Best Ever Chocolate Babka, combines a light and tender homemade brioche dough, with a rich and scrumptious filling made of dark chocolate, butter, cocoa, icing sugar, and cinnamon. Finished off with a brushing of simple syrup, you would want to eat it slightly warm for a sensorial experience you’ll never forget!
For the brioche (recipe from the Duchess cookbook): enough for two babkas
- 13 g (1 Tbsp) fresh yeast, crumbled (or 6.5 g dried yeast)
- 30 g (2 Tbsp) whole milk, warmed (I also use half & half cream when I have it)
- 250 g ( 1 1/2 cups + 1 Tbsp) all-purpose flour
- 30 g (2 Tbsp) sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 large eggs, organic
- 145 g (2/3 cup) unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature (but not too warm)
For the filling (from Smitten Kitchen): just for one babka
- 65 g dark chocolate (at least 70 percent cacao)
- 60 g unsalted butter
- 25 g powdered (icing) sugar
- 15 g unsweetened cocoa powder
- pinch of cinnamon, optional (but good!)
For the syrup:
- 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp water
- 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
For the brioche:
- Heat up the milk in a small bowl, in the microwave for a few seconds (10-15). The right temperature of the milk should be between 26°C and 32°C to activate the yeast. Stir the crumbled yeast into the warm milk until dissolved.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer add the flour, sugar, salt, and mix on low speed. Add the eggs, one at a time, the dissolved yeast and keep mixing on low until all the ingredients are well combined. Stop the mixer once to scrape down the sides.
- Still on low speed, gradually add the butter, a few cubes at a time. Once all the butter has been added, turn the mixer up to medium speed and continue mixing until the dough is smooth and shiny and has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. This should take 15-25 minutes, no less.
- Gently, shape the dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
- Punch down the dough, cover again, and refrigerate overnight.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Punch it down a second time and shape it into a rectangle. At this point, the dough is ready to use, but it can also be wrapped in plastic wrap lightly sprayed with oil and stored in the refrigerator for up to two days or in the freezer for up to one week. You will need just half of the dough to make this babka. I cut mine in half, used half for this babka, and put the other half in the freezer to make these.
For the filling (for one chocolate babka):
- On a bain-marie (double boiler), melt dark chocolate chunks and butter until smooth and shiny. Let it cool a bit, then add cocoa, icing sugar, and cinnamon (if using), and mix. You will get a spreadable paste that looks and smells quite delicious.
- Coat a 9-by-4-inch loaf pan with oil or butter, and line the bottom with a rectangle of parchment paper that comes up to the sides (it will be helpful when taking the babka out of the pan).
- Take the dough from the fridge (leave the other half in the fridge or freezer for later use). Roll out on a well-floured counter to about a 10-inch width and 12 inches long.
- Spread the chocolate mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around.
- Brush the end farthest away from you with water. Roll the dough up with the filling into a log. Seal the dampened end onto the log. (I followed Smitten Kitchen’s instructions and transferred the log in the freezer for 10 minutes. It made it much easier to cut in half).
- Trim the last 1/2-inch off each end of the log. Gently cut the log in half lengthwise and lay them next to each other on the counter, cut sides up. Pinch the top ends gently together. Lift one side over the next, forming a twist, or braid, and trying to keep the cut sides facing out.
- Transfer the braid as best as you can into the prepared loaf pan, then nest the trimmed ends of the log in the openings.
- Cover with a damp towel and leave to rise another 1 and 1/2 hours at room temperature.
- Heat oven to 375°F (190°C). Remove towel, place loaf pan on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes. If it browns too quickly, you can cover it with foil.
- While babka is baking, make the syrup: bring sugar and water to a simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside to cool a little bit.
- As soon as the babka leaves the oven, brush the syrup all over it. Let cool about halfway in the pan, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely, or eat it when still slightly warm, outstanding!
The Prep Time includes the 1 and 1/2 hour resting time for the babka to rise again before baking but does not include the making of the dough and the resting time in the refrigerator overnight.
If you use all the brioche dough that you make with this recipe, you will make two babkas. But be mindful that you need to double the filling ingredients. Eat one and freeze the other (it freezes and defrosts well), or gift it (they will love you forever!).
I used the other half of the dough to make these. If you use frozen brioche dough, let it defrost in the fridge overnight and start from there.
This chocolate babka should keep for a few days at room temperature. I couldn’t test it, it was gone the next day.