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Chocolate Babka

Chocolate Babka

By: Terra Brockman (Read Bio)

Chocolate Babka
There are many recipes for babka, and many fillings--from the classic cinnamon and sugar to the modern (and irresistible) Nutella. This recipe is slightly adapted from Melissa Clark's recipe in the New York Time and is based on a classic challah dough. So if you're making challah, just double the recipe, skip the dough-making below, and then follow the instructions for assembling and baking the babka. You may also skip the instructions for making the fudge filling, and use Nutella instead! 
Yield:  2 9-inch loaves


For the Dough
        • ½ cup whole milk
        • 1 package (¼ ounce/7 grams) active dry yeast
        • ⅓ cup/67 grams sugar
        • 4¼ cups/531 grams Janie's Mill Sifted Artisan flour, more if needed (You may also use All-Purpose flour)
        • 1½ teaspoons sea salt
        • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
        • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
        • 4 eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
        • 10 tablespoons/140 grams unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for greasing bowls and pans
For the Fudge Filling 
    • ½ cup/100 grams sugar
    • ¾ cup/177 milliliters heavy cream or half-and-half
    • Pinch of salt
    • 6 ounces/170 grams bittersweet chocolate, preferably between 66 and 74 percent cocoa, coarsely chopped
    • 8 tablespoons/112 grams/1 stick unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
    • 2 teaspoons/10 milliliters vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Streusel
    • ½ cup/60 grams Janie's Mill All-purpose or Sifted Artisan flour
    • 3 tablespoons/45 grams sugar
    • 1½ tablespoons/11 grams cocoa powder
    • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
    • 4½ tablespoons/64 grams unsalted butter, melted
    • ⅓ cup/60 grams mini semisweet chocolate chips
For the Syrup
    • ⅔ cup/135 grams sugar
    •  cup/158 milliliters water



1. Prepare the dough: In a small saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave, warm the milk until it’s lukewarm but not hot (about 110 F). Add the yeast and a pinch of sugar and let sit for 5-10 minutes, until foamy.

2. In an electric mixer with a dough hook, or in a food processor, mix together the flour, cup sugar, salt, vanilla, and nutmeg. (You may also use a large bowl and a wooden spoon.)

3. Beat in the yeast mixture and eggs until the dough comes together in a soft mass, about 2 minutes. If the dough sticks to the side of the bowl and doesn’t come together, add a tablespoon more flour at a time until it does, beating well in between additions.

4. Add half the butter and beat or pulse until the dough is smooth and elastic, 3 to 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Beat in the rest of the butter and continue to beat or pulse until the dough is smooth and stretchy, another 5 to 7 minutes. Again, if the dough sticks to the sides of the bowl, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.

5. Butter a clean bowl, form the dough into a ball and roll it around in the bowl so all sides are buttered. Cover the bowl with a towel and let it rise in a warm place until it puffs and rises, about 1 to 2 hours. It may not double in bulk but it should rise.

6. Press the dough down with your hands, re-cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.

7. Prepare the filling: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, cream and salt. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Scrape mixture into a bowl. Stir in chocolate, butter and vanilla until smooth. Let cool to room temperature. 

8. Prepare the streusel: In a bowl, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Stir in the melted butter until it is evenly distributed and forms large, moist crumbs. Stir in the chocolate chips. 

9. Prepare the syrup: In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then simmer for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves.

10.  Butter two 9-inch loaf pans, then line with parchment paper, leaving 2 inches of paper hanging over on the sides to use as handles later.

11. Assembling the Babka: Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide in half. On a floured surface, roll one piece into a 9-by-17-inch rectangle. Spread with half the filling (no need to leave a border). Starting with a long side, roll into a tight coil. Transfer the coil onto a dish towel or piece of plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer for 10 minutes. Repeat with the other piece of dough.

12. Slice one of the dough coils in half lengthwise to expose the filling. Twist the halves together as if you were braiding them, then fold the braid in half so it’s about 9 inches long. Place into a prepared pan, letting it curl around itself if it’s a little too long for the pan. Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 to 1½ hours, until puffy (it won’t quite double). Alternatively, you can cover the pans with plastic wrap and let them rise in the refrigerator overnight; bring them back to room temperature for an hour before baking.

13. Baking: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Use your fingers to clump streusel together and scatter all over the tops of the loaves. Transfer to the oven and bake until a tester goes into the cakes without any resistance and comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. An instant-read thermometer will read between 185 and 210 degrees when the loaves are done.

14. As soon as the loaves come out of the oven, use a skewer or paring knife to pierce them all the way from the top to the bottom. Then pour the syrup on top of the cakes, using half the syrup for each cake. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before enjoying your babka!

Posted on November 29 2023