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Chocolate Cherry Almond Brioche Buns with Cream Cheese Frosting

Layers of silky brioche dough are filled with cocoa, cherries and almonds, then topped with cream cheese frosting. Chocolate Cherry Almond Brioche Buns are indulgent, but they’re totally worth the work and calories

chocolate cherry almond brioche bunsI knew I wanted to do a sweet bread based on a brioche dough, but had a bit of a time finding my way to making Chocolate Cherry Almond Brioche buns.

My first thought was to make chocolate brioche studded with dried cherries. I don’t mean a brioche filled with chocolate, but a brioche with cocoa in the mix to create a chocolate dough.

My attempts were not bad, in fact the bread tasted good. The bread had a striking chocolate-brown color and great texture, but the flavor was deep, dark and a bit bitter. It was quite a nice bread, but didn’t fit in with the “sweetened” theme.

I tried adding more sugar but it just was not working out as I had it in my head. I’ll revisit that idea another time because I’m still intrigued, but not for today.

How to make Chocolate Brioche Buns:

I kept the chocolate element, but instead made a cocoa sugar that I rolled into the dough along with chopped dried cherries and chopped cocoa covered almonds. These Chocolate Cherry Almond Brioche Buns are a chocolatized version of cinnamon buns. How could that be a bad thing?

If you’ve never made brioche before here are a few pointers for success:

  •  Knead for a full 10-15 minutes – kneading for a good 10 minutes before the butter is added allows the gluten to develop. Fat inhibits gluten formation, so you want a nice stretchy dough before adding the butter. Good gluten formation is key for a light texture. A strong gluten network allows the bread to rise fully and hold it’s shape without collapsing under it’s own weight.
  • Soften the butter to match the texture of the dough – Having the butter the same texture as the dough allows it to emulsify into the dough. This helps create the beautiful brioche texture.
  • Rest the dough before shaping – Giving the dough several hours in the refrigerator relaxes the dough and firms up the butter, making the dough easier to shape.

Scroll through the process photos to see detailed steps for making Chocolate Cherry Almond Brioche Buns. 

chocolate cherry brioche bun dough starter

Cover the starter with flour and set aside

softening butter for brioche dough

Soften the butter so it’s the same texture as the dough

dotting butter over dough to create flaky layers

Dot the butter over the dough to create flaky layers

brioche bun dough, first fold

Fold the dough over the butter in 3rds

brioche bun dough after folding

Fold the dough into 3rds again to create more layers

Cut the buns and arrange in a buttered pan. The buns will rise to fill the pan

The baked buns completely fill the pan

chocolate cherry almond brioche buns

Layers of silky brioche dough with chocolate, almond and dried cherries.

chocolate cherry almond brioche buns

Folding butter into the dough creates flaky layers

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

Chocolate Cherry Almond Brioche Buns

Chocolate Cherry Almond Brioche Buns

Yield: 12 large buns
Prep Time: 12 hours
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 12 hours 25 minutes

Layers of silky brioche dough are filled with cocoa, cherries and almonds, then topped with cream cheese frosting. Chocolate Cherry Almond Brioche Buns are indulgent, but they’re totally worth the work and calories

Ingredients

Starter

  • 2/3 cup (5oz, 150ml) whole milk, warmed to 110°F.
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 packet instant yeast (2 1/4 tsp, 7g)
  • 2 cups (10oz, 280g) all purpose flour

Dough

  • 1 1/4 cups (6oz, 175g) all purpose flour, plus more for kneading as needed
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (2.7oz, 75g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (4 oz, 115g) room temperature unsalted butter

Assembly

  • 1 stick (4 oz, 115g) room temperature unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup (2.7oz, 75g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (6oz, 150g) plumped dried cherries, chopped (see note)
  • 1 cup Cocoa covered almonds, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon water and a pinch of salt for egg wash.

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 1/4 cup (2 oz, 60g) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 stick (2 oz, 60g) softened butter, room temperature
  • 3 oz Confectioner's sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

Starter

  1. Combine the milk, yeast, egg and 1 cup flour in a mixer bowl to form a batter. Sprinkle the other cup of flour over the starter and set aside for about 30 minutes. You'll see the flour on the surface cracking when the starter is active

Dough

  1. Put the bowl on the mixer with the paddle on medium low to mix in the flour. Add the eggs, vanilla extract, sugar, salt and 1 cup of the flour. Switch to the dough hook and continue mixing on low. Add the remaining 1/4 cup flour.
  2. Increase the speed to medium and knead the dough for 10-15 minutes until the dough gathers on the hook, becomes smooth and silky and slaps the sides of the bowl. You can add a little more flour if the dough is still too sticky after 7-8 minutes of kneading.
  3. While the dough is kneading turn the butter out onto the work surface and knead it with a bench scraper so that it's soft and pliable and has a similar texture to the dough. You want it pliable but not melted
  4. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the butter to the dough, a tablespoon at a time. The dough will break apart, keep adding the butter. Increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough comes back together, gathers on the hook and again slaps the sides of the bowl.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. The dough should be quite soft and silky but hold its shape.
  6. Transfer to the dough to a buttered bowl, cover and set aside for about an hour until it doubles in volume. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface . Knead the the dough to form a ball and return to the bowl. Cover and refrigerate 4-6 hours.

Shape the buns

  1. Take the chilled dough from the refrigerator and turn it out onto a floured surface. Roll the dough to a 1/4 thick rectangle about 16"x18" . Break the remaining 4oz butter into 1/2" bits and scatter them evenly over the surface of the rectangle. Use your fingers to smear the butter onto the dough. Fold the rectangle in thirds from the short side then fold in thirds again. Wrap and refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
  2. Roll the chilled dough to a 1/4" thick retangle, about 16"x18". Brush the entire surface of the dough with egg wash. Combine the granulated sugar and cocoa powder and sprinkle the cocoa sugar over the dough. Sprinkle the cherries and chopped cocoa almonds over the sugar.
  3. Roll tightly from the long side of the rectange to form a log. Wrap and refrigerate the log for 30 minutes (see note). Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 13"x9" baking pan (or 12 large muffin tins if you like crispy sides).
  4. Unwrap the log and cut into 12 equal portions. Arrange the buns in the pan. (If you want to work the night before at this point the pan can be wrapped and refrigerated overnight)
  5. Allow the buns to rise for 1 1/2-2 hours until they've grown to fill the pan. Bake about 30-35 minutes until golden brown and the buns in the middle are fully baked.

Make the Icing

  1. Combine the butter and cream cheese in a mixing bowl and cream until well combined. With the mixer running add the sugar and whip until well aerated. Add the vanilla.
  2. While the buns are still warm remove them from the pan to a serving plate. Spread cream cheese icing generously over the buns and indulge.

Notes

Pour 1 cup of boiling water over the dried cherries. Allow them to plump for about 20 minutes, then drain and chop to 1/4" pieces.

At this point the wrapped logs can be frozen for several weeks. Defrost at room temperature, then cut the buns and proceed with the recipe.

Did you make this recipe?

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