02 Dec Cranberry, Dark Chocolate & Pistachio Cinnamon Rolls
Now that I’ve eaten my weight in dad’s special, butter-basted turkey, mom’s (ahem, Pepperidge Farm’s) herb stuffing and my sour cream pumpkin pie (minis this time), I can finally, without one speck of hey-one-holiday-at-a-time, lady guilt, write all mushy and excited-like about about CHRISTMAS!!!
TWINKLE LIGHTS! SANTA CLAUS! COOKIES BY THE DOZEN! SNOWMEN! SPARKLY TREES! MARIAH CAREY! (!!!)
So maybe my snowmen have the voice of Michael Keaton and can only be found on Netflix, and my sparkly tree is plastic and pre-lit, straight from the cheap-o aisle at Walmart (a relic from my college days), but you guys, CHRISTMAS!!! The spicy, warm smells wafting out of my oven and the sweet, sweet acrobatic vocals of Mariah’s All I Want for Christmas is You coming from my speakers are enough to make up for the lack of fresh tree smell and sub-freezing temperatures.
I always seem to start off the season with a fairly ambitious list of cookie recipes, festive cocktails and DIYs to accomplish in preparation for Christmas. And I always seem to fall short on the completion of that list. This year is no different. I have a list of ideas long enough to stretch from Austin to the North Pole and well, almost no time to execute on them. In an attempt to be realistic, I’ve managed to narrow said list to a choice, but very important few –however, if I’m being honest with myself, it’s still going to be a stretch. BUT (and that’s a very enthusiastic but) ‘tis the season for miracles (!!!), so can you bet your Christmas-loving butt I’m going to give it my best shot!
Starting now. With these Cranberry, Dark Chocolate & Pistachio Cinnamon Rolls.
One might call them, dare I say, the perfect Christmas morning cinnamon rolls. Once baked, the dough is soft and pillowy on the inside, with a delightfully contrasting golden crust. The filling is a heavenly combination of fresh cranberries, dark chocolate, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter. Yes, chocolate for breakfast!
This filling y’all, it’s intoxicating. The tartness of the fresh cranberries is pleasantly balanced out by the bitter bite and deep rich flavor of the dark chocolate. Both melt together into gooey perfection and marry perfectly with the nutty, more traditional combination of brown sugar, butter and cinnamon. As the rolls bake, the liquid from the fresh cranberries combines with the brown sugar and melts into a tangy, irresistible syrup that soaks into the bottom of the rolls and creates a chewy, caramel-like base.
And if that weren’t enough, we add a little bit classic vanilla glaze to the baked rolls, mostly to act as glue for chopped pistachios, which add a lovely, almost savory crunch — not to mention a very festive hint of green to compliment the merry crimson color of the cranberries. To cut back on sweetness, you could eliminate the glaze completely and add the chopped pistachios directly to the filling. It’s a matter of preference, and of course dependent on just how sweet your sweet tooth runs. Mine obviously runs on the sweeter side of things.
Cranberries and chocolate aside, what possibly makes these cinnamon rolls the most perfect for Chrismas morning, is the fact that the dough’s second rise happens overnight in fridge. This means, no getting up early or missing precious Santa time to prep the dough. Instead, you can do all the work the day before and then pop them in the oven when you wake up in the morning for fresh, homemade breakfast rolls in less than an hour. Plus, the longer rising time allows for a more complex, delicious flavor to develop. Perfection!
No special notes on this one. I hope you all had fantastic Thanksgivings! XO, Katie
Adapted from the brilliant Deb at Smitten Kitchen.
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 large whole egg
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted, plus additional to grease pan
- 3/4 cup buttermilk, lukewarm
- 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting counter
- 1 packet instant dry yeast
- 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse or kosher salt, or more to taste
- 1 teaspoon oil for bowl
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 1/3 cups fresh cranberries
- 6 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- For the Icing:
- 3 1/2 tablespoons milk
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup pistachios, chopped
- In the bottom of the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together the yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, buttermilk. Add 2 cups of the flour along with the yeast and salt; stir until evenly moistened.
- Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining 1 3/4 cups flour and let the dough hook knead the mixture on low speed for 5 to 7 minutes. The dough should be soft and moist, but not overly sticky. Scrape the dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temperature until doubled, which will take between 2 and 2 1/2 hours. If your kitchen is cold, place the bowl in a warm place like the oven (unheated) or the microwave.
- Melt the butter and set it aside to cool slightly. In a food processor, pulse the whole cranberries until coarsely chopped, but not pureed, scraping the sides of the processor as needed.
- Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish -- preferably glass or ceramic.
- Turn the risen dough out onto a floured work surface and roll it into a rectangle that is approximately 18 inches wide and 12 or so inches long. Brush the dough with the melted butter. Sprinkle it with the brown sugar, then cover evenly with the ground cranberries and chopped dark chocolate. Finish by sprinkling the cinnamon evenly over the dough.
- Carefully roll the dough into a tight, 18-inch long spiral. Using a sharp knife, very gently saw the log into 1 1/2-inch sections; you should get 12. Arrange the buns evenly spread out in your baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or up to 16 hours.
- The next morning, remove the rolls from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to baking and preheat the oven to 350F. Bake the rolls until they're puffed and golden, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the pan on a cooling rack to cool slightly.
- Make the icing by whisking together the milk, powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Drizzle over the rolls while they are still warm, sprinkle with chopped pistachios. The rolls are best served immediately, while still warm. Leftovers can also be eaten room temperature or reheated in the microwave or a toaster oven. Store in an airtight container for 1 to 2 days -- after that, the buns will become stale.