1package active dry yeast(1/4 ounce / 2 1/4 teaspoons)
2 1/2cupsall-purpose flour, plus more as needed
6tablespoonsbutter, at room temperature
1 1/2teaspoonskosher or sea salt
6-8ouncesdark chocolate, in 1/2-1" chunks (see headnote)(about 2 cups)
about 1 tablespoon coarse sugar
Make the dough:
In a small saucepan, heat the buttermilk and cream together oven a medium-low flame, swirling occasionally, until steaming and small bubbles form around the sides of the pan; be careful not to let the mixture boil, or the buttermilk may curdle. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer and let cool to just warmer than body temperature.
Whisk the yeast into the warm dairy and let stand 5 minutes. (Mine didn't foam up, I think because the acidity and fat prevent it from doing so, but the final dough still rose.)
Add the 2 1/2 cups flour, and the egg, butter, sugar and salt.Place the bowl on the stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (or mix in a large bowl with a wooden spooand mix on low speed for a couple of minutes until the dough comes together, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Increase the speed to medium, and mix for 7 minutes, adding flour by the tablespoon within the first couple of minutes until the dough mostly pulls away from the sides of the bowl. You'll know you've added enough flour when you can touch the dough briefly with clean, dry fingers and it does not stick. The finished dough will be somewhat soft and sticky.
Add the chocolate chunks and knead briefly on low speed just to incorporate.
Scrape the dough into a lightly oiled bowl at least double the size of the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a heavy plate, and let the dough rise in a warm spot until doubled or tripled in bulk, about 2 hours. (An oven with a pilot light is a good spot.) Alternately, leave the dough in the fridge overnight, then bring to room temperature the next day and proceed with the recipe, making sure the dough has doubled in bulk.
Roll and bake the buns:
Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it into a 10x12" rectangle with a long side facing you, dusting the dough, your hands, and the rolling pin with just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking.
Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl until completely smooth, then paint a strip of egg wash along the top, long side of dough. Roll the dough up into a log, pinch the seam to seal, and squish in the ends to make them even. Use a sharp chef's knife to cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. (I cut the dough in half, then each half into halves, then each quarter into thirds.)
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the dough rounds, cut-side-down, on the sheet pan, spacing them at least 2" apart. Cover the baking sheet either with another inverted, rimmed baking sheet, or slide it into a clean, plastic garbage bag. Let the buns rise until increased in size by a third, about an hour.
Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350º. When the buns have risen, brush the tops and sides with the egg wash, and sprinkle each one with a big pinch of coarse sugar.
Bake the buns until golden-brown on top, 25-35 minutes. Serve warm. Extras can be cooled and stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Re-heat in a 350º oven or toaster oven until warm, about 5 minutes.
Adapted from The Cheese Board Collective Works.These little buns are all about the chocolate, so get the good stuff; I used Scharffen Berger's bittersweet, which clocks in at 70% and results in a not-so-sweet pastry; chocolate with a 50-60% cacao mass would probably be more kid friendly. As much as possible, you want big chunks of chocolate here with minimal chocolate dust, which discolors the dough. A serrated knife works well for chopping up large blocks of chocolate.The buttermilk mixture may look slightly curdled when heated, but that won't affect the final dough; just be careful not to boil it. I'd imagine that you could use milk and sour cream in place of the buttermilk and heavy cream if that was what you had instead, since I've seen brioche recipes that call for those ingredients.These buns must be eaten warm (or at the very least, alongside a hot beverage); at room temperature, they just don't compare. Leftovers make killer bread pudding, though.Nutritional values are based on one of twelve buns.