The Best Easy Chocolate Babka!
Rich and creamy chocolate spread wrapped in a delicious sweet bread is the dessert you’ll want this holiday season! This simplified chocolate babka recipe is so impressive when it comes out of the oven and tastes so good – and it is honestly so much fun to make. It’s the perfect sweet bread for any holiday, dinner party, or just for yourself with coffee or tea!
Inspiration and thoughts
Chocolate Babka bread recipe today! Babka bread is traditionally a sweet bread originating in Jewish communities. I may not be Jewish, but I do love a great babka and appreciate a delicious dessert when I see it! Who wouldn’t love chocolate and sweet bread together?! I mean, honestly it is a fabulous combo.
This recipe was inspired by mom again! Every Christmas eve we used to go to my cousin Andrea’s house and celebrate and it was so wonderful. The entire little community where she lived would put on a huge Christmas parade in the streets and it was so fantastic and Christmasy! I am basically miss Christmas and I love parades, so of course I looked forward to it every year we went.
Everyone would wait outside of their houses near the street with hot cocoa and watch as the cars came past with nativity scenes, Santa and elves, lights galore, carolers and Christmas songs, lots of amazing Christmas decorations, and so many fun and friendly wonderful people. After the parade we would all go inside and eat a delicious meal, appetizer style. Andrea had a giant feast of so many appetizers she would make and buy but also that each guest would bring. They were spread out on a giant table and we would all serve ourselves, grab a drink, and eat so much good food.
One year Andrea had out a twirled chocolate sweet bread that my mom gave me a slice of and was raving about how delicious it was. I tried it and absolutely loved it – a chocolate babka! This one was store bought, but it was so delicious and looked impressive with the chocolate swirled all around the bread, together in a perfect twist. Of course I had to make one myself!
If you’re thinking that making bread looks daunting, think again! I tried to simplify a traditional babka recipe with the ingredients and timing, but kept the hand kneading because it’s so fun to work with dough. If you want to try your hand at a delicious loaf of chocolate babka bread, give this recipe a go and hopefully you’ll serve it at your next holiday party or just make it for yourself, as I do!
I’ve already made this for my own family and they couldn’t get enough of it, and Eli has had at least three versions of it while I was perfecting the recipe and he loves it too. So I promise it is worth the wait for this fabulous recipe!
How it’s made
This babka recipe does use yeasted dough, but you don’t need to let it sit and rise for 8 hours or overnight – just 2 hours plus an extra 30 minutes later and that’s it!
For this recipe there are basically 5 main steps:
- Make the dough and let it rise for 2 hours.
- Make the chocolate filling.
- Make the icing sugar.
- Roll out the dough, fill it with chocolate, twist it up and let it rise one more time for 30 minutes.
- Bake and eat!
Follow my instructions to see the process in photos below!
Of course each of these steps have more details to them, as you can see from my recipe, but these are the main steps.
A few notes on the babka details. For the proofing, you can put the dough covered in the oven when it isn’t on, or you can leave it out at room temperature. Make sure to cover it with a wet towel each time and don’t forget to coat the bottom of the bowl with a bit of olive oil before you pop the dough in. It is best to leave it in the oven (again, not on), if the surrounding temperature is very cold.
For the kneading: you can definitely use a dough hook for this recipe, but since I don’t have one and also prefer to always knead the dough with my hands, I use hand kneading for this recipe. It is only for 10 minutes, but this is critical to ensure that your dough will have a great rise.
For the chocolate filling: once you’ve made the filling you want to set it aside while the dough finishes proofing so it will cool and set. You may find that the chocolate has set quite a bit by the time you are ready to fill the dough, and that is ok! Just mix it very well with a spoon before you add it to the dough. It is ok if it is a thick filling, and actually that is even better because it will help with the rolling to ensure the chocolate filling stays in the dough and not on your counter.
The Best Easy Chocolate Babka!
- 2 cups flour
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons fast-acting yeast
- 1 tablespoon butter cut into small pieces
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons coco powder sieved
- 1/3 cup butter
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar sieved
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
Make the Babka Dough and first Proof
- In a large bowl, add the flour, salt, granulated sugar and yeast and mix together. Add in the butter and with clean hands pinch and smash the butter with your fingers and incorporate it into the dough. Add the egg and mix together with a spoon. Lastly add the milk, 1/4 cup at a time, until a dough forms.
- You can use a dough hook in a stand mixer for this, but I use my hands! Knead the dough for 10 minutes, stretching and pulling and twisting as best you can. The dough should be a bit sticky, but not too wet. In the same large bowl that you mixed the dough into, add the olive oil and wipe it around the bottom and sides of the bowl. Drop your dough ball into the bottom of the bowl. Cover with a wet kitchen towel and leave to proof for 2 hours (see notes!)
Make the Filling
- While your dough is proofing you can make the filling ahead of time (about 1 hr-45 minutes before the proofing time is done) so it has plenty of time to cool. To a small saucepan add the butter and chocolate chips and cook on low heat until it is melted, stirring occasionally. Add the powdered sugar and continue to stir, frequently, until all of the sugar has dissolved and is well mixed. Turn off the heat and add the coco powder, again mixing frequently and making sure everything is well mixed, smooth, and with no lumps (see notes!).
Make the Icing Sugar
- Mix the sugar and water into a small saucepan on medium high heat. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for 2-3 minutes, then turn off the heat and set aside. The consistency should be just slightly thick but easily drip off of a spoon.
Prepare the Babka and second Proof
- When 2 hours has passed check your dough: it should have risen to about double the size. On parchment paper or a clean surface add a handful or two of flour and drop your dough onto it. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle - as long as you can get it but keeping the dough about 1/4 inch thick. Keep the long side facing you.
- Pour the chocolate filling onto the dough and spread it across the entire surface, making sure to leave 1 inch of dough free of filling at the opposite long end. Starting at the long end closest to you, roll the dough over the filling and continue rolling until the end. Pop this into the fridge for 10-15 minutes. This will make the cutting easier and allow it to set a bit more.
- After it has been in the fridge it is time to cut and shape! Cut the rolled dough lengthwise in the middle, all the way through. You will have two long halves; move the cut side facing up so that the filing is facing upwards (see my photos above!). Pinch one end of the two pieces together. Now take one half of the dough roll and bring it over the other, and alternate between the two pieces until you come to the end. Basically this is a twist, so just twist one half of the dough over the other until you get to the end!
- Prepare a loaf pan and put parchment paper or foil to cover the bottom and sides (this will help it come out easier), and spray with cooking spray. Put the babka carefully into the loaf pan. Cover again with a wet kitchen towel and proof for 30 more minutes. The dough will rise a bit more. Set the oven to 350 F.
Bake and Ice!
- When the second proof is done, bake the babka for 30-35 minutes. Stick a long toothpick into an area of the babka without chocolate and make sure it comes out clean with no wet dough. When it comes out, brush icing sugar all across the top of the babka for that fabulous shine. There will most likely be leftover icing sugar. Cut into large slices, and enjoy!