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Chocolate babkas are popular for a reason — their dark chocolate filling melts right into a slightly sweet dough and becomes pure magic as it bakes and rises into a soft, pillowy loaf. Babkas may look complicated to make, but their signature pattern is achieved by a simple cutting-and-braiding technique that looks amazing, even if you don’t pull it off perfectly. Here’s how you can make your very own babka at home.
The Main Ingredients You’ll Need for Chocolate Babka
This recipe makes two loaves, so that you can keep one and give the other away — or keep both for yourself!
Here are the ingredients you’ll need.
The Two Things That Take This Chocolate Babka Over the Top
To make this version super delicious, I incorporated two things that I learned from Breads Bakery in New York. The first tip is that, in addition to a spreadable chocolate filling, more chopped-up chocolate should be sprinkled over the filling before the dough is rolled up. This chocolate melts during baking and adds an extra boost of pure chocolaty flavor.
The second tip involves the use of a glaze. A simple sugar syrup is brushed on the top of the babka as soon as it comes out of the oven. This glaze gives it a gorgeous sheen, but also adds a layer of moisture and helps keep the babka from drying out too quickly.
How to Make Chocolate Babka
Babka is beautiful because of the swirls of chocolate running throughout. To get that signature look, roll out the dough, top it with the chocolate filling, and roll it up into a log. Chill the log for 15 minutes, then cut it in half lengthwise. Turn the halves cut-side up — you’ll see lines of chocolate running down the length of the dough.
To braid the babka, cross the halves at the center point to form an “X.” Starting at the center point, twist the two halves toward one end, then repeat with twisting toward the other end. Twisting from the center keeps the dough from stretching out too much and getting too long. As you work, keep the cut-side up as much as possible to evenly distribute the chocolate layers. Once twisted, transfer the babka to the loaf pan, tucking the ends underneath itself — and again, make sure the chocolate layers are close to the top.
Babkas freeze wonderfully well, so just wrap up a cooled loaf in plastic wrap, then wrap again in aluminum foil or place in a plastic zip-top freezer bag. Freeze for up to two months and thaw on the counter for a few hours when you’re ready to eat. If you like your babka toasted, skip using a standard toaster because the chocolate can burn. Place slices on a baking sheet, and toast in a toaster oven or regular oven instead. If you’re feeling extra, turn those slices into an over-the-top French toast!