These chocolate swirl buns are the things of dreams.  My dreams at least.  I’ve been dreaming about them ever since Deb shared them months ago.  This is her simplified version of a chocolate babka, something I had always wanted to try but hadn’t gotten around to yet.  Now that I’ve got a simplified version which also happens to look much prettier than the loaf form, I doubt I’ll make the traditional version.  In short, I am in major love with these.

How could I not be?  Buttery tender brioche dough is rolled up with rich chocolate and a slight hint of cinnamon creating layer upon layer of irresistible goodness.  And when I say irresistible, I mean it.  I enjoyed an embarrassing amount of these freshly baked treats, but thankfully I was in good company with the rest of the family doing the same.  As beautiful and decadent as these are, there is something very homey and comforting about them to me.  As a result, we agreed these would be a perfect treat to become a Christmas morning tradition in our home.  It may seem early to be thinking such things, but these evoked all sorts of warm fuzzies for me.  I hope your family enjoys them as much as we do.


For the dough:
½ cup (120 ml) whole milk, 105-110˚ F
¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
2 tsp. instant (rapid rise) yeast
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
3 tbsp. (45 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the filling:
8 oz. (225 grams) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
3 tbsp. (45 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

To finish:
1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp. milk or cream


  • 01

    In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the milk, sugar, and yeast and stir to blend.  Add the egg, flour, and salt, and mix on low speed until a sticky dough begins to form.  Mix in the butter until incorporated.  Using the dough hook, knead on low speed for 10 minutes.  (The dough will still appear loose and quite sticky, but it will firm up as it rises.)

  • 02

    Transfer the dough to a bowl greased with butter and cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel.  Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

  • 03

    Meanwhile, make the filling.  Combine the chocolate, sugar, and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor.  Process in pulses until the chocolate is finely chopped with some parts almost powdery.  Add the butter and pulse again until incorporated.

  • 04

    Generously butter the wells of a muffin tin.  Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a well floured work surface and gently deflate.  Let rest for 5 minutes.  Roll into a very large rectangle, about 12 x 20 inches, sprinkling with flour as needed to prevent sticking.

  • 05

    Sprinkle the filling over the surface of the dough.  Tightly roll the dough up into a log, encasing the filling in a spiral pattern.

  • 06

    Use a sharp serrated knife to slice the log into 12 equal pieces.  Place each slice into the prepared muffin tin, with the cut side facing up.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap* or a towel and let rise 30 minutes.

  • 07

    Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Lightly brush the tops of the buns with egg wash.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.  Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool briefly.  Gently unmold the buns and let cool until just warm.  Serve warm and enjoy!

  • 08

    *Though I haven’t yet tried this method yet myself, these can theoretically be made ahead of time.  Prepare as directed up until this point just before the second rise, cover and refrigerate overnight.  They can be baked directly from the fridge the following day, adjusting baking time as needed.
  • This is such a fun idea! Yum!

  • Julie C

    These look really yummy! I love when you show the step by step…I enjoy seeing the pictures so I can make sure mine looks at least somewhat how you have it.

  • Sarah Bulmer

    I completely agree with you! We have Christmas brunch as a tradition in our family and these would be a perfect homemade treat to bring. =D

  • Shelly Corbin

    These look great and I really love when you do picture instructions! Thanks!

  • I have been DY.ING. to make these since Deb posted them. And now that you’ve reminded me about them, I think I’ll make them next weekend when my parents are up to visit. :)

  • Sarky Tartlet

    We’re on the same page! These have been on my “to make” list since I saw them on SK. Love that you also gave them a big thumbs up.

  • Rachel @ Baked by Rachel

    Beautiful! I adore everything about these.

  • Maike

    Wow, these sound amazing. My mouth is getting all watery just looking at them. The perfect treat now that days are getting colder again!

  • payal

    These look so good! The lighting and your photography are amazing too! I love how vivid and appetizing the buns look in even just the muffin tin! Annie, your pictures and recipes are becoming my kryptonite! i want to make every thing you post these days…which of course is not helping me lose the post baby weight!…

  • Erica

    Well, now that my two favourite bloggers have both waxed poetic about these buns, I definitely have to try them! Just one question about the recipe: which way do you roll the rectangle – short or long side?

  • annieseats

    The short side will be the length of the finished roll (roll up the short side).

  • annieseats

    Oh goodness, you are so sweet! Thank you so much.

  • Annie – did you use a standard size muffin tin?

  • Justeen

    I’ve been dying to make these every since I saw them on Smitten Kitchen. Thanks for the reminder that I need to get on it! Yours buns absolutely perfect – you have a magical touch for making food look SO GOOD!

  • Louise

    I haven’t made this yet and I already feel fat.

  • Stacey W

    These look so yummy! I have a question about making these dairy free. I have a daughter with a severe dairy allergy so butter is out for us. Many of the recipes that I find I can adapt for her, but I’ve never tried dough. Annie, have you or does anyone else have any recommendations for making this dough dairy free? Do you think coconut oil, Fleischmanns Unsalted, or Soy butter might work? Wondering how much of the flavor that makes these so good comes from the butter, and if it’s worth making without it. I found your website recently and have been loving it. Thanks!

  • annieseats

    Yep, standard size.

  • These are dreamy!!! I must make them soon. They look incredible! Thanks for sharing :) And have a wonderful weekend!

  • annieseats

    Butter is a big component of the texture and flavor of brioche dough. I’m not familiar with alternative substitutions that might work. Maybe you could try searching for a dairy free brioche dough and then using the same filling and shaping method. Good luck!

  • Thanks! This will be tomorrow’s breakfast. :)

  • Laura Davis

    Girrrrl…no you didn’t! These look so good. I’ve been wanting to tackle chocolate croissants – but these seem similar, and much easier. Love that vintage baking tray too!

  • Patti T.

    These sound like something my husband would really love. He loves sticky buns, but these buns with chocolate he would like even better.

  • Caroline L.

    I seriously can’t think of anything better to stuff my face with right now… :)

  • Jen @ Jen’s Favorite Cookies

    Holy cow, these look like a perfect snack! I want one! (or two, or three…)

  • Kim S.

    Thanks for confirming that I need to bake these! I love the vintage muffin tin!

  • Kelly

    My mouth dropped when I saw this. Then I saw that it was Brioche dough, and I had to immediately close the window before I saw the recipe and made it instantly. Of course, an hour later, I find myself back here just to stare at the stunning photograph….and drool on my keyboard!

    Thank you for sharing. Really, thank you.

  • Molly

    Do you think I could substitute a “flax egg” for the egg in the dough? We don’t eat eggs but these little buns are begging me to make them and I’d love to try.

  • natalie

    babka was the first thing i thought of when i saw your picture! i can’t wait to make these (probably for the holidays)

    your pictures are always so stunning (and appetizing)

    thank you for sharing!

  • Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes

    I’d like to try these as an alternative to sticky buns sometime! Like you said, I bet they’d be great for Christmas morning :)

  • Rebecca

    I’ve never made brioche dough, but in other breads I’ve had success substituting oil (usually olive or canola). I don’t get coconut oil very often, but I’ve had great success using it – has the same texture as butter. There are commercial butter substitute you could try. Earth Balance is one brand.

  • Wendy E

    I made these yesterday and baked them this morning. They didn’t look nearly as pretty as your, but boy did they taste great. Almost like chocolate croissants!

  • annieseats

    I haven’t tried it so you’ll have to experiment and see how it goes. Good luck!

  • annieseats

    Aw, thank *you*!

  • pursue

    These look wonderful. Your muffin tin is so lovely. Is it an old one?

  • Erica

    Chocolate babka has also been on my list for a while! Can’t wait to try these first! Thank you!

  • KrisO

    Too funny. I actually made these yesterday, and baked them this morning, and brought them to work to share with my coworkers, so we wouldn’t eat them all ourselves. I actually might consider baking them next time in a large pan, adjacent to each other, mostly because I am a freak who loves the centers so h more than the crisp edges. Either way, I agree – these are delicious!

  • Nicole M.

    Hi Stacey,
    I plan on making these buns today with a dairy free butter (I currently have Fleischmanns Unsalted in my fridge). I have had success with all of Annie’s recipes I have tried when I make substitutions for dairy. I have used Earth Balance vegan butter sticks, Earth Balance tub butter, Best Life butter sticks and the Fleischmanns Unsalted with great results. I like them all the same. Annie’s website has been such a great resource for my family and I hope it helps you and your dairy free home, too!

  • Traci

    May I ask a question? Do you dissolve the yeast in warm water prior to adding it to the rest of the ingredients?

  • These look AMAZING!! I am going to have to try this one out for sure. I can’t wait to smell these baking in my oven!

  • Maya

    I love making chocolate babka and it goes in 2 seconds flat in our house. You turned it into breakfast! yes! So trying this!

  • Natalie

    Ooh, I saw when Deb posted these, too! I actually happened to catch that blog post right before I went to NYC, so I also got to try the real deal from Zucker Bakery. They were amazing!

  • Celine

    My teenage twin sister and I recently started a food blog and this was one of our first posts! These buns are really, really good with awesome chocolate flavor and a perfect base. Thanks so much!
    Our blog:

  • Lis

    I made these today, they are awesome!

  • inigo

    Oh wowowow! I’d love to taste one! Looks really mouth-watering!

  • annieseats

    If you use instant/rapid rise yeast, there is no need to proof it. Please see the FAQ page for more info. Thanks!

  • Traci

    Thank you so very much!

  • Wow. These look just great! Yum!

  • suzie

    i’m baking them right now.

  • Ann P.

    Gorgeous!! What a decadent treat! This, plus a huge cup of coffee, is my kind of breakfast :)

  • mya

    could you use semi-sweet or milk chocolate for the filling? I’m not much of a bittersweet fan :D

  • annieseats

    Sure. Enjoy!

  • Tania

    These are fabulous!!! I just made them and they turned out delicious, well all of Annie’s recipes do. I couln’t help myself and I already ate two. Someone help before I devour them all, lol. Thanks for the great recipes.

  • Petite & Oh So Sweet

    These are amazing!! I prepared them the night before then baked them in the morning. They were so soft and yummy! Thank you for this recipe, this will be on our list of breakfast treats :)

  • Swapna

    Just made these…They are just delicious.i replaced the white sugar in the chocolate mixture with light brown sugar .totally awesome…

  • Kari

    Just baked these! They are amazing!

  • Marta Spampinato

    I tried the recipe last week. The result was not aesthetically perfect , but the taste was really good. My problem is that the dough after the first rise was very very soft and I had to manipulate a little to much to lay it … this made ​​it lose a bit of softness. Maybe they were also overcooked… but I’m sure I’ll do better next time!

  • AmyT

    Made these Friday for Saturday breakfast. I covered them Friday night and baked them from the refrigerator Saturday morning. They were fantastic. Highly recommend. Thanks Annie!

  • Joellyn

    Do you happen to have an alternate method for whole milk?

    Or is whole milk an important part of this recipe?

  • annieseats

    Whole milk is best but you could use lowfat if necessary.

  • Claudia

    One word. AMAZING! They turned out so good I think I’m about to eat them all. Thank you Annie! <3