A few days ago when I was going through all of my old recipe posts and tagging each with the appropriate ingredients, I soon realized that there was a little bit of a trend going on that I had not really noticed before. I have thought for most of my life that I am not a big one for sweets, but after tagging many of my recipes with the ingredient “sugar”, I realized that I do indeed have a sweet tooth. If anyone has this concept in their minds that a vegan diet is healthy, all they need to do is visit my blog and have a look at the “Browse by Ingredients” list. Sugar, vegan butter, salt… Now that we have that out of the way, let’s jump in and take a look at my latest sweet success (which, dear reader, was made as a thank you to my husband for all of his hard work on helping to make this redesign even possible).
A couple of years ago I was really craving cinnamon rolls – the warm, gooey and total comfort-food kind – and so when I came across a vegan recipe that had rave reviews, I thought that I had a winner on my hands. Unfortunately, the cinnamon rolls were a complete disaster and I wound up defeated and deflated. Of course, I gave up, that is, until a few weeks ago when I was craving them again. I did another search for a good recipe online and came across a recipe that claimed to be better than the rolls you can get at Cinnabon. Again, people raved. Again, I decided to follow the masses. Yet this time, I was so utterly blown away that I purposely held off on taking pictures and writing a blog post because I wanted to be sure to “have to” make them again for you. I finally succumbed and here we are, but believe me I’m trying to come up with another excuse to make them again very soon.
Cinnamon Rolls and Chocolate Rolls
Note: One thing I want to point out is that I have only made this with flax seed as a binder and I have not used Ener-G egg replacer. I have no idea if this recipe turns out exactly the same or comparably if Ener-G were to be used instead. Because the flax has worked so well for me and because I have not been able to taste it (I hate the taste of flax) I just haven’t allowed myself to try the alternate method. If you do try it with Ener-G please report back to let us know how the rolls turned out for you.
- 2½ teaspoons active dry yeast
- ½ cup unbleached sugar
- 1 cup vegan milk, warmed
- 2 eggs worth of egg replacer OR 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds whisked together with 6 tablespoons hot water
- ⅓ cup vegan butter, melted
- 4½ cups unbleached flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup vegan butter, softened
- Optional: chocolate chips, raisins, nuts
Note: If, like me, you don’t care that much for icing or prefer to let your cinnamon or chocolate rolls shine on their own, then these are perfectly fine without. I will say, however, that this is a good icing recipe and I sometimes will have some. The reason why I probably like it is because it isn’t just about the sugar. The Tofutti cream cheese and the vegan butter give it a smooth and creamy flavor that you wouldn’t get if it were just a plain sugar icing.
- About 3/8 (3 ounces) of a container of Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
- ¼ cup vegan butter, softened
- 1½ cup vegan powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
Mix yeast, sugar, and heated vegan milk in a large mixing bowl and let stand until foamy. Add egg replacer, melted vegan butter, flour, and salt.
Mix well and knead for 5-10 minutes. The dough should be firm and smooth, not sticky.
Set the dough aside in a covered bowl and let double in size.
After the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a floured work surface, cover, and let rest for 10 more minutes.
Meanwhile, divide your brown sugar into two small bowls.
Mix the cinnamon into one bowl of brown sugar, and mix the cocoa powder and vanilla into the other bowl of brown sugar.
Note: If you just want to do cinnamon rolls, increase your cinnamon to 2 tablespoons and mix it into the full amount of brown sugar, omitting the cocoa powder and vanilla extract. If you just want to do chocolate rolls, increase the cocoa to 2 tablespoons, the vanilla to 2 teaspoons, then mix it into the full amount of brown sugar, and omit the cinnamon.
After the dough has rested, get it into a shape that you can easily divide into two equal halves with a knife or by pulling it apart with your hands.
Note: If you are doing only one type of roll (i.e. cinnamon rolls) you will not need to divide your dough in half.
Take one half of the dough and roll it out into a rectangle. Here I am using the Vic Firth French Rolling Pin which I am totally and completely in love with.
Spread dough with vegan butter, then sprinkle each dough evenly with one of the sugar mixtures.
You can add other items to your filling, like chocolate chips or raisins. I didn’t have any chocolate chips on hand, but I did have Trader Joe’s dark chocolate, which I just chopped up into chip-sized chunks.
Roll the dough on the longer side.
Cut the rolls so that you have even slices. I like to cut straight down the middle first (1), then cut straight down the middle of the two sections (2), and finally cut down the middle of the four sections (3). In the end you should have eight evenly sized rolls (or thereabouts) if you follow this method.
Place rolls in a lightly greased baking pan (or two). (A cookie sheet also works fine.) Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tip: Use a pie pan or a larger pan where your rolls are allowed to expand. I found that the chocolate rolls made in the pie pan were fatter than the cinnamon rolls made in the straight-sided glass dish.
Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
While rolls are baking, beat together Tofutti, vegan butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.
Unless I’m told a better recipe exists or I somehow lose this recipe, I will never try another. The rolls are amazingly fluffy and gooey and are just perfect straight out of the oven. If you were to take these to your non-vegan friends no one would be the wiser. These taste and have the consistency of what you or they would expect in a cinnamon roll, and there’s no reason for them to suspect that they are vegan. They are seriously that good and perfect.
This is a great foundational recipe, too, because once you have dough that works this well, you can get very creative. I recently saw on The Pioneer Woman Cooks a marmalade/butter filling and an orange flavored icing. I think you could do other jams (strawberry jam sounds great!) or you could try fresh fruit. You could probably do vegan caramel or toffee. If you like coffee, you could probably even go there, too. But for me, my absolute favorite is just the basic, gooey cinnamon roll. Perfection.