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Italian Chocolate Chip Sweet Buns

These delicious Chocolate Chip Sweet Buns also known as Girelle in Italian, are made with a sweet yeast dough that is almost a puff pastry and a brioche dough combined. Add chocolate chips and it’s perfect.

Sweet buns in a white dish.


 

I love switching up breakfast from boring old cereal to a simple Italian Fresh Cream Vanilla Cake to some easy Breakfast Cookies. Both can be enjoyed at breakfast or even as an afternoon snack. They are very popular with kids in Italy!

I like to make a special sweet bun for special holiday mornings and these to make a sweet bun for breakfast on Christmas morning and then I came across these Girelle con Gocce di Cioccolato on an Italian food site.

I have actually made them a few times now. We love how the dough is a cross between a puff pastry and a brioche dough. Soft and crunchy at the same time.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Flour – all purpose flour
  • Yeast – active dry yeast
  • Water – lukewarm
  • Egg yolk – room temperature
  • Sugar – granulated sugar
  • Salt
  • Butter – If you use unsalted butter then add a bit more salt

Extras

  • Butter – softened salted butter
  • Chocolate chips – your choice semi sweet, milk or even white chocolate chips, either mini or regular
  • Powdered sugar – also known as icing or confectioners’ sugar
Sweet buns in a white dish.

How to make Chocolate Chip Sweet Buns

In a small bowl combine the lukewarm water and 1 tablespoon of sugar sprinkle the yeast on top and let sit 5-10 minutes. Stir to combine.

In the bowl of the stand mixer with the dough hook attachment add the flour, remaining sugar, egg yolk and yeast mixture, start to knead on low/medium speed for about three minutes.

Add the salt and knead for about 30 seconds then add the softened butter a little at a time, kneading between every addition.

adding the ingredients in the bowl and kneading it into a dough

Continue to knead on low speed (#2) for about three to four minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl turning the dough to cover lightly in oil, cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and let rest 40 minutes. Then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for two hours.

placing the dough in a bowl to rise for 2 hours

Place the butter (3 tablespoons) between two sheets of parchment paper and flatten with either a rolling pin or the palm of your hand, refrigerate for about 15 minutes.

Remove the dough from the fridge and let sit for 15 minutes before continuing. Roll the dough into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface, place the chilled butter in the centre of the dough.

roll out the butter, chill and place in the middle of the dough

Fold the dough into 3 parts like an envelope. Roll the dough again into a rectangle (smaller than the other one) and fold the same way like an envelope.

rolling the dough like an envelope two times

Wrap the dough and refrigerate for about 15-20 minutes. Remove the dough from the fridge and again on a lightly floured flat surface with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll into a rectangle.

Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Tightly roll the dough up lengthwise.

roll the dough into a rectangle, sprinkle with chocolate chips then roll up lengthwise

Cut the roll into 10-11 rolls. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, cut side up, cover with a clean tea towel and let rise in a warm draft free area for about 2 hours or until doubled in bulk.

You could also place the buns in a large baking pan about 1-2 inches apart and let rise and bake like cinnamon rolls.

slice the rolls and let rise 2 hours on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet

Bake for about 13-15 minutes in the pre-heated oven. Move immediately to a wire rack to cool, then dust with powdered sugar and serve.

baked rolls on the cookie sheet

Can the dough be made ahead of time?

If you don’t have enough time to finish the rolls then you can leave the dough in the fridge for up 12 hours. Just be sure to let the dough sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before adding the chilled butter.

Why does the dough not rise?

The yeast you are using could be old or dead, to tell if the yeast is still active, in a small bowl add a 1/2 cup of water, sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons of yeast and a pinch of sugar over the top, stir it up, then let it stand for about 5 minutes.

If the yeast is still active, it will dissolve completely into the water and the liquid will start bubbling.

Make sure your water isn’t too hot or too cold. Too hot and you will kill the yeast, too cold and it will take a long time for the dough to rise. The perfect temperature is 100-110F.

If other ingredients are going into the bread such as eggs or milk, make sure to remove them from the fridge 45-60 minutes before using.

Sweet buns on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

What fillings can I use?

I love chocolate chips so that is what I usually reach for first, although a sprinkling of your favourite chopped nuts would work, or even candied fruit.

I know some Italians spread jam, hazelnut cream spread, or chocolate spread or even an Italian Pastry Cream or if you prefer brush the dough with a little melted butter, then sprinkle with a combination of granulated sugar and cinnamon before rolling.

How to know when the sweet buns are done

The buns will be a golden brown on top, I stick a toothpick in the middle of a bun and if it’s dry or a couple of crumbs are sticking to it then they are done.

How to store the buns

The buns should be stored in an air tight container or bag and can keep for up to two at room temperature.

How to freeze them

Place the completely cooled sweet buns in a freezer safe bag or container, they will keep for up to two months in the freezer. They can be reheated in either the microwave or the oven.

So if you are looking to make a Sweet Bun this holiday season then I hope you try these Chocolate Chip Sweet Buns and let me know what you think. Enjoy!

A sweet bun up close.

More Sweet Dough Recipes

Italian sweet buns on a white dish.

Chocolate Chip Sweet Buns / Girelle

Rosemary Molloy
These delicious Chocolate Chip Sweet Buns, known as Girelle in Italian, are made with a crunchy soft sweet dough & a chocolate chip filling.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Chilling / Resting Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 35 minutes
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine American/Italian
Servings 10 buns
Calories 231 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • tablespoons water (lukewarm)**
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (divided)
  • teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 cups all purpose flour* (+2 tablespoons extra if needed)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup butter softened (salted)

*You may need 1-2 tablespoons more.

    **Lukewarm temperature is 100-110F (37-43C).

      EXTRAS

      • 3 tablespoons butter (softened/salted)
      • 1/2-3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
      • 1-2 tablespoons powdered / icing sugar

      Instructions
       

      • In a small bowl combine the lukewarm water and 1 tablespoon of sugar sprinkle the yeast on top and let sit 10 minutes. Stir to combine.
      • In the bowl of the stand mixer with the dough hook attachment add the flour, remaining sugar, egg yolk and yeast mixture, start to knead on low/medium speed for about three minutes. Add the salt and knead for about 30 seconds then add the softened butter (1/4 cup)* a little at a time, kneading between every addition.
      • Continue to knead on low / medium speed for about three to four minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl turning the dough to cover lightly in oil, cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and let rest 40 minutes. Then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for two hours.
      • Place the butter (3 tablespoons) between two sheets of parchment paper and flatten with either a rolling pin or the palm of your hand, refrigerate for about 15 minutes. Remove the dough from the fridge and let sit for 15 minutes before continuing. Roll the dough into a rectangle about 10 x 7 inches (25 x 18 cm), place the chilled butter in the centre.
      • Fold the dough into 3 parts like an envelope. Roll the dough again into a rectangle (smaller than the other one) and fold the same way like an envelope.
      • Refrigerate the dough for about 15-20 minutes. Remove from the fridge and roll into a rectangle 14 x 11 inches (38 x 30cm), sprinkle with the mini chocolate chips.
      • Tightly roll the dough up lengthwise and cut into 10-11 rolls. Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, cut side up, cover with a clean tea towel and let rise in a warm draft free area for about 2 hours or until doubled in bulk.
      • Pre-heat the oven to 350F (180C). Bake for about 13-15 minutes. Immediately move to a wire rack to cool, then dust with powdered sugar and serve. Enjoy!

      *If dough is too wet then add a tablespoon of flour (you shouldn't need to add more then 2 tablespoons).

        Notes

        I love chocolate chips so that is what I usually reach for first, although a sprinkling of your favourite chopped nuts would work, or even candied fruit.I know some Italians spread jam, hazelnut cream spread, or chocolate spread or even an Italian Pastry Cream or if you prefer brush the dough with a little melted butter, then sprinkle with a combination of granulated sugar and cinnamon before rolling.
        If you don’t have enough time to finish the rolls then you can leave the dough in the fridge for up 12 hours. Just be sure to let the dough sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before adding the chilled butter.
        The buns will be a golden brown on top, I stick a toothpick in the middle of a bun and if it’s dry or a couple of crumbs are sticking to it then they are done.
        The buns should be stored in an air tight container or bag and can keep for up to two at room temperature.
        Place the completely cooled sweet buns in a freezer safe bag or container, they will keep for up to two months in the freezer. They can be reheated in either the microwave or the oven.
         

        Nutrition

        Calories: 231kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 137mg | Potassium: 44mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 291IU | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 1mg
        Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a comment below or pin it to your Pinterest account!

        Updated from December 20, 2019.

        14 Comments

          1. Marsha, thanks so much, do you mean regular muffins? If so the trick is to bake them at 400F (200C) for about 5 minutes then lower the temperature to 350F (180C) and continue to bake for about 15 minutes. The burst of the hot temperature will help them rise. Hope that helps. Let me know.

        1. What is the point of the butter between 2 sheets of parchment? I’m really confused by this. 3 Tbsp. butter between 2 sheets of parchment paper, roll or flatten, put in fridge…what am I missing???

        2. I think the flour measurement is off. Just tried to make as per instructions and wouldn’t come together. Checked flour conversion and grams to cups seem off. Looks like a great recipe and trying again.

          1. Hi Luca, the 1/4 cup is mixed into the dough and the 3 tablespoons (extras) is used to fold in the dough. I added the amounts in the instructions.

        3. Happy New Year!
          I don’t have a mixer, so I’m wondering if I can knead the dough by hand?
          Will it have the same texture and results?
          Also is 1 1/2 teaspoons of yeast equivalent to the one packet (8g)?
          Thanks!
          I just love your blog.
          Enjoy the day and wishing you and yours a wonderful 2020 with peace, health, laughter, joy and above all love!
          Luisa an Italian in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada

          1. Hi Luisa, yes kneading by hand is fine, she make sure you knead it until smooth and elastic. 4.2 grams is 1 1/2 teaspoons of yeast. So do not use the whole package. Half would work. Thanks so much glad you enjoy the recipes. Happy New Year to you and your family too Luisa!

        4. Hello, I was wondering if you had a recipe for biscotti with Anise, and almonds or some sort of nuts that is Gluten Free.? I have a very dear friend that is Italian and he asked if i could make him Gluten free biscotti? He misses my biscotti i used to make for him. I do sift my all purpose flour 2 times in mine. would this be something i would have to do in a gluten free recipe? Thank you so much in advance!! Sincerely, Shauna

          1. Hi Shauna, I have two gluten free cookie recipes and no sifting necessary. https://anitalianinmykitchen.com/almond-cookies/ and https://anitalianinmykitchen.com/amaretti-cookies/. Hope these work for you. Happy New Year.

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