Ringing In A New Year With Chocolate Brioche Buns

They look intricate, but aren't as difficult to make as you might think.
They look intricate, but aren’t as difficult to make as you might think.

You know how I like to start a new year?

With “Everything Chocolate.”

Actually, if given my druthers, I’d start every single day that way.

Good thing “Everything Chocolate: A Decadent Collection of Morning Pastries, Nostalgic Sweets, and Showstopping Desserts” is the exact title of the cookbook (2020) by America’s Test Kitchen, of which I received a review copy. Best yet, the 376-page cookbook is chock full of techniques, photos, and recipes for all things chocolate.

Get your fix with everything from “Midnight Chocolate Cake” and “Chocolate Croissant Cookies” to “Nutella Tartlets” and “Chocolate-Peanut Butter Creme Brulee.”

I was smitten with “Chocolate Brioche Buns” from the moment I spied the photo of these coiled, S-shaped tantalizing treats.

They are not difficult to make, but they do require some time and effort, as you make two doughs — one mixed with cocoa powder — plus a bittersweet chocolate filling. The doughs are quite supple, making them easy to work with.

The plain dough with chocolate filling spared overtop.
The plain dough with chocolate filling spared overtop.
The chocolate dough on top of the filling and plain dough.
The chocolate dough on top of the filling and plain dough.
Rolling into S-shapes.
Rolling into S-shapes.

The plain dough, enriched with a generous amount of butter, gets rolled out into a square. The chocolate filling gets spread on top, before the chocolate dough is rolled out into the same-sized square to place on top.

Fresh out of the oven.
Fresh out of the oven.

This sandwich-like stack of dough and filling is then rolled into a larger rectangle, which is then cut into thin strips. The ends of each strip are then rolled in opposite directions until they meet in the middle, forming an S shape. At this stage, you’ll want to work quickly to roll the strips, as the dough will soften owing to its high-butter content, making it more challenging to handle.

Sure to please chocolate lovers.
Sure to please chocolate lovers.

These buns are an especially nice treat in the morning if you prefer a breakfast pastry that’s not achingly sweet.

They bake up as fluffy and tender as Parker House rolls. They sport an intense cocoa taste and get even more chocolate-y goodness from the vein of filling spiraled within. Then, of course, there are their attention-grabbing looks. In fact, I highly doubt anyone could resist snagging one after stealing but a glance.

Half of the S-shaped brioche bun with a look at all the layers.
Half of the S-haped brioche bun with a look at all the layers.

Chocolate Brioche Buns

(Makes 12 buns)

For dough:

3 2/3 cups bread flour

2 1/4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast

1 1/2 teaspoons table salt

1 cup water, room temperature

2 large eggs, plus 1 large yolk

1/2 cup granulated sugar

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces, softened

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

For filling:

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 large egg white

For brushing buns:

1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water

For the dough: Whisk flour, yeast, and salt together in bowl of stand mixer. Whisk water, eggs and yolk, and sugar together in a 4-cup liquid measuring cup. Using dough hook on low speed, slowly add water mixture to flour mixture and mix until cohesive dough starts to form and no dry flour remains, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed.

Increase speed to medium-low and add butter, 1 piece at a time, and knead until butter is fully incorporated, about 4 minutes. Continue to knead until dough is smooth and elastic and clears sides of bowl, 11 to 13 minutes.

Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and divide in half. Knead half of dough by hand to form smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds. Place dough seam side down in lightly greased large bowl or container. Return remaining half of dough to mixer, add cocoa, and knead on medium-low speed until cocoa is evenly incorporated, about 2 minutes. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds. Place second dough ball seam side down in second lightly greased bowl or container. Cover brows tightly with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until increased in size by half, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

For the filling: Microwave chocolate, butter, and cocoa in bowl at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth, about 2 minutes. Stir in sugar until combined and let cool completely, about 30 minutes. Whisk in egg white until fully combined and texture turns glossy.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly flour. Transfer plain dough seam side down to prepared sheet and press into 6-by-6-inch square. Spread filling over dough, leaving 1/4-inch border around edges. Press chocolate dough into a 6-by-6-inch square on lightly floured counter. Place on top of filling and press gently to adhere. Cover loosely with greased plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Transfer chilled dough square to lightly floured counter. Press and roll dough into 12-by-16-inch rectangle with short side parallel to counter edge. Using sharp pizza wheel or knife, starting at 1 short side, cut dough into twelve 16-by-1-inch strips. Working with 1 dough strip at a time, tightly coil ends of strip in opposite directions to form tight S shape. Arrange buns on prepared sheets, six per sheet, spaced about 2 1/2 inches apart. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

One hour before baking, remove buns from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Gently brush buns with egg mixture and bake until golden brown, 18 to 22 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Transfer buns to wire rack and let cool completely, about 30 minutes. Serve.

From “Everything Chocolate” by America’s Test Kitchen

More Fun Baking Recipes from America’s Test Kitchen: Really Good Pumpkin Bread

And: Pear-Rosemary Muffin Tin Pies

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