I LOVE a good cinnamon roll. I am always on the hunt for the most perfect one– soft, warm, and a tangy cream cheese frosting. None of this clear glaze business. When I have a cinnamon roll, it better be loaded with delicious cream cheese. It’s so hard to get the good ones unless you go to an excellent bakery. So the other day when I knew a sweet friend of mine was having a birthday, I had the perfect excuse to make cinnamon rolls my way. And that included a surprising addition of hazelnuts, because why not?
People, I am craving these again already, and I just made them last week. I woke up this morning and all I could think about was these delicious beauties. I have to make them again soon! I used to be so intimidated by making homemade breads and pastries from scratch, but it really isn’t that hard if you have patience!
There is nothing like the sight of cream cheese frosting melting into a hot, fresh batch of cinnamon rolls. These are an adaptation of Nancy Fuller’s recipe. I changed them up by doing hazelnuts instead of pecans, and I put way less sugar in the frosting. I always find that I can cut over half of the sugar in most frosting recipes and it’s still quite sweet. I find that in particular the sweet brown-sugary filling in these cinnamon rolls calls for a tangier cream cheese frosting to balance it all out. And psst… You don’t have to have a standing mixer or dough hook to make these. You have to get your hands a little dirty and you get quite an arm workout in the process, but the payoff is totally worth it.
They certainly aren’t the most perfectly shaped cinnamon rolls. But that’s how you can tell that they are homemade and all the more amazing. The other thing I love about these is that you can keep the leftover rolls in the fridge, pop them in the microwave for 20-30 seconds when you want one, and they taste like they are hot out of the oven all over again. It’s absolutely glorious!
Hazelnut Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes around 12 rolls
For the dough–
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting your work surface
2 Tabelspoons butter, melted, plus extra for greasing the baking dish
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
For the filling–
1 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
For the cream cheese frosting–
6 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
splash of vanilla extract (perhaps a teaspoon?)
2-3 Tablespoons whole milk
- Make your dough: Place the yeast and 1 cup of room temp water in a large bowl and whisk vigorously to combine. If you have a standing mixer and dough hook, add in the flour, butter, salt, sugar, and egg to the bowl and knead on medium-low speed until the dough forms a ball and easily releases from the side of the bowl (about 4 minutes). If you do not have a dough hook and standing mixer, flour your hands and brace yourself for a mess. Add in the flour, butter, salt, sugar, and egg to the bowl and combine. Use your hands to knead the dough until it forms into a ball, about 10 minutes.
- Butter a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Set aside in a warm spot in your kitchen and allow the dough to double in size, about 1.5 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 13 x 9 glass baking dish.
- For the filling: In a medium bowl, combine the chopped hazelnuts, brown sugar, melted butter, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
- Flour a large work surface. Punch down the dough in the bowl and transfer it to the work surface. Roll the dough into a 16 x 12 inch rectangle. Spread with the filling, leaving roughly a 1/2 inch border.
- Starting at one of the short ends, roll the dough into a cylinder and then slice into 12 rolls. Arrange the rolls, cut-side up, in four rows in the prepared baking dish. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave to rise in a warm, draft-free spot until nearly doubled in volume, about 45 minutes. Uncover and bake until golden on top, about 20 minutes.
- While the rolls are baking, make the frosting: In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Beat until combined, and slowly add in 2-3 Tablespoons of milk until you’ve reached your desired consistency. Spread the icing over the warm rolls shortly after they come out of the oven.
*Note: Recipe adapted from Nancy Fuller’s Gooey Cinnamon Buns: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/nancy-fuller/gooey-cinnamon-buns-with-thick-cream-cheese-icing-3337729