Chocolate Swirl Buns

Show me a recipe that justifies chocolate as a breakfast food, and I can almost guarantee you it’s one I want to try :) These chocolate swirl buns have been on my to-do list for months, and while it probably would have made more sense to make them back in December when decadence was in vogue, I didn’t get around to it until just recently. I pulled them from the oven on a random weeknight and Shane and I came this close to abandoning our dinner plans and just devouring these instead. The aromas wafting through the kitchen were completely irresistible!

We sampled just a bite, then exercised restraint and waited until breakfast the next day to really dig in. A quick spin in the microwave recreated that fresh from the oven texture, and yielded one of the more decadent (and fantastic!) breakfast treats I’ve ever had. Truthfully, there’s so much chocolate stuffed into each of these rolls that I did enjoy them more for dessert, but you can’t go wrong either way.

Chocolate Swirl Buns

If you’ve ever had chocolate babka, these buns are Deb’s simplified take on the idea. It’s the same buttery brioche dough stuffed with a rich chocolatey mixture, but rather than bake it in loaf form, you get these individually portioned rolls. I’ve made traditional babka, and loved that too, but there’s just something about these minis that’s more fun. Unlike most of the treats I bake which are shared with family and friends, Shane and I kept these all to ourselves. Best decision ever :)

Chocolate Swirl Buns
barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Dough
1/4 cup sugar
1 3/4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1 large egg, room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Filling
1/4 cup granulated sugar
8 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Egg Wash
1 large egg
2 teaspoons heavy cream (or milk)

To make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the sugar, yeast, flour and salt. Mix briefly to combine. Warm the milk (I microwaved mine but you could also do it in a small saucepan) until it is about 110 F, then whisk together with the egg. With the mixer on low, gradually add the milk/egg mixture to the bowl until incorporated (you may need to stop and scrape down the bowl once or twice). Cut the butter into 3 pieces and add to the mixer, beating until incorporated. Knead the dough on low speed for about 10 minutes. It may still be sticky – resist the temptation to add more flour!

Spray a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

To make the filling: Add the sugar, chocolate and salt to the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until the chocolate is very finely chopped (some may even be powdery). Add the butter and continue to pulse until the mixture resembles a chunky paste.

Spray a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

When the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently deflate and then let it rest for 5 minutes. Roll into a large rectangle, about 12×20 inches (add flour as necessary to prevent the dough from sticking). Sprinkle the filling over the dough in an even layer. Starting with a short end facing you, roll the dough tightly into a log. Pinch the edges to seal. Use a sharp serrated knife to cut the dough into 12 equal (about 1-inch) pieces. Place one piece in each well of the muffin tin, cut side up. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30-45 minutes, or until the rolls are puffy.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 F.

To make the egg wash, use a fork to beat and cream together until combined. Once the rolls have risen, brush them with the egg wash. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown and puffed (an instant read thermometer inserted in the center should register 190 F). Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow the buns to cool briefly before removing them. These were best warm, but we enjoyed leftovers for several days, microwaving the rolls briefly to recreate that fresh from the oven warmth.

Makes 12