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.

  • Yield 12 buns


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.