These prune chocolate morning buns have the perfect balance of sweetness from the prune puree in contrast to the dark chocolate and bright citrus note from Satsuma mandarin. This post is sponsored by California Prunes. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Beyond Sweet and Savory possible.
Christmas brunch is one of my favorite holiday meals to make. I would bake up a selection of sweet bread and treats in addition to crepes and French toast to make my family and friends feel extra special. With the overload of sweets around this time of the year, I like to lighten up baked goods and couldn't be more excited to partner with California Prunes to share a special holiday treat, our prune chocolate morning buns. These morning buns are a riff on the classic cinnamon roll minus the usual heaviness and dryness. With their natural sweetness, California prunes work wonders in reducing the amount of sugar in baked goods and imparting tender moisture and flavor. Each bun gets a mesmerizing swirl of dark chocolate with sweet prune puree and burst of citrus from the Satsuma mandarin zest.
How to Make Morning Buns
Making the morning buns takes about 2 days but the result is worth every second! It involves making the dough, proving it twice, folding it three times, filling, shaping, and baking. Although there are a lot of steps, I have included a visual guide to make the process easier.
A Note About Yeast
For the morning buns, we start with a yeasted dough that’s enriched with whole milk, eggs, and butter. Similar breads that utilize rich dough are brioche, babka, cinnamon rolls, star bread, and monkey bread. The most important thing is making sure the temperature of the milk doesn’t go above 110 degrees F or the yeast will die. Instant dry yeast or active dry yeast works for this recipe but the rise time will take a little longer if you use the latter. Always check the expiration date on your yeast package otherwise the yeast might be old and the dough won’t rise properly.
Proving the Dough
The dough requires two proving steps. After the dough is made, leave it in a warm spot in your kitchen to rise for 2 hours. Once it doubles in size, punch down the dough to release any air bubbles and let it prove overnight in the fridge, about 8 hours. If you’re making this during cold weather, prove it in your oven at 90 degrees F and the dough will rise.
How to Fold the Dough
For the morning rolls, we will fold the dough a few times to create the flaky layers. Roll the dough out to a 6 by 18 inch rectangle.
Fold top third up over the middle third.
Fold the bottom third over as you would fold a letter. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes. Remove dough from the fridge, roll it out, and repeat the folding process two more times. This process helps create flaky layers similar to laminating dough, biscuits, and scones.
Ingredients for the Filling
For my morning buns, I used a mixture of California Prunes, dark chocolate, Satsuma mandarin zest, and vanilla extract. I love using California Prunes for baking and cooking. Swapping prune puree for sugar is an essential baking trick you don’t want to miss. With their natural sweetness and high moisture, you can use prunes and prune puree to reduce sugar and substitute even oil in your recipes.
Tips for Using California Prunes
I love using prune puree to swap out sugar, eggs, and even oil. You can use prune puree to replace up to half the sugar, butter, or oil in a recipe. To replace 1 large egg, use ¼ cup of prune puree. This works best for recipes with three eggs or less. Besides reducing sugar, prunes also boost nutritional content by providing important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber for gut health and bone health.
How to Make the Fillig
To make the prune puree, add prunes, hot water, and vanilla extract in a food processor and puree until smooth. The prune mixture will be thick but spreadable. To save time, make the prune puree the day before and let it come to room temperature before you’re ready to use.
How to Shape the Morning Buns
Roll the dough into a 12 by 24 inch rectangle.
Spread the prune mixture over the dough, leaving a half inch-border then sprinkle the chopped chocolate on top.
Roll up the dough from the longer side so that you end up with a 24-inch log. Wrap the log in cling film and refrigerate for 15 minutes to let it firm up and easier to handle.
How to Cut the Dough
Use a ruler to divide the dough log into 12 equal pieces. To cut the dough, use a piece of dental floss or sharp serrated knife for clean cuts. I like using floss when the filling doesn’t have nuts in them.
Tips for Baking Morning Buns
Brush the tops of morning buns with egg wash and bake for 23-25 minutes at 350 degrees F or until they turn golden brown.
After 25 minutes in the oven, the morning buns baked to golden perfection. Let them cool for 15 minutes before serving.
Biting into the prune chocolate morning bun was pure joy. These pillowy soft buns had the perfect balance of sweetness from the prune puree in contrast to the dark chocolate with a bright citrus note throughout. There is no better feeling than waking up to freshly baked, fragrant morning buns on Christmas morning.
How to Store Baked Morning Buns
These prune chocolate morning buns are eaten fresh on the day of baking and will keep up to three days if stored airtight at room temperature. Simply rewarm them in the oven at 350 degrees F for a few minutes. They also freeze well after baking. Transfer them straight from the freezer to the oven.
Prune Chocolate Morning Buns
- 1 package instant yeast
- ¼ cup and 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ cup whole milk, warm
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
Prune Chocolate Filling
- 8 ounces California Prunes
- 6 tablespoons hot water
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extra
- 2 tablespoons Satsuma mandarin zest
- 4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- To make the prune filling, combine prunes, water, and vanilla in a food processor and puree until blended.
- Transfer the prune puree into a lidded container and stir in the mandarin zest. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Morning Bun Dough
- Pour milk in a small bowl and warm it in the microwave until lukewarm. Make sure the max temperature is 105-110 degrees. Add 1 tablespoon sugar and give it a quick stir before adding the yeast. Let mixture sit for 8 to 10 minutes, until foamy.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine flour, remaining sugar, salt, and stir until combined.
- Add in the yeast mixture and eggs until the dough comes together in a soft mass, about 5 minutes.
- Add the butter and beat until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Continue beating until the dough is smooth and stretchy, another 5 minutes.
- Butter a clean bowl, form the dough into a ball and roll it around in the bowl so all sides are buttered. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place until it puffs and rises, about 2 hours. Gently press the dough down with your hands, re-cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight for the second prove.
- Lightly flour a clean work surface. Tip the chilled dough onto it. Roll dough into large rectangle about 6 by 18 inches.
- Fold top third up over the middle third and then fold bottom third over as you would fold a letter. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes. Remove dough from fridge and repeat the folding process two more times.
Morning Roll Assembly
- Let the prune puree come to room temperature for about 30 minutes.
- Roll dough into a 12 by 24 inch rectangle.
- Spread the prune mixture over the dough, leaving a half inch border.
- Sprinkle chopped chocolate over the prune puree.
- Roll the dough starting at the long side so that you have a 24 inch log. Wrap the log in cling film and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Butter two 6-hole muffin pans or one 12-hole muffin pan.
- Use a ruler as a guide to mark dough log into 12 even pieces.
- Use either a serrated knife or dental floss to cut dough log into 12 pieces.
- Place dough pieces into muffin pan. Brush tops of buns lightly with egg wash.
- Bake buns for 23-25 minutes until gold brown and cooked through. Let them cool for 15 minutes before serving.