We normally have my family over for a big Easter Sunday celebration, complete with an egg hunt, but not this year. Since I’m getting too old to be crawling around the bushes hiding eggs, and my nephews are way too old to be hunting around for them, our family plans never materialized. My husband and I ended up having a quiet holiday weekend alone, with plenty of chores, and our taxes, to keep us occupied.
So when I woke up this morning, I found myself with no plan. None whatsover! Looking back, it’s a bit unusual for me since making Sunday brunch at home is one of my favorite things to do. Yet, here it was, Easter morning, and I didn’t have anything prepared. There was not much in the pantry or fridge, either. When it finally dawned on me that we didn’t have anything for breakfast, I had to spring into action. Thank goodness for Pinterest, where I found a recipe that I had pinned a while ago for “fast” cinnamon rolls. This recipe called for baking powder and baking soda as leavening agents instead of yeast; therefore, there was no waiting time needed for the dough to rise. Even with a quick run to the corner store (which thankfully was open) for some missing ingredients, these cinnamon rolls were done in a little more than an hour. Add in another 15 minutes for the photos, and we were having brunch in no time.
What I really liked about these homemade cinnamon rolls were that they were not too sweet and that they contained chocolate. Plus, there was not a lot of fussing and waiting around for this almost-instant gratification breakfast. The chocolate, pecans, and cinnamon combined beautifully with the mascarpone orange glaze to create a warm and comforting treat on what turned out to be an overcast, gray morning. They were especially good with the vanilla cappuccinos my husband made as his contribution to our quiet and cozy Easter brunch for two.
Chocolate Pecan Cinnamon Rolls with Mascarpone Orange Glaze
Yields 8 rolls
For the dough
3/4 cup ricotta cheese (The original recipe calls for cottage cheese.)
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
zest of 1 large orange (juice will be used in glaze)
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out dough
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Filling
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar (Dark brown sugar may also be used.)
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
For the Glaze
2 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar, or to taste
2 tablespoons orange juice, or more as needed
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease the sides and bottom of a 8-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
Add the ricotta cheese, buttermilk, sugar, melted butter, vanilla, and orange zest in the work bowl of a food processor and process until smooth, about 10 seconds. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and pulse a few times, just until the dough clumps together. Do not over-process. The dough should be soft and moist.
Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead with floured hands just until it comes together and appears smooth. Roll the dough into a rectangle, approximately 12 inches × 15 inches.
Brush the dough with the melted butter, leaving about 1/2-inch border unbuttered around the edges to ensure that the dough will seal properly. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Sprinkle the mixture over the buttered area of the dough. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and pecans over the brown sugar mixture. Press the filling gently into the surface of the dough.
Starting at a long edge, roll up the dough and pinch the seam to seal, leaving the ends open.
With a serrated knife, cut the roll into 8 equal pieces. Arrange rolls in the prepared pan, cut sides up and touching slightly.
Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before transferring to a serving plate.
In a small bowl, mix the softened mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of orange juice to make a smooth glaze. Add the rest of the orange juice, if needed, to achieve desired consistency. Spread onto warm rolls and let stand 10 minutes.
Adapted from Fine Cooking.
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