This Chocolate Hazelnut Babka is filled with gooey melted chocolate and crunchy hazelnuts. It’s the perfect Easter treat!
Growing up in the South, I’d never really heard of babka until I moved to the North. Sure, I’d seen the Seinfeld episode where Jerry and Elaine go to the bakery to buy a chocolate babka, only to see the last one sold to the customers right in front of them. They ended up settling for the cinnamon babka, which Jerry called a “lesser babka.” But, I didn’t fully understand the humor of this situation until I moved to New York. That’s when I realized that babkas may as well be the state’s official bread…especially in the Spring. These sweet loaves of bread literally show up everywhere in the weeks leading up to Easter!
Needless to say, when I first moved up here I was intrigued by these delicious-looking baked treats. My first Easter, I tried one from a local bakery, and sadly it was just not good. I couldn’t understand why people were going crazy over these things. But then a year later, I tried a babka from a different bakery. Ummm…woah! I understood the craze, and I knew that I needed to learn how to make these things…pronto!
If you’re not familiar with babka, it’s a sweet bread-like dough stuffed with a variety of tasty fillings. I personally love the combo of chocolate and hazelnut, so I decided to go that route with this babka. But honestly, this dough is a great base recipe…so feel free to fill it with your own favorites. Just don’t forget to come back and tell me about your creation…I’m always looking for new combinations to try!
Advance warning: make this dough the day before you want to serve it. The dough actually sits in the fridge overnight, so you’ll need to plan ahead just a bit.
Babka also typically has a signature “twist” to the dough, and I’ve seen a number of different ways to make this twist happen. When I first learned to make babka, I was taught to split the dough into two long pieces and then braid it. However, my favorite way is simply to take the “log” of filled babka dough and twist it lengthwise a couple of times. Once baked and sliced, you’ll see that this method creates a bunch of random swirls of chocolate + hazelnut goodness throughout the bread. (I also find the twisting method to be a lot easier, too.) So whether you’ve grown up eating babka or it’s an entirely new treat, I hope you enjoy this chocolate + hazelnut version. Happy Easter!