Breakfast doesn’t get much more decadent than our nib-studded, sugar-coated morning bun with a labyrinth of chocolate custard swirling through the middle. This recipe makes an excellent weekend or holiday project because the dough and custard must both be made a day in advance. You can also make the filling and cinnamon nib sugar ahead of time, but wait to assemble the buns until the day you plan to bake and serve them. The cinnamon and yeasted dough in this bun pair well with coffee notes, spice, and nutty flavor profiles. The nibs in this recipe are ground, which intensifies their impact a little. This recipe is from our book, Making Chocolate: From Bean to Bar to S’more.
Makes 10 to 12 Nibbuns
- 1 teaspoon / 3 grams active dry yeast
- 3 tablespoons / 42 grams / 1 1⁄2 ounces sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1⁄2 cup / 110 grams / 4 ounces heavy cream
- 2 ¼ cups / 385 grams / 13 ½ ounces all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- 1⁄2 teaspoon / 1.5 grams kosher salt
- Pinch of freshly-grated nutmeg
- 3 tablespoons / 42 grams / 1 ½ ounces unsalted butter, melted, plus more for brushing
- Nonstick cooking spray, for the bowl and the muffin tin
- 3⁄4 cup / 113 grams / 4 ounces 70% Chef’s Chocolate, Ground Chocolate, or chopped chocolate
- 1 large egg
- 1⁄4 teaspoon / 1 gram vanilla extract
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons / 150 grams / 5 ounces whole milk
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1⁄2 cup packed / 110 grams / 3 1⁄2 ounces light brown sugar
- ½ cup / 60 grams / 2 ounces cocoa nibs
Cinnamon Nib Sugar
- 1⁄4 cup / 30 grams / 1 ounce cocoa nibs
- 1 cup / 200 grams / 7 ounces sugar
- 4 teaspoons / 8 grams ground cinnamon
- Pinch of kosher salt
Make the Bun Dough
In a small bowl, whisk together the yeast, sugar, and 1⁄2 cup (110 grams / 4 ounces) of warm water. Set the bowl aside for about 10 minutes, or until foamy.
In a small bowl or cup, whisk the egg with the cream. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and nutmeg.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the yeast liquid and the dry ingredients. Mix on medium speed until the dough begins to come together; then stream in the egg and cream mixture, followed by the melted butter. Continue mixing until the dough is smooth and elastic and pulls cleanly away from the sides of the bowl, about 6 minutes.
Remove the dough from the bowl and place it in a large mixing bowl or container that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray or lightly greased. The dough will rise significantly; make sure the bowl has enough room for the dough to double in size. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator overnight to develop the flavor and elasticity of the dough.
Make the Chocolate Custard
Melt the chocolate in a medium bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally. Once melted, remove the bowl from the heat and set it aside.
Whisk the egg and vanilla in another medium bowl to break up the yolk.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk and cinnamon just until steaming. Gradually stream a small amount of the warm milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the egg. Pour this mixture back into the saucepan, and cook the custard over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom as you go, using a heatproof spatula. Be careful not to let the mixture get too hot as it will curdle. Cook until the mixture has thickened and will coat the back of a wooden spoon.
Remove the custard from the heat and immediately pour it over the melted chocolate. Whisk thoroughly to combine. Pour it through a fine-mesh strainer, and if the custard appears chunky or curdled, use a handheld immersion blender to emulsify it. Pour the custard into an airtight container and refrigerate it for at least 12 hours, or overnight.
Make the Filling
Combine the brown sugar and nibs in a small bowl. Set aside.
Make the Cinnamon Nib Sugar
Place the cocoa nibs in a coffee grinder or small food processor and pulse until they are finely ground. Sift the nibs through a fine-mesh strainer and combine the nib powder with the sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl, whisking thoroughly. Set aside.
Shape, Cut, and Bake the Buns
Generously coat a standard-size muffin tin with nonstick spray. After the dough has risen overnight, remove it from the refrigerator and let it rest at room temperature for at least 20 minutes.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and roll it into a rectangle about 1⁄4 inch thick, approximately 12 × 16 inches.
Using an offset spatula or a rubber spatula, spread the chocolate custard in an even layer over the dough, leaving a 1⁄2-inch border around the edges. Sprinkle the brown sugar and cocoa nib mixture evenly over the custard.
Beginning at the longer edge of the rectangle, tightly roll the dough to form a log. Slice the log into 2-inch segments. Place one segment into each cavity of the prepared muffin tin, spiral-side up. Allow the buns to rise for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (176.7°C). Bake the buns for 20 minutes, or until golden brown, rotating the tin 180 degrees halfway through to ensure even coloring.
Allow the buns to cool in the muffin tin for at least 10 minutes. Prepare a small bowl of melted butter, and using a pastry brush, coat each bun with a thin layer of melted butter. Immediately roll each buttered bun in the bowl of cinnamon nib sugar, coating the entire surface thoroughly. Serve immediately.