Chocolate Pecan Pie Babka

updated Sep 25, 2020
Chocolate Pecan Pie Babka

This fun twist on babka boasts a chocolate-y fudge-like filling reminiscent of a gooey pecan pie.

Makes1 (8 1/2-inch) loaf

Prep25 minutes

Cook30 minutes to 40 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Chocolate pecan babka on cutting board.
Credit: Photo: Tara Donne | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

Babka is one of my most popular desserts. Who can resist the winning combination of bread and chocolate? I’ve been on a babka-baking streak over the past few months, playing around with new shapes and flavors, and have even been teaching virtual babka-making classes to students aged 12 to 85 almost weekly.

Today, I’m sharing my best creation yet. It boasts a chocolate-y, fudge-like filling reminiscent of a gooey pecan pie, and with its impressive swirls and crunchy nut topping it sure is impressive to look at. Prepare it this Rosh Hashanah and indulge yourself in a crunchy, gooey, comforting babka for a (very) sweet New Year.

Credit: Photo: Tara Donne | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

Babka’s Rise to Fame

The word babka means grandmother in Polish — the earliest versions were baked in fluted pans that looked like a Polish grandmother’s wide skirt. The first babkas were made from leftover challah dough as a Friday afternoon treat for hungry kids who were likely smelling their mother’s Shabbat cooking. In Poland, babka was often the first food consumed to break the Yom Kippur fast. Immigrants brought the recipes with them to Israel and America, where they became popular in bakeries and then appeared in community cookbooks.

Over the decades, babka loaves have grown in prominence due their magical taste as well as a Seinfeld episode where Elaine said “You can’t beat a babka.” Today, there are so many unique versions, both sweet and savory, to satisfy every babka-lover. I’ve seen babkas shaped into wreaths, cupcakes, and and even pull-apart monkey breads. Babka is here to stay.

Chocolate Pecan Pie Babka

This fun twist on babka boasts a chocolate-y fudge-like filling reminiscent of a gooey pecan pie.

Prep time 25 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes to 40 minutes

Makes 1 (8 1/2-inch) loaf

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 8 tablespoons

    (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, divided

  • 1/4 cup

    lukewarm water

  • 1 (1/4-ounce) packet

    active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

  • 1/4 cup

    plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, divided

  • 2 cups

    all-purpose flour, plus more for sprinkling

  • 1

    large egg

  • 1

    large egg yolk (save the white)

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

For the filling and topping:

  • 1 1/2 ounces

    bittersweet chocolate

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter or margarine

  • 1/4 cup

    packed light brown sugar

  • 3 tablespoons

    light corn syrup

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 cup

    pecan halves

  • 1

    large egg white

Instructions

  1. Make the dough: Coat an 8 1/2-inch loaf pan with 1 tablespoon of the unsalted butter. Place the remaining 7 tablespoons unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and let sit at room temperature until softened.

  2. Fill a liquid measuring cup with 1/4 cup warm water. Add 1 packet active dry yeast and 1 teaspoon of the granulated sugar and stir to combine. Let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.

  3. Add the yeast mixture, remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 large egg, 1 large egg yolk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt to the stand mixer. Mix on low speed until combined, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times as needed. Continue to mix on medium speed until a soft, smooth dough forms, about 2 minutes. If the dough is very sticky, mix in more flour 1 tablespoon at a time (do not add more than 4 tablespoons).

  4. Cover the bowl and let rise in a warm place until increased in volume and sponginess (the dough does not need to double), about 1 hour. Meanwhile, make the filling.

  5. Make the filling: Coarsely chop 1 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (about 1/4 cup). Place in a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl. Cut 2 tablespoons unsalted butter into 2 pieces and add to the bowl. Microwave 1 minute, then whisk until smooth and combined. If the chocolate and butter are still unmelted, microwave for 30 seconds more.

  6. Add 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar, 3 tablespoons light corn syrup, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, and whisk well to combine.

  7. Assemble the babka: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Coarsely chop 1 cup pecan halves. Reserve 1 tablespoon for sprinkling on top of the babka.

  8. Beat 1 large egg white in a small bowl. Sprinkle a work surface with a little flour. Roll the dough into a large, thin rectangle, about 10 inches tall and 12 inches wide, with a longer side closer to you.

  9. Spread the chocolate filling onto the dough rectangle, leaving a 1/2-inch border at the top. Sprinkle with the chopped pecans. Start from the bottom edge, roll the dough up into a tight log. Pinch the dough together to seal the seam. Using a large serrated knife, cut the log in half lengthwise, creating two halves with lots of layers.

  10. Turn the halves so that the layers are facing up. Press the two halves together at one end, then twist the halves around each other, creating a spiral. Press the halves together again at the other end. Flour your hands and carefully lift the loaf into the loaf pan. Brush the top of the loaf with a thin layer of egg white. Sprinkle with the reserved 1 tablespoon chopped pecans.

  11. Bake until the top is browned and firm to the touch, 40 to 45 minutes. You can also check by inserting a skewer or instant-read thermometer into the center of the loaf — it should come out with a few crumbs or register at least 210ºF. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Remove the babka from the pan and let cool 10 minutes more before slicing.

Recipe Notes

Making by hand: To make the dough by hand, stir the ingredients together in a large bowl until combined, then knead by hand on a work surface until a soft, smooth dough forms.

Storage: Store covered at room temperature for up to 3 days, or tightly wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months.