01 August 2011

chai cinnamon rolls


Yep, you heard (read?) me right:  Chai Cinnamon Rolls.

I made what has now become my base recipe, with a few tweaks to the dough. Chai spices were added to the cinnamon filling, and the icing was infused with real chai tea (I wanted to taste some of that black tea flavor, not just spice).

They turned out SO scrumptious. Believe me, I've been making cinnamon rolls of every variety for the last couple of weeks and these have been our favorite so far. They're ultra-soft and gooey and chai-ey and comforting and particularly sinful if you grease your pan with butter (the bottoms of the buns practically caramelize, it's intoxicating).

Note:  I halved the recipe this time, and it came out fine.

Chai Cinnamon Rolls

(Makes 12-14.)

For the dough:  (adapted from here)
1 (1/4 ounce) package dry yeast
1 cup warm milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup margarine or butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup bread flour

Place the warm milk in a bowl, and stir in the yeast and sugar until they're mostly dissolved. Let sit for about 3 minutes, or until the yeast gathers a bit on the surface or gets a little foamy. Add the honey, butter, salt, vanilla, and eggs, and stir well (mixture will be lumpy), then add the flours. Knead a few times, adding flour as needed until the dough's not too sticky. Form into a ball, cover bowl with a towel, and set in a warm area until dough has doubled in size (about 1 hour).

For the chai spice mix
1 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

For the filling:
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 of the chai spice mix
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/3 cup margarine or butter, softened

Make the chai spice mix. When the dough has risen, flour a work surface very well. Roll out the dough into a 16 by 20 inch rectangle, or until the dough is about 1/4 inch thick. Spread softened butter over dough, leaving 1 inch of space around the edges. Mix the brown sugar, 3/4 of the spice mix, and cinnamon, then sprinkle mixture evenly over the buttered area. Tightly but gently roll the dough up (beginning on one of the long, 20 inch ends). Using a very sharp knife, slice into 12-14 rolls of the same size. (If your dough is squishing when you try to slice it, the thread method really helps.) Place in a buttered or greased 9 x 13 inch pan or on a greased cookie sheet. Cover with towel, and let rise until doubled in size (another hour). Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven until golden (watch carefully! Mine only took 6-8 minutes).

For the icing:
4 oz. (1/2 package) cream cheese, softened
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) margarine or butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 amount of chai spice mix
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons strong-brewed chai tea
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar (to start)

Beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, then add flavorings. Increase amount of tea, spice, or sugar until desired flavor and consistancy are reached. (Honestly, most of my frostings are all about experimentation!)

Frost cinnamon rolls when they're fresh out of the oven. Enjoy!


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