chocolate tahini challah buns

Challah, that stretchy, rich, lightly sweet, braided glossy bread that’s brushed with egg and baked to an burnished burnt umber shine, like many great traditional foods, does not exist in a vacuum. While challah is a Jewish ceremonial bread, eating on Sabbath and major Jewish holidays, and is usually paerve (dairy product-free, so it’s Kosher regardless of what is being served), pulled away from the Judaic lens, it’s a close cousin to brioche and other enriched breads.

whisk wet ingredientsknead in flourready to risedoubled

And it is from this jump — challah is brioche-like; breakfast buns are brioche-like… — that I began making challah-ish breakfast buns last year. We adore them. They’re less rich and more fluffy than the usual gooey, rich and very sweet cinnamon rolls (which, of course, there is always a time and place for), they go well with afternoon coffee or tea, should you find yourself in the kind of civilized life where this is your norm (and please teach me your ways) but hardly abstemious. My two favorite fillings I auditioned were a sweetened cream cheese with jam (basically tastes like cheesecake) and a chocolate-tahini swirl. For a Food Network episode, we featured the cream cheese buns; they liked the story about my dad growing up in the Bronx and having cream cheese and jelly sandwiches from a local deli (as do I, less so that ridiculous face I’m making in the video still).

But if you think that meant I’d let rich chocolate spirals float off into The Ether of Retired and Forgotten Recipes, you might have missed the part where I mentioned they had chocolate in them. Also: butter, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar to smoothly offset the bittersweet chocolate. (It takes a page from this babka filling.) Also: tahini, but just enough for a toasty, nutty, but not overwhelming effect. You can make a powdered sugar glaze for it; it’s great here with either lemon or orange juice (your choice); I know they often taste over-the-top but here, where the sweetness and richness is slightly restrained, it’s not unwelcome. But my favorite part is that it has that deep varnished top of a good (and here, very lucky) challah.

butter, chocolate, powdered sugar, cocoawhisking in tahinidoughrolled out and covered with chocolateslicedready to puff again

* I am not sure if you follow @smittenkitchen on Instagram but do know that whenever I find pockets of time, I’m having great fun making stories of recipes I’m working on, such as this. And including their ups and downs, such as when this one just decided not to rise for a couple hours, quite rude of it. (Alas, they expire after 24 hours, so you’ll have to watch this one in the next 2 to 3 hours.) It’s a fun place to share works in progress at a detail level that would be excessive, even for this loquacious site. Sometimes I talk, too, but I mostly try to spare us all that awkwardness.

chocolate tahini challah buns

The Smitten Kitchen Every Day Fall 2017 Book TourHave you gotten to check out the book tour for Smitten Kitchen Every Day? It begins the day the book comes out — October 24th — and I’m so excited. I hope your town is on it. I hope this means we finally get to meet. And if you’re in Minneapolis, Nashville, Denver, Atlanta or Montreal… we should have more good news soon (eee!).

Chocolate Tahini Challah Buns

  • Servings: 12 large buns
  • Source: Smitten Kitchen
  • Print

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable or another neutral oil, or melted butter
  • 2/3 cup (150 ml) milk or water, plus an additional tablespoon if needed
  • 3 3/4 (490 grams) cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the counter
  • 1 packet (7 grams or 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse or kosher salt
  • Butter or nonstick spray for baking pan
  • Filling and assembly
  • 4 ounces (115 grams) dark (semi- or bittersweet) chocolate (or approximately 3/4 cup chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine
  • Scant 1/2 cup (50 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup (20 grams) cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup tahini (30 grams), well-stirred
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Sesame seeds
  • Glaze (optional)
  • 2 cups (240 grams) powdered sugar
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons lemon or orange juice

Make dough: Whisk eggs, yolk, sugar, oil and milk or water in the bottom of a stand mixer bowl. Add flour, yeast and salt and combine with dough hook until it comes together, then let machine knead it for 5 to 7 minutes. Oil a large bowl and let dough rise in it at room temperature for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until slightly shy of doubled.

Were your ingredients really cold? This is fine, but if so, it might take 30 to 45 minutes longer. You can speed this process along by turning your oven on to 150 degrees F and turning it off and then placing bowl the dough inside. Keep an eye on it because it will rise more quickly.

Butter a 9×13-inch or equivalent size baking dish, or coat it with nonstick spray.

Make filling: Melt butter and chocolate together until smooth. Stir in powdered sugar, cocoa and tahini; mixture should be a spreadable consistency. [New note:] If your filling is thin, pop it in the fridge or freezer (if freezer, keep a very close eye on it) for a few minutes to let it thicken a bit.

Assemble buns: On a very well-floured counter, roll out dough into a rectangle about 18 inches wide (side facing you) and as far away from you (i.e. length) as it comfortably goes, usually 12 to 15 inches. Dollop chocolate mixture over and spread it smooth. Roll dough in a tight spiral.

Cut log very gently — it’s going to be a soft mess, use a sharp serrated knife, sewing thread works well here too — into 1 1/2-inch to 2-inch segments. Arrange cut side up in prepared pan. Beat egg in small bowl. Brush tops of buns and tops of sides with egg and cover with plastic wrap. You can either refrigerate overnight, along with leftover egg wash or leave it at room temperature to proof for another 60 to 90 minutes, until puffed a bit.

Bake buns: If in fridge, remove buns from fridge and let warm up for 30 minutes before baking. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush tops tops of sides with egg with egg wash again (I forgot and skipped the sides, which is why they are pale in the photos) and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 30 minutes, until bronzed all over and buns have an internal temperature of 190 degrees F. Let cool slightly before serving.

To glaze (optional): If using glaze, whisk ingredients until smooth. You can drizzle this over the buns or serve it alongside with a spoon. If drizzling over, it’s best to let the buns almost fully cool before putting it on or it may melt off.

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204 comments on chocolate tahini challah buns

  1. Hey Deb,

    so, as a German girl, living in Munich, there is no such thing as a cinnamon-bun-tradition for afternoon coffee. In autumn, it is more or less plum cake, apple cake or cheesecake. So, for this sunday afternoon coffee, I was planning to bake Apfelkuchen (aka apple cake) – but now, things obviously have changed. I just saw this recipe popping up in my feed and I kind of see myself eating kilos of apples with muesli in the next days, instead of baking them. Just to make these beautiful challah buns instead.

    Have I ever told you, how thankful I am for your conversion to grams in your recipes? No? So, here you are: Thank you so much.


      1. ecornifleur

        I totally agree with the first two comments about the grams/cup conversion ! I love your recipes and the stories you tell with it, can’t wait to do the challah buns either… maybe come in Europe to sell your book ? ^^ cheers,
        Marie.. from France

    1. Dunja

      As a German expat living in the US since 1999 in various places, I did sorta kinda get used to the dreaded Imperial measurements. This is just to say that while I don’t actually dislike them, I truly, absolutely and totally favor Deb’s conversion to metric measurements in all of her recipes, be that online or in her lovely books. So here, to echo Tina from Munich (Hallo nach Muenchen, meine Eltern leben dort auch in der Naehe), thank you Deb!

      1. Rachel

        I’m from Pittsburgh, born in the US and I LOVE the metric measurements, particularly the weights. It is so much easier to weigh flour and sugar than to scoop them, and you can easily scale recipes up or down to fit the pan you want to use. Thank you so much, Deb, and think about adding Pittsburgh to your book tour!

        1. Kip McSherry

          Me too! Once I started using a good kitchen scale, it has been metric all the way. So precise for baking! And yes, please come to Pittsburgh – we are a big cooking community. (We even have a Pensey’s after all.)

  2. Lisa R,

    While in the middle of dealing with Harvey flood damage, I always take time to look at your recipes. This one is going to be made this weekend, torn up house or not. Looks delicious and I can not wait for the normalcy of baking something yummy! Can’t wait for your new book to arrive!

  3. Jeannine

    I LOVE your instastories! The only thing is that they go so fast that I often can’t read what you’ve written on the pictures and have to watch them 2 or 3 times to get the full story. Not sure if that’s something you have control over, as I haven’t tried using instastories yet:)

    I made the raspberry cream cheese version of these as soon as I saw them on the FN and they were amazing!! I love that they’re not super-sweet. The dough is magical, so incredibly delicious.

  4. Yooooooo. That just looks scrumptious. And I deeply appreciate the almost mathematical way you were led to the idea (as in, a=b and b=c, so a=c; yay transitive property!), which is one of my favorite ways to cobble together new things :)

  5. Devorah Waters

    Deb! I have some challah dough rising as we speak. I want to make this pareve. Can I use oil for the filling in place of the butter, or does it have to be margarine? What about coconut oil? Thanks for this beauty of a recipe!

    1. Kate

      I dunno what Deb is going to suggest, but Earth Balance (or any vegan butter) has the great taste of a butter/margarine without the dairy. I use it in my Passover dishes!

    1. What would probably work best would be to cut off as many buns as you want from the roll, and then cut the remainder of the roll into larger portions— for my household of two, I will cut off four rolls, then cut the remainder in half— and then wrap those tightly in a few layers of plastic wrap, and freeze. When you want to bake them, thaw in the fridge for like 8-12 hours, then proceed as normal.

      Baked buns would probably freeze OK too, individually wrapped.

  6. Ah, the show stopper at Saturday night’s break-fast, is obviously the subtitle of this recipe. I think I remember you once waxing poetic about a certain Middle Eastern market near you because it had the best tahini you’d ever tasted. Was it Soom? Another brand?
    Happy new year to you and yours, Deb. Only sweet things this year.

  7. Gerley

    I can’t believe I’m allergic to eggs…
    *sobs quietly in corner*

    If anyone has more experience with substitutions I would be more than happy to hear them- I am always at loss when I read these kinds of recipes cause the substitutes I know (like banana or applesauce or flaxseed) sound like they would never yield good results 😳

    1. oh dear. I think the filling is mainly the star here – can you find a potato dough recipe that uses mashed potatoes (no peels) and their starchy water, along with milk and butter to make a rich soft yeast dough? Sorry I don’t have an exact recipe, but you just want a tender yeasted dough.

      1. Gerley

        I have read about aquafaba but I am SO sceptical that I never had the guts to actually try it. But it seems like a really easy solution if it works so I guess I should just get over it. Thanks for the reminder.

    2. Amy

      I haven’t tried this recipe yet but I’ve had great results using banana and ground flax as egg substitutes in Deb’s ‘better babka’ recipe, basically substituting half of the total egg quantity with each. It’s harder with a plain challah but as long as you have another strong flavour involved these subs work really well (no banana taste!).

        1. Glenda

          I used “flax eggs” to replace real eggs when my daughter developed egg allergy. 1TBSP ground flax plus 2.5TBSP water equals one egg. Mix and let sit a few minutes, makes an egg like consistency and seemed to work in most recipes…likely won’t replace an egg wash though. Good luck!

    3. Angela Digmann

      Find duck eggs! I too am allergic and duck eggs have made a world of difference for me. So great to still feel good after eating a brownie or quiche. Farmer’s markets sometimes have them.

  8. Pitz

    Hi Deb,
    Would you freeze the log for 15 minutes prior to cutting (as you do in the better chocolate babka) to make cutting easier, or would that not work in this recipe?

  9. Tess


    I’ve had your pumpkin cinnamon rolls on my “bake as soon as the temperature dips below that where you could potentially fry an egg on the sidewalk” list for the past few weeks, and now… now you’ve confused me (I am easily confused) I want these, and the pumpkin ones, and just about every variety of dough wrapped around filling as soon as possible. The weather has dipped below 30degC, the plaid has come out of hibernation, it is time :) but which to make first? all recommendations welcome! Even if it is “make both simultaneously”

    1. Catherine

      Babka is more like a risen cake in texture (think yeasted coffee cake), and contains butter, while the challah is fluffier like brioche bread, however is oil-based so that it can be eaten with meat dishes (should one keep kosher).

  10. I will make these! I’ve been messing with yeasted breakfast buns (that’s what I call them) for a few years now. Not as many recipes out there as I want, but I adore the concept of a lightly sweet bun with some kind of fruit or nuts or chocolate for breakfast. Much better texture than a coffee cake, I think. I always mix up a batch the night before and refrigerate them. So easy to bake in the morning!

  11. smathes1

    For those of us without KitchenAid mixers or the like (someday!), how long should we knead by hand for? In recent experience, I’ve 1.5x the time listed for machine kneading, to some pretty subpar brioche, and maybe 2x is better. Can anyone else chime in with a good rule of thumb?

    1. Leah

      Knead at my speed and strength for about 10 minutes? It’ll feel like a baby’s butt when you slap it if it’s properly kneaded. (I spent 3 years in college making challah for 30 by hand each week, trust me, it can be done.)

  12. waywardbloggers

    I got really excited from your photo… and then I read the description! I was recently diagnosed with a sesame allergy (though I’ve never noticed a reaction to it before) and I’m trying to avoid as much as possible. Do you have any swaps for the tahini? I know I’ll miss the smoky-richness it adds.

    1. Tasha

      To keep in that extra depth, one thing you could do is brown the butter that you use in the filling before adding in the chocolate. That way you keep that lovely depth to the flavor by adding in some caramel-y goodness!

      As for the sub, all of the other suggestions are good! The main thing is that tahini is essentially a kind of “nut” butter, so a sub like cashew or almond butter or natural peanut butter might be good because they are about as thin as tahini and serve a similar (or same, depending on the recipe) purpose.

  13. Mike

    So like you showed on Instagram, can I prep the dough in step 1 and then let it proof until tomorrow in the fridge? Or would it be better to assemble and prepare for baking, then put in the fridge like it says above right before “bake buns”?

  14. Lorraine Lipson

    Hey Deb – these sound delish especially as I’ve recently mastered challah. Just wondering though how it would be to use babke dough and this choc tahini ffilling for buns too (my community calls them “bulkas”) and if so, if you could provide instructions for making babke dough into buns? Thanks!

  15. Sara S

    Hi Deb! These look gorgeous! Is instant yeast the same as active dry yeast? (I only have active dry yeast and wonder if I can use it instead?)

    1. Rachel

      Instant yeast is more finely milled and can be mixed directly with dry ingredients. Active dry yeast particles are a little bigger, and ideally it should be proofed in a warm liquid before it’s mixed into the dough. If you are making something that rises really slowly for a long time it really doesn’t matter, but in this recipe I would warm the milk to slightly warmer than room temp, add the yeast and let it sit for 5 – 10 minutes (it should look slightly foamy) and then proceed with the recipe as written.

      1. Sara S

        Thank you! I used active dry yeast, let it rise in warm water/milk mix before adding it to ingredients. It worked out great. Thanks!

    2. I tried to make this dough three times following your exact steps and all three times it never rose and just ended up looking like old play-doh. I am not sure if there’s is a Modo it soon in the dough steps that isn’t apparent to me, but if someone could give me some advice I would feel okay about losing 7.5 hours of my day off making dough that never rose (used active yeast mixed it all exactly as instructed)

        1. I wasn’t able to even roll it out because it was so dense and dry, I tried the recipe three times and one time I tried proofing it in the oven to get it to rise, still never rose at all.
          I am chalking it up to the yeast but I was using Fleishmans instant yeast which has never given me an issue, so I was just wondering if anyone else had found this to be an issue and found a workaround,

      1. Georgeanna

        I didn’t have (unexpired 🙄) tahini, so instead used our homemade almond/cashew butter. Turned out great and not too strong!

  16. Hi Deb,
    I’m looking forward to your new cookbook! Lately I have been into baking buns and coffee cakes and banana loaves, and it just seems there is no better spot in the world to be on a Saturday morning (or afternoon) than baking and then peeking through the oven door to see if the thing is rising, and looking forward to taking something sweet out back with a cup of coffee and enjoying life. Your blog is such wonderful sweet spot to step into each week – thank you so much for sharing your life and skills, and love of food with us. xx Nancy

  17. Caroline

    Hi Deb,
    These look DELICIOUS! Do you think I could use this filling to make a challah bread rather than rolls? I always bake a challah for the break-fast and usually make your fig/orange challah but I’m sure a chocolate tahini version would find a very appreciative audience!

  18. Lauren

    YUM! ( Somebody else was also this enthusiastically wordless in the earlier comments- captivated by possibility and yearning, just as I am.) Also captivated by your photo link…they have matching dimples??? What kind of super-genes do you two have, anyway? Neither lacks the personality to go with the dimples either..obviously. You are blessed, but you knew that.

  19. Katie lewis

    I just making the buns and usually use grams. 2/3 cup milk is 150 mls also 1/2 cup powered sugar is 75g. I have used the cup measurements today, hopefully this is correct. Can’t wait to taste them…

    1. Jessica

      I also think the measurements are incorrect. I used the weights, and my chocolate filing ended up not sweet and runny, and these were almost impossible to roll. Thankfully the icing added enough sweetness in the end, and my slightly chocolatey rolls were still delicious. I’ll have to try again with the correct measurements next time.

  20. Christina

    Hi Deb, this recipe looks wonderful!

    I’m in such a pumpkin mood and think it could be fun to add pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice to the challah dough to make this a festive fall treat. Do you have any recommendations on how to adjust the proportions to incorporate pumpkin puree?


  21. Rosa V. (liltrukr)

    Hi Deb, I love your Chocolate Tahini Challah buns, they look absolutely wonderful indeed another great recipe I’m just wondering if I can use something else in replace of that Tahini, please let me know as soon as possible I appreciate it and thank you Deb.😍💕

  22. Marcy Zevon

    Are you sure about the powdered sugar gram amount? 25 grams is barely 1/4 cup and the chocolate mixture is runny, not a paste. Google says 1/2 cup is 62 grams

  23. Rosa V. (liltrukr)

    Hi Deb, I love your Chocolate Tahini Challah buns, they look absolutely wonderful indeed another great recipe I’m just wondering if I can use something else in replace of that Tahini, please let me know as soon as possible I appreciate it and thank you Deb.😯

    1. Elayne

      hey Rosa! In other recipes i’ve successfully swapped out any seed or but butter in the place of tahini..obviously it changes the flavour profile, but I anything with a similar consistency would be fine….mmmm…maybe peanut butter???!

  24. Elayne

    Okay – these are amazing and beautiful and tahini and chocolate are such a winning combination. The Challah portion of this recipe is OUTSTANDING. I’ve never had the success before that I did with the texture and airiness of this challah. Here’s what I did wrong – and now i remember, I made the same mistake with Deb’s amazing chocolate babka as well – under the directions for the filling, abide by the SPREADABLE consistency directive. I got really excited, melted the chocolate and butter and also the tahini, added the cocoa and icing sugar, and then spread it immediately – do NOT do that. It is too melty and when you go to roll it, it will all ooze out and you don’t want all that super goodness to ooze. Long story short, don’t be like me – be patient and let your filling cool before you spread it and roll it. Also, if you’re a tahini fanatic maybe add more tahini because i didn’t regret that. Love this recipe 👍🏼

  25. Debbie

    Did you mean 150ml of water rather than 15ml?
    I have been having problems with my challah baking lately – thanks to the miserably damp weather here in England over the last couple of weeks – so I have been pedantically weighing everything to make sure that I have not been making errors. This morning I was caught between going with the New Yorker in me saying 2/3 cup of water sounds reasonable and my English ex-pat self saying I think 15ml is a tablespoon. Since I was using metric untits for everything else in the recipe, I added a zero to your metric measurement for water, weighed it, and it seemed to be about 2/3c of water. The dough seemed to work. Or have I been completely useless within this?

  26. Sharon

    Made them – delicious! However, the filling was very runny! I used 1/2 cup powdered sugar (about 50 gr). I think next time I’ll chill the filling a but before spreading. Regardless, they were delicious. Thanks for the recipe!

  27. Mike

    These were great! Like others noted, the filling is runny while still warm. I put my bowl into an ice bath to chill it, and it turned to a frosting consistency. If I had left it longer, it would’ve gotten too hard to spread, as the butter and chocolate both would have resorted back to their happy solid states. So I’d recommend making the filling and putting it in the fridge, and then start rolling out the dough.
    I ran into a proofing issue. I think I let it overproof by sitting on the counter for 2 hours, *and then* putting it in the fridge for a few more hours before rolling. My filled and rolled dough started to flatten out on the counter as I was trying to cut it and my slices were looking a bit sickly. However, I put the pan back in the fridge to bake in the morning and all ended up working out. Very forgiving stuff. These were delicious, though the tahini flavor was very subtle. Maybe you’d notice it side-by-side with a non-tahini version, but it’s hard to pick out on its own.
    Also of note, the buns are *not* sweet. This may not be a surprise to most people making challah buns, but I’m used to making cinnamon rolls and sticky buns that are notably sweeter, so it took a few bites to calibrate my tastebuds here.
    Overall these were amazing and would definitely recommend to anyone looking for a pretty easy, very impressive breakfast / brunch / dessert treat.

    1. charkie

      Interesting note – I found the buns to be TOO sweet! The dough itself was fine, but the chocolate mixture was sweet & cloying. I’m glad I didn’t make the glaze because it would have taken it over the top! I think I’ll stick to making cinnamon buns for a breakfast sweet roll option; however, this did inspire me to make (plain) challah bread because the dough was so fun to work with!

      A note about the filling – I left mine on the counter for 20-30 minutes after mixing and it cooled to a frosting-like consistency. I didn’t have any problems with it being runny.

      1. CJ

        It depends on the kind of chocolate you use. The filling itself had very little sugar, so the chocolate will determine how sweet the filling is. I used Valrhona 85% cocoa chocolate and the filling was deliciously bitter. With a sweet vanilla glaze, they were perfect.

  28. Melissa

    I only had active dry yeast so I activated in the milk (warmed) a few minutes prior to adding to the mixture for kneeding and it worked just fine. Made the chocolate mixture following the recipe exactly with the addition of some flaky salt. It turned out as delightful as any smitten dish always does!

    1. Alev

      The filling definitely needs to be chilled until it is semi-solid. I was able to get clean cuts.
      Next time I would wait until after taking the rolls out of the refrigerator to apply the egg wash. It got very messy with filling oozing as I was brushing it.
      I cannot wait until they are baked tomorrow!

  29. Elisabeth in Vienna

    I also had a chocolate tsunami on my counter (which my daughter was happy to take care of) and I will let it chill next time. My buns confusingly were turning very dark after just 10-15 mins so I took them out.
    I will def try again, they taste lovely. Thanks

  30. Gwen

    I just made this. It’s delicious. I used my food processor to make the dough. It came out a bit dry. Next time I will add an egg and a few tablespoons of milk.

  31. Priya

    Made the dough this afternoon and it didn’t rise :( I used a packet of active yeast (it didn’t say “instant” but that’s what I could find) and replaced the butter with coconut oil. I wasn’t happy with the consistency of the dough after 5-7 min of dough hook but wasn’t sure what I was looking for exactly…anyway, it didn’t rise. Any suggestions?

    1. Serena

      Active dry yeast, unlike instant yeast, needs to prove before it gets mixed in with the dry ingredients. I rarely can find instant yeast at the store, but active dry makes a fine substitute – just warm your milk (or water), pour in the yeast, along with some of the sugar in the recipe (I used 1 tbsp.), dissolve, and let the yeast mixture sit a few minutes to activate while you prep other ingredients. (The liquid should foam up.) Then proceed with the recipe.

        1. Priya

          Update: this time the dough proofed though it was a pretty wet sticky dough. It rolled out beautifully. I too couldn’t get the filling to cool enough to spread so it made a nice chocolatey mess but I hope there’s enough filling inside. They’re in the fridge til the morning.

  32. Hellon Toth

    made these tonight…in prep for tomorrow — and I am anticipating complete joy, since you’ve NEVER led me astray!!

    in the mean time, I noticed a couple typos:

    “2/3 cup (*15 ml*) milk” — I think you meant *150 ml*

    “Brush tops of buns and *tops of sides*'” – Did you mean *tops of buns and sides*?

    “You can either fefrigerate overnight” – is fefrigerate is yiddish for refrigerate :-)?

  33. Sharin

    I made these yesterday for a break fast. They were a huge hit. My tahini was older than the hills and was one huge blob so I just skipped it all together.

  34. So, I saw these on Saturday & made them on Sunday. I haven’t found tahini in South Korea yet, so I substituted with peanut butter. It’s what I had on hand plus a classic flavor combo. Such an easy dough to work with & they look amazing! Can’t wait to try them tomorrow for breakfast.

  35. Hem

    Info for for airheads : I made this and forgot the eggs. If it happens to you don’t panic, it makes a really good cross between brioche and bread.

  36. This recipe is a keeper! When hubby makes the comment, “I think we have a new holiday tradition” you know it was appreciated. I don’t know which holiday he wants these for (because this was just a regular Sunday evening outside by the fire pit) but I’ll make these anytime! We didn’t even bother with the glaze since we enjoy treats that are less sugary. Great with coffee this morning, too!

  37. raizy

    I made these buns and they are really good. I used coconut milk in the dough to keep it non dairy and it was a beautiful dough, so easy to work with. The filling was perfect, not runny easy to smear…i think maybe people are melting the tehini? I made a glaze with lemon, tehini and confec sugar … it added the perfect pizzaz. They arn’t a sweet bun. Im thinking that next time i’m going to pour a simple syrup over the buns like i do with babka… mmmm. thanks deb for the timing of this recipe. I dreamt about them the whole yom kippur!

  38. Vanessa

    I made the jam and cream cheese filling version of these, and they’re really excellent! I thought I would miss the cinnamon of cinnamon buns, but didn’t at all. The glossy exterior is great, and it’s indeed a really nice to work with dough with the pleasant slight flavor of challah. I actually made them in the morning of the day before and so they proofed in the fridge for about 21-22 hours, and were still fine.

  39. Rebecca

    Just made these and the filling oozed all over. I used a scale for all ingredients so not sure what went wrong? Maybe add half the filling next time? I’m sure they will back up fine by the clean freak in me had to do breaths with the mess :)

  40. Suzanne Gold

    I love your recipes and I really want to make these but don’t own a mixer as I don’t usually bake. Elbow grease is an option, is there any other? Thanks so much. Suzanne

  41. Iva

    Hi, Deb. I love your recipes, especially the sweet ones! And as en European, I’m very happy with you publishing the measurements equivalent in grams/ml. This time there’s a typo, though: “2/3 cup (15 ml) milk or water, plus an additional tablespoon if needed”, should most probably say “(150ml)”. Thanks again for your recipes, they’re all great!

  42. sally

    I can’t get the FN video to play. :( it’s an endless loop of a Hilton Garden Inn commercial. Every time the ad ends, there’s a ‘play’ button for the Challah video, but when I press play, the Hilton Garden Inn ad just plays again…..
    Really wanted to hear the story about your dad :(
    I’m sorry to leave the comment here, and not on FN, but I can’t comment on FN without giving them access to all my email contacts….

  43. So I recently made pumpkin pie rolls with your challah recipe from the book – I just made a cream cheese-based pumpkin pie filling instead of fig or chocolate tahini. Great minds!

  44. AsafK

    Beside the Milk or Water typo (150 gr,) and the Powdered Sugar V2W conversion error (SB 50 or 60 gr.) there is, to my opinion, another V2W error: The weight of 1/4 cup Tahini is 60 (not 30) grams.

  45. Caroline

    Hi deb-
    How far apart would you recommend placing the buns in the pan before cooking? I am currently baking them (they are in the oven at.this.moment!) and when I put them in last night before sticking them in the fridge, the buns were cozy and touching on their sides. However this morning I panicked that they wouldn’t have enough space to puff so I ripped several out and put them in a second pan and spaced out the first. Should they touch before baking or puff up during baking to find each other?

    I also usually have serious trouble with doughs of any kind and this one did everything like it was supposed to and was soo easy to work with.

    Thanks! Cannot wait to eat these in 20 minutes haha :)

  46. Cath

    What are other filling options? I was thinking about peanut butter and jelly, how do I make peanut butter more spreadable? I made cream cheese&jam ones, they were gone in two days. There is only two of us… !! Just amazing.

    1. TJ Rogers

      You might try combining commercial peanut butter (it doesn’t separate) with a small amount of cream cheese to make it spreadable and bake-able.

  47. TJ Rogers

    So I’m wondering if I could get away with this dough for same day cranberry orange breakfast buns? Or do those really benefit from the overnight proof?

  48. A friend (who is Jewish) let me try one of these at her house and I just fell in love with the taste. Happy to have found your recipe so now I can make these for myself and for friends and family. Goes well together with my favorite dark roast or a mug of hot cocoa. So good!

  49. Kari

    I made this, but mine, while tasting yummy, look a hot mess. I’d suggest two changes: first, clarify that the filling should be either chilled or cool before using, because otherwise it runs all over when it is time to roll. Argh, the mess!

    Second, I’d suggest that the second proof be in the fridge and be before the roll is cut into pieces. It’s just too smooshy beforehand and even though I have great knives, I ended up partially flattening them.

  50. Courtney

    I made this the DAY Deb posted it- I was drooling for a solid 24 hours from the time she posted it in her Instagram story haha Having conquered the cranberry orange breakfast buns (now a Christmas morning staple), I felt confident these would be a cinch! They mostly were, but I had a lot of emotions: the chocolate spread never became a spread, it stayed pretty liquid-y and never firmed up. I was short on time so I didn’t have the chance to give it an hour and see if it would firm up on its own before spreading (this 100% could be because I accidentally did something wrong). As a result, the rolling o’ dough process was MESSY and quite a disaster to cut. They looked so sad and ugly in the pan, but I powered on and said a prayer. By the next morning, they had risen and started to resemble buns you’d buy at the bakery/not made by the girl who was distraught the day before; by the time they came out of the oven, they were GORGEOUS! Mine browned a wee bit more than I’d prefer, but they were gorgeous. Taste wise, I would have preferred a glaze, but I couldn’t bring myself to cover such a pretty end-result! My brunch guests said they loved it without the glaze so, truly, its up to your taste. Point is: Deb never fails! I was convinced these were going to be a disaster and they still turned out PERFECTLY! Yay! Thanks Deb!! I will be making these again!

  51. Wow, these chocolate tahini challah bun look so delicious and tempting. I love the idea of adding tahini in these buns as they should make them taste a bit rich while adding healthy protein. You’ve seem to have married challah bread with chocolate babka. Yeah!

  52. This is a wonderful recipe that has drawn many positive comments from all who have tasted the results. The one modification I made to the recipe was to give the yeast a better initial start by creating a “sponge” with the milk (slightly warmed), sugar, yeast and one cup of flour, and then letting it rise for an hour before adding the remaining ingredients. The first time I made it the dough took many hours to rise even partially and I finally gave up (it was late) and baked the still too dense rolls as they were. The second time around, making a sponge gave the yeast the start it needed (and yes it was the same batch of bulk yeast).

  53. xiyin

    agh i wish i had read the reviews before making this! i made deb’s cream cheese and jelly ones from her food network episode and they turned out really well. however, this time i had perfected the challah (using the ‘windowpane’ test that i saw on the great british baking show and after talking to a baker friend of mine) so was really excited about how these were going to turn out. yet as other commentators have noted, the filling, made according to the instructions, was SO runny that it left a SEA of (very good quality) dark chocolate all over my counter! there was practically no chocolate left in the buns by the time i completed the roll, so i scooped as much of the ‘sea’ of chocolate off the counter as i could, wept, and just dumped it all over the ‘rolled’ buns. it was pretty much a disaster, but ended up tasting ok–mostly salvaged by how light and airy and delicious the challah was. i too could not taste the tahini, and i don’t see why you wouldn’t just do these with a more traditional babka filling.

    instructions should specify to let filling cool. i am surprised that addition has not been made as usually ALL of deb’s recipes are meticulous and easy to follow, without making one go through the ‘trial and error’ common with professional chef recipes.


    1. To Xiyin – I had basically the same experience the first time I made these in that I tried to use the filling still warm from the stove. It’s didn’t run quite as much as yours did but a lot did squeeze out. The second time, I put the pot in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes before spreading, just enough to get it to the consistency of freshly ground peanut butter. It spread easily without being dripper and rolled and sliced perfectly.

    2. deb

      I’m sorry to hear there was trouble. It doesn’t sound like it was just you. My filling was pretty thick (you can see in the photos) — I don’t think it cooled for long but perhaps long enough. I’ll add a suggestion to let it cool if it’s thin, however, for next time. Thanks.

  54. Lola

    I started the jam and cream cheese version last night and baked them off this morning. They’re fantastic! There was a lot of oozing when rolling, but not unmanageable. I ended up adding about half a cup more flour to the dough because it seemed too sticky (my scale may be off). It was still sticky, but again no big deal.

  55. Anything sweet and you got me, but this recipe is going to get a work out for sure. I got my kids salivating over my shoulder as we speak. Thank you for the recipe. We are off to the kitchen…

  56. jennycolvin

    I’ve had my eye on this recipe for a while now, and I’m making it for Thanksgiving breakfast. Thanks for sharing your recipes.

  57. CJ

    For people who were having trouble with the filling running out: I spread the filling on the rolled-out dough and then let the whole thing cool in the freezer for about 10 minutes before rolling up. All the filling stayed put that way and they cut really well.

    These got rave reviews at lunch today!! Thanks for another winner!

  58. I was definitely intrigued with this recipe and I am glad I tried it. My first attempt was kind of messy, mostly because I think I rolled the dough out a little too thinly which made the rolling quite difficult. I knew making the slices was going to be a disaster, but luckily, I had rolled the dough out on a cutting board and so I stuck the whole board/roll in the freezer for about 10 mins to help hold it together for slicing. That really helped, in fact I sliced the edges off and then returned the middle to freeze a little more while I egg washed the first six. Also, I used a 70% chocolate and didn’t find it too sweet and thought the glaze brought a nice balance. I look forward to trying again sometime soon, I’d like to make a batch that look as pretty as Deb’s! Thank you for the inspiration!

  59. Victoria

    These are a hit! I didn’t have the right sized pan, so mine spread a bit as I arranged them in the tray- it was really slippy and slidy to roll up and cut the rolls. I would make them again.

  60. tullywully

    I’ve wanted to try these after I tried the orange-cran breakfast buns that were similar to make. However, I’m wondering if it would be possible to cook these up in a cast iron skillet instead of a baking dish? I’ve never made this kind of bun in a skillet and wondering if there’s any special thing to know or adjust before trying it? Or, would the cook time be any different? FYI: I’m also somewhat new to cast iron skillets in general, and I just wanna make sure of avoiding any potential snafus, sorry if that was a silly question… don’t wanna end up ruining a nice (but sensitive) piece of cookery just bc of a small oversight.

  61. Kari

    I’ve made these before the “right” way, but made again tonight and subbed fig jam and crushed walnuts for the chocolate/tahini filling. OMG so fantastic and I’m actually pretty neutral about figs.

  62. Kate

    I have made this twice in the past week. Post times it didn’t really rise much. I ended up adding the filling and rolling it and then just giving it about 2 hrs to proof. Still didn’t rise a ton but baked up just fine anyway. Second time I rolled into a round babka-esque shape and added an additional layer of thinned raspberry jam(on top of the chocolate tahini) in the filling. It required me to bake an extra 20ish minutes but came out DELICIOUS and so so beautiful. Keeps well for the next day also. Thank you so much for giving an internal temp for this recipe – SO HELPFUL!

  63. Gabrielle J

    Hi Deb! Would love to make these for the Shavout holiday coming up, but had a question on freezing- would you freeze before you baked the buns, or after? Thank you so much!

  64. Cissi

    For the filling: Is 25 g of powdered sugar correct? Isn’t 1/2 cup of powdered sugar closer to 50 g? Did you measure scant 1/2 cup or weigh?

  65. Sarah

    Made these for coworkers this morning. The challah portion of the rolls turned out beautifully, as Deb’s challah usually does. I personally found the filling to be a little too thick, I imagine from the tahini. The flavor was good, but it had this stick to the roof of your mouth element that I didn’t love. I think I would make again and fiddle with the filling, more chocolate perhaps, more sugar perhaps too.

  66. smeron

    Just made these and they bake well, but I just found them to be somewhat bready and lacking in flavor. I also wasn’t getting any tahini flavor once all was said and done. A lot of work for somewhat meh results.

    I will reiterate what Deb says in the recipe and what others said in their reviews: if you make this, make sure your filling is cool and thickened before you try to assemble this! The filling is very runny when hot. I let mine cool for a couple of hours at room temp, and it was a perfect spreadable consistency.

    1. deb

      No, instant yeast doesn’t require dissolving or warming up, but if your kitchen is cooler or yeast is a little older, it can take more time to get started. Did it work in the end?

  67. boneidle

    Advice needed! I made these and they have turned out quite dry – surprising as dough seemed about right (on the wet side, if anything) and it rose beautifully. I’m not sure where I went wrong – any ideas?

  68. Stephanie

    I am an American who lives in South Africa and have been so converted to cooking and baking with weight! I have two of your cookbooks and will second and third and fourth everyone when saying, THANK YOU for the weight measurements. It makes it so much easier for those of us who have long since found the way with weighing instead of tediously measuring out cups of flour!

    I’ve never tried one of your recipes that I haven’t liked so I am excited to give these a go for an afternoon tea time treat today!

  69. Barb

    I loved the consistency of the dough for these rolls; it was great to work with. I added nuts as it seemed to be crying out for some crunch, but next time, I’ll use a cinnamon filling. Although nice to have a different option, the chocolate just didn’t satisy me.

  70. These made a perfect start to 2019 at our New Year brunch!! I so love that the rolls are just barely sweet, despite the richness of the filling and the tenderness of the dough. Thank you!

  71. Dana Sackton

    When I make your regular challah, I normally make 4 small loaves to freeze…yesterday I made 3 loaves and used the last quarter to make a half recipe of these. Made for an easy treat for breakfast. Only weird thing was I made a half recipe and got 15 smallish, but decently sized buns!

  72. Zee

    Yikes! I don’t think my failure is due to the recipe, I am firmly at fault. What I would caution is those looking at this recipe that aren’t comfortable with recipes using yeast maybe try something easier. This was a disaster, couldn’t get it to rise much (first or second) and then it ended up coming out dense with a strong yeast taste. Looked okay but tasted meh. Not for the inexperienced baker! I cook off this website so much my friends know not to even ask where the recipe is from…I got a little overconfident trying this one lol!

  73. HWC

    I made this today! The dough was very wet and lacked structure but I followed the ingredients by weight. Not sure it it’s the humidity or because I used oil vs. butter. I should have followed my instincts to add more flour but I wanted to follow the recipe. The roll and the buns were mushy and could not really stand on their own. On the filling: I let it cool before using, but it sat too long and hardened, so I had to warm it up to get to a spreadable consistency. I’d recommend that folks remove the melted butter & chocolate from the heating saucepan when mixing in the other ingredients. Or if you don’t want to dirty another bowl, you should mix off heat and let the filling cool. I think the tahini weight may vary depending on how thick/dense it is. In the end, the flavors were quite good and luckily not as super sweet as other SK recipes.

  74. Golda

    Would this work with bread flour? I’m planning to try the cream cheese and jam version but I’m running low on AP flour right now. I expect a bit of a heartier texture, but I have seen some cinnamon roll recipes that use bread flour, so wondering if anyone has tried it here – thanks!

  75. Laura

    Help! Did I bake these too long? The yummy chocolate mixture flaked off of the buns when we were eating them. How do I prevent that next time? Otherwise they were tasty.

  76. Robin

    Why have I not seen these before!! These will be this weekends project. With quarantine I am really just starting to make yeasted foods so I have a question that probably pretty basic but I have no clue – you say to knead with the dough hook for 5-7 minutes. At what speed ( I do have a kitchen aid). Is it on low like stir or something higher. Thank you for responding. By the way we are now a three generation smitten kitchen family. My daughter is making a lot of your vegetarian recipes and now my 81 year old mom is as well.

  77. Robin

    Sorry to put this here but what happened to the subscribe so that when someone replies to the comments I get an email. Hoping you didn’t take that feature away.

  78. LD

    This was the perfect mid-week breakfast and next time I will probably mix in some toasted and coarsely chopped nuts (for some crunch)- maybe 1/3 cup scattered over the filling. I loved it as written but would love even more the nuttiness amped up. We didn’t use the glaze because I was afraid the flavors might disappear in a sea of sweetness. :)

  79. Catherine

    I’ve made these three times now and each time the filling goes everywhere – it’s not that it’s too runny, I borderline froze it last time, it seems there’s too much. Anyone else have the same issue?

  80. Audra

    This recipe is perfect. It went perfectly for me and my family loves having it on special occasions. I let the buns start rising after I roll the dough and cut it. Then I put them in the refrigerator after they had proofed a bit, then we bake them in the morning:)

  81. Lara

    They’re perfect! They rose in almost two hours and I followed someone’s recommendation in the comments to make the filling ahead of time and let it set for a bit so it’s more spreadable. Halved the recipe (kept the egg yolk + 1 egg) because they’re, er, just for me, but I trust they won’t stay in the pan for long anyway. I only had a very floral sunflower/flax oil so it’s quite distinct in the aroma but it goes quite well with the bitterness of the chocolate and the tahini and the richness of the dough.

  82. kelley

    I made the cream cheese rolls, but since I didn’t have any cream cheese in the fridge, I decided to give it a try it with the sour cream I had on hand. I should have watched the video first to see what the texture was supposed to be like. A warning to anyone else thinking about trying this substitution – the filling was really soupy, even after I put it in the fridge for half an hour! They still tasted delicious, but I’ll be trying them with cream cheese next time.

  83. Malina

    I just made these today, everything was perfect until I took them out of the oven and I found them to be slightly burnt on the bottom and a bit dry
    What threw me off was measuring the internal temp at the 30 min mark, mine measured 180 F so I left them in for a few more minutes (maybe three), at 190 they were too dry. Should’ve omitted testing internal temp and they would’ve been perfect.

  84. Dina Appleby

    We keep kosher so butter is out of the question. I bake challah every Friday for shabbat and never saw a recipe with butter. Your thought and suggestion?

  85. I’ve made the filling several times (I use a naturally leavened adaptation of cinnamon roll dough vs this dough) … have loved the taste, but always needed the frig option to thicken up and really messy to roll and in the bake.

    Today, I adjusted to:
    85 g bittersweet chips
    80 g butter
    20 g cocoa
    50 g powdered sugar
    30 g tahini

    For me, in my kitchen, my ingredients … above had a frosting consistency which spread easily and as it cooled further became almost like a soft fudge. Baked well. So, basically, I reduced chips and butter slightly and kept the rest per the recipe.

  86. Ella

    I would definitely get them out of the fridge at LEAST an hour before baking–mine were still so cold in the center that the outer ones burned before the inner ones were cooked. I tented and put them back in at a lower temp but…all that work feels slightly wasted.

  87. Echo

    I made these last night and they are just about to go in the oven.
    Because lots of people seem to have a problem with the filling being too runny I would suggest making it as soon as you finish kneading the dough.
    Then it can sit for a couple of hours while the dough rises and it’s the perfect consistency to spread.
    Worked well for me!