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Chocolate Babka with Coffee Syrup

Recipe for Chocolate Babka Loaves
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Chocolate Babka with Coffee Syrup

This recipe for chocolate filled babka makes two loaves that are moist and decadent with a toasty pecan crunch and a rich coffee syrup.
Course Bread, Breakfast, Dessert
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 13 hours 50 minutes
Servings 2 loaves

Ingredients

Dough

  • 118 milliliters whole milk
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 67 grams granulated sugar plus 1/4 teaspoon
  • 531 grams all-purpose flour more for rolling
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 grapefruit zested
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg grated
  • 4 large eggs room temperature and whisked
  • 140 grams unsalted butter room temperature

Chocolate Filling

  • 100 grams sugar
  • 177 milliliters heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate chips
  • 112 grams unsalted butter 1 stick
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup pecans crushed

Coffee Liqueur Syrup

  • 135 grams granulated sugar
  • 158 milliliters water
  • 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur

Instructions

  1. Pour milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and warm until just lukewarm. You should be able to touch the milk without burning yourself and it should not come to a boil, or even a simmer. Remove from heat, pour into a bowl, add yeast and 1/4 teaspoon sugar, and rest for 5 - 10 minutes until foamy.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, salt, vanilla, grapefruit zest, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon, mix the yeast-milk mixture into the flour, then add beaten eggs. Mix with spoon until the dough forms a soft, loose ball. Add flour 1 tablespoon at a time, working the flour into the dough between each addition (use your hands if necessary or easier - I did), until the dough no longer sticks to the side of the bowl. Be generous with the flour here. Keep adding 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough truly isn't sticking to your hands or the spoon and the side of the bowl.
  3. Add half the butter to the dough, making sure that it is soft and workable, but not melting. Work the butter into the dough until it is fully incorporated and no longer visible. Add in the remaining butter and work into dough. Knead dough until it is smooth and elastic, adding flour 1 tablespoon at a time if needed. The dough should be smooth and stretchy and not stick to your hands or the bowl.
  4. Butter the sides and bottom of a clean bowl and drop dough into the bowl, turning it over to coat all sides of the dough with butter. Cover bowl with a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm, dry place (I always use the inside of my oven with the ovenlight on) to rise for 2 hours.
  5. After the dough has risen, press down with your hands, cover again with clean towel, and refrigerate overnight to let the dough rise and fully develop its flavor.
  6. The next day prepare the filling about 1 hour before baking. Add sugar, heavy cream, salt, chocolate, and diced butter to a heavy-bottomed saucepan and melt over medium-low heat, stirring to prevent the sugar and chocolate from burning. After about 5 minutes, once the chocolate is smooth and shiny, pour into a bowl, add vanilla, and leave at room temperature to let the filling thicken. Alternatively, you can refrigerate or freeze the chocolate filling to shorten thickening time. This makes it much easier to work with.
  7. Butter two 9-inch loaf pans and cover with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang of parchment paper to use as handled to pull the bread out of the pans once baked.
  8. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide into two even halves. On a well-floured surface, roll one dough ball into a thin rectangle of about 20 x 24-inches.
  9. Spread half the chocolate filling over the rolled dough, then sprinkle with pecans. Roll the dough jelly-roll style, keeping the layers tight and close, with as little space between them as possible.
  10. Once rolled, use a sharp knife to cut the log lengthwise in the middle of the log, leaving 1/2-inch uncut and attached at the top. Braid the two strands over each other, tucking the ends of the roll beneath the dough. Carefully transfer the dough into one of the prepared loaf pans and repeat for the second loaf.
  11. Cover both loaves with kitchen towel and let rise at room temperature for 2 hours.
  12. Preheat oven to 350.
  13. While loaves are rising, prepare the coffee syrup. Add sugar and water to a saucepan over medium heat. Swirl or stir until sugar has dissolved, then simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add coffee liqueur.
  14. Bake loaves for 45 - 50 minutes, until loaves are browned. Use a sharp knife to pierce holes across the loaf and pour half the syrup over each loaf. Allow to rest in pan for 5 - 10 minutes to absorb syrup, then transfer to wire rack to complete cooling.

Recipe Notes

King Arthur's Flour has a wonderful tutorial for braiding babka. I used it to create both a classic twist loaf and a braided knot. The braided knot is drop dead beautiful, but I much preferred the flavor of the classic twist. There's was a much thicker distribution of chocolate filling in each slice. Many babka recipes include a streusel. Please feel free to add one of your liking! I found the bread sweet enough in its own right.
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