Dark Chocolate Pretzel Buns With Toasted Walnuts

I’ve been a wee bun obsessed as of late, have you noticed? I first saw pretzel buns several year’s back when Izy Hossack had a recipe in her first cookbook. I loveeddd the photo. And sometimes that’s all it takes with me.

This particular dough recipe is the one I use for most of my breakfast roll/bun recipes…but this time I tweaked it a bit and used beer…which may seem weird with chocolate and breakfast but it works. I promise. Then we stuff it with the usual cinnamon roll suspects of cinnamon (obvs) and brown sugar, and then chocolate and chopped walnuts join in the mix.

So…let’s talk about nuts a minute. I am super excited to share with you guys that I’ve partnered with Diamond of California for the next year (yippee!!). Which is exciting for a number of reasons. Starting with, I love to cook and bake with nuts. Not only do they add fun flavor and texture to whatever you’re making, but from an aesthetic point of view I like things to look pretty and interesting…and I often reach for nuts to finish something and add jazz hands. For this recipe I reached for their finely diced walnuts… because they’re convenient as hell and I feel like I haven’t been giving walnuts enough love lately. If you’re not feeling the walnuts, chopped pecans or hazelnuts would also be fab. Stay tuned for more sweet and savory recipes using Diamond nuts for the rest of this year and into next!!

Before We Get Started: 

  • Pretzel-Adjacent Buns. We’re not using actual pretzel dough because I didn’t want you to have to get any special ingredients for these…I feel like most everything is lurking in your pantry, fridge and/or freezer. I did employ a pretzel-technique that’s found in Izzy’s recipe that has you brushing your unbaked buns with a mixture of baking soda + boiling water. So just prior to the oven, our buns get brushed in this mixture to give them a deep bronze color and that pretzel flavor. We also pre-heat our oven hot, turn it down once the buns are in the oven and bake them in the top third of the oven. This time we’re going for George Hamilton bronze…don’t hold back.
  • Beer. I love what beer does in yeast-baked treats. You don’t need anything fancy…Corona is my go-to…but I have a hunch a Budweiser would do the trick as well. I would steer clear of anything too dark. Just me. However, if you can’t get on board, for whatever reason, feel free to sub in buttermilk, milk or water.
  • Toasted Nuts. Place a small sauté pan over medium-low heat and stir the nuts about until you start to smell them. Don’t walk away and leave them unattended…burned nuts are useless and disgusting. Just thought we should discuss this.
  • Pretzel Salt. I love the addition of pretzel salt which you can purchase on Amazon or offline. It just tastes more pretzel-y to me. But feel free to use sea salt flakes which would also be super dazzling.
  • Rise Time. The instructions below are for overnight buns. So we mix, knead and assemble them the night before, letting the unbaked buns rest in the fridge overnight. The next morning we pop the buns into a cold oven while a pan holding boiling water lingers beneath, steaming them through their second rise. This works out really well when we’re entertaining or we just want to break the process down over several days. When you don’t have any time constraints and want to make these start-to-finish in one day, give each rise 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until your dough has doubled in size.
  • Rolling Your Buns. If you look at my other breakfast bun recipes the resulting bun is actually quite thick…I like it this way. However, that’s not the case here. I really wanted to see lots of chocolate circling the bun…so we roll the dough thinner and add a gluttonous amount of filling. Nobody’s sad.
  • Vanilla Bean Simple Syrup. It was extremely hard for me to let these buns shine without the aid of glaze. I love a good glaze. But they don’t need it and it just would have been too much. So to satisfy my need to make baked goods glossy, I created this syrup, smeared over the tops and sides fresh out of the oven, to give them a lacquered look. Much like 90% of the furniture sold in China. This is totally optional…but I think you should do it. So, there’s that. And you’ll have leftover simple syrup for cocktails. So there’s that too. And I feel like vanilla bean simple syrup season is imminent, don’t you?
  • Displaced Kitchen Tips: First, I like to photograph my dough when it first starts a rise so that I have something to compare it with several hours later. If you’re anything like me, that infant dough is a distant memory. Second, the end pieces always drive me to distraction…they never look as pretty as the others. Maybe your a better stuffer + roller of buns and if this is the case, well done you. This time I shoved the end pieces in ramekins and fell in love. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen cuter buns. Thinking this would be a fab idea if you’re having people over…shove them all in ramekins and everyone gets their own individual bun. I mean… Lastly, I ask you to use a pastry brush twice in this recipe. If you don’t have one use paper towels (they work ok, but not great), some leafy lettuce (romaine would be excellent), cotton balls or an unused paint brush (which I often use…I have a whole drawer full).

Let’s bake some buns, shall we?

Dark Chocolate Pretzel Buns With Toasted Walnuts

Makes 12 Buns

INGREDIENTS

For the Dough

  • 7 ounces beer, warmed to the touch but not burn-your-finger hot
  • 1 package instant or active dry yeast, approximately 2 1/4 teaspoons
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional flour for dusting your surfaces (use as little extra flour as possible)
  • ½ stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, for the bowl

For the Filling

  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup finely diced Diamond walnuts, toasted
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Pre-bake

  • 1 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • Pretzel salt or sea salt flakes to sprinkle over the tops

Vanilla-Bean Simple Syrup

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, mix the beer and yeast and let sit for 15 minutes. Then add in the flour, butter, sugar, egg yolk and sea salt and knead on medium-high for about 15 minutes or until the dough ball becomes smooth. Swirl 1 tablespoon of oil around a large bowl. Set the dough inside, turning to coat completely with the oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set in the fridge for at least 12 hours and up to several days.
  2. To make the filling, thoroughly mix together the brown sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, chocolate and walnuts. When ready to assemble take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Then turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a 18X12-inch rectangle. You may or may not need a rolling pin to nudge it into shape. Make sure the corners are as close to 90-degree angles as possible (this will make it easy to roll the buns up). Smear the melted butter over the top, leaving about 1/2 half-inch clean along the longer edges. Sprinkle with the chocolate-walnut filling again leaving 1/2 half-inch clean along the longer sides.. Starting with the long edge farthest from you, start rolling the dough into a log towards you. When you get to the end, pinch the dough together to form a seam and roll the seam side underneath. Using a very sharp knife (I like a serrated for this or super sharp chef’s knife) cut 12 buns about 1 1/2-inches wide each.
  3. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Butter or spray non-stick on your baking dish; I like to use several large casserole dishes so they have lots of room to grow and rise. Place the buns cut-side up in the baking dishes, allowing 1 1/2 inches between buns for rising. Place a skillet on the bottom rack of the oven, put the dishes with the buns on the top rack of the oven and pour the boiling water in the skillet on the bottom rack. Quickly shut the door and let the dough rise for about 30 minutes or until double in size. Take the buns and the skillet out of the oven.
  4. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and place a rack in the top third of the oven. Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 1/2 cup of water and using a pastry brush, brush the mixture over the tops and sides of the buns. It’s a little messy and some excess will drip into the dish. That’s fine. Place the buns in the top third of the oven, immediately lowering the temperature to 375 degrees F and bake for 20-25 minutes or until bronzed and an internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F.
  5. For the simple syrup, melt the sugar, water and vanilla together (microwave or stovetop, you decide) and immediately brush over the tops and sides of the buns once out of the oven.
  6. Let cool for several minutes before serving; best served warm the day they were baked. However I’ve never turned one down that was stored in an airtight container overnight.
  7. Thank you for making these chocolate pretzel buns! Tag me on social @displacedhousewife #displacedhousewife so I can see your gorgeous buns!!!

A huge thank you to Diamond of California for sponsoring this post and giving me an excuse to make what are now my favorite breakfast buns! All content, ideas and views are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep me in the kitchen! 

On My Mind
  • Honestly, my kids came home from their trip with their dad last week and I have been woken up between 1 and 4 am every night (because of the worst jet lag anyone has ever had. ever.) + everyone’s had a cold and now I have one. It took all my might to finish this post for you guys!! So I have literally nothing on my mind except for thinking about what I might binge watch on Netflix once I hit publish. And if I can get the kids to walk to the store and get me something good to drink. Like 7UP. Does anyone else like 7UP when they don’t feel good? I don’t drink soda, but when I’m sick I do.
  • I do wish all of you the most wonderful of week this weeks, filled with happiness, some laughs, maybe a martini or two… cause why not?
  • And please make these buns. You will be so happy.
  • I’m not sure why any of this merits a bullet point…
  • Ok, peace out. Lots of love to each and every one of you.

Rebecca xoxoxo

 

30 Comments

  • Laura | Tutti Dolci 2017/09/05 at 10:43 PM

    These look too incredible, can’t wait to try them!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/09/07 at 2:40 AM

      I hope you do! I think you’ll love them!!! xoxo

      Reply
  • Lauren 2017/09/02 at 12:55 PM

    Can I hand knead (ugh) this dough? I am currently staying with friends who do NOT have a mixer (what?) and wanted to make these as a thank you. I’m prepared for an arm workout.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/09/02 at 4:24 PM

      Hi Lauren!! Yes, 100% you can knead by hand. For the record, you always can with a yeast-based dough…sometimes the machine is just easier. Your arms will look amazing — have fun and what a nice gift!!! xoxo

      Reply
  • GINGER BY CHOICE I FOOD & LIFESTYLE BLOG 2017/08/31 at 2:23 PM

    The idea with the beer is AMAZING!!! I’m from Germany and I just looooooove beer. Not all Germans are into beer but I really am. So, what is the best combination for me? You’re right: Pretzel and beer. Both combine in one dish is even better! I’ll so try your sweet breakfast buns. And I’ll also try classic pretzels with beer in the dough. You all know, it’s Oktoberfest time in Germany and in the US everybody is celebrating it, too. We’re invited to three different Oktoberfests ;-) Therefore, I’ve a lot of chances to practice both recipes. Nice!

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe …

    Ginger by Choice I Food & Lifestyle Blog
    http://www.gingerbychoice.de/en/

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/09/02 at 4:32 PM

      Hi Ginger!!! I hope you love these!! I was fortunate enough to be in München during Oktoberfest one year — so much fun!!!! Yes to all the pretzels and beer!!!! xoxo

      Reply
  • Claudia | The Brick Kitchen 2017/08/31 at 1:21 AM

    These look incredible! I looove how much thought goes into your recipe – and I’ve never used beer in bread/baking, need to try that! Haven’t made pretzels either – they’re not really a *thing* here in Australia/NZ at all. And there’s chocolate too!!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/08/31 at 5:06 AM

      Why thanks so much lady!! For all of the kind words. I also use beer in my pizza dough…it will change your life. Truly…you gotta do it! And I’m all ready to make actual soft pretzels — I cannot wait!!! xoxo

      Reply
  • Tesia 2017/08/30 at 3:01 PM

    These look amazing!! Do you think I could vegan-ize it by using egg replacer or something for that one egg yolk? I’m dying to try them!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/08/31 at 5:01 AM

      Hi Tesia! Someone else asked that… Google tells me that a large egg yolk weighs 18 grams. I would replace that 18 grams with more butter (18 grams worth). Which would basically be a bloated tablespoon (meaning a little more than one tablespoon). Does that help? I hope you make them and report back!!! I would love to hear how the eggless dough goes!! xoxo

      Reply
  • Lynn | The Road to Honey 2017/08/29 at 9:56 PM

    Oh my garsh lady. . .do you know how much I lurve soft pretzels? When I went to Germany on business. . .the first thing I always did was seek out some yummy-licious pretzels.

    Of course, they weren’t as divine as these beauties. Loving that you stuffed them with cinnamon (one of my other loves).

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/08/31 at 4:56 AM

      Hi Lynn! Girl, you and me both!! In fact, they are on my list of things to make…I have all of the ingredients ready to go. It’s happening soon!! And if you love pretzels…I dare say you would love these!!! xoxo

      Reply
  • hilmopaige 2017/08/29 at 2:44 PM

    I can say first hand that these are AMAZING!!!! George Hamilton eat your heart out.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/08/29 at 4:21 PM

      Thank you Hilary!!!!! And George is a babe in my book!!! ;) xoxo

      Reply
  • Christina Hartnett 2017/08/28 at 10:05 PM

    Anyone who puts beer in baked goods is automatically my hero! Sign me up, these buns look mouth watering! Oh, and amazing website you have, I just love it! Congrats on being a finalist!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/08/29 at 4:18 PM

      Hi Christina!!! I wish the comments let me use emojis…sigh…because I would throw the crying-laughing one in here. Beer with breakfast treats? Yes please!!!! And thank you soooo much!!!!! xoxoxo

      Reply
  • Ruby 2017/08/28 at 1:44 PM

    I go through these weird phases of being super obsessed with buns and rolls and man, I am with you lately. I am going through my phase and these are just stunnnning. I have never tried to “pretzel” anything before, but I think I will start with these gorgeous buns! xx

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/08/29 at 4:16 PM

      Hey Ruby…you must start pretzel-ing stuff!!!! xoxo

      Reply
  • Kate 2017/08/27 at 5:46 PM

    I’ll come to cali if you make me these.

    Reply
  • Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen 2017/08/27 at 1:08 PM

    Yes! I’m diggin’ the George Hamilton reference too Rebecca! Haha! These buns look freakin’ amazing! I love Izzy’s pretzel-technique. Can’t wait to smell these beauties baking in my very own kitchen. Happy Sunday! Feel better!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/08/27 at 3:22 PM

      I love George!!! And it’s the perfect bronze for these, don’t you think!??! Happy Sunday to you — and I already feel better. YAY!!! xoxo

      Reply
  • Alida | Simply Delicious 2017/08/27 at 11:55 AM

    You are a baking genius. I LOVE these buns!

    Reply
  • Hannah Zamora 2017/08/27 at 5:18 AM

    I love all your helpful tips at the beginning of the post! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/08/27 at 3:24 PM

      Thanks Hannah!!! I used to shove a lot of that in the actual recipe and it was just too clutter…seemed like an easy way to clean things up. I hope you enjoy!! xoxo

      Reply
  • Adam and Ryan 2017/08/27 at 2:45 AM

    “George Hamilton bronze” may be the best instruction we’ve ever read in a recipe.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/08/27 at 3:16 AM

      I wish I could put the crying-laughing emoji in here!!! I love the tan man!! xoxox

      Reply
  • Josh 2017/08/27 at 2:10 AM

    Wow!! These look amazing! I can’t wait to try the recipe and bake it for myself!

    Reply

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