Dark. Chocolate. Espresso. Rolls. Need I say more? They're rich, fluffy, and chocolatey with espresso undertones. The filling is so creamy and chocolatey it simply melts in your mouth. The rolls themselves are fluffy and so soft and pillow-y. They are great for holiday baking this year.
Like most sweet rolls, this recipe is made using yeast. If working with yeast is intimidating to you, I am going to change that with this recipe. Yeast always seems like this super scary ingredient, but I'm going to let you all in on a little secret. It really isn't all that scary and this recipe will help you conquer your fear of yeast.
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour (plus proofing)
SERVINGS: 8 rolls
2 1/2 cup flour (add up to 1/4 cup more flour while kneeding)
4 tablespoons sugar (divided)
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup softened butter (room temperature)
Pinch of salt
1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee/espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
First combine your 2 1/2 cup flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, and salt in a bowl.
Then we activate the yeast with some warm milk and sugar. Heat up your milk until it is 110°F. It should be lukewarm. If it is too hot, let it cool down until it is warm like bath water. Pour the yeast packed in and 1 tablespoon of sugar and gently stir. Let the sit mixture for 5-7 minutes. The yeast mixture will foam up a little which means that the yeast is activating.
Then you combine it with your dry ingredients, super soft butter, and mix until everything is combined and your dough is a little sticky. Instead of melting your butter, you want it to be room temperature. This helps make your rolls super fluffy and soft. If using a stand mixer, use your dough attachment on a medium setting to mix.
Place the slightly sticky dough on a lightly floured surface and kneed until the dough is only slightly tacky. At this stage, you want to add as little flour as possible while you kneed. I do not recommend adding more than 1/4 cup of flour.
Then you place your dough in a well buttered bowl and let it proof in a warm room for an hour to an hour and a half or until it doubles in size. It is important that your bowl is well greased otherwise the dough will stick to the bowl. Proofing the dough is essential in recipes with yeast because this is when the dough rests and the yeast ferments and readies itself for the baking process. If your house is too cold for the ideal proofing temperature 75°F-90°F, you can keep it in your microwave with a cup of boiling water. Make sure your microwave is closed and make sure not to turn it on. You will know your dough is done proofing if it has double in size and springs back if you gently poke it with your finger.
While your dough proofs, you can begin making the filling. Melt the amount of butter allotted for the filling only slightly. Mix it well with the cocoa, sugar, vanilla, and espresso. Set it aside once done.
When your dough is done proofing, place it on a greased surface and roll it out until it forms a 11''x15'' rectangle. Make sure the thickness of the dough is the same all around. Instead of rolling the dough on a floured surface, I prefer spraying a little cooking spray on my work surface and rolling. At this stage, rolling them out on a greased surface is best because because you cannot work extra flour into the rolls which can make them dense. If your rectangle has some extra bits hanging on the side, trim them off with a bench scraper or knife.
Spread your filling all over the dough. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Make sure not to spread filling on a 1 inch strip from one of the short edges.
The trick to getting mesmerizing swirled rolls is to roll tightly. Once you spread your filling on the dough, you want to start on a short end and roll the dough tightly. If you have a bench scraper, I recommend using it for support while rolling the dough. If not, using your hands works perfectly fine as well. Make sure before you start the next roll that all of your dough from the previous roll folded over.
Once you roll all your dough into a log, you want to slightly stretch out the log. Make sure to do it gently. You can roll it back and forth on your work surface or gently tug on the ends. You want it to grow about 2 inches. To cut your rolls you can use a serrated knife or dental floss. If using dental floss, slide the floss under the dough with a piece of string in both hands. Cross your hands over each other and pull until the dough cuts. Then place your rolls in a greased 9'' cake pan or 8'' square baking dish.
I know at this point you are probably very excited to bake your rolls, but we have to let them proof one more time to help develop a strong gluten structure. You want to cover your rolls and place them in a warm area for 30 minutes. Then preheat your oven to 350° F.
After 30 minutes, bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes. Make sure to let them cool slightly before serving.