I often make recipes, then accidentally sit on them for ages and eventually get around to posting them. I’m trying super hard to be better at it and post as close to when I made and shot the recipe as I can. These hot cross buns though, I needed to share with you immediately.
These are a perfect twist on the traditional spiced fruit bun - I started with a super soft, lush dough, which I spiked with a little cocoa and a lot of cardamom, then kneaded in more chocolate chips than I thought the dough could handle. I then divided the dough into 12 buns, and let them rise again, then gave them a quick score before popping them in the oven to partially bake.
What sets these apart from standard hot cross buns is the cross. Instead of the standard choux cross or icing cross, I made a chocolate pastry cream, and piped it on once the buns were nearly baked. The idea from this came from an amazing place in Auckland called Ima. A few years ago, they started making hot cross buns with a pastry cream cross, and I’ve been drooling over them every easter since, and when I came across their recipe on the internet, I knew I had to give it a try.
The pastry cream cross is piped onto the bun once it has been in the oven for about 20 minutes - the cross that you score in opens up nicely, providing you with a little trench in which to pipe the cross. The buns then finish baking - the pastry cream cross gets a thin skin, but stays super fudgy. Once the buns are done, they are glazed with a cardamom vanilla bean syrup, adding a little bit of moisture, and giving them a beautiful sheen.
These are honestly some of the best hot cross buns that I have had - they are super soft, lightly spiced from the cardamom, loaded up with chocolate, and finished off with the most perfect fudgy cross. I’m totally addicted and hope that they find their way into your Easter baking lineup! I also can’t wait to revamp my original hot cross bun recipe - that will be coming your way very soon! x
A few wee tips:
The dough for these will seem a little softer than you are used to - I jammed a whole lot of milk and butter into them, which makes for the most lush, soft bun. Just trust me on this one - it makes it easy to roll them too!
I did these all in one day, but the first rise can absolutely be done overnight in the fridge if you wanted to have them first thing in the morning - the second rise post shaping may take a little longer.
I like to make the pastry cream while the dough is doing its first rise, then place it into a piping bag with a clip both above the tip and above the pastry cream, then cool it directly in the piping bag which helps to prevent a skin from forming.
I used this enamel pan to make these, but a quarter sheet pan or other large baking pan you have should work well too! I have included a photograph just after I popped them into the pan so you can see the spacing.
Dark Chocolate and Cardamom Hot Cross Buns with Chocolate Pastry Cream Cross
- Makes 12 buns-
Pastry cream cross adapted from Ima
Cardamom Dark Chocolate Dough
340g whole milk, lukewarm
120g sugar, divided
3 tsp active dry yeast
520g all-purpose flour
30g dutch process cocoa
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp cardamom
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
275g dark chocolate, chips, chunks, or callets (I used callebaut callets)
Pastry Cream Cross
50g corn starch
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
400g whole milk
40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
Cardamom Vanilla Bean Syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- PROCESS -
Place the lukewarm milk, 15g of the sugar, and the yeast in a medium sized bowl, and stir to combine. Leave for 10-15 minutes, or until foamy.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, place the remaining 105g sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, cardamom, and cinnamon.
Add the milk mixture and vanilla bean paste to the dry ingredients, and mix on low for 2-3 minutes. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium, and mix for a further 5 minutes. Add the butter a little at a time, waiting until it is incorporated until adding the next piece. Mix for a further 7-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and soft.
Turn out the dough onto a work surface (I do not find that there is a need to flour, but add some if needed), and knead in the chocolate by hand. It will take longer than you expect but the chocolate will eventually incorporate into the dough.
Shape the dough into a ball, and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or place in the fridge overnight. While the dough is proofing, make the pastry cream.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the corn starch and sugar. Add the eggs, salt, and vanilla bean paste, and whisk well to combine.
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the whole milk and cocoa powder, then place over a low heat until just shy of a simmer.
Whisking constantly, pour about half of the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture. Whisk until smooth, then add back into the saucepan. Whisking constantly, cook until thick. Add the butter and whisk to combine.
Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a round piping tip, and a clip just above the tip to prevent any leakage. Twist the piping bag closed, or secure with another clip, and store in the fridge until needed.
Lightly grease an 11” x 13.5” baking pan or roasting dish. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, and weigh the dough. Divide the weight of the dough by 12, and divide the dough into 12 equal sized pieces. Roll each tightly into a ball, then arrange evenly in the pan.
Lightly cover the pan with plastic wrap, and leave in a warm place for about 45 minutes, or until puffy and the dough springs back when lightly pressed with a finger.
Preheat the oven to 350°f / 180°c. Using a sharp paring knife or razor blade, score crosses in the buns.
Bake the buns for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and pipe the chocolate pastry cream in crosses in the holes provided by the scoring.
Return the buns to the oven and bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes, or until the buns are lightly golden brown (this can be a little hard to gauge with the cocoa in the dough), or until they register 200°f / 90°c on an instant read thermometer. While the buns are baking, prepare the sugar syrup.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool, before brushing on the sugar syrup (recipe below).
Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes, then leave to stand until ready to use.
Store leftover buns in an airtight container at room temperature. Reheat in the microwave briefly before eating. Serve with butter.