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Chocolate Babka

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June Xie

A Jewish sweet braided bread loved by all, babka is stuffed, rolled, then baked with a variety of fillings. Chocolate babka tends to dominate the flavor popularity contest, but there's a certain appeal to a cinnamon babka that just can't be denied—which is why this recipe snuck both into the mix.

The bread.

Adapted from our buttery bioche bread, the dough here is lush and soft with just the right amount of springiness. It's lightly sweetened, properly salted, and uses one egg yolk in addition to a whole egg for a touch of extra richness and creaminess. We're using instant yeast but an equal amount of active dry yeast will get the job done just as well.

The filling

The platonic ideal of babka must tread a fine line between bread and pastry, embodying the best of both realms. Having enough sweetened filling tucked between the folds of the brioche is key to achieving that balance: a babka with a scant amount of chocolate is a sad babka indeed. To achieve feathery light layers of chocolate and brioche, we first brush the dough with a tablespoon of melted butter, then slather on a modest layer of chocolate ganache, then top with chocolate chips. This recipe calls for a little bit of lemon zest in the chocolate filling to balance out the sweetness with a fresh citrus lift—you could substitute with orange zest or eliminate altogether for unadulterated chocolate explosion.

The streusel

Growing up in NYC, Green's babka was (and still is) the golden standard of babka for me. Even though in recent years Breads Bakery has stolen the show on the babka scene, my allegiance still lies with my childhood favorite. Sold in so many delicatessens across the city, at Whole Foods, and repackaged for retail at landmark establishments like Katz's and Russ & Daughters, this OG babka's allure is plain to see: rich, moist, and densely fudgy on the inside, hugged by an abundance of light, crumbly streusel that falls off everywhere, gracing every single bite.

The streusel in our recipe is simple: equal parts flour and powdered sugar spiked with cinnamon and a pinch of salt to amplify the flavor, cut together with just enough butter to barely hold it all together. After brushing the loaf with a lightly sweetened egg wash, sprinkle the streusel on evenly across the top of the loaf and gently press it into the dough to secure it into the loaf. 

The bake

A lot of babka recipes call for baking at 350° but a slightly higher temperature will ensure a lightly caramelized exterior crust while maintaining a delicate and tender interior crumb. We recommend baking this loaf at 375° for about 45 minutes if you want a fudgier babka, or go for a little while longer, about 50 to 55 minutes, if you want the inside to be a little more dry and set. Kept at room temperature in an airtight container or bag, this loaf will stay as moist as the day it was baked for 3 to 4 days. For longer storage, slice up the loaf once it's cooled to room temperature and freeze for up to 2 months.

If you've made this recipe, please leave us a comment and rating down below to let us know how you liked it!

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Yields: 8 servings
Prep Time: 0 hours 20 mins
Total Time: 5 hours 30 mins
For the babka dough
1/3 c.

milk, lukewarm (80 g.)


(0.25-oz.) packet instant yeast

1/3 c.

granulated sugar, divided (70 g.)

1 2/3 c.

all-purpose flour, divided (212 g.)


large eggs, divided

1 tsp.

kosher salt (6 g.)

6 tbsp.

butter, softened (84 g.)

For the chocolate filling
1 tbsp.

butter, melted and cooled (14 g.)

3 tbsp.

heavy cream (45 g.)

1 3/4 c.

chocolate chips, divided (300 g.)

Zest of 1/2 lemon (optional)

Kosher salt

For the streusel topping
3 tbsp.

powdered sugar (21 g.)

3 tbsp.

all-purpose flour (21 g.)

1 tbsp.

butter (14 g.)

1/2 tsp.

ground cinnamon

Pinch kosher salt

For the egg wash

Reserved egg white

1 tsp.

granulated sugar

Pinch kosher salt

  1. Make the sponge: To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, add lukewarm milk, yeast, ⅔ cup flour, and 4 teaspoons sugar. Using a spatula, mix until well combined, then cover with and let sit for at least 30 minutes, up to 2 hours. 
  2. Once the sponge has formed some air pockets, add in 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk (reserving the egg white for the egg wash), remaining 1 cup flour, remaining ¼ cup sugar, and salt. Mix on low speed until well combined, then gradually increase to medium-high speed. Continue mixing, scraping down bowl every 2 to 3 minutes, until dough becomes elastic and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. With the mixer running, add in butter gradually, 1 tablespoon at a time, letting each tablespoon fully incorporate into the dough before adding the next, 5 minutes. Continue mixing on medium-high speed until the dough is glossy and passes the windowpane test, 3 to 5 minutes more. Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to overnight.
  4. 30 minutes before you’re ready to assemble the babka, make chocolate filling: In a microwave-safe bowl, melt together butter, cream, and 1 cup chocolate chips in 20-second increments until smooth, stirring between each heating to prevent burning. Stir in zest, if using, and salt. Let cool before using.
  5. Make streusel: In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Using your finger tips, work in butter until evenly distributed and tiny clumps of streusel form. Refrigerate until ready for use.
  6. Make egg wash: In a small bowl, whisk together reserved egg white with sugar and salt. 
  7. Transfer chilled dough out onto a floured surface and roll out into a thin 16” square. Brush dough with melted butter. Using an offset spatula, spread chocolate filling into an even layer across the dough, then sprinkle remaining ¾ cup chocolate chips on top. Tightly roll dough into a rope, then fold the rope in half and braid the two segments around each other with 3 twists. 
  8. Line a 8 ½”-x-4 ½” loaf pan with parchment. Place braided dough into loaf pan, tucking in the ends of the rope underneath. Gently press dough into an even layer. Brush more egg wash over the entire loaf, then sprinkle on streusel and press lightly to adhere to loaf. Cover and let proof until dough rises almost to the lip of the pan, about 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375° 15 minutes before you’re ready to bake. 
  9. Bake until deeply golden on top and the center of the loaf registers between 190° and 205°, 45 to 50 minutes.
  10. Lift loaf out by the ends of the parchment and transfer onto a cooling rack. Let cool completely before slicing.

June Xie
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