For chocolate lovers who also enjoy the tender, fluffy texture of brioche bread, this chocolate brioche gives you the best of both worlds! This easy chocolate brioche recipe takes classic brioche bread and fills it with swirls of creamy chocolate and cocoa powder before topping it with melted butter. Enjoy it for breakfast with a cup of coffee or for an after-dinner treat!
🌟 Why this is the best recipe
- It is versatile - There are multiple ways to customize your chocolate brioche loaf with different add-ins. You can also create mini brioche buns, as I do in my chocolate chip brioche recipe.
- No fancy ingredients required - This recipe uses easy-to-find ingredients, most of which you likely already have at home.
- It is a detailed guide - Unlike other short recipes, I teach you how to make the brioche as well as the science behind what gives perfect, bakery-style results.
- It is absolutely delicious - I use the highest quality ingredients and techniques to create the most tender, rich, and fluffy chocolate brioche you’ll ever get your hands on!
📝 Ingredient notes
For the Brioche
- Milk - Whole milk with 3% fat gives the best texture and flavor. The milk needs to be lukewarm.
- Sugar - A small amount of white granulated sugar is required to add some sweetness.
- Yeast - I use fresh yeast, but you can also use active dry yeast or instant yeast. You only need to calculate the correct quantity since it can vary between brands. Read my yeast guide to help with conversions.
- Egg - You need two whole eggs for the brioche and one for the egg wash. They need to be at room temperature to emulsify properly.
- Flour - For the best results, use a high-protein content bread flour, which contains more gluten and gives the brioche its light, airy, and chewy texture. If you cannot find bread flour, you can use regular all purpose flour.
- Salt - Salt is essential to balance the sweetness. Do not add the salt directly to the yeast, as it will kill it.
- Butter - Use unsalted butter to fully control the amount of salt in the recipe. I prefer European-style butter with 82% fat content. It must be soft enough to incorporate into the dough but not melted or runny. Avoid microwaving. You will also need a little bit of melted butter to glaze the baked chocolate brioche.
🛒 You’ll find detailed measurements for all Ingredients in the printable version of the Recipe Card at the bottom of this post.
For the Chocolate filling
- Chocolate - Use high-quality semi-sweet chocolate with at least 70% cocoa.
- Unsalted Butter - The butter does not need to be at room temperature for the filling.
- Powdered Sugar - Sift the powdered sugar before using it to avoid lumps.
- Cocoa Powder - Use high-quality, Dutch-processed, unsweetened cocoa powder for a rich chocolate flavor with low acidity. Use a sifter before using.
🛒 You’ll find detailed measurements for all Ingredients in the printable version of the Recipe Card at the bottom of this post.
👩🍳 How to make this recipe
1. How to assemble the brioche dough
- Heat half of the sugar with the milk until lukewarm to about 40F / 104 F. Then, remove it from the heat and sprinkle the yeast on top. After approximately 10 minutes, the yeast should start to foam. If the yeast does not start to foam within 10 minutes, it likely will not rise, and you will need to begin again. Remember, the milk must be lukewarm and not too hot, or it will kill the yeast.
- Attach a kneading hook to a stand mixer. Then, move the yeast mixture into the bowl and mix it with two eggs.
- Mix in the flour, the remainder of the sugar, and a pinch of salt. Let the mixer knead the dough for approximately three minutes until it comes together.
- Add the softened butter piece by piece while the mixer runs. Knead for 10 minutes at medium-high speed until the dough becomes elastic and shiny, then stop kneading.
- Move the dough into a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Let it sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours until the size doubles.
- Then, knock the air out of the dough, reshape it into a bowl, and refrigerate it overnight to rise again.
💡 Top Tip: While I strongly recommend the overnight rise for the best texture and flavor development, if you are short on time and did not plan ahead, the recipe also works if you skip it. In that case, from point 5 move straight to filing the dough and continue with a second rise as per explained in the next section.
How to make the chocolate filling
- The next day, gently melt the chocolate and butter over a double boiler. Then, mix in the sifted cocoa powder and powdered sugar until it forms a smooth paste.
- Remove the dough from the fridge, knock the air out, then roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a large, thin rectangle measuring approximately 70x50cm (27x20 inches).
- Using an offset spatula, evenly spread the chocolate paste onto the dough in a thin layer. Next, roll it up from the longer side of the rectangle until it creates a log shape.
- Create a “U” shape with the ends, then gently braid the two sides around each other.
- Lightly grease a large loaf pan and place the braided log inside.
- Make an egg wash by mixing one egg with a splash of milk or water. Next, brush the egg wash over the surface of the dough, and let the chocolate brioche roll sit and proof for another 1-2 hours. It should double in size and fill the tin.
💡 Top Tip: You can also use a nonstick silicone baking mat when rolling out the brioche dough to keep it from sticking to the surface.
How to bake the chocolate brioche
- Toward the end of the proofing time, preheat the oven to 180C / 356F.
- Bake the chocolate brioche for approximately 45 minutes until it turns golden brown.
- Remove it from the oven and brush a small amount of melted butter over the top. Allow it to cool for a few minutes, then turn it onto a wire cooling rack.
💡 Top Tip: Check the progress of the baking around 20 minutes. Cover the top of the chocolate brioche with aluminum foil if it appears to be browning too quickly.
👩🍳 Storage & freezing
Store the chocolate brioche in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days to keep it fresh.
To freeze, wait until it has thoroughly cooled. Then, double wrap the loaf (whole or sliced) first in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 month.
📚 Flavor variations and substitutions
Add a zesty flavor to your chocolate brioche by adding grated orange zest. Or, add a bit of warmth to it with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Swap out the chocolate sauce for Nutella spread (as I do in my Nutella babka), or my homemade Lotus Biscoff spread. Or, stir in raspberry or my strawberry compote to make a delicious berry-chocolate brioche bread.
Add chopped walnuts or almonds to add some crunch with a nutty flavor, similar to my walnut babka recipe. Double the chocolate by mixing in chocolate chips or chunks. You can also use butterscotch chips!
You can also make it butter-free with one of these many butter substitutes.
🎓 Expert tips to make chocolate brioche bread
- Always consider the time it takes to ferment the dough before starting the recipe.
- To test whether the dough has been kneaded enough, give it the “windowpane test.” If it breaks when you slowly stretch a small piece of dough between your fingers, you need to knead it more. It is ready to go if it stretches to the point where it allows light to pass through like a window!
- To test whether the dough has been sufficiently proofed, press it gently with your finger. It is done if it leaves an indent or bounces back halfway. However, if it bounces straight back, it needs more time to proof. If it deflates completely, it has been over-proofed.
- The warmer the kitchen, the quicker it will rise. If you are working in a cooler kitchen, you can always place the pan on the oven rack (while the oven is off), set a pot of hot water underneath, and close the oven door. Do not skip any of the three proofings, as they are essential to its taste and texture.
🥣 Equipment notes
Use a digital scale when measuring ingredients to ensure precise and consistent results. Likewise, a digital oven thermometer will help you to provide the correct baking temperature, as the slightest variances can make a big difference.
A stand mixer with a dough hook attachment makes this chocolate brioche recipe easy when kneading the dough, as it takes the effort and time out of doing so by hand. This recipe is ideal for a large 11x6-inch loaf pan.
You should only use couverture chocolate for cooking in this recipe, as chocolate chips or regular candy bar chocolate will not melt properly or provide the right consistency. Check my chocolate chip brioche bread recipe for the chocolate chip version.
The fat content in whole milk gives the brioche dough its flavor and texture. Using low-fat or skim milk would require adjustments to the other ingredients to achieve similar results.
While the ingredients are very similar, brioche is an enriched bread enhanced with butter and egg to give it a fluffy, tender texture and a rich, buttery taste.
👩🍳 More sweet bread recipes
- 165 grams (⅔ cups) Whole milk lukewarm
- 67 grams (⅓ cups) Granulated sugar
- 17 grams Fresh yeast 7g (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 2 Egg at room temperature
- 375 grams (3 cups) Bread flour use high protein content flour
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 170 g (¾ cups) Unsalted butter at room temperature
- egg with splash of water or milk for the egg wash
- small amount of melted butter for the glaze
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
Make the brioche dough
- Heat half of the sugar with the milk just until lukewarm (40F / 104 F), then remove from the heat and sprinkle the yeast on top. Leave it for 10 minutes and the yeast should foam.
- Place the yeast mixture into your stand mixer with the kneading hook on, then mix it with the eggs.
- Mix in the dry ingredients: bread flour, the rest of the sugar, and salt, and keep the mixer running to knead the dough until it comes together. This will take about 3 minutes.
- Slowly add in the softened butter piece by piece while the mixer is on, and once all the butter is in, knead for around another 10 minutes on medium-high speed. The dough will become elastic and shiny. Once you have achieved the 'gluten window', stop kneading.
- Move the dough into a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise at room temperature for 1-2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size. Then punch it out, re-shape it into a bowl, and put it in the fridge to rise again for a minimum of 8 hours.
Assemble the Chocolate filling
- The next day, prepare the chocolate filling by gently melting the chocolate and butter over a double boiler, then mixing in the cocoa powder and powdered sugar until a smooth paste forms.
- Take the brioche dough out of the fridge, knock the air out and roll the dough out into a large, thin rectangle that is about 70x50cm / 27x20 inches.
- Spread the chocolate filling onto the dough in an even, thin layer using an offset spatula, then start rolling it up from the longer side.
- Move the ends of the log towards each other creating a U shape, then gently braid the two logs around each other.
- Grease a large (27x15cm / 11x6 inches) loaf pan tin then gently place the braided log into it.
- Mix an egg with a splash of water, and brush an egg wash over the surface of the dough. Allow the chocolate brioche to proof for a further 1-2 hours until the dough doubles in size and fills the tin.
- Preheat your oven to 180C / 356F towards the end of the proofing time.
- Place the chocolate brioche bread into the oven and bake for about 45 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and brush a small amount of melted butter over the top of the brioche. Leave it to cool for a few minutes before turning it out onto a wire cooling rack.
- Always weigh ingredients by the gram using a digital scale to use the correct amounts.
- If your yeast mixture does not foam after 10 minutes, start again. Make sure the milk is only lukewarm and not hot, as this can kill yeast.
- For best results, use flour with high protein content, often labeled as bread flour. All-purpose flour can be used instead, if necessary.
- The butter needs to be soft but not melted or runny. Learn here how to soften butter quickly.
- Use high-quality semi-sweet chocolate and cocoa powder to make the filling.
- The dough has proved sufficiently when you press it gently with your finger, and the indent stays there, or only half bounces back. If it bounces straight back, it needs more time to prove.
- Do not skip the long cold ferment in the fridge. This is essential for flavor and texture, plus it makes the dough easier to handle.
- Use an oven thermometer to always bake at the right temperature.
- If the chocolate brioche is browning too fast in the oven, cover it with aluminum foil after about 20 minutes.