Fall is officially here, the leaves have turned and lay scattered across the ground, and the mornings are cool and brisk. At least here in Montreal. And every year, with the arrival of the cooler weather comes my desire to light the oven and bake sweet treats.
I’m not sure there is anything better than enjoying warm cinnamon rolls from the oven on a cool weekend morning. Perhaps slightly better, is waking up to that sweet scent in the air. A luxury I haven’t enjoyed as I’m usually the one doing the baking, but I’m not complaining. There is something blissfully sweet about sitting with a coffee and book, in the morning light, while rolls are baking in the oven.
Now, these are not your average cinnamon rolls. Mostly because I was out of walnuts and raisins when I made them and therefore needed to improvise. Instead, these are studded with chunks of hazelnuts, and puddles of melted chocolate.
I also decided to forgo the traditional confectioners’ sugar glaze and created a liquid glaze of melted butter (vegan of course), chopped hazelnuts, and coconut sugar, which adds a glossy coat to the baked rolls bringing out their golden glory.
Naturally, these are more work than cracking open a blue cardboard tube, but there are certainly worth the effort. The dough can be made in a single bowl, and the filling prepped while the dough is going through its first rise. The second rise, can and should take place overnight in the fridge. That way they are ready to pop into the oven when you get out of bed in the morning. No fussing about the kitchen while you’re half asleep. Instead just a quick preheat of the oven and you’re good to go.
- ⅔ cup warm water
- ⅓ cup + 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
- ⅓ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 2 ½ teaspoons yeast
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup vegan butter or margarine, such as Earth Balance
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
- ¼ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup chopped hazelnuts
- ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (dairy-free)
- ¼ cup vegan butter or margarine, such as Earth Balance, at room temperature
- ¼ cup coconut sugar
- ¼ cup non-dairy milk
- 2 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter or margarine, such as Earth Balance, at room temperature
- In a large bowl of an electric mixer, mix together the warm water, yeast, and 2 tablespoons of sugar and set aside. The water should be warm but not hot, between 100°F and 110°F, anything hotter will kill the yeast. Set aside to proof. If your yeast is active it will begin to foam after 5 minutes or so.
- Meanwhile, in a small pot, combine the remaining sugar, non-dairy milk, and vegan butter. Heat over medium heat until warm and melted, but not hot. Allow the mixture to cool if necessary before adding it to the yeast. It should not read higher than 110°F on an instant-read thermometer.
- Add the milk mixture to the yeast and mix on low, using a paddle attachment or spatula if mixing by hand. Slowly add the flour along with the kosher salt and mix until the dough starts to come together. Once the majority of the liquid has been absorbed by the flour, switch to a dough hook and continue to mix on medium until a smooth dough forms. Alternatively, you could knead the dough by hand. The dough will appear smooth and the sides of the bowl will be clean and clear of residual flour and dough.
- Remove the dough from the bowl, and coat the inside of the bowl lightly with canola oil or melted coconut oil. Return the dough to the bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a clean kitchen towel. Place in a draft-free area and allow to rise for 45 minutes to an hour, until doubled in size. The inside of an oven with the pilot light turned on usually works well for this.
- While the dough is rising, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, cocoa powder, and salt for the filling and set aside.
- Lightly grease a 9-inch round cake pan or pie dish with vegan butter, and lightly coat with flour.
- Once the dough has risen, punch down the dough and transfer to a well-floured surface. Pat the dough into a rectangle and roll into 16-inch by 12-inch rectangle.
- Spread the surface of the dough with the vegan butter, and sprinkle over prepared sugar mixture. Evenly scatter the hazelnuts and chocolate chips over the dough.
- Starting from the longest side, roll the dough into a tight log, tucking in any hazelnuts or chocolate chips that may have fallen out. Cut the log into 8 equal sized portions and place cut side down in the prepared baking dish.
- If baking these right away, cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside to rise for 30-45 minutes. If making these ahead, loosely cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to rise overnight. Tip: it helps to lightly spray the plastic wrap with cooking spray or oil to prevent sticking.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the rolls in the center of the oven and bake until golden brown, 30-32 minutes. *See Notes. Remove from the oven to cool slightly before serving.
- If using the glaze, combine all the ingredients in a small pot and heat over medium heat until the vegan butter has melted and the sugar dissolves. Once the rolls have been removed from the oven, brush over the glaze, working the hazelnuts into the crevices.
- Serve warm. Rolls are best freshly baked but can be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 days and reheated as desired.