Kahlua buns stuffed w/ mascarpone cream and salted pistacchio powder
Somewhere inside this cold hard exterior of mine, as hard as it is to admit, there’s always been this fantasy of being the person who gives out home-baked panettone every year during the holiday season. Not too early, not too late, just a couple gatherings after the first snowfall, the anticipation on the street would be, “Any day now.” It would be done right, gorgeous, plump, and permeating buttery decadent splendor that smells like long, scrutinized days in the kitchen. It’ll say… she is awesome, god I hate her. And needless to mention, arrived at your doorstep wrapped in black Japanese washi paper with a golden bow by Fedex Same-day Priority. It’s gonna be part of my social persona, you see, the cherry on top of being my squad. You know, my panettone list. Very cool.
But who am I kidding? I suspect that my genetic makeup has more in common with a sloth than a baker, or a friend for that matter. It’s possibly why “my squad” has only members of four-legged slobbers who prefer to chew on smoked pig’s ear than fancy Italian bread. But, even with such self-acceptance, that is not to say that I have given up on festive, enriched, morbidly over-the-top breads that one could only allow themselves to enjoy once a year. And this year, boy, do I have good one.
The inspiration came from an amazing panettone of last Christmas. Store-bought, no surprise there, but it was unexpectedly robust in this vanilla-y, nutty and warm-spiced flavor which set itself way apart from, excuse me, the other disgusting ones desecrated by unsolicited candied fruits and citrus peels… euh. No, this panettone reminded me almost of… tiramisu. And what does tiramisu have? Kahlua and mascarpone.
Think of it this way: You take a brioche dough, and you instill it with a little bit of that Japanese tangzhong wisdom (a bread dough with part of its flour cooked, like a roux, to enhance moisture retention and texture). But instead of making the tangzhong with milk, you do it entirely with Kahlua coffee liquor, you see? With the alcohol cooked off, what is pleasantly left behind is the silhouettes of sugar canes, sweet butter and roasted chestnuts. You bake it in a very user-friendly bun-form, which already has stringy and translucent, soft and chewy crumbs. But what it lacks, or in fact is screaming desperately for, is a good piping of lightly sweetened mascarpone cream which cannot either confirm or deny that it has more Kahlua in it. At this point, it’s too late to be sensical, so we might as well douse the buns with more melted butter, so much so that it becomes a welcoming wetland to entrap an onslaught of boldly salted spiced sugar, which is really powdered pistachio.
So no, I’m not sending you a panettone this year. But I doubt you’ll complain.
- 2 tsp instant dry yeast (7 grams)
- 2 tbsp (30 grams) whole milk
- 1/2 cup (65 grams) bread flour
- 1/2 cup (120 grams) Kahlua coffee liquor
- 1 1/2 cup (205 grams) bread flour
- 1 large egg + 2 yolks
- 2 1/2 tbsp (37 grams) dark brown sugar
- 2 tbsp (40 grams) molasses
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 4 tbsp (56 grams ) cold unsalted butter
- 10.6 oz (300 grams) mascarpone cheese
- 3 tbsp granulated or light brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp (30 grams) shelled roasted pistachio
- 2 tbsp (30 grams) dark brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground allspice
- 3 tbsp (42 grams) melted butter for brushing
- START AROUND NOON TIME THE DAY BEFORE: I don't usually pre-soak my instant dry yeast but I find that they have difficulty dissolving properly in this recipe. So, mix instant dry yeast and whole milk (cold is fine) in a small bowl and set aside to soften slightly. Place 1/2 cup of bread flour in a stand-mixer bowl with dough-hook, then bring the kahlua liquor to a boil and pour it directly into the bowl. Mix on low until an even, sticky dough forms. This is a cooked "roux", which is a bread-making technique that help with moisture retention and texture with soft squishy breads like brioche.
- Add the other 1 1/2 cup of bread flour, egg and yolks (save the whites for egg-wash later), dark brown sugar, molasses, vanilla extract and fine sea salt, as well as the softened yeast and milk. Mix on low until all the ingredients has come together evenly, then switch to medium-high speed and knead for another 5 to 7 minutes. The dough should be sticking a little to the sides and bottom of the bowl while the machine is running, but shiny and elastic. If it's dry and pulls away cleanly, add a bit more milk to adjust, or if it's wet and couldn't hold onto the hook, add a bit more flour and knead for a couple more minutes.
- Scrape the bowl, then add the unsalted butter all at once, and knead again on medium-high speed for another 5 to 7 minutes. The dough should be extremely shiny and elastic, pulling cleanly from the sides of the bowl but sticks on the bottom while the machine is running. It should look like soft toffee candy. Cover the bowl and let rise for 9 to 10 hours in room-temperature until fully doubled. If your kitchen is warm and it's rising too fast (you see it expanding after just a couple hours), transfer and let it finish rising inside the fridge.
- At night, once the dough has doubled, gently scrape it onto a lightly floured counter. DO NOT punch out the air, as I'm treating this almost like a sourdough. Simple divide the dough into 9 equal portions. With each portion, tuck the sides towards the center, then invert it so the seams-side's down and cup it in your palm and gently roll it on the counter in a circular motion. The friction will tighten the ball and create a smooth surface. Really butter up well a 8x8 inches square pan, or any other pans you want to bake them in (I did mine in a smaller pot and a bigger round pan). Then arrange the doughs inside with about 2 inches of space in between. Cover with plastic and let it do the second rise in room-temperature overnight (8 to 9 hours). If your kitchen is warm, let the doughs do the second rise in the fridge (if it didn't fully double in the fridge, leave it in a warm place to double before baking).
- NEXT DAY MORNING: The doughs should have fully doubled, looking plump and airy. If you don't have time in the morning or are not serving them immediately, you can transfer it into the fridge to stop the rise, and bake when needed. Preheat the oven on 350 F/175 C. Brush the saved egg whites on the surface of the buns, then bake in the middle-rack for 25 to 30 minutes until golden browned on top.
- Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix together mascarpone, sugar and vanilla extract until even. Transfer into a pastry bag with a fitted round tip, and set aside. In a spice grinder, pulse pistachio, dark brown sugar, fine sea salt, cinnamon and allspice until you have a fine-ground mixture (some small chunks of pistachio here and there is fine). Set aside.
- Let the buns cool for 15 minutes, then with a small pointy knife, create a hole in the center of each buns. Insert the pastry tip into the hole and fill each bun up generously with mascarpone cream. Then brush the surface very liberally with melted butter, and sprinkle the pistachio powder on top. Serve warm.
Nina WestDecember 8, 2021 at 8:22 PM
Sounds yummy, but am traveling. Will have to try when near my stand mixer again. Will share recipe with aspiring chef, age 16 and see what happens.
Cyndi ChanDecember 8, 2021 at 8:25 PM
Thanks for this recipe! I especially like the clear timeline so that I can have decadent warm rolls for breakfast!
kristynDecember 8, 2021 at 8:58 PM
Looks incredible!!!! Long time lurker/admirer of your craft for some years!! You may have just inspired the baker in me to try it out to make for the family this weekend!! Thank you!
Ruth WilliamsDecember 8, 2021 at 9:40 PM
As usual . . . beautiful and unique, which I love. Hoping I can carve out some time this Christmas season to make there. Thanks–again–for sharing.
Kris FlahavenDecember 8, 2021 at 11:35 PM
Beautiful, as always! Any thoughts on a replacement for the pistachios? I’m allergic to pistachio, cashew, and walnut. I have never wished more to be able to change something about myself more than this moment! I could go without but I imagine the nuttiness adds so much to the flavor profile, more than perhaps an almond would.
mandy@ladyandpupsDecember 9, 2021 at 1:57 AM
Kris, this may sound like a joke but how about peanuts? Or maybe just replace with cocoa powder for a completely different flavor profile?
Charles SuggsDecember 9, 2021 at 12:51 AM
She does it again.
Kris FlahavenDecember 9, 2021 at 5:08 AM
Perfect ideas, thank you! My sister and I were coming up with all sorts of ideas- granola, pretzels, pumpkin seeds. I love the idea of cocoa. Thank you again for your gorgeous content, and I treasure your cookbook!
JuneDecember 9, 2021 at 6:46 AM
Lovely post! The buns look so scrumptious!
Christine BakerDecember 9, 2021 at 12:34 PM
They sound amazing, going to make mine vegan.
ThaoDecember 13, 2021 at 11:58 AM
The buns look amazing, I will make them soon. 1 question, can I proof the dough somewhere warmer so it’ll double in size in like 1 or 2 hrs both times? I love your cookbook btw ?
mandy@ladyandpupsDecember 13, 2021 at 12:57 PM
Thao, even at a warm place the dough will take a few hours to double. It’s just the nature of rich doughs, sorry :)
karen alstonDecember 13, 2021 at 8:58 PM
I just love the way you write!
ThaoDecember 14, 2021 at 8:42 AM
Got it! Thanks for your reply, I will make it anyway, because it looks so good ?
net worthDecember 15, 2021 at 9:39 PM
This looks so amazing! I’m always amazed by your photos!
sherryDecember 16, 2021 at 12:43 PM
Paula GimbelDecember 16, 2021 at 10:11 PM
My God, You’re an evil genius…
Russell G.December 23, 2021 at 2:29 AM
I made these, and they’re absolutely insane! Thank you, Mandy!
1. The 8″x8″ pan worked great.
2. The dough is very dark so I baked them to 200F/93C to be sure.
3. I added about 2 tablespoons of Kahlua to the filling and it was perfect.
4. I wanted a lot more filling. I’ll use a wider piping tip next time.
5. I wanted to throw the topping on by the handfuls while eating it.
6. By far the most delicious thing I’ve ever baked.
8. It really does take a long time to rise. Much longer than brioche.
9. I own Mandy’s book but this is the first recipe of hers I’ve made. Now I want to make them all!
mandy@ladyandpupsDecember 23, 2021 at 3:16 AM
Hi Russell, yay!! Thanks for the feedback!
ChristyDecember 23, 2021 at 11:05 PM
Just finished making this. Smelled so delightful the entire process and exceeded expectations upon finishing. I just had trouble getting a good rise both proofing periods and the dough came out denser than the pics (user error I’m sure). Would definitely like to make again and open to all the tips!
Russell G.December 24, 2021 at 9:15 PM
For mine, it took a good 3-4 hours to double for the first rise – much longer than I’m use to with brioche-style breads. I used a 2-quart measuring container so I could tell when it doubled according to the markings on the side. For the second rise, I put the pan in the fridge overnight, and then let it sit at room temperature for at least 3 hours or so the next morning, until they passed the poke test. Room temperature is about 75F/24C. Give it another try and I’m sure you’ll get it.
SusanJanuary 13, 2022 at 7:28 AM
This looks amazing! For those who are against cooking with alcohol (even though it cooks out), what would be a good coffee replacement for the Kahlua? Cold brew concentrate?
mandy@ladyandpupsJanuary 13, 2022 at 1:03 PM
Susan, unfortunately I don’t think coffee on its own has the similar flavor as Khalua. I’m not sure what non-alcohol sub there is…
five nights at freddy'sFebruary 11, 2022 at 5:36 PM
Thanks for a very interesting blog. The food looks great. Thank for your sharing
possumFebruary 21, 2022 at 4:26 AM
These came out amazingly. I’m not a great baker but your video plus the weight measurements made this extremely easy to follow along. I loved your explanations for why you’re doing what you’re doing, and then showing what it’s supposed to look like at every step. Also, I have a really low attention span so having to waffle around in the kitchen for hours on end really irritates me (which is why I don’t have the patience for baking in the first place). Being able to do a step, then another, then a few more over a period of two days was great.
Anyway, I love your recipes, I’ve been following them for years, but I think this is the first time I’ve commented because I now understand the principles of baking a little better and have something that’s worth eating at the end of it. I was a little rough breaking the dough up and rolling it so the crumb was a tiny bit denser than it ought to have been, but it was still really nice!
MakeeMarch 13, 2022 at 10:28 PM
Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe, I appreciate your effort
callmechatMarch 21, 2022 at 10:37 PM
I’m in love with the way you serve content to your readers. It’s art so I see how many good reviews! Keep up the good work. This recipe is very good.
coomeetApril 1, 2022 at 6:19 PM
Excellent, as usual! Any considerations on a substitution for the pistachios? I’m oversensitive to pistachio, cashew, and pecan. I have never wanted more to have the option to change something important to me than this second! I could do without yet I envision the nuttiness adds such a great amount to the flavor profile, more than maybe an almond would.
mandy@ladyandpupsApril 2, 2022 at 1:45 AM
Coomet, perhaps peanuts?
Chris DavidApril 22, 2022 at 3:24 PM
Really delicious recipe. I love it yummy!!! It’s really awesome
Mate Mate TWJuly 28, 2022 at 7:45 PM
Incredible recipe! It looks so scrumptious!
Five Nights At Freddy'sAugust 3, 2022 at 3:08 PM
It looks so tempting, thank you for providing the recipe to make it.
dark tileSeptember 10, 2022 at 1:54 PM
There is a good recipe here which is useful in many ways.
world of marioNovember 9, 2022 at 3:19 PM
This recipe is easy to follow. Useful for me. Thanks!
Julie ChungFebruary 27, 2023 at 5:52 AM
The enriched dough took a couple of days for the proper rise but the result was an ethereal fluffy goodness I thoroughly enjoyed. Here’s to this and so many of your ingenious recipes that propel me to bake in spite of the fact that I cannot smell or taste anything. F-Covid.