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These are so sinful!! Not only is there chocolate in the dough, there’s chocolate in the filling — and then they’re topped with cream cheese frosting. Good for the palate but bad for the hips!
Take the egg out of the refrigerator and crack it into a bowl so that the egg will warm up some before adding it to the dough. Over medium heat in a small sauce pan, scald the milk, sugar, and salt. Remove from the heat and skim off any skin that has developed on the surface. Add the butter and allow the mixture to cool to lukewarm.
While the milk is cooling, combine the warm water and yeast. In a mixing bowl, whisk the cocoa powder and flour together.
Add the lukewarm milk mixture, yeast mixture, and egg to the flour/cocoa mixture. Use a mixer equipped with a paddle to get the ingredients completely combined then shut off the mixer for 4 minutes. This rest period will allow the liquid to be more readily absorbed so you do not end up adding too much flour. After 4 minutes of resting, switch to a dough hook. Mix the dough for about 3 to 4 minutes. This dough will be a little stickier than many kinds of dough that you may have worked with before. For the most part, the dough should not be sticking to the sides of the bowl as it is mixing. If it is really sticking, add a little more flour. If it looks pretty dry, add a teaspoon or so of water.
Spray a bowl with cooking spray. Form the dough into a ball and add it to the sprayed bowl. Spray the top of the dough lightly with cooking spray then cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size – about 60 to 75 minutes.
Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out into a 12″ x 9″ rectangle (with one of the longer sides closest to your tummy). The dough should be very soft and easy to work with.
For the filling:
In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, white sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Brush the bottom and sides of two 8″ cake pans with some of the melted butter.
Brush half of the remaining butter on top of the dough. Make sure to leave a 1″ edge on the top and bottom that is completely free of butter, sugar, nuts, and chocolate. Sprinkle the butter-topped dough with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Drizzle the remaining butter all over the sugar mixture. Add the chocolate chips on top of the sugar. I use about 1/2 cup or so. You could certain use more or less. If using nuts, sprinkle some on now. Lightly press the chocolate and sugar mixture to make the dough easier to roll up. Lightly brush the 1″ strip of dough at the top with a little water so that, after you roll up the dough, the seam will seal better. Starting from the side closest to your tummy, carefully roll up the dough – trying to keep as much of the filling inside as possible. You should end up with a log roughly 12″ in length. Pinch the lightly moistened seam tightly to seal. Cut the roll into 10 slices.
Place 5 rolls in each pan (4 around the outside and 1 in the center) – leaving as much space as possible between each roll and the sides of the pan. Cover and let rise until doubled – about 45 to 60 minutes. About 15 minutes before the rolls have fully risen, preheat the oven to 350F. When doubled in size, uncover the rolls and bake about 15 minutes.
While the rolls are baking, make the frosting.
Using a mixer equipped with a whisk attachment, whisk the cream cheese and butter together. Add the powdered sugar and use the mixer to slowly whisk it in. Add the vanilla and milk. Whisk for about 2 – 3 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. Too thick for you? Add another 1/2 tablespoon of milk at a time until you have reached the desired consistency.
When the rolls are done, allow them to cool in the pans for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove a roll from one of the pans and place it on a serving plate. Top with some frosting and some shaved chocolate from a chocolate bar. The frosting will start to melt and everything will get gooey and messy. Unapologetically eat the roll with your fingers. Remember – everything in excess. I mean moderation. Yeah, yeah. Moderation.
1) Regular chocolate chips contain stabilizers that inhibit melting. The Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips melt beautifully and are flat disks which makes them easier to roll up inside the cinnamon rolls. The chocolate flavor is also great. I’m not getting paid to say this either!
2) The amount of liquid in the dough and the rising times are estimates.
3) I do not recommend using a 9×13″ dish to bake these in. I don’t think they cook evenly in a larger pan which is why I recommend using 2 eight-inch cake pans instead.
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