Choc-Cherry Hot Cross Buns by Pana Chocolate

An Easter staple, hot cross buns are a spicy, delicious treat. As much as we appreciate the traditional version, we think these vegan/gluten-free buns by Pana Chocolate with a choc-cherry twist are even better. Serve them toasted with a sliver of nut butter for afternoon tea, or pack them for lunch – they’re perfect either way.

Makes: 18

Time: 25 minutes preparation, plus 12 hours dehydrating time

Equipment: high-speed blender, dehydrator, non-stick sheet, piping bag

You will need:

65 g (2¼ oz) psyllium husk

200 g (7 oz) Brazil nut pulp

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 vanilla bean, split lengthways and seeds scraped

70 g (2½ oz) flax (linseed) meal

150 g (5½ oz/⅔ cup) coconut sugar

2 pinches of Himalayan pink salt

165 g (6 oz/1 cup) chopped medjool dates

1 tablespoon maple syrup, plus extra for glazing

220 ml (7½ fl oz) filtered water

80 g (2¾ oz) sour cherries

35 g (1¼ oz) dried cranberries

100 g (3½ oz) Pana Chocolate Raw Cacao, broken into chunks

for the chocolate cross:

120 g (4½ oz/¾ cup) cashews, soaked

2 tablespoons filtered water

2 tablespoons cacao powder

How to make:

1. In a bowl, combine the psyllium, Brazil nut pulp, spices, vanilla seeds, flax (linseed) meal, coconut sugar and salt. Ensure there are no clumps in the mixture.

2. Pulse the dates in a high-speed blender until they form a chunky paste (approximately 4–5 seconds).

3. Add the maple syrup, filtered water and date mixture to the dry mix and massage together with your hands until combined. Continuing to use your hands, fold through the sour cherries, cranberries and chocolate chunks.

4. Form the mixture into balls of approximately 3 tablespoons each, and place them on a non-stick sheet, leaving a few centimetres/an inch between each.

5. Using a pastry brush, glaze each bun with maple syrup (not too much – they shouldn’t be dripping).

6. To make the mixture for the chocolate cross, blend the cashews, water and cacao powder until smooth. Using a piping bag with a small nozzle, pipe the mixture into a cross onto the top of each bun. Dehydrate the buns at 40°C (104°F) for at least 12 hours.

Extract from Pana Chocolate, The Recipes by Pana Barbounis published by Hardie Grant Books, available in stores nationally. Photography by Armelle Habib. 

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