Mocha, choc chip and walnut hot cross buns

Easter has to be the most wonderful time of the year. Besides Christmas, what other opportunities are there to unashamedly gorge yourself with chocolate of all shapes and sizes, from mini cadbury easter eggs to 1kg lindt bunnies? And on top of all of that sugar, it’s also a carbohydrate overload with hot cross buns in your face every direction you turn. I have a confession to make though, I am not really a fan of traditional hot cross buns. It’s the sultanas – I just can’t stand them. In my opinion, when a grape tastes so good fresh and even better fermented, its a travesty to dry it out and turn it into a wrinkled shell of what it once was. But recently, I have noticed more and more variations on the traditional sultana buns popping up around the place. Brumbies has their delicious choc chip and mocha varietals, and I even noticed sticky date and caramel buns in Woolies the other day. So I decided that I was going to make my own, with choc chips, walnuts and just a hint of coffee. Even though these are less hot cross buns and more just an excuse for chocolate bread, the presence of chocolate means they are still legitimate easter food.

I decided that I better stick with a tried and tested basic hot cross bun recipe, so I jumped online and found a recipe from Donna Hay to use as a jumping board. And here is what happened.

Ingredients (makes 12)

  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 2 tsp of caster sugar
  • 1½ cups  lukewarm milk
  • 4 1/2 cups plain flour, sifted plus extra to knead
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 3 tsp mixed spice
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 – 5 tbsp of ground coffee, depending on how strong you want the coffee flavour. I only used 2 tbsp as my partner doesn’t like coffee, but the taste was very very mild and I think if I was making them just for myself I would up it to about 5 tbsp
  • 300g of chocolate chips (I used a mixture of dark chocolate and milk chocolate)
  • 100g of finely chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup (75g) plain (all-purpose) flour, extra
  • ⅓ cup (80ml) water
  • butter, to serve
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 3 tbsp of hot water

Method

  1. Donna Hay says to place the yeast, 2 teaspoons sugar and the milk in a large bowl and set aside for 5 minutes. I put mine in a stein because, well, I wanted to put all the other ingredients in the large bowl while the yeast activated, and I only had one large bowl. Plus, steins are made for beer, beer has yeast….it all made sense at the time. Whatever vessel you choose, when the mixture starts to foam you know that yeast is ready to party
  2. At this point, mix the flour, sugar, mixed spice, cinnamon, salt, butter, egg and coffee together until a sticky dough forms.Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until elastic (probably about 10 minutes). During this process, add the choc chips and walnuts, either slowly or all at once. Hint: adding them all at once will result in choc chips on the floor as they take a while to stick.
  3. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Set aside in a warm place for about an hour, or until it doubles in size. If you don’t have a warm place, fill the sink with a bit of lukewarm water and pop your bowl in that.
  4. Once suitably risen, roll the dough into 12 balls and place them in a baking tray (lined with some baking paper to avoid sticking, and also to avoid unnecessary washing up).
  5. Set aside in that warm spot until they rise a little again, about half an hour. While they are doing this, preheat oven to 200°C.
  6. Put the extra flour and the water in a bowl and stir to combine. Make sure its not too thick or your crosses will be inedible (from experience). Place in a piping bag or a plastic bag with one corner snipped off, and pipe crosses on the buns.
  7. Bake for about 25 minutes or until they feel springy.
  8. While this is happening, mix together the sugar and water together to make the glaze
  9. Once they are ready, brush the glaze on while they are hot.
  10. Eat immediately, with A LOT of butter.

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