Filed under: Breads / Rolls
November 26, 2019

Chocolate Vanilla Pinwheel Rolls

Two layers of soft challah bread: one a light vanilla, the other enriched with dutch cocoa. The buns are filled twice with a hazelnut chocolate spread.

5 from 1 vote
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Pillowy soft rolls, part chocolate part vanilla, filled with chocolate hazelnut spread.



Recipe overview

This one takes this swirled challah loaf recipe and transforms it into something more than just sandwich bread. It’s a super soft, made with a roux base (aka Japanese milk bread or tangzhong), sweeter roll with layers of nutella spread throughout.

The pinwhweel technique is something I gleaned from watching shop bakers make rainbow bagels: the doughs are layered (and in our case they are also filled) then twirled around each other and shaped into a circle. It’s very simple and the color possibilities are endless!


How to make chocolate & vanilla pinwheel rolls

Baking them is deceptively simple: you’ll make one dough, halve it and then add a few ingredients to one half to make it chocolatey. Then it will need to rise and chill.

When it’s time you’ll roll the first into a large rectangle, then spread the filling over it.

On another floured surface, you’ll roll out the other then place it on top of the first dough and spread the filling over that.

Which ever dough you roll first will be the ‘main’ color as it will be the outside.

You have two choices now: roll it up into a log and slice like you would a cinnamon roll or do my favorite: the pinwheel shape.

How to make the pinwheel roll shape

With both doughs rolled out and filling spread over them, fold the rectangle in half from the longer side.

Then use a pizza wheel, pastry cutter or a knife to slice the rectangle into 1 inch strips.

Have a cookie sheet ready nearby.

Take one strip at a time and twist it in opposite directions so it rolls around itself. Then wrap the two ends of the strip together so you have a circle. Place on the cookie sheet and repeat.



Tips on making Chocolate Vanilla Swirl Rolls

  • The recipe makes about 10 large rolls.
  • You can make the doughs the night before and as soon as they are in their oiled bowls, set them in the fridge to rise overnight.
  • To ensure equal shapes, I roll my dough on a cookie sheet. This is helpful for two other reasons; it makes it easier to transfer the chocolate dough onto the the vanilla, and to transfer into the freezer or fridge if I want the spread to firm up a little so that I don’t make a mess when slicing the rolls (especially true for the pinwheel shape, option 2).


Filling options

Something about making two different doughs always has me reaching for a filling I won’t actually have to make for this recipe. But if you have the stamina for another step, you can make a more traditional chocolate babka filling like this one or do a cinnamon and sugar filling. With the cinnamon sugar you can always do more spices like pumpkin pie or apple pie spices, for something more fall flavored. And I once had a follower show me how she combined this recipe with this chocolate chip cookie filling and I was awed!


Recipe for Chocolate Vanilla Swirl Rolls


Chocolate Vanilla Pinwheel Rolls

Vanilla and cocoa flavored bread swirled around each other with a layer of chocolate hazelnut spread in the center.
5 from 1 vote


  • cup or 40g bread flour
  • ½ cup or 120g milk
  • ½ cup or 120g water
  • ½ cup or 120g milk
  • 2 ½ teaspoons or 1 packet instant yeast
  • 480 g or 4 cups bread flour
  • ½ cup or 100g canola oil
  • ½ cup or 100g granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup or 25g dutch process or black cocoa
  • 1 large egg separated
  • 1 cup chocolate hazelnut chocolate spread


  • In a small pot, combine ⅓ cup flour, plus half cup each milk and water. Whisk, over medium heat until you have a thick paste. Set aside to cool.
  • Warm the other half cup milk (just to touch) and combine it with the yeast. Let set until foamy.
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the oil, sugar, two eggs and vanilla in a bowl. Whisk with a fork to combine. Add the roux, the yeast and milk mixture, the flour and the salt.
  • Knead until the dough comes together in a sticky mass. Remove ½ of the dough, and place it into an oiled bowl.
  • To the half of the dough still in your mixer, add 3 tablespoons more flour. Knead until dough is smooth then set it in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  • Take the other half of dough and place it, the egg yolk and the cocoa into the stand mixer. Knead until smooth. Place back in oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Save the egg white for the egg wash.
  • Both doughs should take about 2 hours to rise (in a slightly cool kitchen) but you can also allow them to rise in the fridge overnight.
  • Warm the chocolate hazelnut spread in the microwave for 10-20 seconds, until it is spreadable.
  • On a well-floured countertop, roll out the vanilla dough into a large rectangle (the size of a half cookie sheet, about 16×12 inches). Spread half of the chocolate cream over the dough.
  • On a large floured counter top or cutting board, roll out the cocoa dough into an equally sized rectangle, place it on top of the vanilla dough and then spread the remaining half of cream over it.
  • Fold the dough in half from the bottom so that you have a longer, thinner rectangle.
  • Using a sharp knife, divide the dough into 1 inch sticks.
  • Take each stick and twist it around itself, either hand moving in opposite direction.
  • Form a circle with the dough and pinch the ends together.
  • Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet pan.
  • Allow to rise for 45 minutes, until puffy.
  • Brush with egg white on the dough parts (avoid the exposed cream).
  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, until there is a golden color on the vanilla dough. Buns are best the day they are baked but can be enjoyed the next day if microwaved.

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Recipe Reviews

  1. Quick question about instructions 2 and 3!
    2: Should it be 1/2 cup (ingredients list) or 1/3 cup (directions) of milk?
    3: The ingredients list says granulated sugar, but the directions say honey. Would it be 100g honey?

    Thank you!

  2. I made these the other day and they look beautiful! They’re however a little dry and bland tasting. Not sure where I went wrong? I finished baking them last night, and warmed them up in the microwave this morning

  3. If I leave the dough in the fridge overnight to rise, should I allow it to come to room temp the next day before continuing with the next steps?

  4. I am confused by the listed amount of flour. Is it a total of 8 cups + 1/3 or is it just 4 cups plus 1/3?

    Thank you for the recipe, can’t wait to try it!

  5. There seems to be a step missing. Can I assume you lay the rolled out chocolate dough on top of the vanilla dough that you spread with hazel nut spread and then fold the dough up from the bottom?
    Also, you say spread half the spread on the vanilla dough. Should the other half be spread on the chocolate dough? I must have spread it too thick. Only had enough to spread on vanilla dough. They are rising now. Time will tell if this works.

    • Kim, yes to the first question. For the second question you are right, my instructions missed the step for spreading the second half of the cream on the cocoa dough. It’s included now! Thank you for the note. I think your rolls should turn out ok – they’ll just have a thick layer of filling in one part of the bread.

  6. I would like to print out some of your recipes, but I can’t. It just shows 1 page with Buttermilk on it. Any ideas?

    • Hi Michelle! Hmmm, I am getting the same thing as you – I’ll get my tech guy on it (aka my husband, lol). In the meantime, highlight the text and copy paste it into Word and then print? Sorry!