Chocolate Hazelnut Babka
- September 23, 2021
- 5 / 5
I made the most incredible Chocolate Hazelnut Babka at a class that I took at Sur la Table. I have repeated it over and over again…it’s just that good! My beautiful friend, Stephanie, was one of my tasters for this…she was asking for the recipe (about 6 months ago, oops), so Stef, this one’s finally for you!
There are a gazillion babka recipes but what makes this one a bit more special is the homemade Nutella spread that becomes the filling. I’m telling you that it’s worth it to make your own vs buying it already made. This is more of a grainy spread, as opposed to smooth Nutella, which gives it a more toothsome chew.
I also adore the sugar syrup glaze that gets brushed on the baked babka. Sprinkle the top with some chopped hazelnuts and this will become your go-to recipe for babka! I promise!
The dough for babka is an enriched dough. That means that you’re adding fats, sugar and dairy to the dough creating a rich, buttery bread with an exceptionally tender crumb. Typically a bread dough is yeast, flour, water and salt.
If you’ve never worked with bread dough, don’t be frightened off by this recipe, especially if you own a stand mixer. The mixer takes all of the work out of it!
Begin by proofing the yeast. This means combining it with liquid (in this case whole milk) that’s been warmed. It needs to sit for about 5 minutes until it starts to foam up on top.
In the mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Meanwhile, whisk the oil, vanilla and egg yolks. Add the yolk mixture to the butter/sugar mixture in 3 portions, combining thoroughly before adding the next portion.
The flour and salt is added to the butter mixture; finally, pour in the milk/yeast mixture and continue to mix until a soft, tacky dough forms.
You’ll need to knead (ha!) the dough for a couple of minutes by hand until the dough becomes pliable and a beautiful golden color. Form it into a ball, place it in an oiled bowl, and let it sit at room temperature for a couple of hours or overnight in the fridge. It will increase in size, but not necessarily as much as a non-enriched dough would.
While the dough is rising, make the chocolate hazelnut filling. Begin by toasting and removing the skins from the hazelnuts. Then, place them in a food processor and chop the nuts. To the chopped nuts, add melted chocolate, sugar and salt. Process until you have a chunky paste. How’s that for homemade Nutella?
Take the dough and roll it to a 15×15 square. Then, top it with the filling and spread it to within 1/2-inch of the edge. Then, tightly roll the dough. Place it on a sheet pan (you may have to bend it to get it fit) and transfer it to the freezer for 10 minutes.
Cut the roll in half width-wise to form two loaves. Then cut those again lengthwise. Lay the pieces cut side up so that you see the filling. Criss cross two of the lengths to form a loose braid, pinching together the ends as much as possible. Repeat with the second loaf. Then place each loaf in a prepared loaf pan and let them rise again.
When you are ready to bake them, just brush them with an egg wash and bake for 40-50 minute. Once out of the oven, brush the sugar glaze over, sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts and get ready to present this beautiful babka to all who are fortunate enough to be in your swirl!!!💫
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Chocolate Hazelnut Babka
Makes: 2 loaves or 4 mini loaves
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour & 20 minutes plus rise time 5 hours
- 2 tbsp instant yeast
- 3/4 cup whole milk, heated to 110-115°F
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 6 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 egg yolks
- 3 & 1/3 cups (425 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt or 1 1/2 tsp coarse kosher slt
- 1 egg, for egg wash
- 1 tbsp water, for egg wash
- 1 tbsp butter, melted
- 2 cups hazelnuts
- 1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate, melted
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup water
- 6 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
To prepare the dough, place the warmed milk in a small bowl; sprinkle yeast over the milk and let stand for 5 minutes or until foamy. Stir to dissolve, if necessary.
Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes. In a separate bowl, add the oil and vanilla to the egg yolks and whisk lightly to break up the yolks, then add the yolks to the sugar mixture in three portions, mixing until each is incorporated before adding the next. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high until the mixture is fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times during the process.
To the stand mixer on low, add the flour and salt, then pour in the milk mixture. Resume mixing at low speed to make a soft, supple, tacky dough.
Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead by hand for 2 minutes more, adding more flour as needed to make the dough pliable. The dough should be a beautiful golden color and feel soft and supple. Form the dough into a ball.
Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and leave at room temperature for about 2 1/2 hours or place it in the refrigerator overnight to be rolled out the next day. Enriched doughs do not always double in size because of the additional fat. Your dough should settle and have some rise before moving on to baking.
To prepare the filling, preheat the oven to 350°F. Place hazelnuts on a sheet pan and toast for 8-10 minutes, until fragrant. Once they are done, transfer nuts to a kitchen towel. Make a little package by pulling up the ends of the towel. Rub the hazelnuts together to get as much of the skins off as possible. Then, in a food processor, pulse hazelnuts to a rough chop. Add the melted chocolate, sugar and salt. Pulse to combine and then mix on high speed and process into a smooth paste.
To shape the dough, once it has risen, roll it into a 15 x 15-inch square on a lightly floured surface approximately 1/4-inch thick. Frequently lift the dough with a metal pastry scraper or bowl scraper and dust with more flour underneath to prevent sticking. Spread the chocolate hazelnut mixture over the dough, so the filling covers the surface of the dough evenly, leaving a 1/4-inch border Roll up the dough like a jelly roll and place it seam-side down on the work surface. With firm but gentle pressure, rock the log back and forth to extend its length until it is 18-24 inches long. Transfer to freezer to chill, 10 minutes.
Prepare 2 9×5-inch loaf pans by brushing with melted butter. Cut the roll in half by width and then again lengthwise. Lay the strips cut side up and pinch and fold down the ends together. Lift one side of the split dough over the other side and gently braid. Place each twist into a prepared loaf pan.
Cover the loaf pans loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, until the babka fills the pan or has increased to about 1 1/2 times its original size. At this point, you can proceed directly to baking or refrigerate the babka overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
If holding overnight, remove the dough from the refrigerator about 2 hours before you plan to bake it. Brush the top of the babka with the egg wash. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, then rotate the pans and bake until the top is a rich dark brown, another 20-25 minutes.
To prepare the glaze, heat the sugar and water to simmer until sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool.
Pour the glaze and sprinkle hazelnuts over the top of the warm babka and cool for 90 minutes before serving. The babka is best served at room temperature after the chocolate has had time to set.
Recipe from Sur La Table