Chocolate Hazelnut Babka

This Chocolate Hazelnut Babka is filled with gooey melted chocolate and crunchy hazelnuts.  It’s the perfect Easter treat!

Chocolate Hazelnut Babka | Spicedblog.comGrowing 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!

Chocolate Hazelnut Babka | Spicedblog.comNeedless 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!

Chocolate Hazelnut Babka | Spicedblog.com

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!

Chocolate Hazelnut Babka | Spicedblog.com

Chocolate Hazelnut Babka

This Chocolate Hazelnut Babka is filled with gooey melted chocolate and crunchy hazelnuts.  It’s the perfect Easter treat!
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Refrigeration Time: 10 hours
Total Time: 11 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 377kcal

Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • tsp instant dry yeast
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil

For the Chocolate Hazelnut Filling

  • cup hazelnuts
  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • cup brown sugar
  • 1 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp milk

Instructions

For the Dough

  • In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, milk, and sugar. Heat over medium-low, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted. (Note: The mixture should only be lukewarm. If it gets too hot, just let it cool off for a couple of minutes before proceeding.)
  • Add the instant yeast to the lukewarm butter mixture. Whisk together and set aside momentarily.
  • Meanwhile, in the bowl of a countertop mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the flour, egg, egg yolks, vanilla, salt and vegetable oil Add the melted butter mixture to the bowl and mix on low speed for 1-2 minutes, or until ingredients come together.
  • Increase speed to medium for another 1-2 minutes, or until all ingredients are well combined. (Note: The dough at this stage will be very soft and sticky.)
  • Flip dough out onto a lightly floured countertop and fold 3-4 times, rotating the dough 90° after each fold. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in refrigerator overnight.
  • The next day, begin preparing the Chocolate Hazelnut Filling by placing the hazelnuts in a small sheet pan and toasting them in a 350°F oven for 9-10 minutes. While still hot, transfer the hazelnuts into a kitchen towel and rub together vigorously to remove most of the skins. Coarsely chop the hazelnuts and set aside. (Note: The skins come off easier while hot, and the kitchen towel allows you to handle the hot hazelnuts. Don't worry if some skins remain.)
  • While the hazelnuts are toasting, heat the 5 Tbsp of butter in a small saucepan over medium-low until melted. Remove saucepan from heat and add the chocolate chips and brown sugar. Stir together until well combined. (The chocolate chips will melt slightly, but not completely.) Add the toasted and chopped hazelnuts and stir until combined. Set Chocolate Hazelnut Filling aside.
  • Remove dough from refrigerator and roll into a 10” by 15” rectangle. Spread Chocolate Hazelnut Filling evenly across top of the dough, leaving a ½” border with no filling.
  • Beginning with a long edge, roll the dough up into a log, tucking the side edges in as you roll (see picture in post).
  • Pinch the seam together, and carefully twist the dough two times (see picture in post) and place into a greased 5" x 9" bread pan. Cover pan lightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm location. Let dough rise for ~1-1½ hours, or until dough just begins to rise over top of the pan.
  • Make the egg wash by lightly beating the egg with the milk until well combined. Brush the top of the loaf with the egg wash.
  • Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325°F and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes or until top of the bread is golden brown. (Note: If the bread appears to be browning too quickly, place a piece of aluminum foil on top of the loaf after the first 30 minutes). Allow bread to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

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36 Comments

  1. I need something to go with my coffee. I’d just love if you could send over a couple slices of this delicious looking bread. I’ve never had babka, but any bread combined with a homemade hazelnut spread has got to be delicious! Pinning!!

    1. Thanks so much, Cindy! This is a really, really good treat with a cup of coffee! I’d never had babka until I moved up here to New York, but now I’m hooked on the stuff. And it’s a really good base dough recipe to add whatever other fillings you like, too. 🙂

  2. I always think of that Seinfeld when I hear the word “babka”. I have never tried one however. BUT me thinks that has to change. Holy smokes-the chocolate hazelnut filling is outrageous! Beautiful job.

    1. I’d never had babka either until a couple of years ago, Laura. You totally need to try it out sometime!! It’s great toasted with a cup of coffee. 🙂

    1. But then you wouldn’t be able to eat it! I say just go ahead and have a big blanket of babka made today…that way you still get to enjoy it! 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Bianca! It took me a while to understand the deliciousness that is babka…but now I am hooked! 🙂 P.S. Easter is this weekend…that’s a perfect excuse to go get another loaf of chocolate babka.

  3. I’ve yet to have babka I think… and I’ve lived in NY my entire life. How is this even possible?! I demand that you ship me a slice of your babka immediately. Demand might be too harse. Urge? Request? Gently hope? hahah, looks great man!

    1. Dude! You totally need babka in your life. I’m shoving a piece in an envelope as we speak! Man, it sure would be easier if I could just walk this next door instead. I’ll make you a deal: move next door and I’ll make you an entire loaf of babka. Deal?

  4. I’ve never had a babka either, but I am also familiar with the Seinfeld episode. It never even occurred to me to make one! Now that I’ve seen this post, I’m going to pin it and make it for Easter! I am going to leave out the hazelnuts though because my sister has an allergy, but it should still be fabulous, right? Elaine and Jerry were fighting for just a plain chocolate one!

    1. Hey Marquisha! You could totally leave the hazelnuts out and it will still be delicious. Just try not to eat it all as soon as it comes out of the oven! 🙂 Oh, and don’t forget to make the dough the day before…babka dough is odd in that in sits in the fridge overnight. Enjoy and Happy Easter!

  5. Thanks David! I can’t wait to make it! That gooey chocolate is calling my name! Easter is my cheat day! Could I make the babka dough 2 days beforehand? I’m so excited, I want to make it tomorrow so I won’t put it off if I get too busy on Saturday.

    1. Hey Marquisha! You actually can make this babka dough 2 days ahead. The fact that it’s resting in the fridge helps keeps the yeast under control. The dough won’t rise a whole lot in the fridge, but the flavor is definitely developing in there. It’ll still take a bit of time to melt the chocolate, roll the babka, and then bake it on Easter…but that’s the fun part of this recipe!! Let me know how it turns out. 🙂

  6. I never considered Babka as a food from the North. I mean, it’s so common in NYC I never realized it’s actually not-so-common elsewhere.
    And David, yours looks absolutely fantastic, seriously it’s one of the better looking Babka I’ve seen in a long time (and I know quite a bit about it!)

    1. Thanks so much, Mike! I really appreciate the complement! Yup, babka is definitely not too common down South. I can’t say I ever saw it actually…of course, I never went looking for it, either. I’m glad I’ve discovered it now, though!

  7. Thank you so much for this recipe. I made it earlier today and my husband and I absolutely loved it. One little detail, though. When I added the yeast to the butter mix, it did not start bubbling or rose at all; it’s like the fat was not good for the yeast or something. I started over, only this time I added the yeast to a milk and sugar mix only. Then I added the butter to the dough.
    It turned out great!

    1. Interesting! I’ve never heard of orahnjaca, Matea…but now I’m going to have to go and Google it. Thanks for sharing. 🙂 (And, yes, this Chocolate Hazelnut Babka is delicious!!)

  8. i just made your recipe, but it came out flat and dense. I’m not sure why, but I will try it again. If it helps, I’m in Denver, so high altitude, but the batter didn’t rise at all! SOS

    1. Hey Naomi! I am so sorry to hear about the flat and dense babka. Babkas are definitely not as tasty when they are flat and dense! It’s difficult to troubleshoot what happened without being there in the kitchen, but I’d start with the yeast. Was your yeast relatively fresh? Also, where did you let the dough rise? I often just turn my oven light on and then let the bowl sit on the top rack of the oven (covered)…this usually creates a nice warm spot for dough to rise. I know it seems obvious, but did you double-check your measurements, too? (i.e. that was a Tablespoon + 1/2 tsp of yeast…not 1.5 tsp) Finally, dough actually rises faster at higher altitudes (although there are other factors in there, too)…so I don’t know if that was the culprit. Check out this handy link for high altitude suggestions: http://ow.ly/RbGal

      I hate to send back a ton of questions, but I really want you to be able to enjoy this babka! It’s insanely delicious! 🙂

    2. Hi Naomi!!
      Maybe try leaving butter out in step one. Also it’s VERY important that the milk gets all big and foamy. This means that the yeast is alive and working. Otherwise, the dough is not going to rise and the bread is not going to come out right. If this does not happen you must discard and maybe buy some more yeast.

      good luck!! 🙂

    1. Hey, Farida! Yikes…you definitely do need to let the dough proof/rise a 2nd time before baking. I am so sorry that this wasn’t included in the instructions. I just updated them to reflect the 2nd proof. Thanks for catching this, and I truly hope you enjoy this babka! 🙂

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