Chocolate Orange Pecan Kugelhopf

Here are my extra tips for making this irresistible holiday sweet:

  • To make the optional glaze, mix 3 cups confectioner's sugar with 3-4 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice, enough to reach a consistency that is pourable but still thick.  Drizzle the glaze over the cooled kugelhopf and allow to set for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
  • For the two rising stages, if the dough has no doubled in size during the time indicated, just let it rest longer. Depending on the temperature of the dough and the yeast that you used, it might take a bit longer to rise.
  • When I need to set dough aside to rise in a warm place, I always turn the oven on to preheat for a few minutes and then turn it off before placing the dough inside.  This creates an ideally warm and draft-free area in which the dough can rise.
  • Feel free to experiment when making the filling.  Use different types of nuts or raisins in place of the cranberries.  You could also "marinate" a mixture of dried fruit in some Kirsch or Grand Marnier and use that in place of the chocolate.
Chocolate Orange Pecan Kugelhopf
Serves 12-14


1 cup whole milk

12 tablespoons butter, cubed

2/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoons orange zest

2 teaspons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

One 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast (2-1/4 teaspoons)

5 cups flour, divided

4 large eggs


1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

3/4 cup finely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and butter to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the butter has almost melted.  Remove saucepanfrom  heat and stir in the sugar, orange zest, vanilla and salt.  Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and allow to cool a few minutes, until lukewarm.

Add the yeast and 2 cups of the flour, mixing on low speed until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Gradually beat in remaining 2-1/2 cups flour until combined.

With floured hands (because dough will be very sticky!) turn the dough out onto a generously floured work surface; gently knead until smooth, about 3 minutes. 

Transfer the dough to a buttered bowl, turning to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling: In a medium bowl, mix together brown sugar, pecans, chocolate, orange zest and butter.  Add cranberries, if using.

Punch down the dough and give it a quick knead.  On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 14 X 22-inch rectangle.  Sprinkle the filling over the top, leaving a 1-inch border.

Starting from a longer side, carefully roll up dough into a log.  Cut the log crosswise into 12 even slices.  Place the cut sides of 6 of the slices against the side of a buttered 10-inch tube pan. Place the remaining slices, cut sides pressed together, in a ring around the tube of the pan.  Cover with plastic and let rise until doubled, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.  Bake kugelhoff until browned on top and a cake tester inserted into the center emerges clean, 35-40 minutes.  Let cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes, then carefully unmold and cool completely.  Drizzle with an orange glaze (see tips, above), or dust with confectioners' sugar.