Preview: This chocolate bread machine recipe for chocolate cinnamon rolls will remind you of a chocolate donut with chocolate icing. Use the dough to make cinnamon rolls, snails, or chocolate twists.
If a chocolate-frosted donut and a Texas Sheet Cake had a child, this is the result I imagine. These chocolate cinnamon rolls are the perfect combination of chocolate and cinnamon in a fabulously-rich yeast dough.
If you are a chocolate lover, save this recipe for chocolate bread machine cinnamon rolls with chocolate icing for the next time you, your kids, or grandkids need a treat.
No worries if you don’t have a bread machine. See the notes for directions for using a stand mixer or your hands to make this recipe.
Do you have a favorite breakfast food you fix for your grandchildren? What was your favorite breakfast at your grandma’s house? Mine was stale donuts. Seriously. She split and fried them in butter.
For a long time, I have been looking for something to bake for my grandchildren after a sleepover. You know, something they will talk about at my funeral.
My competition is a trip to the donut store with “Papa.” Since these Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls taste a lot like chocolate donuts, they are guaranteed to be a win for breakfast.
Ingredients and substitutions:
- MILK: Whole milk is best. Otherwise, use whatever you have on hand. When using fat-free milk, I substitute a tablespoon or two of heavy cream for some of the milk.
- COCOA: Dutch cocoa provides a darker color and deeper chocolate flavor. Substitute regular cocoa if you can’t get Dutch cocoa. I like Droste. It’s an America’s Test Kitchen favorite, and I can order it online.
- GREEK YOGURT: Full-fat or 2% Greek yogurt is best here. Substitute full-fat sour cream if you prefer.
- BUTTER: Use softened butter. Do not melt it. Melted butter can make your dough seem too sticky and cause you to add too much flour.
- FLOUR: Bread flour is my first choice, but I have been unable to get it in our current situation. The next best thing is an unbleached all-purpose flour with high protein content. Both King Arthur’s and Trader Joe’s unbleached flour contain 4 grams of protein per 30 grams.
While we’re on the subject of flour, get yourself some digital scales if possible. It’s the most accurate way to measure flour. I know Grandma probably didn’t use scales. She had lots of experience and knew how to judge when the dough needed more or less flour by feel.
Besides, it’s easier and faster to measure. Set a bowl or paper plate on the scales, zero it out, and plop flour on there until you hit the right number.
Don’t be that person who puts the whole measuring cup in the flour and scoops it up. Invariably, this practice results in adding too much flour. The result is dry bread. I can’t be responsible if you do this. ?
- YEAST: I use only instant yeast or bread-machine yeast because it doesn’t need to be dissolved. If all you have is active-dry yeast, dissolve it first in 1/4 cup of warm water. Stir and let sit for 10 minutes until it starts to bubble.
Reduce the amount of milk you use in this recipe by 1/4 cup. Add dissolved yeast to all the other ingredients in the bread machine pan.
- PECANS: Chopped nuts are optional. If you use pecans, be sure to toast them first (microwave works great) for maximum flavor.
Why you should check the dough:
It’s the most important thing you should do when making bread in a bread machine. Check the dough about 15 minutes into the DOUGH cycle. You can see what the dough should look like in action in the video for this post.
Variations you can make with bread machine chocolate dough:
If you find a pan of cinnamon rolls too predictable, here are a couple of different shaping options.
Watch the video to see how easy these twists are to make. Covering them with icing is the hard part. You could use a spoon as I did with the twists seen above.
A neater method is to fill a plastic zippered bag with your prepared frosting. Snip off one corner and squirt out a rope of icing in a back and forth pattern as I did over the cinnamon rolls.
***Chocolate cinnamon snails or buns
Dorie Greenspan gave me the idea of making “snails” in her book Baking. Basically, you take the same rolls you cut for cinnamon rolls and place them onto a baking sheet instead of into a round or square pan.
These are easier to serve individually or give away if that’s what you’re up to.
FAQ for a bread machine chocolate bread recipe:
Can I make this recipe ahead of time?
Yes. Make the dough in a bread machine and let it proof until double. Push the dough down and form it into the desired shape. Cover and refrigerate rolls overnight.
When ready to bake your rolls the next day, remove them from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Let them rise until almost double before baking. Depending on the ambient temperature, this may take 1-2 hours before they are ready to bake.
How long will these rolls keep after they are baked?
After the first day, you can wrap them well and store in the fridge. Microwave only a few seconds to warm them. We have always eaten them within two days but they might last longer. I’ve heard up to a week. I’ll update this post if I can ever verify that in real life.
Can I freeze these rolls?
After these Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls have been baked and cooled, double wrap them. I use plastic wrap, then foil or a plastic bag as the second covering. Freeze.
Allow frozen rolls to defrost in the refrigerator. I get them out the night before. Use within a month.
My powdered sugar is lumpy. How can I fix it so my icing will be smooth?
1. Push confectioner’s sugar through a cheap sieve.
2. Pour sugar into a blender or food processor. Process the dry powder until it is smooth and lumps disappear.
How do I know when the rolls are done?
THIS is the hardest thing about baking these rolls–knowing when they are done. They will brown but it’s not easy to see it until they are too brown.
My suggestion is a quick-read thermometer. (paid link) This quick-read thermometer is also good and a bit cheaper. The thermometer should read 190˚F when poked into the middle. Avoid hitting a buttery cinnamon-sugar pocket which would give you a higher reading and trick you.
I don’t have unsweetened chocolate for the icing on hand. Can I leave it out?
Yes. Vanilla or Browned Butter frosting is also delicious on these rolls.
I don’t have a 9-inch pan. Is an 8-inch pan OK? Other ideas?
8 or 9-inch square pans will work. A 13 x 9-inch pan will hold all 16 rolls. Another possibility: Use your 8-inch pan and only fill it with 7 rolls. Cook the other roll in a muffin pan or set it onto a pie plate to cook by itself.
While we’re talking about pans, the gold-colored pans are my favorite for perfect browning. Light-colored pans or disposable aluminum foil pans often don’t brown well.
Shaping and baking chocolate cinnamon rolls:
How to make the chocolate glaze:
Shaping and baking chocolate bread machine snails:
Instead of baking the rolls in a pan, make Chocolate Snails. Prepare dough as described above through step #9.
What bread machine recipe would you like to try next?
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If you have a question or tip to share, please leave it in the regular comments after the recipe so I can answer back. Or email me: paula at saladinajar.com.
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