These super soft Chocolate Hot Cross Buns have a chocolate chip cardamom dough. They are filled with chocolate chips and finished with a chocolate custard cross. These are the perfect Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns!
Table of contents
- Chocolate Hot Cross Buns
- Custard Cross for Hot Cross Buns
- How to make Hot Cross Buns
- How to make Hot Cross Buns ahead of time.
- How to store hot cross buns
- Chocolate Hot Cross Buns FAQ
- For more Hot Cross Bun recipes, check out:
- Made this recipe and love it?
- A note on salt and oven temperature
- Why is this recipe in grams?
- Recipe for Chocolate Hot Cross Buns
Chocolate Hot Cross Buns
Hi hi! Just popping in to re-share the recipe for these chocolate hot cross buns. I made these back in 2019 but just wanted to update the blog post with a few more tips and tricks on how to make them etc! These chocolate hot cross buns are a super fun twist on the traditional hot cross bun. They have a chocolate cardamom dough, and are filled with chocolate chips. The buns are then finished with a chocolate custard cross, and a cardamom syrup. They are soft, squishy and super chocolatey - I know you are going to love them.
If you are making homemade hot cross buns this year and want a few options alongside these chocolate hot cross buns, I also have a classic hot cross bun recipe, a super soft hot cross bun recipe and an apple and salted caramel hot cross bun!
Custard Cross for Hot Cross Buns
Hot Cross Buns traditionally have a cross made from a roux on the top. A roux is basically a flour and milk paste, and it is often piped on the top just before baking. Roux is fine, but it doesn't actually taste like anything. It's just flour and water and so it's a bit bland.
Hot Cross Buns are kind of a big deal in New Zealand around Easter time, and a whole bunch of places offer them. One place in particular which has a unique twist on them is a place in Auckland, Ima, who finishes their hot cross buns with a custard cross rather than the traditional roux. I haven't actually tried them myself because I am always in the US at Easter, but I followed their lead, and swapped the roux cross for a chocolate custard one, and OH BOY. Game changer. The custard adds another level of complexity to these. I love custard in all forms, so therefore adding it in as the cross is a total no brainer.
If you would like to add a roux cross, I have one on my soft hot cross bun recipe. You will not need to score the dough before putting it in the oven.
How to make Hot Cross Buns
The steps to making these are pretty straight forward - you can break it up over two days, or do the whole thing in one day if you like!
- Make the dough - The dough for these chocolate hot cross buns is super easy. Bring the dough together, then add the butter and allow it to mix in completely.
- Add the chocolate - Incorporate the chocolate by hand on a work surface. You can do this in the mixer if you want, but I find that the chocolate stays more intact doing it by hand.
- First rise - Leave the dough in a warm spot to double in size. You could also do this overnight in the fridge if you like.
- Make the Custard - I like to do this while the dough is rising. The custard comes together quickly and then you leave it to chill until you are ready to use. The easiest way to do this is to put it directly into the piping bag with a clip just above the tip, then add the custard, and add another clip, and chill it straight in there.
- Roll out the buns - Divide up the dough into however many buns you like, and ball them up. Place them evenly spaced in a prepared pan.
- Rise the buns a second time - The second proof is to then get the chocolate hot cross buns oven ready!
- Score - This is an important step, as it will provide a place for the custard to be piped. As the buns bake the cross scored on the top opens up to form a little trench, which is where you pipe the custard!
- Bake - The buns bake for 15 min, then the custard is piped on and they return to the oven to continue baking.
- Syrup - The final step to making these hot cross buns is to make a cardamom simple syrup to brush the chocolate hot cross buns with when they come out of the oven.
How to make Hot Cross Buns ahead of time.
You can do some of the steps for these chocolate hot cross buns ahead of time. You can make the dough the night before and do the first rise in the fridge. The next day shape them as usual and then leave them to rise for the second time. You can shape the dough straight from cold. Keep in mind you may need to add some time onto the rising time because of the cold dough. You can also make the custard for the cross ahead of time.
How to store hot cross buns
Store hot cross buns in an airtight container at room temperature. If you are eating them the day after you have made them I would suggest either briefly reheating in the microwave or toasting. Toast hot cross buns with a custard cross in a toaster oven rather than the toaster as the custard can burn.
Chocolate Hot Cross Buns FAQ
What should I do with leftover pastry cream?
You may have a little leftover - I spread it on the buns instead of butter.
Can Hot Cross Buns be made egg free?
Yes, the dough itself is egg free, you can either make a more traditional cross, or you can just leave it off!
Can I use instant yeast instead of active dry yeast?
To use instant yeast in the place of the active dry, use the same amount but skip the step where you activate the yeast in the milk and just add it in with the dry.
Can Hot Cross Buns be made smaller?
Yes - make them as small as you want - just weigh the dough, work out the number of buns that you want, and work out how much each should weigh.
Can I make hot cross buns by hand?
Yes, this dough should be fine to make by hand, it will just require some elbow grease!
What is the best pan for Hot Cross Buns?
I used this enamel pan to make these, but a quarter sheet pan or other large baking pan you have should work well too! I have included a photograph just after I popped them into the pan so you can see the spacing.
For more Hot Cross Bun recipes, check out:
Made this recipe and love it?
If you make this recipe, I would LOVE for you to leave me a review below and let me know how you liked it! Make sure to tag me on Instagram if you make it!
A note on salt and oven temperature
It is important to note the type of salt that is called for in a recipe. I use Diamond Crystal salt throughout my recipes - if you use a different sort of kosher salt or regular table salt you will need to adjust accordingly as some salt is 'saltier' than others. Morton's salt is twice as salty, so you will need half the quantity. Same goes for a regular table salt. I am working to get gram measurements throughout my recipes for salt but still getting there.
All oven temperatures are conventional unless otherwise stated. If you are baking on fan, you will need to adjust the temperature. An oven thermometer is a great investment to ensure that your oven is the correct temperature.
Why is this recipe in grams?
I post my recipes in grams because it is the most accurate way to bake. Cups are not only inaccurate but they vary in volume worldwide. There is no way for me to provide one cup measure that works for everyone. Posting in weight fixes this issue. If you would like the recipe in cups, then you are welcome to convert it yourself via google. However, please do not ask me to do it for you as I am not comfortable providing a recipe using a method that I have not tested. Baking with a scale is easy, accurate, and also makes cleanup super simple. Here is the scale that I use if you would like a recommendation! Here's to accurate baking!
Recipe for Chocolate Hot Cross BunsPrint
Chocolate Hot Cross Buns
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 3 hours
- Yield: 12 buns 1x
- Category: Easter
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: New Zealand
These Chocolate Hot Cross Buns have a chocolate chip cardamom dough. They are filled with chocolate chips and finished with a chocolate custard cross. These are the perfect Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns!
Cardamom Dark Chocolate Dough
- 340g whole milk, lukewarm
- 120g sugar, divided
- 3 tsp active dry yeast
- 520g all-purpose flour
- 30g dutch process cocoa
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 ½ tsp cardamom
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 275g dark chocolate, chips, chunks, or callets (I used callebaut callets)
Pastry Cream Cross
- 50g corn starch
- 100g sugar
- 2 eggs
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 400g whole milk
- 15g cocoa
- 40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
Cardamom Vanilla Bean Syrup
- 120g water
- 100g sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla bean paste
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- Place the lukewarm milk, 15g of the sugar, and the yeast in a medium sized bowl, and stir to combine. Leave for 10-15 minutes, or until foamy.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, place the remaining 105g sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, cardamom, and cinnamon.
- Add the milk mixture and vanilla bean paste to the dry ingredients, and mix on low for 2-3 minutes. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium, and mix for a further 5 minutes. Add the butter a little at a time, waiting until it is incorporated until adding the next piece. Mix for a further 7-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and soft.
- Turn out the dough onto a work surface (I do not find that there is a need to flour, but add some if needed), and knead in the chocolate by hand. It will take longer than you expect but the chocolate will eventually incorporate into the dough.
- Shape the dough into a ball, and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until doubled in size, 1 to 1 ½ hours, or place in the fridge overnight. While the dough is proofing, make the pastry cream.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the corn starch and sugar. Add the eggs, salt, and vanilla bean paste, and whisk well to combine.
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together the whole milk and cocoa powder, then place over a low heat until just shy of a simmer.
- Whisking constantly, pour about half of the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture. Whisk until smooth, then add back into the saucepan. Whisking constantly, cook until thick. Add the butter and whisk to combine.
- Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a round piping tip, and a clip just above the tip to prevent any leakage. Twist the piping bag closed, or secure with another clip, and store in the fridge until needed.
- Lightly grease an 11” x 13.5” baking pan or roasting dish. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, and weigh the dough. Divide the weight of the dough by 12, and divide the dough into 12 equal sized pieces. Roll each tightly into a ball, then arrange evenly in the pan.
- Lightly cover the pan with plastic wrap, and leave in a warm place for about 45 minutes, or until puffy and the dough springs back when lightly pressed with a finger.
- Preheat the oven to 350°f / 180°c. Using a sharp paring knife or razor blade, score crosses in the buns.
- Bake the buns for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and pipe the chocolate pastry cream in crosses in the holes provided by the scoring.
- Return the buns to the oven and bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes, or until the buns are lightly golden brown (this can be a little hard to gauge with the cocoa in the dough), or until they register 200°f / 90°c on an instant read thermometer. While the buns are baking, prepare the sugar syrup.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool, before brushing on the sugar syrup (recipe below).
- Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes, then leave to stand until ready to use.
- Store leftover buns in an airtight container at room temperature. Reheat in the microwave briefly before eating. Serve with butter.
Pastry cream cross adapted from Ima
Keywords: Hot Cross Buns, Chocolate Hot Cross Buns, Cardamom, Custard, Pastry Cream
These are our favourite every year! I love the cardamom
These look sooo amazing!!!
Made these and wow were they chocolatey! My only complaint was that the chocolate chunks melted during the process of the buns rising the 1st time, so the result was a bit messier and more of a chocolate swirl. I was still pretty happy with them, but will try the overnight rising next time so that the chocolate won't melt. Will let you know how it goes!
Hi! Happy you loved! yep general rule of thumb is that if the chocolate will melt in the environment you're proofing it in, it's going to melt in the buns. Chocolate Chips would work too (they are designed not to melt) or like you said just the fridge rise!
honestly, I was just super excited to see the double/triple recipe options that increase the quantities so you don't have to work them out XD
Yayyy isn't it so good! Just a heads up though it doesn't change the pan size but aside from that it's great!
Hey Erin, is there any substitute for cardamom? Its not easy finding cardamom in my country
Hi! You can use cinnamon but you will need to be careful as it can inhibit the yeast in the recipe.
Omg these are amazing
Ahhh so happy you love!
Hi there, does this recipe work in high elevation areas ? (Utah, USA)
I don't have any experience with high altitude sorry so I'm not sure!
Hey Erin, I was curious if not having vanilla bean, paste, is a deal breaker?
Would it be ok to use extract?
Hi! Yep that's totally fine 🙂
We just enjoyed a batch of these on Good Friday here in New Zealand. So delicious and our friends loved them! I raised the dough overnight in the refrigerator and made the pastry cream two days before so very easy to shape and bake them in the morning 😋😋😋.
Hi! Yayyy so happy that you loved them! Happy Easter x
Perfect and super easy to follow with an amazing FAQ section. And pastry cream in hot cross buns... Amazing idea! Total upgrade!
I did end up with loads of pastry cream left over... But I just use it instead of butter and no one is complaining! 😂
Yayyyy so so happy you love them!
Made these exactly as written and they are phenomenal. Chocolatey and a little spicy and the pastry cream adds the perfect texture. Inhaled one as soon as it was cool and had to stop myself from eating a second. I would make these buns any time of year without the crosses as a perfect afternoon tea (or breakfast!) treat. Thanks, Erin!
Hiiii Yay so so happy that you loved them!!
An excellent hot cross bun recipe, nice and soft and perfectly chocolatey. Will definitely be making these again.
Made this recipe 5 times in 2 weeks now. Needless to say, I absolutely loved the recipe! I attempted both letting it rise in the fridge overnight and the normal rise as well. Preferably, I found it easier to keep with the normal rise as the dough was more malleable resulting in a softer and fresher bun. Using the chocolate pastry cream was a fun twist on the traditional chocolate recipe, and found it to be a highlight of the bun.
Yayyy so happy you enjoyed! Thanks so much for the review!
Such a fun twist on the traditional hot cross buns! Highly advise eating these warm with a little butter and flaky sea salt. SO GOOD.
Yay so happy you love! They are so yum right!
Such a good take on the classic hot cross buns. So soft and chocolatey and the cardamom gives it a bit extra flavour. Another truly great recipe!
Super easy recipe to follow and they were absolutely delicious!
FAQ section was really helpful, appreciated that a lot.
Don’t mean to disrespect but this was not it for me. My husband literally had to spit it out after the first bite. Too much cardamom. It took over the taste. Sadly it was my first time making HCBs and did not know what cardamom would taste like and how much was too much. Also, the recipe of the pastry cream and sugar syrup was waaayyy too much. I could have gotten away with halving them and I’d still have extra. So much waste.