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Overhead shot of the finished Chocolate Espresso Babka.
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5 from 4 votes

Chocolate Espresso Babka

This Chocolate Espresso Babka is the perfect loaf for dessert breakfast, or a snack! A gooey, fudgey, chocolate filling is nestled into this enriched yeast brioche dough to produce a soft, fluffy bread.
Prep Time30 mins
Active Time30 mins
Chill & Rise Time9 hrs
Total Time10 hrs
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Eastern European, Jewish
Yield: 12
Calories: 257kcal
Author: Callan Rowe

Equipment

  • Digital thermometer
  • Stand mixer with dough hook
  • Rolling Pin
  • Offset spatula or rubber spatula
  • Standard loaf pan (9x5" or 8x4")
  • Bench scraper optional

Materials

Dough

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar 50g
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup warm milk (110℉) 60ml
  • 1 large egg + 1 yolk room temperature
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour 270g
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature & cut into tablespoon pieces (85g)

Filling

  • 3 oz chocolate (~60-70%) bars or chips
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted (85g)
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar 30g
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder 21g
  • 3-4 teaspoons espresso powder

Espresso Syrup

  • ¼ cup water 60ml
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar 50g
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder

Instructions

Making the dough

  • Combine one tablespoon of sugar (from the ¼ cup), yeast, and warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer to bloom for 5 minutes. Once foamy, add the remaining sugar, egg and yolk, flour, and salt. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on medium speed until it comes together into a shaggy ball.
  • Turn the speed one click lower, then add 1 tablespoon of the softened butter at a time. Wait to add the next piece of butter until the prior piece is mostly incorporated.
  • Mix on medium high speed until the dough is totally smooth, scraping down the sides and bottoms a few times. If the dough hasn't turned smooth, increase the speed and keep mixing. It will come together!
  • When it’s ready, the dough should completely be pulled away from the sides and mostly or fully off of the bottom. If a bit is still sticking to the bottom of the bowl, just pull it off. The dough will be very soft and supple when it’s ready.
  • Form the dough into a ball and place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. The dough won’t look like it rose very much, which is normal!

Filling (*see notes)

  • Chop the chocolate, then melt the butter and chocolate together in 30 second bursts in the microwave, stirring in between each, until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and espresso powder and mix until it forms a paste.
  • Prepare a standard loaf pan with a strip of parchment paper overhangs and set side.

Assembly

  • Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin, shape the dough into a rectangle with your hands, then roll the dough out into a roughly 10x14 inch rectangle. Push the dough down a few times with your rolling pin to begin to flatten, then roll. Use a bench scraper to keep the dough in a rectangle shape.
  • Once rolled out, make the filling, then immediately spread it over the dough with an offset spatula. Leave a ½ inch border on all sides except for one of the long edges (this will be where you start the initial roll). Work quickly, and spread it as evenly as possible.
  • Starting from the long edge where the filling meets the edge, tightly and evenly roll the dough into a log. Pinch the long edge of the dough into the roll the whole way across, and then place that side down to keep the seal.
  • Transfer the dough to a parchment lined baking sheet and gently push the dough together from each side, just to re-compact the log a bit.
  • Cut off the edge of each side of the log - about an inch (which is what you didn’t cover with filling). Then, cut the entire log in half lengthwise and place each piece in line with each other so the filling side is up.
  • Pinch the top edges together as best as possible, then, keeping the cut sides up, twist each piece of dough around each other as many times as possible, then pinch to seal the bottom edge. This part may not look perfect, but the key is to keep the cut sides UP as best as possible.
  • Place the dough in the prepared loaf pan. If it's too long to fit in, just tuck one of the edges next to it like an “s”.
  • Cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow it to rise in a slightly warm location for about 1-2 hours until the dough puffs up and starts to fill out the pan a bit. If your kitchen is rather cold, try another room in the house, or allow it to rise in a closed oven (no heat) with just the light on.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F/190℃, uncover the loaf, and bake for 25-30 minutes in the middle rack. You’ll know it’s done when you can insert a sharp knife and it has little resistance. If it still feels at all stretchy or doughy when you poke it in, allow it to bake for another 3-5 minutes and check again.

Simple Syrup

  • As soon as the babka goes into the oven, make the simple syrup. Add the water, sugar, and espresso powder in a small saucepan and heat and stir until the sugar dissolves, then cool completely.
  • As soon as the babka comes out of the oven, brush or spoon the simple syrup over the top, getting every nook, cranny, and edge, until it’s gone. It may feel like too much syrup, but it’s not!
  • Cool until warm, then slice and enjoy.

Notes

Store the loaf, tightly wrapped, at room temperature for 3 days. Freeze (wrapped in plastic wrap, foil, and in a ziplock bag) for up to 3 months.
It is crucial to properly measure your flour and cocoa powder for this recipe. A scale is recommended. 
To start, the dough will look dry, crumbly and shaggy. After adding the butter, it will begin to moisten. It will start to come together on medium to medium high speed. Then, you will start to hear it slapping the bowl and pulling off the sides. It will then become totally soft, will have pulled completely off the sides and mostly off of the bottom. If a small amount is still adhering to the bottom, that’s fine.
Also note the dough (after chill time) will feel rather dense and will take bit of muscle to roll out. This is what you want, just take your time!
*Do not make the filling until your dough has been rolled out. Because cocoa powder is a drying agent, making the filling too soon with result in a crumbly texture rather than smooth, thick, spreadable texture. If needed, add an additional tablespoon of melted butter to bring the filling back to a spreadable consistency. 
1/17/22 update: Note that the quick babka method has been removed from the post. After additional testing, this method could not withstand the thick filling, which is how the fudgy interior texture is achieved and is crucial to the outcome of the bake. Additionally, the butter in the filling has been increased by 1 tablespoon to assist with it drying out too quickly.

Nutrition

Calories: 257kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 37mg | Sodium: 108mg | Potassium: 88mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 290IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 1mg