spray.
- Making the filling: In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Stir in the melted margarine (or butter)and melted chocolate until it becomes spreadable; set aside. If you’re using the pecan topping, mix the ground pecans, sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl; set aside.
- Punch down the dough. Dump the dough out onto a floured surface, roll out the dough into a 10-by-18-inch rectangle. Spread the chocolate over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border on the sides. Sprinkle on pecan sugar mixture if using on top of the chocolate.
- Brush the borders with water. Tightly roll the dough into an 18-inch log, rolling toward the clean border; pinch the seam to seal. Cut the ends off. Place the ends in a muffin tin.
- Place roll seam-side down on the baking sheet. Cut the log in half so you now have two logs to work with. Cut the first half of the log in half lengthwise with a chef's knife.
- Twist the two halves together, crossing one over the other a few times. Pinch the end together, then tuck both pinched ends under the loaf slightly. Carefully place in the first parchment lined loaf pan.
- Repeat with the second log and place in the other parchment lined loaf pan (if you don't have two loaf pans, you could bake the other log on a parchment lined baking sheet or cut into smaller portions and place in mini loaf pans).
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cover the loaf loosely with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until plump, 30 minutes.
- Uncover the loaf and brush melted margarine (or butter) on the loaves.
- Bake the bread, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until golden brown (a thermometer inserted into the middle should register 170 degrees F to 175 degrees F), 30-35 minutes. (check the rolls and mini loaves as they may be done a few minutes before).