Chocolate Filled Buns

Today I spent a good long while searching for a particular book on clay sculpting. It was in my closet (which could very well be compared to a black hole. Once something goes in, it never comes out). I have several boxes in my closet marked "Random Keepsakes," which had been packed away long before I set off for college. I had an inkling what I was searching for would be in there, somewhere, even though I had little idea what any of the boxes held. There was nothing I could do but dig in and see where it would take me.

Opening boxes from the past is like opening a can of worms. The good, the bad, the ugly, the silly embarrassing moments I'd forgotten about were all staring me in the face. This is me, summed up through years of diaries, rock collections, and the random objects I thought important enough to save. Like it or not (embarrassed or not), the only choice I had was to embrace it.

Among my findings was a small notebook where every page, every line, was filled with tiny little scribbles—proof of my desperate desire to prove to my mother that I could write in cursive despite the fact that I could barely print my own name. A photography album was filled with my first roll of film in which I managed to cut off the head of every single person in the album. I like to think of it as a highly artistic concept for a seven year old instead of the fact that I couldn't aim if my life depended on it. I also kept a diary for two whole days, which displays the drama and angst of my 10 year old self quite well. In fact, it's too good not to share with you.

The first page says "Goal: to write every day" (obviously I was not so good at following through on that one).

April 3rd, 2000

Dear Diary,

Today I lost my shoe. Mom yelled a LOT. Still not found. My favorite shoe with the black yellow stripes. Social studies test tomorrow. Tonight had to go to a self-defense course. Boring!

April 4th, 2000

Dear Diary,

Today I search for my shoe and I still can't find it. Test went well. Kickball was horrible. Only me and Amanda and the rest were boys. Ugh! I played outside for hours. Still aren't use to daylight savings time.

While some questions remain unanswered (how did I lose that shoe when it was supposed to be on my foot? Did I honestly not notice?), the truth tends to remain. At 10 years old I still thought boys had cooties, I was up in arms about what my favorite shoe actually looked like, and maybe (even still) it does take me a few days to adjust to daylight savings.

Digging into the past has always been an interesting event for me, even if what I find is humiliating or uncomfortable. It always strikes a strong nostalgic chord, showing me a little bit of who I am as well as how far I've come. And thank goodness I've come a long, long ways.

These Chocolate Filled Buns are sweet and rich. I took the basic bread recipe from my Honey Rolls, sweetened up the dough with a bit of sugar and orange zest, and added one of my vices—chocolate. The buns look savory until you take a bite. Your taste buds will instead be greeted with subtle orange flavors and rich, melted chocolate (and who wouldn't like that surprise?). These are quite simple to make for a yeasted dough and the well worth the effort.

Chocolate Filled Buns

Yields 12 rolls

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup barely warm milk
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted + 1 tablespoon butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoons salt
1 egg
1 tablespoon orange zest
4-6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk and let sit for 5 minutes.

Add 2 tablespoons melted butter, sugar, salt, egg, and orange zest. Stir until blended and fragrant. Add 3 cups of flour and mix until the dough comes together. It will be sticky! On a lightly floured surface knead the dough until soft and elastic (about 8 minutes), adding more flour to keep the dough from sticking if necessary. Do not add too much flour! The dough will become more workable the longer you knead. Or, if you have a standing mixer, knead the dough with the dough attachment for 5-7 minutes, or until elastic.

Transfer the kneaded dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm area until it doubles in size, about 2 hours.

Punch dough down, divide into 12 equal portions, and shape each portion into a round ball. Make an indent in each ball and place 1 tablespoon chocolate chips (or more or less to taste). Cover the chocolate with the dough and roll to seal all seams. Place rolls a on baking sheet coated lightly with cooking spray. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise for another 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Brush 1 tablespoon melted butter over the rolls. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature (though I prefer them warm so I stick them in the microwave for 5-10 seconds).