Chocolate babka, but double the chocolate! This very special babka has cocoa in the dough itself, lending an even richer chocolate taste to every bite.
Trials of a double chocolate babka
This post is long overdue. I talked about the recipe first in early 2019 when I set a goal to figure it out. Adding cocoa to a dough can be tricky because cocoa inhibits yeast activation and dries out the dough and at the same time, you want to be able to taste the cocoa so you need to find the right amount and how to balance it with the rest of the ingredients. I probably made six doughs before I found my happy place.
In February, I finally landed on a recipe that worked. I was really excited about it, and then got distracted by well, life. My first trimester with my second daughter was a rough one and lasted all spring; I wasn’t baking much (morning sickness was all day, everyday sickness!) and if I did manage to bake I certainly didn’t want to eat any of it.
But in the summer, once I was feeling a lot better, I revisited my cocoa dough in a beautiful marbled challah and finally talked about it here. Back then I was convinced that the filling dominates regardless of the surrounding dough, both in taste and looks. I was fairly certain no one would be interested in the recipe. But after making my cocoa dough several times for these chocolate hazelnut spread rolls, I think the cocoa dough definitely brings something to the table. And, after posting it on insta, I noticed interest in the recipe and decided it needed a dedicated space on this blog.
A Double Dose of Chocolate is Always Welcome
What makes this special? First of all, the dough is wonderfully soft and pillowy in all the right ways – and still chocolatey! My husband had the best description for the challah: it tastes like chocolate without the sweetness. Second, who doesn’t want a double dose of chocolate? Here’s the thing about this bread; the chocolate flavor is amplified by the surrounding dough. As enjoyable as babkas are what is really special about them is the filling (in the same way the best part of a chocolate chip cookie is often the chocolate, if we are being honest). So why make this? For the same reason you’d make a double chocolate cookie or a double chocolate muffin: more chocolate!
Notes on making Double Chocolate Babka
What if you just want to make one loaf? In this case I’d ask you to use 1 egg and 1 yolk, and you may need to add a bit more flour to firm up the dough.
You can do a first rise in the fridge overnight. This firms up the dough and makes it a tad easier for rolling out.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the warm milk and yeast. Set aside for 5 minutes for yeast to foam. In a small bowl combine the cocoa and boiling hot water. Stir it until it's a paste.
To the bowl add the oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk to combine. Add the flour, cocoa mix and salt to the bowl and knead on medium until dough starts gathering around the hook, about 10 minutes. Add a few tablespoons of flour as needed if the dough seems impossible to gather.
Set the dough in an oiled bowl and turn around a few times to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for a few hours.
After about two hours, the dough should be doubled in size. Punch it down and divide into two halves. Ready your loaf pans by buttering them and placing a parchment sling.
Make the filling: over low heat add the butter to a small pot. Once it has melted add the chocolate and stir until it’s melted. Add the powdered sugar and cocoa and stir to combine. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Set aside.
Turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll it out to a large rectangle with the shorter side being just a bit longer than your loaf pan. The longer side can be as long as you can get without tearing the dough.
Spread half of the filling over the dough leaving an inch border. Roll the dough from the short side to create a log. Slice it in half with a sharp knife lengthwise.
Chocolate filling side up, twist the two logs around each other. Place your babka twist in the loaf pan.
Repeat with the second dough. Set both in a warm place for a second rise, for about 45 minutes to an hour.
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Once the babkas are tender and puffy, add a bit of water to the egg white and use it to brush over the babka (avoiding the exposed filling).
Bake for about 35 minutes. Check for doneness with a thermometer, a fully baked bread will register at 190F. If they aren’t there yet, cover with foil and bake for another 10 minutes.
Allow loaves to cool in pan for about 10 minutes before turning them out onto a cooling rack. Babka is best day of baking but will warm up nicely in a microwave the next day.