Croissants meet rolls in this laminated brioche dough with a dark chocolate swirl. The most crispy, chocolate morning bun you can make at home swirled with a salted dark chocolate filling.
Chocolate Cruffins Or Chocolate Morning Rolls
Laminating dough has always bewildered (and admittedly, kind of scared) me. I took a croissant class a few years ago and came back vowing to never make croissants at home. There’s a LOT of steps; so much rolling and folding and you have to spend a day or more on it from start to finish.
So for this recipe, I worked out a way to laminate dough to get the most wonderful crispy, buttery layers, without pulling my hair out. I use a brioche dough, which is a dream to work with. I only do two folds, as I’ve found the dough particularly easy to work with in the first, and I do a lot of folding early on.
This is the kind of bake you do when you want to really show off your baking muscles. It’s not for the faint of heart; there’s kneading (the stand mixer will do this for you, but you have to give it time), quite a few steps (I’ve streamlined them best I could), and some fun dough laminating (I’ll only have you do two!). BUT, it pays off in mounds because you’ll have the most incredible rolls once they’re out of the oven.
Before we get into the nitty gritty, huge credit to With Spice, whose Spiced Cruffins recipe not only inspired this recipe but taught me so much about how to make a cruffin out of brioche; you’ll see a lot of similarities in my own recipe.
How to make Chocolate Morning Buns
The Brioche Dough
This brioche dough recipe is based off of King Arthur Flour’s brioche; I’ve reduced the butter just a bit, added vanilla and swapped out milk powder for buttermilk powder. Here I’m using The Saco Pantry Buttermilk Powder, made with real sweet cream, which gives the dough a tanginess and a softer, more tender texture. Think of all the wonderful things buttermilk adds to a dough, but skip the water (we’ll add that ourselves!).
The Butter Block
This is where your layers come from, between each of the layers is a very thin layer of butter which melts in the oven and as it melts, pushes air between the layers. You make this by simply shaping butter into a square.
The Two Folds
The first has three steps:
Roll & fold over the butter block
Roll & fold into a flat log
Fold the edges over and chill
The second fold has just one step: roll and then a letter fold.
The Dark Chocolate Filling
So far I’ve neglected to talk to you about the filling, but it’s rather self explanatory: salted dark chocolate! You know it’s going to be good! It’s very similar to a babka style filling (I mean I would) but we’re not adding any more butter (there’s really enough in the whole roll) and thus don’t need the cocoa either (the chocolate we’ll use is quite dark).
The Vanilla Bean Glaze
I am aware that I may be just gilding the lily here but I cannot help myself. Since I baked them cinnamon roll style, I felt like they were begging for a topping. The glaze also helps contrast against that dry crispness on the edges. It’s wonderful. Don’t skip it!
Key things to keep in mind:
Kneading until the dough until it passes the windowpane test: this dough kneads for a LONG time. Once the initial ingredients are incorporated you’ll add the butter, a tablespoon at a time, don’t rush this. Drop a tablespoon, then walk away, don’t add another until the first has disappeared. Then, and very importantly, the dough needs to knead for about 20 minutes AFTER all the butter has been incorporated. The dough is done when it passes the windowpane test: you can pull and stretch a small piece of dough until it’s almost translucent, without it tearing (see photo above).
Keeping the dough cold: The dough does a first rise at room temperature, a short one, then it sits overnight in the fridge. There are two folding sessions for it and the dough needs to be cold and rested between both folds.
Timing that last rise: This one is really important, if you place the dough in the oven before the last rise has completed, the butter will leak. The rolls should sit for about 1 to 1 ½ hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen, use your senses to gauge whether it’s ready for the oven. It should be puffy and almost bubbly, but not doubled in size.
Key Ingredients for Chocolate Morning Buns
Note: these rolls cannot be made without eggs or butter and cannot be made gluten free, so no substitutions on those ingredients.
Active Dry Yeast: You can use instant yeast, reduce it to 1 tablespoon.
Buttermilk powder: You can find this in the baking isle and if not, use milk powder.
Salt & Vanilla: These are for flavoring the dough. You could also add citrus zest to the dough (lemon or orange) or another extract.
Dark Chocolate: If you don’t like darker chocolate, you can use semi-sweet. Chocolate chips are fine here too but use good quality.
How to make Chocolate Morning Buns in a few simple steps:
Make the butter block (press butter into a square shape)
Make the brioche dough (mostly involves stand mixer kneading)
Fill and shape
Bake and glaze!
Alternative shapes for chocolate morning buns:
Loaf: this will basically be… a babka! Once you roll it up you can make two babkas: split the log in half so you have two shorter logs (they’ll be about as long as a loaf pan). Then slice each of those in half lengthwise and twist them around each other. Bake temperature will be the same, but they’ll take about 40 minutes to bake through. Use a digital thermometer to poke into the loaf. When it reaches 190 F the babkas are done. If they are browning too much on top, use a sheet of foil to tent the babkas.
Cruffin: you could also bake these in a muffin tin, grease it first. Bake temperature will be the same, they’ll be done after about 30 minutes, when they are golden all over.
Recipe for Chocolate Morning Buns
Chocolate Morning Buns
Buttery brioche bread with layers and layers of lamination filled with a rich chocolate filling.
At least an hour before you’d like to begin, take the butter out of the fridge to soften.
First, make the butter block:
Draw an 8x8” square on parchment paper and then flip it upside down. Press the butter into the square shape in an even layer, use your fingers or the back of a spoon to nudge it and even it out with an offset spatula. Fold the parchment paper over the butter to cover it. (If it doesn’t cover the center, use some plastic wrap to cover it). Set it on a tray and in the fridge.
Next, make the brioche dough:
Set the yeast in the warm water with a bit of the sugar, just for a few minutes so it can dissolve and activate. Over the yeast add the rest of the dough ingredients except for the butter. Knead the dough on low until it comes together.
One tablespoon at a time, add the ½ cup butter, allowing each spoonful to be incorporated before adding another. Once all the butter is incorporated leave the mixer to knead the dough on medium for about 20 minutes, until you can stretch the dough with two fingers and it does not tear (photos below). Set the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature for an hour then transfer to the fridge for an overnight rest.
The next morning, a first fold (photos below):
Take the butter block out of the fridge at least ten minutes before you will begin, to let it soften.
Roll the dough out to over twice the length of the butter block (so about 17 inches long) and about 9 inches wide. Place the butter block in the bottom half so that you have ½ inch on each side except the top. Fold the dough over the butter and press down with your fingers around the edges to seal the dough.
Now roll the dough into a 20x10” rectangle and then fold it 3 inches from the bottom several times until you have a long rectangle (as you would do a cinnamon roll but it’s going to be flat). Now do a letter fold for the dough, folding the shorter sides lengthwise, so that you have a thick, small rectangle. Wrap it in plastic wrap and return it to the fridge for an hour.
The Second Fold:
Roll the dough out 12 inches wide and 36 inches long. Then fold it like a letter, as pictured so that you have a 12 inch square. Let rest in the fridge (wrapped in plastic wrap) for 45 minutes.
Chop the chocolate and carefully melt it in the microwave or over a double boiler. Stir in the powdered sugar and flaked sea salt.
Fill and Shape:
Roll the dough out so that it will fit in a cookie sheet, so about 17x12”. Place the dough on parchment in the cookie sheet and spread the chocolate over it. Set the tray in the freezer for about 5 minutes, until the chocolate is firm.
Transfer the dough onto the counter and use a knife or a pizza wheel to cut out strips, you should be able to get 12 strips. Roll each of the strips up and place them at equal distance on the cookie sheet. Let rise at room temperature for 1 to 1 ½ hours, until the dough is puffy but not doubled in size. You'll know it's ready if you gently poke it and it doesn't immediately bounce back but leaves a small indentation.
Preheat the oven to 375, brush an egg wash over the rolls and bake for 20 minutes.
Stir together all the glaze ingredients and spoon onto cooled rolls. The rolls are best the day of.