Chocolate Cream and Orange Brioche Buns


These festive, doughnut-like, buttery brioche pastries are filled with fluffy chocolate cream and orange marmalade.

Chocolate Cream and Orange Brioche Buns
Chocolate Cream and Orange Brioche Buns. Photo:

Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

Active Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
12 hrs 25 mins

Tender and lightly sweet, these rich, buttery brioche buns from Timmy Gibbons and Bobby Schaffer of Chicago’s Lost Larson bakery are the perfect canvas for the bold flavors of orange and chocolate. The buns begin with a rich brioche dough that includes a touch of whole-wheat flour, which adds a nutty undertone without distracting from the sweet and buttery base. The lengthy kneading time as well as an autolyse, a rest period after initially mixing the flour and liquid, work together to encourage the development of a strong gluten network, resulting in pillowy-soft and tender bread. Adding small pieces of chilled butter to the dough while kneading allows them to gradually incorporate, giving the dough a smooth and glossy appearance. Chill the dough well before shaping to allow the butter to resolidify for a malleable dough that won’t stick to your hands. While the dough will feel sticky before chilling, avoid adding additional flour, which can result in a dry and crumbly bread. Bake the dough in greased brioche molds for the most classic shape, or, for a more roll-like shape, bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet. When you’re ready to fill them, a chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon works well for hollowing out the buns. The chocolate-dipped candied orange slices are an optional but fun topping; see the note below for details on how to make them.


Brioche Dough Base

  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour (about 14 7/8 ounces)

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour (about 4 ounces)

  • 3/4 cup whole milk

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt

  • 1 (1/4-ounce) envelope instant yeast or quick-rising yeast (such as Fleischmann’s RapidRise)

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (8 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled

  • Cooking Spray

Chocolate Cream and Orange Brioche Buns

  • 6 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom (optional)

  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk

  • 3 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (from 1 [4-ounce] bar)

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Cooking spray

  • Brioche Dough Base, chilled

  • 3 tablespoons pearl sugar (such as Lars Own)

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade (such as Bonne Maman)

  • Powdered sugar, for garnish

  • Chocolate-dipped candied orange slices (see Note), for garnish


Make the brioche dough base

  1. Beat bread flour, whole-wheat flour, milk, and eggs with a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment on low speed until a shaggy dough forms, about 1 minute. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 30 minutes.

  2. Return chilled dough in bowl to stand mixer fitted with dough hook. Add sugar, salt, and yeast to dough, and beat on low speed until just combined, about 2 minutes. Add butter, and beat until just incorporated, about 1 minute. Increase mixer speed to medium-high, and beat until dough pulls away from sides of bowl and is glossy and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. (Dough will be very sticky.) Transfer dough to a lightly greased (with cooking spray) large bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rest at room temperature until slightly risen, 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes. Transfer to refrigerator, and chill at least 8 hours or up to 16 hours.

Make the chocolate cream and orange brioche buns

  1. Whisk together brown sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, cardamom (if using), salt, and 1 egg in a large bowl until smooth and well combined; set aside. Bring milk to a low simmer in a medium saucepan over medium; remove from heat. Gradually add 1 cup hot milk to egg mixture, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, whisking constantly, until mixture is smooth and well combined. Add egg mixture to remaining hot milk in saucepan; cook over medium-low, whisking constantly, until thickened and bubbly, 4 to 5 minutes. 

  2. Pour milk mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a large heatproof bowl; discard any solids. Add chocolate, butter, and vanilla, and let stand 1 minute. Whisk until chocolate and butter are completely melted and mixture is smooth, about 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing plastic directly onto surface of mixture to prevent a skin from forming; chill until pudding is completely set, at least 4 hours or up to 2 days.

  3. Lightly coat 12 fluted brioche molds (3 inches wide at top of molds) with cooking spray, and arrange evenly on 2 rimmed baking sheets, leaving at least 2 to 3 inches between molds. Turn brioche dough base out onto a clean work surface. (Dough may be sticky.) Divide dough evenly into 12 (3 1/4-ounce) pieces, and shape into taut balls; place 1 dough ball in each prepared brioche mold on baking sheets. (Alternatively, arrange dough balls at least 2 inches apart on 2 parchment paper–lined baking sheets.) Cover baking sheets loosely with greased (with cooking spray) plastic wrap, and let dough stand at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. Preheat oven to 325°F during final 20 minutes of proofing time.

  4. Lightly beat remaining egg in a small bowl. Lightly brush dough with beaten egg, and sprinkle evenly with pearl sugar. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown and a thermometer inserted into center of buns registers 200°F, 25 to 35 minutes, rotating baking sheets from front to back halfway through baking time. Let cool completely on baking sheets, about 30 minutes.

  5. Whisk cream in a large bowl until stiff peaks form, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove pudding from refrigerator. Gently whisk chilled pudding to loosen; fold whipped cream into pudding in 3 additions. Transfer chocolate cream to a large piping bag with a 1/2-inch hole cut in the corner.

  6. Transfer orange marmalade to a separate piping bag with a 1/2-inch hole cut in the corner. Using a chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon, poke a hole in the top of a cooled bun, and roll chopstick around inside of bun to hollow out middle of bun. Pipe about 2 teaspoons orange marmalade into bun, and pipe about 1/4 cup chocolate cream into bun, allowing a little cream to come out of top. Repeat process with remaining buns, orange marmalade, and chocolate cream. (Reserve remaining chocolate cream for another use.) Garnish with powdered sugar and candied orange slices.

Make Ahead

Brioche dough base can be stored in refrigerator up to 16 hours. Chocolate cream can be made up to 2 days in advance. Serve leftover chocolate cream with fresh raspberries or crumbled chocolate wafers.


To make chocolate-dipped candied orange slices: Melt 4 ounces chopped dark chocolate in a small heatproof bowl set over boiling water. Dip candied orange slices halfway into melted chocolate; place on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet, and allow chocolate to harden, about 20 minutes.

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