Many years ago, in the Pillsbury Bake-Off contest, a marshmallow wrapped in crescent dough won the Grand Prize. Who woulda’ thunk it?
I will get to the above in a moment.
Chocolate Meringue Cinnamon Rolls.
Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Well, a little backstory first.
I’ve never been a huge fan of yeasted coffee cakes, or danish for that matter. You know the yeasted cakey part of a NY style crumb cake? I never eat it. I pull off all the lumpy, sweet crumbs, and I even search for lumps in the cake itself; the ones that separated and slid into the doughy batter in hopes of camouflage. The carnage is torn remnants of golden cake scattered around my plate in lots of odd patterns, left to wither and dry until slipped into the garbage mercifully.
I probably love every single yeasted bread, sweet and savory, that’s known to man, so why does yeasted bread suddenly turn ‘meh’ for me when it’s called a coffee cake?
Drakes is the reason. Drakes has ruined me.
Yes, those little plastic-wrapped, miniature coffee cakes in a box – so moist, delicious and deceptively cute, but really evil, evil enough to make me want to eat a whole box in one sitting; evil enough that I hold all coffee cake ‘cake’ in comparison to them. I’m humbled to admit it, but yes, it’s true.
It probably didn’t help that my father couldn’t resist a good deal on one or two day old pastry from the local supermarket bakery when I was growing up, so there were a lot of borderline stale danish, crumb cake, and coffee cakes at our breakfast table. They dipped it all in their coffee, so it was of no concern to them.
However, there are some exceptions to this ‘cake’ rule, like babka, with lots of filling, whether it be chocolate or cinnamon, and of course, huge, gooey cinnamon rolls and sticky buns. Just give me lots of filling or goo with the yeasty base, and it’s all good.
In this version of coffee cake; Italian or French meringue holds in the goo, lots of gooey goo, a little seeping into the dough. I think this is it for me. I don’t need as much filling to enjoy a yeasted coffee cake when meringue is baked into the dough, stretching out the filling and making it well, just gooey-er The dough our host’s provided to us is rich, silky, sexy perfection – easy to work with, and extremely easy to eat. You cannot fail with this dough, no matter what you do with it, sweet or savory.
Okay, I admit, I sort of slithered into cinnamon rolls because I was worried it would be yet another plate of scrappy cake remnants while I ate filling and parts of the cake with filling on it. With rolls, if it wasn’t moist or gooey enough, I could always drown it in cream cheese frosting on an individual basis.
Here’s some slight changes I made to come up with these chocolate meringue, gooey, cinnamon rolls.
- I used all the dough in the recipe (which makes two coffee cakes) to make one dozen large chocolate meringue rolls.
- I made a Swiss meringue in lieu of the Italian or French meringue in the recipe, then added dark cocoa, for a deep chocolate meringue.
- Combined the cinnamon with dark brown sugar instead of granulated sugar.
- Increased the cinnamon and chocolate chunks (I used Jamie’s version)
- Topped the finished rolls with swirls and swirls of luscious cream cheese (aka I could lick it off a dirty tire) frosting. However, these didn’t need any kind of frosting!
I guess you could say I turned the Swiss meringue filling into a chocolate marshmallow meringue after whipping it into oblivion. However, this is a good thing when it came to rolling up the dough, in terms of less leakage since the chocolate, cinnamon sugar, and nuts sort of nestled in and stuck. I froze the rolled tube of gooey love prior to slicing and to also aid in holding the filling in. I now wish I didn’t go to all those stops to hold the filling in after seeing some of the crispy meringue bits on other Daring Baker’s cakes. It looks too good. I can’t wait to make this coffee cake again, as an actual coffee cake, with crispy bits of meringue seeping out of the cuts in the dough!
Whenever I need to decorate something to photograph for my blog, my hand shakes, and it turns out ugly. I think I have a raging case of Blog fright.
So, here’s a tip, a tip to anyone who loves to bake cinnamon rolls – ditch the butter that’s spread on the dough prior to the cinnamon-sugar deposit, and use sweetened meringue instead. Not only is it better for you, but it gives you a gooey-er cinnamon roll.
Now I know why a marshmallow wrapped in crescent dough won the Grand prize in the Pillsbury Bake-Off many years ago. The marshmallow melted into a gorgeous, golden, molten goo upon baking, just like the chocolate meringue in these cinnamon rolls,.resulting in a gooey, heavenly sweet roll.
Having said all that, I love challenges that change my opinion, and this one most certainly reformed me as far as yeasted coffee cakes go. A silky, rich dough plus meringue is now my go to yeasted coffee cake (or rolls). Thank you Jamie and Ria for an eye-opening and delicious challenge!
For the recipe for this awesome meringue coffee cake, which you could make into my chocolate meringue cinnamon rolls, click HERE. To see all the mouth-watering coffee cakes. fillings and other doughy, meringuey creations my fellow Daring Bakers came up with, click HERE.
- 4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour
- ¼ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar
- ¾ teaspoon (5 g / ¼ oz.) salt
- 1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons / 7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast
- ¾ cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk
- ¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)
- ½ cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 pinch cream of tartar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons dark, unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1½ cups (170 g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate
- 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 tablespoon or more milk or cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.
- In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted
- With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the egg
- s and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.
- Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 ½ cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.
- Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use vegetable oil) bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes.
- Once dough is risen and ready to roll, fill a medium saucepan one quarter full with water. Set the saucepan over medium heat, and bring water to a simmer.
- Whisk together egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of electric mixer, and place over saucepan. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, about 3 to 3½ minutes. Test by rubbing between your fingers.
- Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes. Add vanilla, salt, and cocoa powder and mix until combined and thick.
- In a medium bowl, Combine dark brown sugar, cinnamon, chocolate chips or chunks, and nuts if using. Set aside.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough a few turns, then using a rolling pin, roll out into an 18-inch x 24-inch rectangle. Spread the Swiss meringue over the rectangle, leaving the bottom 1-inch meringue free for sealing. Sprinkle the cinnamon brown sugar-chocolate mix evenly over the meringue, leaving that 1-inch bottom uncovered and clean.
- Starting at the top, from the 24-inch side, tightly roll dough toward you, using the last 1-inch edge to seal roll. Gently wrap roll in plastic wrap, then place roll in freezer for about 20 minutes so you can get clean cuts with no ooze and smushing of the dough. Score the roll every two inches, then cut into 12 equal (2-inches each) pieces. Grease a 9”x13" baking dish and place rolls in it cut side down. Cover dish with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- When rolls are doubled, place in preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until nicely browned.
- Beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. On low speed, stir in powdered sugar until combined and thick. Slowly drizzle in milk or cream until you reach a consistency desired (I like it a little thick, so only used 1 tablespoon milk). Stir in vanilla and salt and beat once more. Spread or drizzle frosting over warm rolls. Serve warm because that's when they're the best!
Finally, I’m submitting these rolls to Susan over at Wild Yeast for her weekly Yeastspotting bread baking showcase. I rarely have time to bake breads as of late, so when I do, I always send them her way!