Chocolate Babka

published Nov 7, 2023
Chocolate Babka Recipe

Swirls of dark chocolate are braided through this yeasted bread that’s baked in a loaf pan.


Makes 2 (9-inch) loaves

Prep1 hour

Cook40 minutes to 55 minutes

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A sliced chocolate babka showing the texture and braided in chocolate.
Credit: Photo: Ryan Liebe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

Every time I see a picture of babka, I find myself mesmerized by all of its lovely twists, turns, and swirly patterns. Whether it’s filled with spices and nuts or stuffed with a savory filling, babkas are beautiful yeasted labors of love. 

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. 

Credit: Photo: Ryan Liebe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

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.

  • Basic baking ingredients: To make the dough, you’ll need all-purpose flour, sugar, salt, and vanilla.
  • Yeast: Two packets of active dry yeast are what makes the dough rise in a relatively quick period of time.
  • Dark chocolate: Go for a 70% or darker chocolate here. Opt for bars or discs over chocolate chips, which sometimes have a coating that doesn’t melt as well.
  • Eggs: Three whole eggs and one egg yolk give the dough richness.
  • Dairy: You’ll need milk (any fat percentage is fine), unsalted butter, and cream.

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.

Credit: Photo: Ryan Liebe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

How to Make Chocolate Babka

  1. Make the dough. Start by proofing yeast in some warm milk, then combine it with eggs, flour, sugar, vanilla, and salt to make a wet dough. Gradually mix in the butter until a smoother dough forms. Let the dough rise in a warm place.
  2. Make the filling. While the dough is rising, make a chocolate filling by combining melted butter, cream, sugar, chocolate, and vanilla. I like ground cinnamon in my filling too, but that’s optional. Refrigerate the filling so that it sets up enough to be spreadable like Nutella.
  3. Roll out and fill the dough. Roll out each portion of dough, then top with the chocolate filling and chopped chocolate. Roll up into a log and chill for 15 minutes to help the dough and filling set up and make it neater and easier to cut.
  4. Cut and braid the dough. Cut each log in half lengthwise to expose the chocolate layers, then braid the halves together.
  5. Proof the dough. Transfer the loaves into 9×5-inch loaf pans and let them rise a little more while the oven heats.
  6. Bake the babka and make the glaze: Bake the babkas, and make the glaze as they’re baking.
  7. Brush the babkas with glaze. Brush the tops of the babkas with glaze. Let cool for 20 minutes, then take the loaves out of the pans and let cool completely.

How to Braid 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.

Credit: Photo: Ryan Liebe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

How to Store Babka

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!

Other Babka Recipes

Chocolate Babka Recipe

Swirls of dark chocolate are braided through this yeasted bread that’s baked in a loaf pan.

Prep time 1 hour

Cook time 40 minutes to 55 minutes

Makes 2 (9-inch) loaves

Serves 16

Nutritional Info


For the dough:

  • 1 1/2 sticks

    (6 ounces) unsalted butter

  • 3

    large eggs

  • 1

    large egg yolk

  • 1/2 cup

    milk, any fat percentage

  • 2 (1/4-ounce) packets

    active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)

  • 1/2 cup

    plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar, divided

  • 4 cups

    plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

  • 2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • Cooking spray or unsalted butter, for the pans

For the chocolate filling:

  • 6 tablespoons

    (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

  • 7 ounces

    bittersweet chocolate

  • 1/2 cup

    heavy cream

  • 1/3 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground cinnamon (optional)

For the glaze:

  • 1/3 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1/4 cup



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Make the dough:

  1. Cut 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter into 12 pieces. Place 3 large eggs and 1 large egg yolk in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let everything sit at room temperature until the butter is softened.

  2. Warm 1/2 cup milk in the microwave or on the stovetop until just warm to the touch (100 to 110ºF). Sprinkle 2 packets active dry yeast and 2 teaspoons of the granulated sugar over the milk and stir to combine. Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.

  3. Add the yeast mixture, remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt to the bowl of eggs. Beat with the dough hook attachment on low speed, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times as needed, until combined, about 2 minutes.

  4. Increase the speed to medium. Beat in the butter 1 piece at a time, waiting for each piece to be incorporated before adding the next, about 5 minutes. Continue to beat until the dough clears the sides of the bowl, about 2 minutes. If the dough is very sticky and doesn’t clear the side of the bowl, beat in more flour 1 tablespoon at a time until it does.

  5. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and take out the hook attachment. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place until puffed and spongy (the dough does not need to double), about 1 hour. Meanwhile, make the filling.

Make the chocolate filling:

  1. Cut 6 tablespoons unsalted butter into small cubes. Coarsely chop 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate into pieces no larger than 1/2-inch (about 1 1/2 cups).

  2. Place 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, whisking often, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbling around the edges (do not let it boil). Add the butter and whisk until almost completely melted.

  3. Turn off the heat. Add half of the chocolate (3/4 cup), 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon if using. Whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl. Refrigerate until firm enough to spread (like Nutella or peanut butter), stirring every 15 minutes, about 45 minutes total.

Assemble the babkas:

  1. Coat 2 (9-inch) loaf pans with cooking spray or unsalted butter. Gently punch down the dough, then divide it into 2 portions (19 to 20 ounces each). Shape each portion into a rough ball. Sprinkle a work surface with a little all-purpose flour. Place 1 dough ball on the flour. Roll into a 10x16-inch rectangle that’s a scant 1/4-inch thick, with a shorter side closer to you.

  2. Spread half of the chocolate filling (about 2/3 cup) onto the rectangle, leaving a 1/2-inch border at the top. Sprinkle with half of the chopped chocolate (scant 1/3 cup). Starting at the bottom edge, roll the dough up into a tight log. Pinch the dough together to seal the seam, then position seam-side down. Repeat rolling out, filling, and rolling up the second ball of dough. Place the logs on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes to firm up slightly.

  3. Braid the babkas one at a time: Using a large serrated knife, cut the log in half lengthwise, creating two halves. Turn the halves so that the layers are facing up. Cross the halves in the middle to create an “X.” Starting at where they cross, twist the bottom halves around each other to the other end, doing your best to keep the layers facing up, then press the halves together at the end. Repeat twisting from the middle to the other end.

  4. Carefully transfer each loaf into a loaf pan layered-side up, tucking the ends underneath the loaf. Let rise for 15 minutes at room temperature. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the babkas:

  1. Bake until the top is browned and firm to the touch, and the center is set and registers at least 190ºF, 35 to 45 minutes. Meanwhile, make the syrup. Bring 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup water to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat.

  2. Place the pans on a wire rack. Immediately brush the top of the babkas generously with the syrup (you may not use it all). Let cool for 20 minutes. Run a thin knife around each babka to loosen. Remove the babkas from the pans to the wire rack. Let cool completely before slicing, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Recipe Notes

Making babka by hand: The babka dough can be made by hand, but is labor intensive. Stir the wet ingredients together until a sticky dough forms, then knead in the butter a piece at a time by hand.

Make ahead: The dough can be made and left to do the first rise in the refrigerator overnight, up to 24 hours. Let sit at room temperature until the dough is soft enough to easily roll out, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, make the filling and cool. Assemble and bake the babka as directed.

Storage: Store tightly wrapped at room temperature for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.