I couldn’t think of a title for these. Chocolate buns? Iced buns? These-aren’t-what-they-were-supposed-to-be buns?
Because these weren’t supposed to be chocolate buns. They were going to be cinnamon buns, right up until I rolled out the dough, went to make the filling and realized I was out of both brown sugar and cream cheese. On any other day, I’d run out to restock. But there’s a pandemic going on (have you heard?) and I am quarantined inside.
So I improvised. Made do. Grabbed butter from the fridge, chocolate from the pantry, the last of the cocoa. Added a good dash of cinnamon, cooked it all down together in a pot. The result was a slick, warm chocolate filling that I spread all over the dough. The buns baked up high and golden and I iced them right when they came out, so the icing settled in the nooks and crannies.
Not cinnamon buns after all, but just as good: warm, dark, redolent of yeast and life. Quarantine buns. Make-do buns.
Maybe this is what I am learning, then, from all of this: that it is possible to make do, and even okay. We have all been doing a lot of that lately- making do with fear, making do with uncertainty. It’s taking a toll. But maybe the upside of this, and yes, I am looking for one, is that it’s teaching me how to adapt. How to roll with the punches. And how to let go. For someone who has always struggled with being in control (read: control freak) this has been a refreshing reminder that it was never in my hands to begin with. Cinnamon buns become chocolate buns.
Hunker down. Spend time with your loved ones. Eat an orange. Practice social distancing. Listen to music. Move your body. Paint. And maybe bake some quarantine buns- they might just teach you something, too.
Yields: 14 large rolls
Why I love this recipe: this butter, milk, egg and sugar enriched dough bakes up incredibly soft and fluffy and keeps its perfect spiral shape, revealing a warm, cinnamon kissed chocolate filling. The icing is simple- confectioner’s sugar- and I pour it on while the buns are hot so it hardens pleasantly over the buns.
For the dough:
- 1 recipe cinnamon bun dough, prepared through step 4
For the filling:
- 1 stick butter, unsalted
- 6 oz. dark baking chocolate
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/3 cup dark cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup sugar
For the frosting:
- 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 3 tablespoons hot milk
- Combine the ingredients for the filling in a small pot over a low flame. Gently melt and stir together until runny and smooth, with no lumps. Refrigerate until semi-firm and cooled down, around 20 minutes.
- Spread the filling over the prepared, rolled out dough.
- Starting with a short end, roll the dough into a log and cut it into 12-14 2″ buns.
- Place the buns in a greased and baking paper lined 9″ x 13″ pan. Cover the pan and let the buns rise until they’re nearly doubled, about 30–45 minutes.
- While the buns are rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Uncover the buns, and bake them until they’re golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.
- While the buns are baking, make the icing. In a small bowl, combine the confectioner’s sugar and hot milk. Beat together until completely smooth.
- Remove the buns from the oven. Pour the icing the buns over while they’re still warm, so it hardens and turns translucent. Serve.