You need to try this delicious recipe for homemade chocolate cinnamon rolls. They not only are easy to make, but they are really fluffy, with lots of chocolate flavour and just the perfect sweet treat for chocolate lovers.
HOW TO MAKE CHOCOLATE CINNAMON ROLLS
To make chocolate cinnamon rolls you need to first make the dough. The dough is the same that I use for classic cinnamon rolls. What varies for this recipe is the filling and the frosting. I think that this is the perfect amount of chocolate to have, with some of that vanilla dough balancing it out for a less heavy bite. For the filling, we have a delicious chocolate mix that spreads easily on the rolled-out dough. To finish, we’re making an easy chocolate cream cheese frosting that tastes amazing and isn’t overly sweet.
MAKING THE DOUGH
The dough for cinnamon rolls is an enriched dough, meaning that it has fat added. In this case, it’s in the form of an egg and butter. Even though that sounds complicated, it’s actually just a technicism, it’s easy to make! To begin, you will mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Those ingredients include all purpose flour, instant yeast/active dry yeast, salt and sugar. Once that’s mixed, you will add the liquids which include an egg, melted butter, warm milk and vanilla extract. Mix all the ingredients together and then knead only until fully incorporated and homogeneous. Kneading too much will make the dough tougher like bread, and we want to keep the sweet rolls soft. The resulting cinnamon roll dough is very sticky but don’t worry because that’s what makes them great.
USING A STAND MIXER TO MAKE THE DOUGH
For these chocolate rolls, you can either make the dough by hand or you could also use a stand mixer. If using a mixer, place all these ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and use the dough hook attachment to bring the dough together. Then, let the mixer knead only until the dough comes together and looks homogenous. This should be done at medium speed. Because the dough is sticky, it’s likely that you will have to scrape down the sides a couple of times as you knead.
CHOCOLATE CINNAMON ROLLS FILLING
To make the best chocolate cinnamon rolls, you need a great filling. You will melt the chocolate and butter and mix it with the unsweetened cocoa powder, brown sugar and ground cinnamon in a small bowl. Here’s the ingredient list for the filling mixture:
- Dark chocolate: For the filling, we’re using dark chocolate to get that delicious decadent flavour and mouthfeel. You want to look for chocolate in the 60-70% cacao range which is a good sweet spot (literally). You can use chocolate bars, chocolate chips or callets. To melt it, use a microwave in 30-second intervals, mixing in between with a spatula until fully melted. You can also do this in a bain-marie.
- Unsalted butter: You can melt the butter separately or melt it all in the same bowl in the microwave.
- Brown sugar: brown sugar will add that caramel taste to the chocolate filling and add a bit of sweetness to the dark chocolate and cocoa powder.
- Ground cinnamon: Well, these are chocolate cinnamon rolls after all! I think that the dark chocolate-cinnamon flavour combination is highly underrated. It tastes so good! You can skip it but I recommend you don’t.
- Unsweetened cocoa powder: Cocoa powder will add more depth of chocolate flavour to our chocolate filling. Not only that but it will help dry out the filling a bit so that we can spread it over the dough and roll it easily. Make sure to use a nice quality 100% cacao powder.
SHAPING THE CHOCOLATE CINNAMON ROLLS
To shape the chocolate cinnamon rolls, you will roll out the dough after its first rise. We do it on a clean, lightly floured surface. Use a rolling pin to get it to a large rectangular shape. It should measure about 30×40 centimetres or 12×16 inches. Make sure to dust the surface with more flour as you roll it out. Because the dough is sticky, it tends to stick and we don’t want that. If you’re looking for a good rolling pin, I love these large plastic ones, similar to the once we use for fondant. They’re great because they’re easier to clean than wooden ones and they won’t develop mould and last forever. Once you have a nice rectangle, you will spread the chocolate filling evenly using an offset spatula. Roll the dough starting from the long side of the rectangle and then use a sharp knife to cut the rolls into equal pieces of about 3 fingers wide.
BAKING CINNAMON ROLLS
Once you have shaped your chocolate cinnamon rolls, place them in a square baking pan that has been previously lined with baking paper. The baking paper is important because it will allow you to remove them from the pan easily. Place the rolls in there, leaving about a finger of space between them. Now it’s time for their second rise, proofing once again in a warm place. I like to proof dough in a turned-off oven with just the light on. Since it’s an old-fashioned light bulb, it releases just enough heat when it’s on. After proofing, you will bake them in a preheated oven at 180C/350F for 25-30 minutes. You want them to be a light golden brown colour for the best results. Baking just the right amount will make for fluffy rolls. Overbaking will make harder and dryer chocolate rolls. Once baked, you can keep them at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
CHOCOLATE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
Chocolate cinnamon rolls just need a delicious chocolate cream cheese frosting. This one is great because it doesn’t just melt into your cinnamon roll but rather stays on top for that fluffy texture. This delicious recipe needs only 4 ingredients and makes for the best ever chocolate frosting. The base is cream cheese at room temperature. It’s important that it’s at room temperature because it will make it easy to beat. The cream cheese icing also has icing/confectioner’s sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder and whipping cream. All this gets beaten together until it forms this fluffy and delicious frosting. The texture is just perfect, really! I spread it on the rolls and then finished with chopped chocolate for an added crunchy texture.
NEXT DAY CHOCOLATE CINNAMON ROLLS
This delicious recipe is definitely perfect to celebrate a special occasion. Because of that, it’s handy to know how to make them in the evening for baking the next morning. If this sounds like a plan for you, then check out the notes of the recipe where I mention how to modify the amount of yeast. We use less yeast when proofing overnight because that means it will take longer to get to that ideal fluffy proof. You will go through all the steps of the recipe as usual and stop after shaping and placing them in the pan or baking dish. At that point, you will cover them with plastic wrap and place them in the fridge for 12 hours or a maximum of 14. On the next morning, you will preheat your oven, remove the plastic wrap and bake the chocolate cinnamon rolls. Since they’re cold, it will probably take 5-10 minutes more.
MORE CINNAMON ROLLS RECIPES
Cinnamon rolls are a personal obsession of mine. I started with my recipe for classic cinnamon rolls in 2018 and haven’t stopped since. If you’re looking for original and delicious recipes for homemade cinnamon rolls, you’ve arrived at the right place! Here are a few suggestions:
Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
For the dough
- 500 g all-purpose flour
- 1½ tsp salt
- 2¼ tsp instant dry yeast
- 120 g sugar
- 240 ml lukewarm milk
- 60 g unsalted butter
- 1 egg at room temperature
- ½ tsp vanilla extract or essence
For the sugar filling
- 120 g dark chocolate 60-70% cacao
- 50 g melted unsalted butter cooled to room temperature
- 80 g brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
For the chocolate cream cheese frosting
- 110 g cream cheese at room temperature
- 5 tbsp icing sugar
- 6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 180 g whipping cream
- 30 g chopped dark chocolate
For the dough
- Mix the lukewarm milk, egg, vanilla extract and melted butter.
- Mix all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, make a hole in the centre and add all the wet ingredients in the center.
- Mix everything until you have a uniform dough. It’s really sticky so don’t worry, that’s just the way this dough is 🙂. That makes them gooey at the end instead of bready and hard.
- Let the dough proof for 1 hour covered in cling film. If it’s too cold, place it in the oven with the light on and heat off.
- Dust flour on a clean tabletop and roll the dough. Every couple of rolls make sure it’s not sticking and dust more flour underneath and on top. Roll it out to a large rectangle (30x40cm or 12x17in). Try to keep it as rectangular as you can. At the very end make sure it’s not stuck and dust more flour if necessary so you can roll it with ease.
For the filling:
- Melt the chocolate and butter in 30-second intervals in the microwave, mixing after every interval. Alternatively, you can do it in a bain-marie.
- Add the sugar, cinnamon and cocoa powder and mix. Spread it out as evenly as possible on the dough using an offset spatula. Spread it while it's still warm as it will firm up as it cools.
- Start rolling: first do it carefully so it’s nice and tight and once you have the first 2 complete rolls, you can just push it (still very tightly) so it rolls to the end.
- Cut the rolls (I did mine 3 fingers thick) and place them in a baking pan lined with baking paper at the bottom (this will help later so the sugar doesn’t stick, you’ll thank me!) and arrange them nicely. Keep a decent amount of space between them so that they can rise during proofing and after in the oven without becoming square.
- Let them proof for 30min*** (again, it helps if they’re in a warm environment) and then they go in the oven at 180°C/350°F for 20-30min or until they're lightly golden on top.
For the chocolate cream cheese frosting
- Whip together all the ingredients until you have a nice and fluffy consistency.
- Spread the frosting onto the rolls once they have cooled down. Finish with chopped chocolate.