Sticky Pecan Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

As a kid, whenever my mom would take us to the mall, one of her tools for keeping our behaviour in check was dangling the promise of sharing a sweet, warm, gooey Cinnabon cinnamon roll at the end of our shopping trip. After the torture of going into a million stores where we weren't allowed to touch anything, my brothers and I would crowd around those little round tables and share bite after bite of cinnamon loaded doughy goodness. Usually my brothers would share a plain cinnamon roll, but my mom and  liked to share the pecan ones, packed with chewy, brown-sugar caramelized pecans! I decided to create my own version and used my standby cinnamon roll recipe but doubled the gooey filling and added tons of crunchy toasted pecans inside and on top! Delicious!

Sticky Pecan Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 18

Cinnamon Rolls
1 package quick rise yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
3 3/4- 4 cups flour

Filling
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
4 teaspoons cinnamon
2 1/2 cups chopped pecans, divided

1. In the bowl of your mixer, stir together yeast and warm water and allow to dissolve for 5 minutes.
2. Add milk, salt, melted butter, vanilla, sugar, and egg and mix well.
3. Add 3 1/2 cups flour and mix until dough comes together, adding remaining flour a tablespoon at a time until dough forms a slightly sticky ball. Knead on a floured surface or using the dough hook of your mixer until dough is smooth and elastic.
4. Grease a large bowl and place dough inside, turning so the top gets covered in butter too, then cover and allow to rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours. Dough is ready when it is doubled in size and if indentations remain when you press your fingers into it.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put chopped pecans on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 5 minutes, just until nuts are fragrant, then remove and set aside.
6. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle (about 9x20) and brush with the 4 tablespoons of melted butter.
7. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and 2 cups of the toasted, chopped pecans, then sprinkle the mixture across the dough evenly.
8. Starting at the long side, tightly roll up the dough, pinching the seam to seal it closed.
9. Using a serrated knife, cut the roll into 18 slices, each about 1 or 1 1/2 inches thick. Place in 2 round, glass, greased pie dishes.
10. Allow rolls to rise in pans for 15 minutes, then bake for 15 minutes or until light brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly as you prepare the frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
8 ounces cream cheese
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 cups powdered sugar

1. Beat all ingredients together until smooth, then spread over both pans of cinnamon rolls while still hot.
2. Top pans with remaining 1/2 cup of chopped pecans, serve, and enjoy!

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