Chocolate Chunk Challah

Chocolate Chunk Challah Image

From "The Essence of Chocolate," by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg; a recipe contributed by Sharon Lebewohl


1/3 cup lukewarm water, divided
1/2 cup, plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
5 eggs, separated
1 (1/4 oz.) envelope active dry yeast
4 1/2 to 5 1/2 cups  flour, divided
1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons canola (or other flavorless) oil
2 tablespoons honey
3 eggs, divided
4 oz. SCHARFFEN BERGER 62% Cacao Semisweet Chocolate Baking Chunks or SCHARFFEN BERGER 70% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Chunks


1. In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup of the water, 1 tablespoon of the sugar and the yeast. Stir to dissolve. If it does not foam in 10 to 15 minutes, discard and start with fresh yeast.

2. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, oil, honey, 2 eggs, and the remaining 1 1/4 cups of water. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl.

3. Add the yeast mixture and 3 cups of flour, switch to dough hook and knead at low speed, scraping the bowl, until elastic dough forms. Only if needed add up to 1 more cup of flour. Let rest 10 minutes.

4. On a lightly floured board, shape into a 7- by 10-inch rectangle. Press the chocolate chunks into the dough and fold in half over the chips. Seal edges and tuck under; let rest 10 more minutes.

5. Lightly oil a large bowl. Form the dough into a ball by tucking edges under, and place in the bowl, turning to coat. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise 45 minutes to an hour, until doubled in bulk.

6. In a clean dry bowl with a clean beater, whisk the egg whites and salt until they form soft peaks. Fold one quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in the remaining egg whites just until blended.

7. Lightly oil two baking sheets. Turn dough onto lightly floured board, punch down and divide into six equal pieces. Between hands, roll each into a 14-inch rope. Pinch three ropes together at one end, set end near short side of one baking sheet and braid the ropes. Pinch final ends together and tuck both ends under slightly. Repeat with the other ropes on the other pan.

8. Whisk remaining egg and brush top of each loaf, being careful not to let egg run down to baking sheet (it could burn). Let rise until doubled, 45 minutes to an hour, brushing with egg every 15 minutes. When doubled, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

9. Brush loaves with egg and bake about 45 minutes, until well-browned, rotating the pans halfway through. If top browns too quickly, cover loosely with foil. Cool on a rack.

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