Nutella Cinnamon Rolls with Vanilla Glaze
There are times to make cinnamon rolls that are ready to go in four or five hours.
And there are other times to make cinnamon rolls that are ready to go in fifteen minutes. These are those.
I love making bread from scratch, posted four from-scratch bread recipes in November, and in fact, no other kitchen adventure gives me more joy and satisfaction. Kneading the dough, watching it rise, and observing the yeast work their magic is science-meets-baking at it’s finest. But I’m traveling this month and in Aruba and used a shortcut. I made these Nutella-filled rolls with the help of dough from a tube of refrigerated crescent rolls.
To make them, open a can of rolls, and wait for that glorious pop, signaling that your convenience food is ready. I used Pillsbury Big & Flaky Crescent Rolls, which claim to be fifty percent bigger than the standard size. I used that version because they were the last can of any crescent rolls in the grocery store, or perhaps on the island.
Carefully remove the crescent rolls from the can, place them on a clean work surface, and I didn’t even bother flouring my counter. If two triangles are stuck together, great; leave them that way. The goal is to create one long row of eight triangles, or four rectangles comprised of two triangles. Slightly overlap the triangles or rectangles, pinching seams and pieces together, and filling in gaps as best you can.
Spread Nutella over the entire surface, leaving a small bare margin around the edges. It’s not necessary to measure the Nutella first, since that’s just another step and something else to wash, but it should be ample and fairly thick. Big, juicy, Nutella-filled cinnamon roll bites of are only possible if it’s used liberally in this step.
Then, generously sprinkle cinnamon over the surface. If you’re a cinnamon fiend, go nuts. I used about two tablespoons because I am and because Nutella is a robustly-flavored spread that can handle, and almost necessitates, plenty of cinnamon being added so that the flavor doesn’t get lost while baking.
Starting with a short side (the side closest to the bottom in the above photo) roll up the dough into a log. Roll the log as tightly as possible because this translates into finished rolls with more turns and coils. plus it helps the Nutella from leaking. Using a serrated knife, bench scraper, or even unflavored dental floss, which is an age-old trick for pinching off dough without compressing it, divide the log into eight equal-sized pieces. I find the best way to do this is make a cut in the center, and then divide each half into fourths, rather than trying to eyeball eight pieces working from end to end.
Arrange the pieces in a baking dish and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the rolls have puffed and are just beginning to turn golden. Don’t overbake them because they’re meant to be gooey. Cinnabon hasn’t turned into a multi-billion dollar empire because they serve dry, hard, or overbaked rolls, so take note.
While the rolls baked, I made a quick and easy glaze with melted butter, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla. It’s optional, but nicely complements the chocolate spread, and adds just a pop of sweetness. Plus, glaze on cinnamon rolls really isn’t optional. I thought about doing a cream cheese-based glaze but didn’t have any cream cheese on hand, and figured that with the Nutella filling, these would be plenty rich. I was right.
Scott declared these the best cinnamon roll he’s ever eaten, and I tend to agree, which is a double-edged sword. They’re everything I want in a cinnamon roll. They’re ridiculously tender, succulent, rich, soft, moist, gooey, doughy, chocolaty, decadent, and flavorful. And they’re so fast and easy.
They’re so easy, mindless, and goofproof that I wonder why I should make dough from scratch that will take four hours and that I’ll have to knead and babysit, when this method gives me everything I could ask for, virtually work-free. But I like a good challenge and it’s my mission to make rolls to top these, but they’re going to be a tough act to follow.
The Nutella adds a perfect amount of both chocolate flavor and sweetness to the dough, and since there’s no sugar sprinkled into the filling like traditional cinnamon rolls, the sweetness comes only from the Nutella and the glaze, and the rolls aren’t as intoxicatingly sweet as some.
What the rolls lack in sugar status, they make up for in richness. Nothing says rich decadence like chocolate-hazelnut paste. As the rolls bake, the Nutella melts into the crevices, seeping into the tender, succulent, and doughy epicenter. The bite at the very center of a cinnamon that I hoard and savor like no other.
Being drenched in gooey, warm, chocolate spread and fragrant cinnamon takes epicenter-bites to new levels.
The rolls would be especially perfect for a holiday breakfast or special brunch. I absolutely guarantee no one will ever guess a shortcut was used. The scent alone wafting through the house as these bake will put anyone into a blissed-out headrush state. The scent of bread baking, combined with chocolate and cinnamon, is mind-altering.
The fact they’re ready from start to finish in fifteen minutes is dangerous.
- For the Rolls
- one 8-count can refrigerated crescent rolls (I used Pillsbury Big & Flaky Crescent Rolls)
- about ⅔ cup Nutella (store brand chocolate-hazelnut spread may be substituted)
- 1 tablespoon+ cinnamon
- For the Glaze
- 2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup+ confectioners' sugar
- splash of cream or milk, optional
- For the Rolls - Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9- or 10-inch pie plate or baking dish, or a 9-inch square pan with cooking spray; set aside. Open the can of crescent rolls and carefully unwrap the dough. If two triangles are stuck together, keep them that way. Arrange triangles or rectangles (if two triangles are stuck together) in one long row on clean counter or work surface. Press the seams together, overlapping them slightly to close any large gaps. Generously spread Nutella in an even flat layer over the entire surface, leaving ½-inch margins around all borders. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon, to taste.
- Starting with a short side, roll up the dough into a log, rolling the log as tightly as possible. With a sharp knife (serrated works nicely), bench scraper, or unflavored dental floss (works nicely to pinch off pieces without compressing the dough log), slice log into 8 equal-sized pieces. I find the best way to do this is make a cut in the center, and then divide each half into fourths, rather than trying to eyeball eight pieces working from end to end. Place pieces in prepared pan, noting there will be gaps and spaces. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until rolls have puffed and are just beginning to turn golden; don't overbake because these are meant to be gooey.
- While rolls bake, make the Glaze: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine and until smooth, playing with butter and sugar ratios until desired consistency is reached. If desired, a splash of cream or milk may be added to help achieve desired glaze consistency; I don't use it and simply use butter, vanilla, and sugar. Rolls may be glazed immediately upon removing them from oven, resulting in glaze melting into the crevices; or glaze rolls after they've cooled a bit. Glaze may be drizzled on or spread on thicker with a knife or spatula, which is what I do after the photos are done. Serve immediately. Rolls are best eaten fresh, but may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Cinnamon Swirl Bread – This cinnamon swirl bread is as close to cinnamon buns as bread gets. Filled with a sweet cinnamon-sugar and butter mixture that’s swirled throughout, this is a tender, buttery, sweet loaf that even new bread-makers can successfully tackle
Cinnamon Bun Pie – Topped with cinnamon-sugar streusel, these cinnamon rolls use a shortcut. They’re ready from start to finish in less than 30 minutes and give Cinnabons a run for their money
Fudgy Nutella Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting – I use this brownie base for all my brownie recipes and it comes together faster than a boxed mix and tastes infinitely better, producing fudge-like, decadent brownies. This version is swirled with Nutella prior to baking and are then topped with thick layer of cream cheese frosting
Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze – The flavor of warm, buttery, soft cinnamon rolls without any of the work. This moist, dense, and easy cake is like one big cinnamon roll, and includes ample crumble topping and a cream cheese drizzled over the top
Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread with Cinnamon Sugar Butter – If you’ve never made bread before, this is a goofproof, foolprood, no-knead bread recipe, loaded with cinnamon-sugar and raisins. You’ll never have a need for storebought English muffins again
Cinnamon Sugar Crust Cream Cheese and Jelly Danish Squares – Tastes like an Entenmann’s danish, with a crispy and crunchy cinnamon-sugar coating, and is filled with smooth cream cheese and jelly. The squares use a shortcut and are a snap to make
Baked Cinnamon Bun Donuts with Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze – A cross between a Krispy Kreme donut and a Cinnabon cinnamon roll. Yeast-free, easy and although I haven’t tried personally tried muffin pans, I’ve had readers write saying they’ve baked them as muffins with success
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Nutella and Peanut Butter Graham Bars with Chocolate Frosting (no-bake) – Nutella, peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs, and chocolate are combined in an easy, dense, and rich no-bake bar
Do you have a favorite cinnamon roll recipe? Or Nutella or crescent roll recipe?
Please link or tell me about your favorite recipes. After I’m back home in San Diego, I plan to try a few new cinnamon roll recipes. If you have any gems, I’d love to hear about them.