3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 package Fleischmann’s® Active Dry or Rapid Rise Yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 egg, at room temperature

1 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped candied cherries
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup chopped dates
Confectioners’ Sugar Icing (recipe follows)
Chocolate Icing (recipe follows)
Candied cherries, optional

1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon milk (1 to 2 tablespoons)

1/2 cup chocolate chips (3 ounces)
2 tablespoons butter

  1. In large bowl, mix 1 cup flour, sugar, undissolved yeast and salt.

  2. Heat milk, water and butter until hot to touch (125º to 130ºF). Gradually add to dry ingredients; beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add egg and 1/2 cup flour; beat at high speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. With spoon, stir in enough additional flour to make stiff dough.

  3. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 50 minutes.*

  4. Prepare Chocolate Nut Filling: In small bowl, combine chocolate chips, chopped candied cherries, chopped pecans and chopped dates.
    Variation: Replace cherries in filling with additional 1/2 cup chopped pecans.

  5. Punch dough down. Divide into 19 equal pieces. Flatten into 4-inch circles, making edges slightly thinner than centers. Place 1 tablespoon filling in center of each circle. Pull up edges and pinch to enclose filling. On lower third of greased baking sheet, arrange 5 buns in a row, seam-side down with edges touching.

  6. Build tree with additional rows of buns - 4 buns in second row, 3 buns in third row, 2 buns in fourth row and one for top of tree.

  7. To make trunk: arrange 2 rows of 2 buns each at bottom of tree. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

  8. Bake at 375º for 15 to 20 minutes or until done. Remove from pan; cool on wire rack. Frost top with Confectioners’ Sugar Icing. Drizzle with Chocolate Glaze. Decorate with candied cherries, if desired.

To Make Confectioners’ Sugar Icing:

In small bowl, combine 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 to 2 tablespoons milk. Beat until smooth.

To Make Chocolate Icing:

Melt 1/2 cup (3 ounces) chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons butter in top of double-boiler over hot water.

Notes: *To save up to 50% rising time, use Fleischmann’s® Rapid Rise Yeast. Follow directions except reduce first rise; cover kneaded dough and let rest on board 10 minutes. Proceed with recipe.