We all know that the aroma of hot, yeasty, sweet bread just as it comes out of the oven is irresistible. Now imagine the tender, chewy bite of freshly risen buns mingled with a perfectly balanced, not-too-sweet blend of finely chopped nuts and melted chocolate. Way to start your day!
To enjoy fresh, warm rolls in the morning, you can make the dough, let it rise, fill it and roll it, cut it into buns, and put them on a baking sheet the night before. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate them overnight. In the morning, let them come to room temperature while you preheat the oven, then bake. Like magic, you’ve got hot breakfast buns, even if you slept in.
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Makes 12 Rolls
For the rolls:
- 1 tablespoon dry instant yeast
- 1½ cups warm milk, divided
- ½ cup (3½ ounces) sugar, plus a pinch, divided
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
- 11⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups (1 pound) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 cup (5 ounces) whole wheat flour
For the filling:
- 1 cup pecans, toasted
- 5 ounces Theo chocolate (we like a mix of 45 percent milk chocolate and 70 percent dark chocolate)
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- ⅓ cup packed light brown sugar
For the icing:
- ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
- 3 teaspoons milk or half-and-half
To make the rolls, in a small bowl, mix the yeast, ¼ cup of the milk, and a pinch of sugar, and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, the remaining ½ cup sugar, the salt, and vanilla on medium speed until light and creamy. Add the yeast mixture, the remaining 1¼ cup milk, and the flours, and mix well on low speed.
- When all the ingredients have been incorporated, switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed for 3 minutes. The dough will be sticky but will come together in a soft ball around the hook. If it isn’t forming a ball, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of flour. Cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap and let the dough rise until at least doubled in size, about 2 hours.
- To make the filling, put the pecans in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped (uniform 1⁄8-inch pieces). Pour the nuts into a small bowl and grind the chocolate in the processor until finely chopped—pieces about the same size as the nuts. Mix the chocolate with the pecans.
- When you’re ready to make the rolls, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently pat it into a long rectangle. Dust the top with flour and roll the dough out to about 18 inches long and 10 inches wide. Brush the dough with the melted butter, leaving a 1-inch border bare along the long side closest to you. Spread the brown sugar in an even layer over the butter. Sprinkle the chocolate/nut mixture evenly over the sugar. Lightly dust the border with flour.
- Starting with the edge farthest away from you, roll up the dough toward you, into a log, and leave it sitting on top of its seam. Use a sharp large knife to cut the log in half crosswise, cut each half in half again, and then cut each piece into three. For each roll, unroll just the last inch of dough (the flour you dusted will make this easy), twist the now-loose piece of dough so that you can gently hold it against one of the cut sides of the roll, and set the roll flat on the prepared baking sheet, open-cut-side up (that little flap of dough on the bottom of the roll will help keep the filling inside). Arrange the rolls on the baking sheet in 4 rows of 3, and cover the tray loosely with plastic wrap. At this point, you can refrigerate the rolls overnight for morning baking, or let the dough rise until puffy and about 50 percent larger, about 45 minutes (the time will vary depending on the temperature of your kitchen).
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the rolls until they’re golden and firm, about 30 minutes. Let them cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before icing.