Why settle for traditional hot cross buns when you can have chocolate hot cross buns? Soft, aromatic and filled with chocolate chips, these are the buns you need to make at Easter time. Serve them warm with lashings of butter for the ultimate treat!
2tablespoonraspberry jamwarmed in the microwave for 20 secs
For the yeast mixture:
Combine the milk, yeast and sugar in a small bowl or jug and whisk until well combined. Set aside for 5 minutes until the mixture becomes frothy and the yeast has activated.
For the buns:
Using the large bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached, add the flour, cocoa powder, mixed spice, yeast mixture, melted butter and egg. Mix at a low speed for 5 minutes until you have a soft dough (it will also be a little sticky - that's fine). Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for 1.5 - 2 hours. Alternatively, you may like to use a wooden spoon to bring everything together and knead the dough on a floured surface before proofing.
Return the bowl to your stand mixer, add the chocolate chips and knead for 1 minute. Make sure that the chocolate chips are evenly distributed.
Place the hot cross bun dough on a floured surface and knead lightly.
Using a sharp knife, divide the dough into 15 equal pieces. (see note 5)
Roll the dough into smooth balls and place in a lined and greased baking tray - my baking tray measured 20cm x 30cm or 8" x 12 ". Cover with a damp tea towel and allow them to proof for a further 30 minutes.
For the chocolate crosses:
Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and water in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Place the piping mixture in a piping bag or use a Ziploc bag with the corner cut off. The mixture should resemble the consistency of pancake batter for reference.
Preheat your oven to 180 deg C and pipe crosses along the top of the risen buns. Cook in a preheated oven for 20 minutes until the buns are cooked through.
Allow them to rest in the baking pan for 5 minutes and brush generously with warm raspberry jam - before removing and placing them on a wire rack to cool for a further 20 minutes. Serve the warm buns with plenty of butter.
Use lukewarm milk. If it's too hot, it will kill the yeast. Test this by placing your finger in the milk. If you feel it's too hot, allow the milk to cool (it should be "just warm").
Yeast - active dry yeast needs to be dissolved in a warm liquid to be activated. If using the instant yeast variety, add it with the dry ingredients.
Sugar - substitute the white sugar with some dark brown sugar for an extra "caramel" hit.
Use good quality chocolate chips. I can't emphasise this enough. Spend a little extra for a good quality brand. Lesser quality chocolate chips are loaded with extra sugar and fat. If you find yourself with nothing else on hand, reduce the sugar by a third.
Be precise. For even-sized buns, use a kitchen scale to weigh your dough. Mine weighed approximately 90 grams each.
Be patient. Unlike regular Easter buns, these have cocoa in them, which slows down the initial proofing time. Leave them to rise in a warm place for an extra hour (mine took approximately 2 hours), and your patience will be rewarded.
Experiment with different flavours. My other favourite variation on this recipe is to use a hint of orange in the filling. Add the grated orange zest to the dry ingredients along with a half teaspoon of ground cardamom. Brush the top of the buns with orange marmalade for a heavenly choc-orange hit! - this is a flavour sensation!