The Softest CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT KNOTS

Living in the UK for the past 3 years has been an eye-opening experience. When it comes to the weather it’s everchanging and you never know what to expect. Being from Croatia, I’m used to the “classic” hot summers and cold winters…but here in the UK one July day can be cold and rainy, while the next can be hot and sweaty. On these rainy days I crave some warm carbs, and I just had to make these soft brioche knots filled with delicious chocolate hazelnut spread and some chocolate chips. I even tried the vegan version of these, so feel free to use substitutes such as soy milk, margarine, and a vegan chocolate hazelnut spread to make this delicious baked good completely vegan and dairy free.

Ingredients (for 12 knots):

  • 90 g unsalted butter, plus extra for brushing
  • 250 ml milk
  • 25 g fresh yeast, or 2 tsp active dried yeast
  • 40 g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp crushed cardamom, optional
  • 450 g strong white flour
  • 4 heap tbsp Nutella
  • a handful of dark chocolate chips

Method:

  1. In a large microwave safe bowl, put in the butter and melt in the microwave completely. Add in the milk and place in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time, checking after each interval, until the mixture is warm to the touch, but not hot.
  2. Add in the sugar and the yeast, and mix well until both are dissolved.
  3. Add in half of the flour and salt, and optionally cardamom, and mix until a thick paste is formed. Add in the rest of the flour and using your hands bring it all together. After a soft dough has formed, turn it out onto the work surface alongside anything that might’ve stuck to the sides of the bowl.
  4. Using your hands knead the dough until it firms up but is still soft to the touch. Alternatively use a stand mixer on low speed and knead for 6-8 minutes. The dough should be soft and slightly tacky, but not sticking to the surface, and when you poke it, it should spring back immediately. If kneading by hand, knead for about 10 minutes.
  5. Place the dough in a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Leave somewhere warm to rise for 1 hour, then transfer to a fridge for 30 minutes so it firms up slightly and is easier to work with.
  6. Take the dough out and divide in half. Punch out the air from one of the halves and roll into a thin rectangle that’s about 15 cm x 10 cm in size. Spread half of the Nutella over two thirds of the rectangle, so it covers a 10 x 10 cm space, and sprinkle over some chocolate chips. Then fold the third of the dough that’s uncovered over the middle, and the piece that’s left fold over the top, like a letter. Repeat with the other half of the dough and place onto a parchment lined tray. Put this in the freezer for 20 – 30 minutes so the dough and the filling has a chance to firm up and is easier to shape.
  7. After chilling, take out one of the pieces and cut into six strips, these should be about 5 x 1.5 cm in size. Take each strip one by one, and out of it cut three more strips leaving the end of the large strip intact, and braid the strips into a three strand plait. Roll the plait into itself creating a knot shape, and place into a greased muffin tin. Repeat with other strips of dough.
  8. Once all knots are made, cover the muffin tin loosely with plastic wrap and set aside to proof. While the knots are rising, preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. After 30 minutes, remove the plastic wrap and place the knots in the oven alongside a tray on the bottom of the oven in which you pour some boiling water to create steam. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown and baked all the way through.
  9. After baking, transfer to a wire rack to cool and enjoy them still warm!

Fancy a more autumnal version?

Why not use the same dough recipe with a warm cinnamon filling that’s also a great breakfast option!?

For the filling just use about 50 g softened butter, 100 g brown sugar, 50 g caster sugar, and a tablespoon of cinnamon – mix it all together and spread over the dough instead of Nutella!

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