There’s nothing (seriously, nothing) like a good chocolate babka. With a soft, brioche-like dough, cinnamon-spiced chocolate filling and beautiful, twisted shape, babka is basically the epitome of what dessert (or breakfast-shh, don’t tell) should be.
That’s not to say I make it all the time; it takes a good four hours. But other than that, it couldn’t be simpler. It’s a yeast dough, enriched with butter and eggs, that’s left to rise for 2 hours. The filling is a combination of cocoa, a touch of cinnamon and chocolate. The dough is rolled out, sprinkled liberally with chocolate and then twisted into a figure eight. It’s left to rise for another hour, and then it’s whisked off to the oven, for a forty minute bake.
The result is so delicious, and so classic, that it’s quickly become one of my favorite recipes. It’s also become somewhat of a weekend staple, which is scary, considering how much butter is in this thing. But no regrets, right? You won’t have any either.
Yield: 2 loaves of babka
Highly adapted from Epicurious
Why I love this recipe: unlike other recipes, this babka’s filling is 3 pronged, using a combination of bittersweet chocolate, spicy cinnamon, and rich cocoa, which turns melty and gooey. Spreading an alternating filling of cocoa/chocolate/cocoa on the buttery, melt-in-your-mouth dough ensures that the components combine and make this the most luxurious and bursting-with-chocolate babka you’ll ever have.
- 3/4 cup warm milk
- 1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
- 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour + more for dusting
- 2 whole large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces
For egg wash
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- rock sugar, for sprinkling
For chocolate filling
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, well softened
- 8 oz. fine-quality bittersweet chocolate
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- generous pinch salt
- 4 tablespoons sugar + 4 tablespoons Dutch cocoa powder, mixed
- Make the dough. Stir together warm milk and 2 teaspoons sugar in bowl of mixer. Sprinkle yeast over mixture and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
- Add 1/2 cup flour to yeast mixture and beat at medium speed until combined. Add whole eggs, yolk, vanilla, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until combined.
- Reduce speed to low, then mix in remaining 2 3/4 cups flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Increase speed to medium, then beat in butter, a few pieces at a time, and continue to beat until dough is shiny and forms strands from paddle to bowl, about 4 minutes.
- Scrape dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at warm room temperature until doubled, 2 hours.
- In a food processor, chop chocolate until fine. Add butter, cinnamon, two tablespoons of sugar and salt. Process until mixture forms clumps.
- Line 2 loaf pans with 1 piece of parchment paper each.
- Halve dough, then lightly punch down. Roll out 1 piece of dough on a well-floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into an 18- by 10-inch rectangle, with a long side nearest you.
- Beat together yolk and milk. Brush some of egg wash all over babka dough.
- Sprinkle half of cocoa mixture on. Sprinkle half of chocolate/butter mixture evenly over the cocoa dough, then sprinkle with some more cocoa mixture.
- Starting with long side farthest from you, roll dough into a snug log, pinching firmly along egg-washed seam to seal. Bring ends of log together to form a ring, pinching to seal. Twist entire ring twice to form a double figure 8 and fit into one of lined loaf pans.
- Repeat process with remaining dough. Chill remaining egg wash, covered, to use later. Loosely cover pans kitchen towel and let rise at warm room temperature until dough reaches top of pans, 1 and 1/2 hours.
- Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
- Brush tops of dough with remaining egg wash. Sprinkle with rock sugar.
- Bake until tops are deep golden brown and bottoms sound hollow when tapped (when loaves are removed from pans), about 40-50 minutes. Transfer loaves to a rack and cool to room temperature.