This chocolate babka is a real treat and pretty simple to make. The light, fluffy egg bread is twisted with a layer of chocolate and is a true work of art. 

babka sliced into pieces

There’s nothing like a slice of tender, chocolate-swirled babka. In this straightforward recipe, we’ll teach you everything you need to know to nail the brioche dough and master the bread (trust us, it’s easier than you think). 

What is Chocolate Babka? 

Chocolate babka is a sweet braided brioche bread. It’s made by rolling a yeasted dough with a chocolate filling and then braiding the pieces together. Once baked, babka is tender, buttery, and makes for a beautiful presentation. Although Jewish in heritage, you’ll find this bread eaten all over Europe.

How to Make Chocolate Babka from Scratch

To make things easier, we’ve broken up the process for making chocolate babka into four different steps – making the dough, making the filling, shaping the loaf (braiding), and baking the babka. 

How to Make Babka Dough

  • Mix the Ingredients: Mix the all-purpose flour, sugar, active dry yeast, and salt. Add the large eggs and water, then knead to combine.
  • Add in the Butter Slices: Knead the dough on medium speed while slowly adding the butter slices in until the dough is shiny and elastic.
  • Refrigerate the Dough: Allow the dough to rest in a well-oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap in the fridge for at least 6 hours. Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for 40 minutes before shaping.

How to Make Chocolate Babka Filling

  • Divide the Dough: Divide the dough into two pieces and roll them into rectangles with a rolling pin. Spread the chocolate filling over each rectangle with a knife or offset spatula.
  • Roll & Seal the Dough: Roll the rectangle (starting at one of the long edges) into a tight roll. Pinch the end to seal.
  • Braid the Bread: Cut each roll into two pieces and twist the two pieces (with the cut sides up) to form two babka rolls. Add shaped babka to loaf pans lined with parchment paper and let them rise covered with a towel in a warm spot for 45 minutes.

How to Shape Chocolate Babka

  • Divide the Dough: Divide the dough into two pieces and roll them into rectangles with a rolling pin. Spread the chocolate filling over each rectangle with a knife or offset spatula.
  • Roll & Seal the Dough: Roll the rectangle (starting at one of the long edges) into a tight roll. Pinch the end to seal.
  • Braid the Bread: Cut each roll into two pieces and twist the two pieces (with the cut sides up) to form two babka rolls. Add shaped babka to loaf pans lined with parchment paper and let them rise covered with a towel in a warm spot for 45 minutes.

Baking Chocolate Babka

  • Bake the Babka: Bake the babka loaves in a preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
  • Make the Soaking Syrup: While the babka is baking, make the syrup by combining the water and sugar in a saucepan and simmering until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Brush the Bread: Brush the baked babkas with syrup. Remove the loaves from the pans and allow them to cool on a wire rack before serving.

Hot Tip: Add a tablespoon of cinnamon to the chocolate filling if you’d like. You can also sprinkle chocolate chips on top of the babka before baking it for extra texture. 

baked babka in a pan

3 Tips for Making Bakery-Worthy Chocolate Babka 

These pointers will help you make a chocolate babka worthy of any bakery window. 

  • Use a standing mixer to speed up the process. To save your forearms the work and speed up the process, enlist the help of a standing mixer with a dough hook to turn the dough perfectly elastic. 
  • Shape the dough on a well-floured surface. To prevent the dough from sticking and being too difficult to work with, shape it on a well-floured surface. 
  • Opt for unsalted butter. Avoid altering the sweet taste of the bread but use unsalted butter for the dough and chocolate filling.

Making Chocolate Babka in Advance

There are two different ways you can prep your babka in advance – storing the dough or freezing it unbaked.

  • Refrigerate the Dough: To make chocolate babka in advance, you can refrigerate the babka dough for up to two days. You can also freeze the fully baked babka that has been tightly sealed and fully wrapped.
  • Freeze the Babka Unbaked: Optionally, you can freeze the unbaked babka. After you form the babka into shape, place it on a parchment-lined sheet pan and freeze. Once fully frozen you can transfer it to an airtight container. When ready to bake, allow to thaw at room temperature for 5 hours before baking.

Storing Baked Chocolate Babka 

To store chocolate babka for up to 3 days, keep it at room temperature in an airtight container. You can keep it fresh for even longer by wrapping it in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and freezing it for up to 1 month. To thaw the babka, place it on the countertop for a couple of hours and optionally reheat it in the oven for a couple of minutes. 

FAQ

Is chocolate babka a bread or cake?

Despite how sweet it is, chocolate babka is indeed a bread and not a cake. That said, some recipes pack more of the chocolate filling in and are adorned with chocolate chip or streusel toppings, making them much sweeter and more decadent.

Is chocolate babka served warm or cold?

Chocolate babka can be served warm or cold – it’s really up to preference. Eat it straight out of the oven or allow it to cool down and serve it as a pastry.

Are challah and babka the same?

Both challah and babka have similar dough ingredients that are egg-heavy. The main difference between the two is that challah is made with oil while babka is made with butter.

Is chocolate babka breakfast or dessert?

You can have chocolate babka for either breakfast or dessert. If you’re having it at breakfast, pair it with coffee or tea. If you’re eating it for dessert, warm it up and serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

What is the difference between babka and brioche?

Babka is made with brioche dough, so it falls into the brioche family. The big difference is that babka is often braided with different fillings like chocolate, cinnamon, or nuts.

Baked babka on a parchment paper

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Natalya Drozhzhin

Natalya founded Momsdish to demonstrate that placing a homemade meal on the table is not hard at all. Natalya makes cooking easier and approachable, by simplifying the ingredients, while still producing the same great taste.