This Chocolate Hot Cross Buns recipe is a special twist on the classic that tastes amazing.
Are you a Hot Cross Buns lover too? While they seem to be in stores the day after Christmas here, I hold out every year until just before Easter to buy a pack.
This is the best Hot Cross Buns recipe because not only do they taste great but it’s also fool-proof. Check out my White Chocolate Cranberry Hot Cross Buns which is where this chocolate version is adapted from.
Table of contents
With chocolate in two forms – cocoa and chocolate chips – I love these chocolate hot cross buns even more than the originals.
When they come out the oven, those chips are still all oozy and gooey and perfect. Perfect for slathering butter all over and devouring as it melts in.
Ingredients you’ll need
Flour, sugar, milk, eggs – these are all very normal baking ingredients. Add in some cocoa and chocolate chips for the chocolate flavour.
These are a yeasted bread, so you will need yeast but instant or active dry yeast both work perfectly and are very simple to use.
Now for the spices and flavourings. It just isn’t a hot cross bun without a little spice so cinnamon, all-spice and a little vanilla extract are the perfect combo. With one bite, you know it’s Easter time.
How to make chocolate hot cross buns
These are fun and fairly simple to make and it’s such a satisfying recipe when they’re fluffy and fresh out of the oven ready to be devoured.
Making the dough
- Melt some butter in a little milk, then pour in some cold milk (photo 1) to get it to the perfect temperature to help the yeast do it’s job.
- Add the dry ingredients to a bowl (photo 2) and whisk them to mix then pour in the warm butter and milk (photo 3).
- Give it a rough mix then add egg (photo 4).
The first proof
- Use a dough scraper (a silicone or rubber tool that helps you to pull dough together) to pull the dough into a ball (photo 5).
- Spray the bowl with oil, then place it back in (photo 6) and cover until doubled (photo 7)
- Add the chocolate chips (photo 8) and gently knead them into the dough.
The second proof and baking
- Cut the dough into 12 even pieces and roll them into smooth balls (photo 9).
- Place the balls onto a baking tray lined with baking paper (photo 10) and let them double in size again (photo 11).
- Brush the risen dough balls with beaten egg yolk (photo 12).
- Pipe lines over the middle of each row (photo 13), to form a cross on each bun (photo 14). Bake for around 20 minutes.
How does yeast work?
Yeast is actually a living organism. Under the right conditions, yeast will grow and release carbon dioxide which acts to leaven bread (give it lift and make it rise).
So what are the right conditions? Yeast needs warmth (not too hot, just warm) and sugar to feed.
In contrast, salt can kill yeast so when adding salt to dough always make sure it doesn’t touch the yeast.
Tips and tricks for making hot cross buns;
Working with yeast does require a little care.
Yeast needs a tepid – warm mixture to bloom properly. If it’s too hot, it will kill the yeast. Too cold and it will take far too long to rise, although not impossible.
- Don’t overheat the milk at the start. You add it to melted butter over low heat until it just starts to steam. Now you cool it just slightly by adding the remaining milk. This is then added to the bowl along with the dry ingredients and yeast.
- Adding the sugar at this stage too will assist the yeast in doing it’s thing. Sugar is food for yeast.
- There are a few different types of yeast out there. I use instant dried yeast in this recipe but you can substitute for active dry yeast in the same quantity.
It can be purchased in tubs so you can scoop out what you need or you’ll often find it prepacked in 7g (2 ¼ teaspoon) lots. Also, instant yeast will make bread rise more quickly than active dry yeast.
- Make sure the yeast is fresh. Don’t use yeast that’s been banging around your pantry for years. If you buy yeast and won’t use it all quickly, you can freeze it for up to a year.
- When shaping the buns, it’s helpful to kind of tuck the edges and pull them underneath, so that the top becomes nice and smooth.
- Make sure the buns are all equal size so they bake evenly.
So now you have a very good excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast so bake up a batch and enjoy.
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Chocolate Hot Cross Buns Recipe
- 57 g unsalted butter (¼ cup / ½ stick)
- 300 ml milk (10 floz)
- 520 g plain (all purp) flour (4 cups / 18.5oz)
- 35 g unsweetened cocoa (⅓ cup / 1.5oz)
- 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast (or active dry) (1 sachets / 7g)
- ½ cup white granulated sugar (100g / 3.5oz)
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 cup chocolate chips (200g / 7oz)
- 1 egg yolk, beaten with a dash of water
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
- 1 tablespoon plain (all purp) flour
- 2 ½ tablespoons water (50ml) (notes)
- In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and half the milk together. Add the remaining cold milk to cool it down a bit and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer using the dough hook attachment, add the flour, cocoa, yeast, sugar, cinnamon and all spice and give it a mix together (no standmixer? see note 4).
- Pour in the warm milk mixture (make sure it's just warm and not hot) and vanilla. Give a slight mix until starting to clump together then add the egg.
- Beat on low for around 7 minutes until smooth and elastic.
- Use a dough scraper to pull the dough together and lift it out of the bowl. Spray with olive oil spray, then place it back in the bowl. Spray the top of the dough lightly with oil too. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured board. Gently knead in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed. Don’t knead for too long.
- Shape into a ball of dough. Cut the ball in 6 even pieces, then cut each of those pieces in half.
- Line the base of a casserole dish or large baking tin (at least 9×13 inch) with baking paper.
- Shape each piece of dough into a small ball and sit them side by side in the prepared tray (they should be just touching). Allow to rise for another hour or until doubled in size again, loosely covered with a tea towel or plastic wrap.
- Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F / 180C fan forced
- Brush the egg yolk mixed with a dash of water over the tops of the buns.
- Mix together the cocoa, flour and 2 ½ tablespoons water and transfer to a piping bag. Pipe crosses over the top of the buns (you can do this by piping 1 long line across the middle of each row of buns, then repeat until they all have a cross).
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until shiny and crisp on top.
- Serve warm, with butter
- I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (4 teaspoons worldwide)
- For best results you should always weigh ingredients like flour and sugar. Kitchen scales are relatively cheap but if you can’t weigh the ingredients, use the spoon and level method (don’t scoop).
- All ovens vary, always check the bake 2-3 minutes before the recipe suggests and consider investing in an independent oven thermometer. Small and cheap, they’re often more reliable the ovens own thermostat.
- You can also knead the mixture by hand, if preferred. It is a sticky dough and you’ll need to be patient with it.
- Don’t be tempted to add too much flour or they’ll turn out dry.
- Holding a dough scraper in one hand to lift and fold, then kneading with the other works best
- Knead until smooth and elastic
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