This Chocolate Challah is a cross between Challah bread and Babka. A sweet yeast dough that is doubled and twisted, filled with a ganache, sprinkled with a streusel topping, basted with butter, then baked in a loaf pan to perfection!
More bread recipes we love include homemade sandwich bread, easy pizza dough, and dutch oven bread.
Chocolate Challah Bread
What could be better than fantastic challah bread? Perhaps when you slather the dough with a chocolate ganache and sprinkle it with a cocoa-butter-crumb topping!
Babka is an Eastern European yeast-risen coffee bread, often found in Polish and Jewish bakeries along with challah. This chocolate challah recipe is a delicious cross between the two. Instead of infused with a sticky syrup (babka) or topped with sesame seeds or poppy seeds (challah), this bread has a streusel-like topping. As you can imagine, it’s wonderful.
You’ll need just a handful of kitchen staples to make this bread recipe:
(To make this recipe, scroll down to the easy printable recipe card for all the measurements and details.)
- Flour: Simple all-purpose flour should be spooned and leveled, not scooped, when measuring.
- Dry yeast: Active dry yeast is needed in order for the bread to rise.
- Water: Lukewarm water is used to activate the yeast. The temperature should be around 110°F – warm to the touch, but not hot.
- Granulated sugar: Adds subtle sweetness to the dough.
- Eggs: This provides richness and structure to bind the dough.
- Unsalted butter: Adds richness and helps create a softer texture.
- Kosher salt: For flavor.
- For the filling: Cocoa powder, powdered sugar, vanilla, unsalted butter, and chocolate chips.
- For the streusel topping: Flour, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, unsalted butter, and mini chocolate chips.
This sweet pillow-y yeast bread is wonderful slightly warm with a cup of coffee or tea. It has plenty of flavor to be enjoyed plain, but a little swipe of butter is nice too. Since you’ve got two loaves, use one of them to make chocolate challah french toast!
- Storing leftovers: Chocolate challah is best eaten 24 hours after baking, but you can store it on the counter for up to 3 days. Secure it tightly in plastic wrap, in a ziploc bag, or another airtight container to maintain freshness.
- To freeze: You can freeze an entire loaf or individual slices. Wrap it in both plastic wrap and aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn. It will keep in the freezer for 2 months. Thaw on the counter before enjoying.
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Chocolate Challah Bread
FOR THE DOUGH
- 1 cup lukewarm water (around 110°F)
- 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup + 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar , divided
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour , spooned and leveled (plus more if needed)
- 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs , beaten
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter , melted
- vegetable oil (for greasing the bowl)
FOR THE FILLING
- 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
FOR THE TOPPING
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into cubes
- 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter , melted (for basting)
- In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the water and add the 1/2 tablespoon sugar. Let sit until a frothy layer develops on top; about 5-10 minutes. (If the yeast doesn’t foam, it isn’t good anymore. Toss it and start over.)
- In a large bowl, whisk together the 3 1/2 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center and add the eggs and melted butter. Mix together with a wooden spoon, pulling in a little flour at a time from the sides of the bowl. Stir in the yeast mixture. Mix to combine until a shaggy dough is formed.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead well for about 6-8 minutes. If the dough is very sticky, work in a teaspoon of flour at a time until the dough is smooth, pliable, not wet, and holds a ball-shape.
- Lightly oil the inside of a large bowl. Place dough inside; cover with plastic wrap in a warm, draft-free place. Let rise until doubled in size, 60-90 minutes.
- In the meantime, make the filling: place the chocolate chips, butter, and vanilla in a medium microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals until melted. Whisk until smooth; stir in the powdered sugar, cocoa powder until incorporated and a spreadable paste is formed.
- Lightly coat 2, 9×5-inch loaf pans with nonstick spray, then line with parchment paper, leaving a couple inches of overhang on the long sides, for easy removal once baked. Set aside.
- On a lightly floured surface, punch down dough and cut in half with a bench scraper. Lightly dust the top of the dough and a rolling pin with flour. Roll the dough out to a 12×16-inch rectangle.
- Using an offset spatula, spread the chocolate filling on both rectangles all the way to the edges.
- Starting from the short side closest to you, using both hands, tightly roll the rectangle into a log, pressing to seal where the seam is.
- Cut each log in half lengthwise so you have 4 even halves with the filling exposed.
- Position the halves with the cut sides and chocolate layers facing up. Twist two halves together a few times, starting from the middle and gently pinching the ends together. Repeat with the other two halves.
- Gently transfer each braid to the prepared loaf pans, pushing in the two ends so they fit. Cover with a clean dish towel and allow to rise until double in size and pillowy, about 1 hour.
- Make the topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and sugar. Work in the butter with your fingers until coarse crumbs are formed. Stir in the mini chocolate chips.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with the rack in the center position.
- Brush both loaves all over with melted butter, making sure to get in the cracks and along the sides of the loaf. Sprinkle with the topping mixture.
- Bake for about 30-35 minutes until deep golden brown and and a skewer in the center comes out clean. (The very middle should register 190°F with an instant-read thermometer.)
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then using the parchment paper, lift out the loaves and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.
Reader Questions and Reviews
The bread was delicious! And the instructions and photos are great, it was easy to follow along.
The bread was so delicious. Thanks!
I’m a little obsessed with this bread (and so are my kids!) – I’ve made it a few times. It takes some time, but well worth the effort!
Just got to this post, and it looks amazing. I haven’t made bread in so long, but this may just inspire me to put the time in to make this.
Can’t wait to make this!
Made this and used one loaf for a french toast casserole bake. OMG amaaazing.
Just lovely. I find babka a little too sweet, but this was perfect.
This is gorgeous! Bread baking is my therapy! I started about 7 years ago. Such a wonderful hobby.
I want to eat this entire loaf!!
I’ve made a lot of bread, but never challah and certainly never chocolate challah…until yesterday. Thank you so much for the pictures on how to roll/cut – very helpful. We loved this.
I’ve recently made babka (and I keep making it!) and now that I see this, I can’t wait to try it!