Perfectly plush chocolate cinnamon rolls made with chocolate, cocoa and ground cinnamon and covered in a cream cheese icing.
This one came about as a result of my 6yo’s request for chocolate cinnamon rolls for christmas; it’s such a perfectly christmas ask I couldn’t say no.
There are different ways to incorporate chocolate into a cinnamon roll, a lot of recipes use cocoa in the filling or they’ll sprinkle some chocolate chips on the sugar before rolling. A few tests showed me I liked neither of these; the cocoa makes it all rather dry on it’s own, the chocolate chips offer a confusing texture in what should be an ooey gooey filling. So I instead used a similar filling I use for my milk bread babka.
Combined with my buttermilk cinnamon roll dough and a vanilla bean cream cheese glaze, the result is fantastic: a perfectly soft & tender cinnamon roll with the added bonus of chocolate, without it dominating; the cinnamon is still quite prominent.
Bread flour: You can also use all purpose here, personally I like the chewier sturdier texture of bread flour which has a higher protein content.
Milk or buttermilk powder: this is dehydrated buttermilk or milk (non-fat dry milk powder is often what you’ll see on the label).
Cocoa: dutch process cocoa for that deeper richer chocolaty taste.
Chocolate: I usually go for 70-72% cocoa solids but you can go as low as 45% if you like it sweeter. The filling will likely be thinner (nothing wrong with that!).
Yeast: instant yeast, but you can also use active dry, just add an additional ¼ tsp.
If you’ve made any of my cinnamon rolls you know that the first thing you’ll do is make the tangzhong, a chinese technique lifted from japanese milk bread. This is a simple as cooking some of the liquid and some of the flour together until thick.
Then you’ll toss everything into the mixer and knead for about 5 minutes.
The first rise: this is done when the dough is almost doubled in size. It’s fairy easy to judge by looking at it.
The filling: you’ll combine melted butter and chocolate with some cocoa and powdered sugar.
Shaping: As you would any other cinnamon roll, roll it out into a rectangle, spread the filling then roll it up into a log and slice. When you arrange them in the pan, leave enough space for them to rise up and out.
The second rise: this is the one that you’ll want to time just right. In a very warm kitchen I wouldn’t expect this to last more than 45 minutes. In a cold kitchen you’re probably looking at over an hour. You’ll know it’s ready by doing a poke test.
The cream: learned this trick from Lizzy, it makes the rolls quite gooey. It’s optional!
Baking: bread is done baking at 190 F but rolls are fairly easy to judge by looking at them, they should be on the darker side of golden.
Glaze: either while the rolls are warm (the glaze will melt onto the rolls and make them gooyier) or wait for them to cool and spread a thicker layer of glaze on them.
You have two options to make this ahead so it’s ready to bake in the morning: do the first rise in the fridge, which will put you able to eat them about 2-3 hours after you start working on filling, slicing and baking them in the am.
Or you can make them to the point of arranging them in the pan then give them some time at room temp in the am to fully rise, then bake, which puts you able to eat them 1.5 hours after taking them out of the fridge.
The most important thing when working with dough is to not necessarily pay attention to the times instructed below but to pay attention to how your dough is behaving: if it’s tight and cold, it’s not ready to bake. If it’s come to room temp and bounces back quickly when pressed, it’s still not ready. If it leaves an indentation but bounces back slowly, it’s ready. If it’s gotten all puffy and bubbly, it’s probably overproofed.
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