Gluten Free Brioche Buns: AKA, Chocolate Things

Gluten Free Chocolate Things on

– Gluten-free chocolate brioch buns, for your guilty pleasure. –

If there’s one thing that I miss from my pre-gluten free days, it’s being able to enjoy fresh, tender baked goods. I miss morning walks to the coffee shop, where I’d stand before counter and gaze out over the fresh buns and rolls as they steamed up the glass display case. What should I have today? The chocolate croissant? The cream cheese danish? You know, I think I’ll take the strawberry crème fraiche scone.

Yup, those day are gone. Sigh.

To add insult to injury, I recently moved to a new neighborhood, within walking (and smelling) distance of Arizmendi Bakery, purveyor of some of the Bay Area’s most delectable – and very not gluten free – baked goodies. Every damn morning I have to wake up and smell their cheese horns and blueberry coffee cakes. Their chocolate buns and cinnamon rolls. This weekend I sat in my office chair, awash in early morning bakery aromas, and thought to myself, ENOUGH!

How much temptation can one girl take?!

So I set out to make use of all my built up bread-angst: I made something at home.


Arizmendi has one particular treat that taunts me – something called the “chocolate thing.” Their vague-sounding thing is actually a very specific brioche roll that’s specked with thick chunks of dark chocolate. Armed with this recipe for gluten free brioche, I set to work creating my own version of this, well, thing.

The resulting gluten free recipe is absolutely wonderful. While there’s no substitute for real brioche, but this recipe – compliments of Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Zoë François and Jeff Hertzberg – is a lovely stand in. Light and airy, these gluten free brioche rolls make for a breakfast to remember, and guests will have a tough time noticing that they’re sans gluten.

So, I present to you my new favorite gluten free breakfast bun recipe. This is cause for celebration! Pack them up for meetings, conferences and road trips, and you’ll never again feel that tug of longing for a a table full of gluten-y baked treat again. You’ll have something infinitely more special, thankyouverymuch.

Note: gluten free bread doughs are notoriously sticky, so when the recipe says to dust with cornstarch, save yourself a lot of trouble and just layer it on; otherwise you’ll end up with dough everywhere but in your breakfast rolls.

Heavenly Gluten Free Brioche Buns
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: French
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This recipe was inspired by Arizmendi Bakery's Chocolate Things, large brioche rolls filled with chocolate. So, so good. Based on a recipe from "Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day," by Zoe François and Jeff Hertzberg.
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch (tapioca flour)
  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon granulated yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon xanthan gum
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Several more cups of cornstarch for rolling and dusting
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  1. Whisk together the brown rice flour, tapioca starch, cornstarch, yeast, salt and xanthan gum in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.
  2. Combine the liquid ingredients and gradually mix them into the dry ingredients using one of the following: a spoon, a food processor (with dough attachment) or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix just until there are no dry bits of flour. You might need to use wet hands to get the last bits of flour to incorporate if you are not using a machine.
  3. Cover (not airtight!) and allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 2 hours.
  4. Coat your hands and a flat surface liberally with corn starch, and I mean liberally. Trust me – this dough sticks to everything, even parchment paper.
  5. Turn the dough out onto starched surface, then spread and press with your hands until it isabout 1 inch thick and roughly square shaped. Coat a rolling pin with cornstarch and sprinkle a little more on the surface of your dough. Roll the dough until it is 1/2 inch thick.
  6. Using a knife dipped in cornstarch, cut the edges of the dough so it’s relatively close to square-shaped. Sprinkle chopped chocolate around the dough square, not heavily coating it but spreading chocolate chunks evenly around. As tightly as you can without breaking it, roll the dough into a thick log. Cut into 6 equal-sized rolls with a very sharp knife. Coat your hands with a little more cornstarch and gently form the rolls into rough ball shapes.
  7. Set a piece of parchment on a baking sheet (don’t worry – with the amount of cornstarch you used by now, nothing will stick at this point) and place the rolls at least two inches apart. Cover loosely and allow dough to rest for 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C) while you’re waiting, allowing the full 45 minutes so that the oven heats properly.
  8. Bake in the center of the oven for about 22 minutes. The rolls are done once they start to brown nicely and are firm to the touch.
  9. Let rolls cool on the baking sheet for two minutes, then remove from the pan and allow to cool on a rack before eating. Eat hot, right out of the oven, or allow them to cool fully before storing them in an airtight container for up to four days. If wrapped up tightly, these rolls can be frozen for up to a month.


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Comments from other ninjas:

  1. Frugal Kiwi says

    I’ve been suffering severe Baked Goods Envy lately, so I may have to bite the bullet and get myself some alternate flours and xanthan gum. This looks too good to miss.

    • Stephanie Stiavetti says

      If they’re super expensive in Kiwiland, let me know and I’ll ship some out. Merry un-Christmas. 😉

  2. Aleta says

    These are incredibly tempting even though I don’t have to worry about gluten. The “5 Minutes a Day” cookbooks are among my favorites and your addition of chocolate is inspired.

    • Stephanie Stiavetti says

      They’re some of my favorites as well – Zoe and Jeff have produced some killer recipes.

  3. Ellen (I Am Gluten Free) says

    Stephanie – these look fantastic. I have all I can do to not allow myself to make a bee line for the kitchen and try my hand at them. Too much work to do today – but this weekend, I know what I’ll be doing! Thanks!

  4. Chelsey says

    Oh my GOSH! Amazing little balls of perfection. These are my dream food. Chocolate and bread gluten free!

    Is it bad that i’m happy you’ve had to endure those torturous smells from the bakery? Because otherwise you would have never made these bad boys!

    • Stephanie Stiavetti says

      Ha, no I guess it’s not bad. 😉 In the end it produced something awesome, so it’s not for nothing!

  5. Wizzythestick says

    xanthan gum is unavailable in my neck of the woods asking for it in the stores gets to a blank stare. Sigh.

  6. Renee says

    Wow! I made the brioche for the first time a couple weeks ago. I might have to try this version!! Yummy!

  7. Lucy says

    That looks amazing!

    Come the weekend, I’ll get my GF daughter to give these a try – breakfast is one of the things we struggle with, so a bit of yummy would go down really well.

  8. Aimee says

    Oh my gosh, I’ve been meaning to try the brioche recipe but just hadn’t got around to it yet… until I saw this post! Your pictures looked lovely and the description of longing for freshly baked goods was so right on that I decided to try this recipe right then and there. The process went flawlessly and the final result is delicious! They’re cooling and tempting me right now, I’m worried I’ll end up eating all of them! :)

    • Stephanie Stiavetti says

      I’m so glad you loved them! I’m hopelessly addicted, in fact, I’m going to make more tomorrow. Stay tuned for another variation. :)

  9. Sheryl says

    Well, you’ve certainly come to the rescue with these. They look incredibly delicious. Although I’m not gluten-intolerant, I’d be happy to eat one (or two?) of these!

  10. MarthaAndMe says

    Chocolate thing! What a name. I believe I would go crazy if I lived close enough to a bakery to smell it! These look amazing and decadent.

    • Stephanie Stiavetti says

      It’s insanely difficult – but what can you do? I have to make sure I never walk by there when I’m hungry…

  11. Alexandra says

    Wow! Perfect timing. I just got a call from guests coming tomorrow who need to eat gluten-free and were worried about whether or not I could produce. I’m printing out your recipe and heading for the health food store to stock up on the ingredients. Thank you so much!

    • Stephanie Stiavetti says

      That’s great news. Remind me to tell you the story of how I was poisoned by an only semi-well meaning B&B. I’m so glad to hear you’re happy to work with these folks.

  12. MyKidsEatSquid says

    These look amazing–and I love the idea of using brioche dough as a base for the rolls. I’m curious, though, what type of dark chocolate do you use?

    • Stephanie Stiavetti says

      I used Guittard chocolate chunks, though you could also use chocolate chips. One critique I got was that they needed more chocolate, so the next batch will have double the amount. :)

  13. Jennifer Margulis says

    I need to make these. They look so so good. I tried using a gluten free flour mixture but it strangely upset my digestion. It seems I can tolerate spelt flour but not wheat or gluten-free flours. Weird!

  14. Meredith says

    I bookmarked this one. I’d like to serve these for a shower or some kind of afternoon tea-ish get together.

    • Stephanie Stiavetti says

      Perfect! They’re fabulous for that – but of course, I’d eat them 24 hours a day. 😉

  15. Sarah Henry says

    Every gal — gluten-free or not — should be able to enjoy a chocolate thingie or two. Good for you for finding a treat you can enjoy — and sharing the recipe so others can too.

  16. Edmund says

    Thanks a lot for the recipe. I have a friend who can’t eat gluten, and I’m going to surprise her with it!

    One problem I’ve heard of, though, is that gluten free bread doesn’t tend to be as fluffy/airy. How true is that, and how can I get around it?

  17. Erika says

    Just thought I’d let you know that I made these for my friend who has celiac and I thought she was going to cry tears of joy! They were absolutely delish, and the gluten eaters in the crowd really enjoyed them too!

  18. Wende says

    I’m so happy to read that these are as good as they look, because they look fantastic! I’m putting the recipe at the top of my list of ones to try.

  19. alisa joy says

    when i was in kosovo we used to eat bread that had been baked around a puree of dates. pureed dates! can you imagine? so good!

    i might try that with this recipe (switch out the chocolate for pureed dates) and see what happens.

  20. Muffy says

    I made these today as an after school snack for my 3 daughters. Only 1 is gluten intolerant but they ALL thought these buns were delicious! Thank you:)

  21. Ginger says

    Is there anything you can substitute for the corn starch (flour)? My husband can’t do corn either besides not being able to eat gluten. I would lovoe to try these for him!

    • Stephanie Stiavetti says

      Hi Ginger, you could try potato starch or sweet rice flour, though I’m not sure you’d get the same consistency. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

  22. Kai says

    Could I use a pre-mixed gluten free flour instead of the rice, tapioca, and corn starch? What would the measurements me?

    • steph says

      Hey there! It *might* be fine to replace them, though your mileage may vary depending on the blend you’re using. The cornstarch makes it tricky because it makes this blend a different consistency than those you buy at the store. If you give it a try, let me know how it goes!

      You’ll also need lots of extra cornstarch to prevent sticking to the table, etc.

  23. Violet says

    ok I am in the middle of making these… There is way too much liquid. The dough did not come together at all. It’s practically all liquid. So I added more brown rice, tapioca, and cornstarch. And it’s rising right now. So I guess we will see what happens.

  24. Violet says

    This recipe failed completely. There is way too much liquid. So much that there was no way to roll out the dough. I had to add a significant amount of flour and even then it didn’t work. I followed the directions fairly closely. I can’t use xanthan gum, so I used flaxseed instead. But that small change wouldn’t cause such a problem. Really disappointed.

    • Stephanie Stiavetti says

      Hi Violet, that’s very strange – you’re the first person in all these years to have a problem with this recipe. I’d have a hard time troubleshooting if you varied the recipe. Which gluten-free blend did you use for the flour? And how much water did you add to the flax seeds before adding them to the mixture? I suspect that may have been the problem. Flax seeds can totally change a recipe, so if you added them, the entire dish may turn unpredictable.

      • Violet says

        i just tried it again and followed the recipe EXACTLY, except for the addition of flax meal (2 tablespoons mixed until gelled with 4 tablespoons of hot water). I’ve been using flax meal instead of xanthan gum in every recipe I’ve done this last week and I haven’t had this problem. I’m stating at a bowl of soup right now…


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