If you haven't bought The Mountain Baker yet, I am giving you another reason to do so right here - Chocolate Sweet Rolls. This recipe was recently featured in Sunset Magazine and it's also inside my new book, The Mountain Baker.
Sweet rolls, cinnamon rolls, sticky buns - whatever you want to call them. This classic pastry is a warm and fluffy dough that's risen to perfection, filled with butter and spices, and topped with a sweet glaze. I grew up eating cinnamon rolls on weekend mornings and lazy days. Sweet rolls take a little time to make, but they are truly worth the wait.
I wanted to mix it up with this recipe and add a little chocolate instead of cinnamon inside. If I had I known I could have been eating a chocolate version instead cinnamon my whole life, I would have chosen that every time! I use Dutch cocoa powder instead of actual chocolate so they aren't as sweet as some chocolate pastries can be. But, that allows the glaze to be completely warranted on top which is always my favorite part of any kind of sweet roll.
Because these do take some time to make, quite a few hours, I have a trick to have them ready first thing in the morning. If you prep the day before - make the dough, let the dough rise, roll it out, fill them, roll them, cut them, and place them in the baking dish - just cover with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge. You can pull them out while your oven preheats the next morning and pop them in! All you have to do is make the glaze the next morning. This trick makes for a fancy breakfast that takes no time at all the morning of. And if sweet rolls are something that have intimidated you, then check out my on demand baking class that walks you through step by step of this delicious recipe, find it here. Buy the one class, or sign up for my bake on demand subscription to get classes at your leisure! They truly help as you're baking at home, as you can rewind, pause, and go at your own pace.
Tips for making the best Chocolate Sweet Rolls
Make sure your yeast is fresh. If it doesn't turn bubbly within a few minutes and the water just looks murky, then the yeast is bad. There is no point to continue with the recipe as the rolls won't rise. Yeast is good for about 4 months from the date you purchase it, so just keep that in mind if you're baking and haven't used yeast in a while, it's time to pick up some new stuff.
When the dough is rising, timing is not as important as what your dough looks like. While I do give an estimated time frame for how long it will take the dough to rise, it could take a little less time or a little longer time depending on the weather or your climate. Yeast likes warm temperatures, so in the summer months it could take a little less time and in the winter months it could take a little longer. I sometimes even put my bowl on top of my mantel in the winter to speed up the process.
You can make these sweet rolls the night before and stick them in the fridge overnight so all you have to do is bake them off in the morning. To do this, make the dough, let it rise, roll it out, cut it, and place the rolls in the dish. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and place in the fridge. In the morning, remove and let come to room temperature while the oven is preheating, pop them in and glaze them. So easy for holiday mornings!
Don't be afraid to bake your sweet rolls a little longer if they are not golden brown. Or if you like them doughy and gooey, then bake them a little less.
Chocolate Sweet Rolls
1/4 cup hot water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup (57 grams) plus 1/2 teaspoon cane sugar
1/4 cup (57 grams) salted butter 3/4 cup milk
3 1/2 cups (446 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large egg
Filling 1/3 cup (28 grams) Dutch cocoa powder, sifted 1/4 cup (57 grams) cane sugar 1/2 cup (113 grams) salted butter, softened
1 cup (142 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons milk
To make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add the hot water, yeast, and 1/2 teaspoon cane sugar. Stir to combine and let sit for 5 minutes until bubbly.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the 1/4 cup butter and 3/4 cup milk. Stir until completely melted. Remove from the heat.
Add the flour, 1/4 cup cane sugar, and sea salt to the mixing bowl in that order. Add the egg and the milk mixture and knead on low for 3 to 5 minutes, until a smooth dough forms. Place the dough in a greased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 to 3 hours, until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a baking dish, either a 9-inch circle dish or an 11-by-7-inch dish.
To make the filling: In a small bowl, combine the cocoa and 1/4 cup cane sugar. Set aside. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to a rectangle that is about 12-by-16 inches. Using a spatula, spread the 1/2 cup butter all over the rolled-out dough. Sprinkle the sugar and cocoa mixture on top of the butter. Starting at the longer side, fold the dough over and start to roll the dough until it is completely rolled into a log. Trim off the edges and cut the dough log into eight rolls.
Place the rolls in the prepared baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
To make the glaze: In a mixing bowl, add the powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons milk and whisk until you have a smooth glaze. Pour the glaze over the top of the warm sweet rolls.
Store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
High Altitude - Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes or until golden brown.
Did you make this recipe? Make sure to tag @dessertdorganic on Instagram!