Chocolate. Pistachio. Buns. (Or, the anti-cinnamon roll)

The New York Times Cooking section has been killing it lately. I have saved dozens of recipes they’ve posted in recent weeks. Not sure if it’s  my Thanksgiving prep excitement setting in or my general nesting at our new house, but I’m having fun experimenting. Last night I decided to try a recipe with a peculiar name: whirligig buns. Never heard the word whirligig in my life, but the combination of yeast rolls with dark chocolate and pistachios was too enticing to pass up. To boot, it was from Nigella Lawson, so I knew it was probably good.

Reading through the recipe I found that the preparation is very similar to cinnamon rolls. A rich, buttery yeast dough dotted with fillings and rolled up like a giant sausage. But that is where the similarities end. Unlike cinnamon rolls these buns are not saccharine. I tend to prefer desserts that are less sweet. I also love dark chocolate and textural contrast, so crunchy pistachios rolled in a soft dough sounded like perfection.

And it is. The dough is easy to make, rolls without a fuss and doesn’t need much extra flour. After slicing, they bake quickly. (Full disclosure: I over baked mine ever so slightly. Still getting used to the new range.) They tasted wonderful fresh out of the oven, but this morning for breakfast I whipped up a apricot-lemon glaze and spooned it over a warm bun. That put it over the top! I loved the slight tartness, next to the dark chocolate and buttery roll. Delicious experiment.

Nigella Lawson’s Whirligig Buns (via New York Times Cooking)


1 ⅔ cups milk
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
5 to 5 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
cup sugar
1 ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
3 packets rapid-rise, bread-machine or other instant yeast
2 large eggs
Vegetable oil for bowl

Filling and glaze
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
¾ cup shelled pistachios
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 large egg, beaten

In a small saucepan, combine 8 tablespoons butter and the milk, and place over low heat until lukewarm, stirring to melt the butter. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, combine 5 cups flour, sugar, salt and yeast. In a medium bowl, beat eggs lightly, and then whisk in milk mixture.Using a mixer with a dough hook, or by hand, stir liquid ingredients into dry ingredients. Knead dough for 7-8 minutes until smooth and springy, adding more flour by the tablespoon if necessary to form a soft, slightly sticky dough. Form into a ball, and place in an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until double in size, about 30 minutes.

Line bottom of a 13-by-10-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

Punch down the dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a rectangle about 22 by 12 inches.

To make filling, dollop the remaining 8 tablespoons softened butter over the dough and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the butter. Chop pistachios until splintery, and sprinkle evenly over dough. Top with chocolate chips, pressing the chocolate and nuts gently into the dough. Starting from longest side, carefully roll up dough so it looks like a long sausage. Cut dough into 20 slices, each 1-inch thick, and arrange with a cut side up in pan.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush buns with beaten egg, and let them sit in a warm place until puffed up and spongy to the touch, about 15 minutes. Bake until buns are risen and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in the pan at least 30 minutes, then cut and serve warm.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s