But as often as I would love to toast up a thick slice of chocolate babka, I don’t always have it in me to make it. It can take 6-27 hours to finish, depending on how long you let it rise for, so I set out to find a way to adapt my favorite elements of her babka and turn it into a roll. After going through and trying various recipes online, I found a combination I LOVE: pillowy, soft bread dough (the same one used for the copycat Cinnabon rolls I make) and the three elements of Melissa Clark’s 26 hour babka that I love best: the fudge filling, the syrup, and the streusel! These last three can all be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge until you’re ready to make the bread dough.
The other thing I love about having this in roll form is that I can easily wrap and freeze each roll individually to enjoy weeks later for a midnight snack or a treat-breakfast. If you’re looking for your next pandemic baking project, give these a try! They’re so delicious!
Chocolate Babka Rolls Makes 12 rolls
FOR THE DOUGH:
1 cup warm milk (110ºF)
8 gram pack of dry yeast
1/2 c white sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, room temperature
4 1/2 cups bread flour (all-purpose flour also works)
FOR THE FUDGE FILLING:
1/2 cup/100 grams granulated sugar
3/4 cup/177 ml heavy cream or half and half
Pinch of kosher salt
6 oz/170g extra bittersweet chocolate (66%-74% cocoa) coarsely chopped
8 tablespoons/112 grams/1 stick unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
2 teaspoons/10 ml vanilla extract
FOR THE CHOCOLATE STREUSEL
1/2 cup/60g all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons/45g sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons/11g cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 1/2 tablespoons/64g unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup/60g mini semisweet chocolate chips
FOR THE SYRUP
1/2 cup/100g sugar
1/2 cup/118g water
MAKE THE DOUGH: Dissolve the 8 oz yeast in the 1 cup of warm (110ºF)milk in a large bowl. Mix in the 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of melted butter, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 2 eggs (at room temperature). Add 4 1/2 cups of flour and mix well. Knead the dough into a large ball, using your hands dusted lightly with flour. Put into a bowl, cover with a moist tea towel and let rise in a warm place (between 120ºF-160ºF) about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
MAKE THE FILLING: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine 1/2 cup sugar, 3/4 cup heavy cream, and a pinch of kosher salt. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar completely dissolves, about 5 minutes. Scrape mixture into a bowl. Stir in 6 oz dark chocolate, 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter (diced), and 2 tsp vanilla until smooth. Let cool to room temperature. Filling can be made up to a week ahead and stored, covered, in the fridge. Let come to room temperature before using.
MAKE THE STREUSEL: In a bowl, stir together 1/2 cup flour, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Stir in 4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted melted butter until it is evenly distributed and forms large, moist crumbs. If it is too moist to make crumbs, add a tablespoon of flour at a time until it is a crumbly streusel texture. Stir in the 1/3 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips. Streusel can be prepared up to 3 days ahead and stored, covered, in the fridge.
ASSEMBLE THE ROLLS: Roll dough into a 12″ x 20″ rectangle. Spread the fudge filling onto the dough, leaving a 1″ border around the edges. Roll up dough lengthwise and use floss to cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in parchment-lined 9″x13″ baking pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes.
BAKE THE ROLLS: When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 375ºF. Scatter streusel evenly over the rolls, then bake for 24-30 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown. As soon as the rolls come out of the oven, use a skewer or paring knife to pierce them all over going all the way to the bottom of the rolls, and then pour the syrup on top of the rolls.
These are best fresh, because they’re super soft and pillowy while the streusel is crisp. However, they do reheat well in the microwave (softer/fluffier) or toaster oven (crisper streusel)!