Pumpkin Challah Swirled with Chocolate | Club Narwhal
It’s September! Which means that sweaters are imminent! And crunchy leaves! And cocoa! And so, so much pumpkin! You guys, brace yourself for an onslaught of pumpkin in the coming months. Because a few weeks ago, pumpkin went on sale at the market and I swept up whole armloads imagining all the beautiful pumpkin baked goods that this fall would bring. But, being impatient me, I couldn’t wait so the second I got home I baked up two loaves of gorgeous Pumpkin Challah. This Pumpkin Challah Swirled with Chocolate is a total winner and I can’t wait to share my second loaf because it is equally magical!

Pumpkin Challah Swirled with Chocolate | Club Narwhal
I attempted the six strand challah braid that I have admired from afar for so long. Since I have zero coordination and can’t French braid to save my life, this was perhaps a foolhardy decision. Luckily, challah dough is so forgiving and made all the lumpy mistakes look good in the end. I used this wonderful video tutorial if you want to give it a try, which you totally should!
I have long been a challah lover and wanted to see if I could mimic my favorite autumnal treat–Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread–in challah form. I absolutely loved working with this slightly sweet pumpkin dough. Plus, hiding a ton of chocolate inside of it felt like the most delicious secret in the world.
How to Make Pumpkin Challah Swirled with Chocolate
After the first rise, I divided the dough into six chunks and rolled each one out into a long rectangle. Then I spread a decadent amount of chocolate down the center of each rectangle and rolled it into a long strand. When it bakes, the chocolate gets all melty and forms the most alluring swirl.
Pumpkin Challah Swirled with Chocolate | Club Narwhal
Challah in pretty much any form is a good idea. And I love that the slices look like mini pumpkin clouds. We had the best intentions to make this into French toast (because while I can’t French braid, I can make French toast!), but we served it at a party and there wasn’t any leftover. Oops.
Pumpkin Challah Swirled with Chocolate | Club Narwhal
I suppose, deep down, I knew this loaf wouldn’t last long so I baked that second one to transform into a French toast feast. But more on that later. For some reason, I really liked the look of the parchment paper after the pumpkin challah baked. It reminds me of a fossil. Or an alien.
Pumpkin Challah Shadow
Baking challah is a lesson in patience. There’s the kneading. Then the rising. After all that, you still have to roll out the strands, braid it, and then let it rise again. But for all the time involved, making challah from scratch is so very worth it. The whole process carries so many beautiful echoes–both historical and personal. Eating a fresh slice of challah always reminds me of gathering around my friends’ Shabbat tables when I was a child. All the warmth of family, food, and tradition. Which is  also pretty much everything I love about fall.
Pumpkin Challah Swirled with Chocolate | Club Narwhal


For the Pumpkin Challah
Adapted from Tori Avey
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (or one package)
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 egg yolks (save the whites for the egg wash at the end)
  • 1/8 cup real maple syrup (can sub honey)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups flour
For the Chocolate Swirl
Adapted from The Cookery Tales
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate bar, chopped finely
  • 6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 3-4 tablespoons water, enough to form a chocoatey paste
Pour 1/4 cup of the water in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if you are mixing/kneading by hand). Sprinkle with yeast and sugar and let it stand for 5 minutes until it gets foamy. Add the remaining water, along with the egg, egg yolks, maple syrup, canola oil, salt, and spices and stir to combine.
Add the brown sugar and pumpkin puree and stir to combine. Begin adding flour in 1/2 cup increments, stirring to combine after each addition. Keep adding flour and kneading (either with the dough attachment of your stand mixer, or with your hands) until the dough feels elastic and not sticky.

Spritz another large bowl with non stick cooking spray (or lightly oil) and transfer dough to the bowl. Cover with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until double in size.While the dough is rising, make the chocolate swirl but combining all the ingredients in a bowl and stirring until it has become a thick paste. It will be difficult to stir, just make sure all the cocoa powder is wet.

After the dough has finished rising, turn it out on a floured surface. Divide into six even portions (or three, if you want to do a three strand braid instead). Roll each portion out into a long rectangle, about 16 x 4 inches. Spread 1/6 of the chocolate paste down the middle and roll into a long tube, pinching the sides closed. Repeat for the remaining pieces of dough.
Using this video tutorial, braid the six strands (or braid three strands as you would braid hair). Transfer braided loaf to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with a clean towel and let rise a second time for 30-45 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. After the loaf has risen, mix 2 tablespoons of the remaining egg whites with 1 tablespoon water to create an egg wasy and brush onto the loaf. Bake challah on the middle rack for about twenty minutes then check to see if it is getting to brown. Cover the top with foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes, removing foil for the last two minutes of baking.

The challah is done when it sounds hollow when you tap on it. Immediately transfer baked challah to a cooling rack to prevent the bottom from scorching. Let it cool completely before slicing.

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  1. says

    I’m licking my lips right now! Looks so good! Pinned and tweeted. We truly appreciate you taking the time to be a part of our party. Please stop by and party with us again. The party starts Monday at 7 pm and ends on Friday at 7 pm. Happy Sunday! Lou Lou Girls

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