chocolate cinnamon rolls


{I had this post ready to go on Friday afternoon, but it was obviously not the right time.  We’re all trying to wrap our heads around what happened.  My advice?  Turn off the news and find some healing things to read.  So many bloggers are writing words of truth this week.}

There are a lot of things I hate about winter: the cold, the early sunsets, the late sunrises, the cold, the dark, etc.  But one thing I love about it is the baking.  It’s like sometime in November I looked in my pantry and remembered, “Oh yeah! I have yeast in here!”  And so the baking has begun and I am considering the kinds of breads and rolls I want to make once January arrives and my full plate of Christmas baking (and activity) is starting to look a little emptier.

The other thing I kind of like about winter is that for some reason I feel compelled to make all kinds of breakfast foods.  Perhaps it’s because our Saturday mornings are not fully occupied by football anymore (much to Gerrit’s dismay, but after the season Auburn had I’m mostly relieved to be done with it).  I think perhaps I want to make our Saturday mornings a little brighter in the midst of these darkening days.  In the summer I can hardly be bothered: breakfast is just a meal to grab before we get outside and on with our lives in the warmth.  But in the winter, what else would we do but sit next to the fire and eat cinnamon rolls?
And in this case, chocolate cinnamon rolls.  My favorites kinds of breakfasts are the kinds that are like dessert at eight in the morning, and dessert is definitely what these chocolate cinnamon rolls tasted like.  These were sweet layer after sweet layer.  They are yeasty dough filled with warm cinnamon and melty (can I make that word up?) chocolate and topped with a layer of sugary cream cheese icing.  They rose under our careful eyes last Saturday morning until finally they were ready to bake.  And oh what a breakfast treat they were.
If you can believe I’m saying this, they were almost too chocolatey for my first bite of food in the morning.  The chocolate in these cinnamon rolls (and of course that icing) makes them beyond rich.  And I think that perhaps next time I might cut down on the chocolate so that I can enjoy the cinnamon flavor a bit more.  But if you love chocolate even close to as much as I do, then go for it.  These will definitely give you your morning sweets fix.
Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls
from Southern Living Magazine December 2011
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Wait Time: 3 hours
Bake Time: 22 minutes
Makes 16-18 rolls
For the rolls:
1 (1/4 oz.) envelope active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 1/2 cups bread flour plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1/2 cup butter, very soft
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 (4 oz.) bittersweet chocolate baking bars, chopped
For the icing:
1 (3 oz.) package cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
1. In a 1 cup liquid measuring cup, combine yeast, warm water, and sugar.  Stir to combine and let stand for 5 minutes.
2. In a large bowl beat the 1/2 cup butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy.  Add the 1/2 cup sugar and the salt and beat until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, milk, and lemon juice, and mix until combined.  Then stir in the yeast mixture.
3. Slowly add in the 4 1/2 cups bread flour, along with the nutmeg, beating at low speed until blended.
4. Dump dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic, adding more bread flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to the surface.  Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning it so that the top gets greased as well.  Cover and let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until doubled in bulk.
5. If you want to include pecans, place them in a shallow pan in a single layer and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring halfway through.
6. Once the dough has risen, punch the dough down and then turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.  Roll into a 16 x 12 inch rectangle.
7. Spread the dough with the 1/2 cup soft butter, leaving about a 1/2 inch border around the edge.  In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and cinnamon.  Sprinkle this mixture on top of the butter evenly.  Then top evenly with the pecans (optional) and the chopped chocolate.
8. Roll up, long side to long side.  Cut into slices that are about 1 inch thick.  Place the rolls, cut sides down, in lightly greased pans, setting them close together.  Cover and let rise for about 1 hour, until doubled in bulk.
9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake rolls for 20 to 22 minutes, until the rolls are golden brown.
10. While the rolls are baking, mix together the icing.  In a medium sized bowl, combine the cream cheese and butter and beat with an electric mixer until creamy.  Slowly add the powdered sugar, beating at low speed until combined.  Add the milk and vanilla and mix to combine.
11. Remove rolls from oven and let cool in pans for 5 minutes.  Spread with the cream cheese icing, and serve warm.

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