Imagine a cinnamon roll, but instead of a cinnamon sugar filling, it's filled with rich chocolate ganache and salty pistachios. And, instead of multiple rolls, the dough rolled up and twisted into a beautiful braided loaf with swirls of chocolate and pistachio running throughout and baked until it's deep golden brown. While still hot it is brushed with a glaze of vanilla sugar syrup. It's rich and decadent, soft and buttery, and incredibly delicious. It's chocolate pistachio babka.
What is Babka?
Babka is a braided cake, or loaf bread originating in Jewish communities all over the world. Typically filled with fruits and spices, babka has really been on the rise in recent years, with bloggers and foodies adapting the recipe to introduce more modern flavors like chocolate and nutella, or varieties topped with streusels, sugar syrups and all sorts of adaptations.
Babka is often made with a laminated dough, oftentimes, brioche, which is what I use for this recipe. Like I mentioned above, it's similar to a cinnamon roll, but the presentation of babka is the star. Once the dough is rolled up, it's cut in half length wise with the cut side facing up. So you can see stripes of filling. Then the halves are pinched together and twisted, like a rope or a braid.
Babka dough is an enriched yeasted rich dough, made with milk, eggs and butter. I like to refer to this kind of recipe as an "overnight" recipe, as the dough is popped into the fridge to chill overnight. So, the following day requires rolling and filling the dough, doing a final 45 minute rise and then it's baked, coated in vanilla sugar syrup and served warm or room temperature.
Chocolate Pistachio Filling
This chocolate filling is similar to a ganache. Butter, chocolate, cream, powdered sugar, cocoa powder and salt are combined over low heat until the butter and chocolate have melted and the mixture just starts to simmer. The filling, as it cools, will start to firm up. The filling is ready when it's a spreadable consistency, like peanut butter.
I used lightly salted pistachios for this recipe, but you can use salted or unsalted. I like the saltiness the pistachios add to the rich filling.
Don't be tempted to skip out on the sugar syrup. The syrup soaks into the loaf to keep it moist, as babka can dry out easily. Use all of the syrup even if you think it will be a sopping mess. It won't be, promise. The glaze creates a beautiful sheen and keeps the babka fresh for even longer.
I like to serve the babka in slices, just warm, with a slather of butter.
If you make this chocolate pistachio babka, let me know! Drop a comment or tag me on Instagram.
For more recipes, check out these posts:
Chocolate Pistachio Babka
- ½ cup (114g) whole milk, warmed to 110F - 115F
- 1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
- ¼ cup (50g)+ 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 2 ¼ cups (270g) all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
- ¼ cup (57g) unsalted butter, room temperature
Chocolate Pistachio Filling
- ¼ cup (57g) unsalted butter
- ½ cup (85g) dark chocolate, chopped (I used Ghirardelli 60% chocolate bar.)
- ¼ cup (57g) heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ cup (56g) pistachios, finely chopped (I use lightly salted pistachios.)
- ¼ cup (57g) water
- ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Place the milk in a small measuring cup Sprinkle the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the granulated sugar over the milk. Let the mixture stand until bubbly and foamy, about 5 minutes.
- In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, combine the flour, ¼ cup of granulated sugar and salt.
- Add egg, egg yolks and milk mixture and beat on low speed until nearly incorporated, about 30 seconds.
- Replace the paddle attachment to the dough hook attachment and knead on low speed for about 3 minutes.
- Add the butter, a few pieces at a time, until all the butter has been incorporated into the dough. This can take a few minutes.
- Turn the speed up to medium and knead for 3 minutes, until the dough is elastic and smooth. It will still be sticky.
- Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. The dough will still be sticky. Transfer to a large buttered bowl.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
- Press the dough down with your hands, re-cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or up to overnight.
- In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the butter, chocolate, cream, powdered sugar, cocoa powder and salt.
- Heat until just simmering, and steam comes off the surface of the mixture.
- Transfer chocolate mixture to a bowl and let cool until thickened to a spreadable consistency, like peanut butter.
- Lightly butter an 8×4-inch loaf pan. Line with parchment with a 2-inch overhang on the long sides.
- Turn out chilled dough onto a clean lightly floured surface. Roll out to a 16x12" rectangle with a short side facing you.
- Spread the chocolate filling over the rolled-out dough. Sprinkle the pistachios over the chocolate.
- Starting at the short side closest to you, roll the dough into a tight coil, and pinch the seam to seal.
- Using a bench scraper or a sharp knife, cut the roll in half lengthwise. Turn the pieces so that the cut side is facing up.
- Pinch two of the end pieces together. Twist the halves together, keeping the cut sides facing up, and tuck the ends under. Gently place in a prepared loaf pan.
- Loosely cover the pans and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes or until risen to the edge of the pan.
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Bake babka loaf, rotating pan halfway through, until deep golden brown, 40-45 minutes. If the bread is getting too dark, cover with aluminum foil to prevent burning. The internal temperature should read 190F when fully baked.
- While the babka bakes, make the sugar syrup by combining the water and sugar in a small saucepan.
- Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from the heat.
- Brush the loaf with the syrup immediately after removing from the oven. Let the babka cool for 30 minutes in the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.