Chocolate Swirl Brioche: A Reason to Start Baking Bread

February 14, 2016

When it comes to baking with yeast, people generally fall into one category or the other: confident regulars or total abstainers.

If you are a bread baker, then I think I merely need to whisper the words “chocolate swirl brioche” and you’ll be off and running.

If you aren’t, here’s a little secret: This bread is not as complicated as it looks. The chocolate swirl is nothing but chopped dark chocolate, and the rich brioche dough is soft and easy to handle.

Photo by Posie Harwood

This is a lovely recipe to introduce yourself to the attendant pleasures of bread baking: the push-pull of dough beneath your hands, the softness of the flour on your fingers, the quiet kitchen hours the recipe demands of you. The sweet-sour smell of yeast as it froths and bubbles; the gentle slump of risen dough as it yields to your touch.

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Brioche is a particularly forgiving dough. Eggs and butter give it extra richness, which in turns makes it easy to roll out without sticking. I’ve made this bread with bittersweet, semisweet, and milk chocolate in the filling. Every iteration is delicious, so choose a percentage that you like or mix a few types of chocolate together.

Photo by Posie Harwood

When baked properly, your loaf will rise above the pan and turn a dark golden brown. It will begin to brown before it’s fully baked, so test its doneness by rapping on the top of the loaf with your fingers. It will make a hollow sound when it’s ready.

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Top Comment:
“The melting chocolate was excellent when it was warm out of the oven, but once the bread cools down, the chocolate became hard, which is not surprising but for a snack on the go, I prefer a softer chocolate without having to warm it up.”
— Pristine

Most recipes tell you to let the loaf cool before cutting into it, and my official advice is that you really should (particularly here because the chocolate will be oozing and melted and messy).

But between you and me, there’s nothing on this earth as good as a still-warm piece of buttery brioche bread.


Because the dough rises so loftily, you might end up with some space between the upper-third of the loaf and the first swirl of chocolate, like I did. This isn't anything to be afraid of, it's just not as pretty. To try to avoid this, roll your dough very tightly around the chocolate before placing it in the loaf pan. You can also use a thinner layer of chocolate: I was heavy-handed with my swirl (because I love chocolate and excess!), which can weigh your filling down as the loaf rises.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Pristine
  • Musinsgondinner
  • Jan Tucker
    Jan Tucker
  • Sherill Lizz
    Sherill Lizz
  • Shelley Matheis
    Shelley Matheis
I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.


Pristine September 22, 2016
This is a very easy and fun bread to make, so I recommend it! Next time though, I might try putting in Nutella. The melting chocolate was excellent when it was warm out of the oven, but once the bread cools down, the chocolate became hard, which is not surprising but for a snack on the go, I prefer a softer chocolate without having to warm it up.
Musinsgondinner February 27, 2016
I love homemade chocolate babka (erm, I've made it once) and this looks similar in taste but even more visually impressive. Definitely one to stun friends with...
Jan T. February 21, 2016
I recently discovered the goodness of brioche. So far mine have been swirled with cinnamon chips/cinnamon sugar or almond paste/almond filling/ground almonds. Both versions are heavenly! Will have to try chocolate now!
Sherill L. February 21, 2016
Wanna stay healthy? Ditch bread and grains.
lydia.sugarman February 21, 2016
Seriously? If that'show you feel, why were you even on this page? You were just compelled to leave that comment? It is entirely inappropraite. That is NOT what this site is about. Save you sour notes for other sites. We celebrate *everything* about food here.
henandchicks February 22, 2016
Indeed, Lydia! There are those who will always want a soapbox for a snarky comment (cough-Sherill-cough). 25 years in food service have taught me that food choices are so deeply intensely personal. Although I often listen to guests talk about their choices and needs, I make it a point to never, ever tell others what, how much or how to eat. Why would anyone even read a site that celebrates and explores all areas of cooking, eating and sharing food- ALL kinds of food?
Shelley M. February 14, 2016
This must make fantastic toast.