Chocolate Babka Recipe
This homemade Chocolate Babka is soft, fluffy, and swirled with decadent ribbons of chocolate ganache that melt into every groove. It’s the ultimate breakfast treat or light dessert to enjoy with the family.
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Homemade Chocolate Babka
Enjoying a slice of chocolate babka is like biting into a decadent, jumbo-sized chocolate croissant, or a giant, chocolate-filled cinnamon roll, minus the cinnamon. It’s really something special. The sweet crumb is irresistibly tender, and the simple homemade ganache is such a treat.
Since the best things come in pairs, this recipe makes not one, but two chocolate babkas. You might as well make two at once – it takes about the same amount of time as making one. Babkas are one of my favorite baked treats for gifting around the holidays as they look beautiful and taste even better.
What Is a Babka?
A babka is a traditional braided bread that originated among the Eastern European Jewish communities of Ukraine and Poland. ‘Babka’ means grandmother. It is like a sweet Challah or Brioche Bread with ribbons of chocolate (or sometimes cinnamon) throughout. These swirls of ganache separate the buttery crumb into melt-in-your-mouth layers. It’s a truly delicious baked treat that we love to make for the holidays, from Easter to Christmas.
Let’s have a quick look at the ingredients you’ll need to make your chocolate babkas. Below is an overview, with the full details available in the recipe card below.
- Milk – The milk for the dough should be warm, but not hot.
- Active Dry Yeast – Don’t forget to check the dates on your yeast packets to ensure it’s not expired.
- Sugar – Sugar helps feed the yeast, and sweetens the dough.
- Flour – I’ve had the best results with regular all-purpose flour.
- Eggs – remember let them come to room temperature.
- Butter – You’ll need melted butter for the batter as well as for brushing the top of the babkas before they’re baked. You can also brush the tops with Coconut Oil after baking if you’d like.
- Salt and Vanilla – use pure vanilla extract. Salt helps to balance and enhance the flavors of the dough.
- Chocolate Ganache – a combination of heavy cream, sugar and semi-sweet chocolate chips make the decadent chocolate sauce.
Pro Tip: If you don’t have a kitchen scale, the best way to measure flour correctly is to spoon it from the bag into a measuring cup. Afterward, use a knife to level off the top. Learn more about measuring dry ingredients in our video tutorial.
How to Make a Chocolate Babka
Making a gorgeous and glossy homemade chocolate babka takes some time because you can’t rush the dough rising, but the results are worth it! Begin by preparing the dough for your babkas:
- Activate the Yeast – Combine warm milk with yeast, and rest for about 7 minutes. Whisk in flour and sugar, then cover the bowl in plastic wrap and place it in a warm spot to rise until puffed up and foamy. Doing this in a 100ºF oven can help speed up the process.
- Combine the Ingredients – Whisk in eggs, melted butter, additional sugar, salt, and vanilla. With the dough hook attachment, gradually add the remaining flour until the dough is pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Knead the dough in the mixer on low for 8-10 minutes.
- Rise – Cover the dough and let it rise until doubled. This can take about an hour in a warm oven, or two hours at room temperature.
Pro Yeast Tips: Yeast works best in a warm environment. Bring the yeast to room temperature before using it. Also, make sure your milk and oven (if using the oven for proofing) are between 100-115 degrees F. If it’s hotter than that, you can deactivate and ruin the yeast.
Making the Chocolate Ganache
While the dough is rising, you’ll make the chocolate ganache. This is based on our go-to Chocolate Ganache recipe.
- Heat the Cream – Combine heavy cream and sugar in a pan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar while the cream reaches a simmer.
- Combine – Pour the hot cream into a bowl filled with chocolate chips. Make sure that all the chocolate is covered. Place a lid over the bowl and leave it to sit for a few minutes while the chocolate softens. Next, whisk the chocolate until smooth, then let it cool and thicken.
Shaping and Baking a Babka
When your dough has doubled in size and your chocolate ganache is ready, it’s time to shape and bake the babkas. Line a pair of loaf pans with parchment paper and give them a quick greasing with some butter. Here’s how easy the loaves are to assemble:
- Roll – First, divide the dough in half, and turn it out on a floured surface. Roll each half into a rectangle, roughly 12” by 16”.
- Chill – Spread about a third of the chocolate ganache over each dough rectangle. Next, roll the dough up into logs starting with the short side, wrap them in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Twist – After 15 minutes, remove the chilled rolls from the fridge. Use a sharp knife to cut the log in half lengthwise, leaving the top half-inch intact. Next, twist the two halves together. Repeat with the second roll, then transfer the dough to your lined loaf pans. Let the loaves to rise one more time.
- Bake – When the dough has risen and looks puffy, brush the top of the babkas with melted butter. Bake the babkas for 30 minutes at 350ºF, until the tops are golden brown.
Pro Tip: If you’d like to give your baked babka loaves a glossy sheen, brush them with coconut oil when they’re still hot from the oven. You can even drizzle or spread the last of the ganache over the top.
Technically, it’s sweet braided bread that’s also sometimes considered a cake. We’ll call it both.
Homemade babka is best when served slightly warmed up, or at room temperature.
Brioche and babka are very similar. A babka is often filled with chocolate, cinnamon, or other sweet fillings and shaped into a loaf, while brioche is twisted and baked into a knot.
Overbaking is the main reason a babka would be dry. Also, make sure not to overproof your dough which exhausts the yeast and results in tough and dry bread.
What Do You Eat With Chocolate Babka?
With its buttery crumb and decadent chocolate filling, a babka can be eaten as either a dessert or as a sweet treat at breakfast. Slices of babka pair perfectly with a warm cup of coffee or tea.
These babkas also make a great addition to a brunch table and more than satisfy as an afternoon snack. It’s rare that a babka lasts long enough to go stale in our house. But if it does? Well, that’s my excuse to turn leftover slices into Bread Pudding or French Toast.
A freshly baked chocolate babka is hard to beat. If you need to store your babkas, however, they do keep for a couple of days. I suggest storing it without the added chocolate sauce on top. Here’s how to do it:
- To Store: Seal the cooled chocolate babkas in an airtight container, or tightly wrapped in plastic wrap. Store loaves at room temperature and enjoy them within 2-3 days.
- Freezing: You can freeze the baked and cooled babkas, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 3 months. Thaw the loaves in the fridge or at room temperature before serving.
- To Reheat: If you’d like to warm up babka slices, you can zap them for a few seconds in the microwave. You can also pop them into the toaster oven wrapped in foil.
We’ll admit, a perfect chocolate babka takes a bit of time, but the payoff is so worth it. We hope this recipe becomes a new holiday tradition for you!
More Homemade Bread Recipes
Chocolate Babka Recipe
Ingredients for Chocolate Babka:
Ingredients for Chocolate Ganache:
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips**
How to Make Chocolate Babka:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, add warm milk, sprinkle top evenly with yeast and let sit for 7 min. Whisk in ½ cup flour and 2 Tbsp sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm oven (100˚F) for 25-30 min or at room temp 35-45 min until puffed.
- Whisk in eggs, 3 Tbsp melted butter, remaining 2 Tbsp sugar, salt, and vanilla. Using the dough hook on speed 2, add the remaining 3 cups of flour (1/2 cup at a time, letting it incorporate between additions). The dough should feel barely sticky to the touch but should not stick to the sides of the mixing bowl. Add an extra 1-2 Tbsp flour if needed. Once all flour is in, continue kneading on speed 2 for 8-10 min.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm oven for 1 hr or at room temp 2 hrs, until doubled in size. Meanwhile, make the chocolate ganache (instructions below).
- Once the dough has risen, divide it in half. Generously dust flour on a clean work surface and place 1 piece of dough in the center. Sprinkle dough with flour and roll into a 12" wide by 16" long rectangle. Spread with 1/3 of the ganache. Roll the dough up tightly starting with the shorter side.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 min. Cut each chilled roll in half lengthwise with a sharp knife, keeping the top 1/2" of the roll connected. Twist halves together a few times.
- Brush loaves with remaining 1 Tbsp melted butter and Bake at 350˚F on the center rack for 30 min or until golden brown. Brush hot loaves with coconut oil to give them a sheen or spread the remaining chocolate ganache over the tops.
How to Make Chocolate Ganache:
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine heavy whipping cream with 1/4 cup sugar, stirring until dissolved and cream reaches a simmer then remove from heat.
- Add chocolate chips to a medium bowl and pour the hot cream over the top, wiggling the bowl around to ensure the chocolate chips are covered. Cover the bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. Uncover and whisk starting from the center and moving outward until a smooth chocolate sauce has formed. Cool completely to room temperature or until the sauce has thickened. To speed set, refrigerate the ganache for 10 minutes at a time, whisking to check the consistency.