02 Dec Cranberry, Dark Chocolate & Pistachio Cinnamon Rolls

Cranberry, Dark Chocolate & Pistachio Cinnamon Rolls // butterlustblog.com

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!!!


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.

Cranberry, Dark Chocolate & Pistachio Cinnamon Rolls // butterlustblog.comCranberry, Dark Chocolate & Pistachio Cinnamon Rolls // butterlustblog.comCranberry, Dark Chocolate & Pistachio Cinnamon Rolls // butterlustblog.com

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.

Cranberry, Dark Chocolate & Pistachio Cinnamon Rolls // butterlustblog.comCranberry, Dark Chocolate & Pistachio Cinnamon Rolls // butterlustblog.comCranberry, Dark Chocolate & Pistachio Cinnamon Rolls // butterlustblog.com

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!

Cranberry, Dark Chocolate & Pistachio Cinnamon Rolls // butterlustblog.comCranberry, Dark Chocolate & Pistachio Cinnamon Rolls // butterlustblog.com

No special notes on this one. I hope you all had fantastic Thanksgivings! XO, Katie

Adapted from the brilliant Deb at Smitten Kitchen.

Cranberry, Dark Chocolate & Pistachio Cinnamon Rolls


    For the dough:
  • 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
  • For the filling:
  • 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


    To make the dough:
  • 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.
  • To make the filling:
  • 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.
  • To assemble and bake the rolls:
  • 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.
  • Amy @ What Jew Wanna Eat
    Posted at 14:02h, 02 December Reply

    These are gorgeous! Someone would have to be crazy to turn one down, or say no to Mariah on repeat for the next month.
    Amy @ What Jew Wanna Eat recently posted…Rainbow LatkesMy Profile

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 15:00h, 02 December Reply

      Thanks, Amy! Mariah allllll day!

  • Amanda - A Cookie Named Desire
    Posted at 14:03h, 02 December Reply

    These rolls…. these rolls are screaming my name… and Christmas! (!!!!!!!!!!!) I feel like I could probably nestle up inside that chocolaty gooey filling and live life happily until Christmas comes.
    Amanda – A Cookie Named Desire recently posted…Vanilla Bean Rose Madeleines RecipeMy Profile

  • cynthia
    Posted at 14:10h, 02 December Reply

    These are PERFECTION. Just like you said — the ultimate Christmas morning breakfast. It fills me up with cozy just imagining having these to start the holiday. So amazing, Katie!!
    cynthia recently posted…Korean soy-braised beef (jangjorim) + a Staub giveaway!My Profile

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 14:50h, 03 December Reply

      Thank you, Cynthia! Hope you’re staying cozy up there in NY!

  • Bea
    Posted at 14:24h, 02 December Reply

    WOW!!!!Feels like Christmas on your lovely site! <3 I can nearly smell them right here in England 🙂

  • Maggie Perkins
    Posted at 15:27h, 02 December Reply

    Is this appropriate for dinner? Tonight?

    (great shots!)

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 14:49h, 03 December Reply

      haha, yes! perhaps a should promote this recipe as a “one recipe two meals” push? 🙂

  • CakePants
    Posted at 18:57h, 02 December Reply

    Wow!! What an elegant and sophisticated-sounding combination of flavors. These really do look perfect for Christmas morning – thanks for sharing the recipe 🙂 (and oh how I wish I could send you a few days of Michigan temperatures in exchange for some warmth!)
    CakePants recently posted…Cranberry Apple CrispMy Profile

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 14:51h, 03 December Reply

      I would love those chilly temperatures (and snow)!!! But only for a day or two, that’s quite enough for me 🙂

  • Alexandra @ Confessions of a Bright-Eyed Baker
    Posted at 20:54h, 02 December Reply

    So so gorgeous! Love the combination of flavors you did here. 🙂 Also, I alwayyys am way too ambitious about Christmas recipes and then I realize I literally have ran myself out of time to complete 99% of them. I feel you!
    Alexandra @ Confessions of a Bright-Eyed Baker recently posted…DIY Peppermint White Chocolate MochaMy Profile

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 14:53h, 03 December Reply

      Right?! It’s a holiday baker’s curse. I would need to take vacation from my real job for the entire month to get it all done. Which would be amazing!

  • Foodie Favorites - December 4, 2014 - My Bacon-Wrapped Life
    Posted at 21:04h, 04 December Reply

    […] would very much enjoy waking up to a steaming pan of these cranberry, pistachio, and dark chocolate cinnamon rolls Christmas morning. Or any morning, for that matter. Is anyone […]

  • Thalia @ butter and brioche
    Posted at 14:47h, 05 December Reply

    Wow these are hands down the best cinnamon rolls I have ever seen. Loving the addition of cranberries and pistachios – it makes them so perfect and festive. Pinned!
    Thalia @ butter and brioche recently posted…Triple Layer Lemon Meringue CakeMy Profile

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 09:21h, 09 December Reply

      Thank you, Thalia!

  • Shef
    Posted at 11:32h, 06 December Reply

    These are downright GORGEOUS. Your food photography is excellent! I am such a purist when it comes to some foods like cinnamon rolls and I normally wouldn’t have even clicked to a recipe that is a variation from the traditional, but your photos took me right in!!! I actually really might try to stray away from the “pure” thing now 🙂

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 09:21h, 09 December Reply

      Thank you, Shef! I’m a sucker for the traditional as well but sometimes you gotta go a little crazy 🙂

  • Shikha la mode
    Posted at 18:47h, 09 December Reply

    Love your photos! I feel like pistachios are becoming more common in holiday desserts and I luuurrrve that.

  • Coty and Mariah |Quirks and Twists|
    Posted at 19:19h, 06 January Reply

    Holy moly these look dynamite. These are going on my make ASAP list. Can not wait to give them a try!

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