This decadent dessert is all you need to satisfy your chocolate cravings, filled with lots of Nutella swirls and some chopped dark chocolate for extra texture. It’s special shaping method helps in showcasing the braided layers of dough and chocolate. Challenging at first sight, the dough is surprisingly easy to work with, even though it will get a little messy if the ambient temperature is too high or the brioche isn’t properly chilled.
The dough used in this recipe is a brioche dough – it’s soft, fluffy, packed with butter and raised with yeast. It comes together with 7 basic ingredients you’ll most likely have on hand: milk (activates the yeast), sugar (feeds the yeast), butter (adds richness and flavor), yeast, eggs (help with flavor and shape), salt, flour. I really like to make the dough ahead and let it sit in the refrigerator so it has a chance to rise slowly overnight or for up to 2 days. I think it improves texture and how easy you can handle the dough.
The filling is simply made with Nutella (or any other chocolate sauce that will stay in place) and chopped dark chocolate – some of the pieces will melt and others will stay in chunks. This definitely improves the texture and it adds some depth, cutting through the sweetness of the Nutella. There are countless variations of fillings – cinnamon and pumpkin are some amazing ideas.
Easy Chocolate Nutella Babka with Sugar Syrup
For the dough
- 530 g flour all-purpose
- 7 g instant dry yeast
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 80 g granulated white sugar
- 100 g unsalted butter room temperature
- 200 ml milk
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
For the filling
- 300 g Nutella
- 150 g dark chocolate roughly chopped
For the sugar syrup
- 160 g granulated white sugar
- 120 ml water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Heat the milk until it's a little bit hot to the touch. Whisk in yeast and 2 tsp sugar. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and let it proof for 5-10 minutes until the mixture becomes foamy (that's how you know your yeast is still active).
- After the yeast has proofed, add remaining sugar, softened butter, vanilla extract and salt. Whisk it for 1-2 minutes until combined. Sift the flour and gradually add it in. Knead the dough until it starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl and looks soft and supple – about 7 minutes. If it looks too dry add a tablespoon of milk, or if it looks too wet add a little bit of flour at a time.
- Form into a ball and place into a large bowl greased with butter, cover with plastic wrap and place it in a warm environment to rise until doubled, about 90 minutes or until it doubles in size.
- After dough has risen, punch down the dough inside the mixing bowl. If you make both loaves, cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator at least 4 hours, preferably overnight or up to 2 days. If you make only one loaf, cut the dough in half, the first one you refrigerate and the second one you place in the freezer.
- Take out the dough from the refrigerator and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Grease two 10×30 cm loaf pans with butter and line with parchment paper.
- Punch down the dough again, remove from the bowl and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough in half and work with one loaf at a time, covering the second one with a clean towel.
- Shape the babka – on a slightly floured work surface, roll one dough half out into a 20x30cm rectangle. Spread with 150g of Nutella, leaving a ½ cm border uncovered. Sprinkle 75g roughly chopped dark chocolate on top of the Nutella layer.
- Tightly roll the dough into a log and place it on its seam. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the log in half lengthwise. Place both halves with the chocolate filling side up and using a crisscross pattern, place one half on top of the other half, forming an X. Pinch the ends to secure the shape.
- Place in prepared loaf pan and cover with plastic wrap or clean towel. Repeat with the second half of the dough.
- Let both shaped loaves to rise for another 2 hours or until doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 180°C and bake for 40-45 minutes or until babka is golden brown on top and when you insert a skewer in the dough portion comes out clean.
- While the loaves are in the oven, make the sugar syrup. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring water and sugar to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat when the sugar dissolves, let it cool slightly and add vanilla extract.
- Remove loaves from the oven and brush syrup over them. Let them cool on a wire rack until they are warm, then remove from pans and serve warm or let cool completely.