The Best Chocolate Bread Machine Recipe for Cinnamon Rolls

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Preview: This chocolate bread machine recipe makes unique and delicious chocolate cinnamon rolls that will remind you of a chocolate donut with chocolate icing. Use the dough to make cinnamon rolls, snails, or chocolate twists.

Ready-to-eat Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls with Chocolate Frosting drizzled over the top.

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If a chocolate-frosted donut and a Texas Sheet Cake had a child, this is the result I imagine. This chocolate cinnamon roll recipe perfectly combines chocolate and cinnamon in a 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 your grandkids need a treat.

No worries if you don’t have a bread machine. See the recipe notes for directions for using a stand mixer or your hands to make this recipe.

Recipe inspiration:

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.

I have been looking for something to bake for my grandchildren after a sleepover for a long time. 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, I guarantee them 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 or creme fraiche 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 could not get it during the pandemic. 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 discussing flour, get some digital scales if possible. It’s the most accurate way to measure flour. I know Grandma probably didn’t use scales. She had years of experience and knew how to judge the dough moisture by touching it.

    Besides, it’s easier and faster to measure with scales. 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 often dense bread.
  • 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 bubbles.

    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. First, 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.

Chocolate bread recipe in a bread machine
The goal is for the dough to stick to the sides of the pan, then pull away cleanly.

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.

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***Cinnamon Twists

Chocolate Cinnamon Twists on a serving plate

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. Then, 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 Twists showing the inside texture of the roll.

Chocolate cinnamon snails or buns:

Dorie Greenspan gave me the idea of making “snails” in her book Baking. Take the same rolls you cut for cinnamon rolls and place them onto a baking sheet instead of a round or square pan.

These are easier to serve individually or give away if that’s what you plan.

Chocolate Snails or buns sitting next to chocolate pieces

Shaping and baking chocolate cinnamon rolls:

Removing chocolate dough from a bread machine pan

1. Remove the dough from the bread machine pan onto a floured surface.

Ball of bread dough

2. Shape and smooth dough into a rough ball.

bread dough divided in half

3. Divide the dough in half.

rolling out bread dough into a square

4. Roll each ball into an 11 x 11-inch square.

butter spread over dough

5. Cover each half with two tablespoons of softened butter.

cinnamon-sugar sprinkled over dough

6. Sprinkle the cinnamon-brown sugar mixture evenly over the dough.

dough rolled into a cylinder and pinched shut

7. Roll up dough, being careful not to stretch it. Pinch the edges together.

cutting the roll with dental floss

8. Use floss or a serrated knife to slice each roll into eight equally-sized pieces.

roll cut into 8 equal slices
preparing baking pan

9. Grease your pan. Baking spray with flour added is my favorite.

chocolate cinnamon roll slices before they rise

10. When using a round pan, place one roll in the middle and the rest in a circle around it. If you use a square pan, cut the dough into nine pieces, and make three rows with three rolls each.

cinnamon rolls after the second rise--ready to bake

11. Cover with a tea towel or cheap shower cap and let them rise until they double (almost).
The rolls should be puffy and touch each other.

baked cinnamon rolls without icing

12. Bake in a 350˚F oven for 13 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 190˚F. Rolls will turn slightly brown on the edges. Good light in your kitchen helps.


How to make the chocolate glaze:

adding powdered sugar to melted chocolate

Add sugar to the melted butter and chocolate.

Adding milk and vanilla extract

Add milk and vanilla extract.

Stirring frosting

Stir together.

whipping icing until it is shiny

Whip until smooth and shiny. If icing has to sit for a while, you may need to add a little mill to make it pourable again.


Shaping and baking chocolate bread machine snails:

Instead of baking the rolls in a pan, make Chocolate Snails. First, prepare dough as described above through step #9.

slices of dough for snails

Making snails: Place slices onto a silicone mat or parchment paper-covered cookie sheet. Give them room to expand.

baked chocolate snails

Baked Chocolate Snails will open up a bit as they bake.


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. Then, 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 them 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 chocolate cinnamon rolls stay fresh?

After the first day, you can wrap them well and store them 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 bake and cool, double wrap them. I use plastic wrap, foil, or plastic bags as the second covering. Freeze.

Allow frozen rolls to defrost in the refrigerator. 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.

using a sieve to sift confectioner's sugar to remove lumps

How do I know when the rolls baked?

Knowing when to take these rolls out of the oven is the hardest thing about making them. Of course, they will brown, but it’s difficult to tell until they are too brown.

My suggestion is a quick-read thermometer. (paid link) This quick-read thermometer is also good and cheaper. The thermometer should read 190˚F when poked into the middle. Avoid hitting a buttery cinnamon-sugar pocket which would deceive you with a higher reading.

I don’t have unsweetened chocolate for the icing on hand. Can I leave it out?

Yes. Vanilla or Brown 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 rarely brown well.


What bread machine recipe would you like to try next?


If you have questions or suggestions, email me privately to Paula at saladinajar.com. Hope to see you again soon! Paula


Chocolate Bread Machine Recipe for Cinnamon Rolls

Dark chocolate cocoa flavors the rich dough to make a fabulous loaf, cinnamon rolls, twists, or snails. The taste will remind you of chocolate doughnuts with chocolate frosting.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Mix & Rise Time 2 hrs 15 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 15 mins
Course Bread
Servings 16 servings

Ingredients

DOUGH

  • ½ cup whole milk - 114 gr
  • cup sugar - 66 gr
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder - 22 gr
  • 1 teaspoon salt - 6 gr
  • 2 eggs - 100 gr
  • ¼ cup butter - (1/2 stick, softened) 57 gr
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt - (or sour cream) 142 gr
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract - 5 gr
  • 3 cups of bread flour - 360 gr
  • 2 teaspoons bread machine or instant yeast - 6 gr

FILLING

  • ¼ cup butter - (very soft) 57 gr
  • ½ cup brown sugar - 107 gr
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon - 3 gr
  • ½ cup pecans - (toasted) 57 gr

ICING

  • 1-1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate - 42 gr
  • 1 tablespoon butter - 14 gr
  • 1-1/2 cup powdered sugar - (sifted if it has lumps) 170 gr
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract - 5 gr
  • 2+ tablespoons milk - 28 gr

Instructions
 

  • Add all dough ingredients to the bread machine pan in the order listed. Set your machine on the DOUGH cycle and push START.
  • After 10-15 minutes, open the lid and assess the consistency of the dough. If the dough is too wet, add flour one tablespoon at a time to get the dough to form into a pliable ball. If the dough is too dry and slapping the side, add milk one tablespoon at a time. The dough should stick to the side, then pull away cleanly.
  • When the dough cycle is complete, and the dough has risen to double its original size, remove the dough from the bread-machine pan onto a lightly-floured board.
  • Shape dough into a ball. Divide in half. Roll each half into an 11 x 11-inch square.
  • Spread two tablespoons of the softened butter onto one square of the dough. Sprinkle half of the brown sugar-cinnamon mixture evenly over the butter, then half of the chopped pecans.
  • Starting from one side, roll the dough into a cylinder and seal it.
  • Cut in half with a serrated knife or dental floss. Cut each half into four equal pieces. In the end, you should have eight pieces from one ball.
  • Transfer slices to a greased 9-inch round pan. (If using a square pan, slice each cylinder into nine pieces. Or use a 13 x 9-inch metal pan, which will hold 16 rolls.
  • Repeat steps 5 through 8 with the remaining half of the dough.
  • Cover your prepared rolls with a tea towel, a cheap shower cap (my fave), or wax paper. Let rolls rise in a warm place until they are not quite double in size.
  • Bake in a preheated 350˚F oven for 13 minutes or until rolls are slightly brown on the edges. A quick-read thermometer should read 190˚F.
  • Allow the rolls to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Then, turn rolls out onto a cooling rack (or serving plate if you are ready to eat). Leaving rolls in the pan until they are cold will likely result in soggy bottoms.
  • Once you pull the rolls out of the oven, make the icing.
  • Place broken chocolate squares and butter into a microwave-safe, medium-sized glass bowl or a Pyrex quart measuring cup. Microwave for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes on 50% power, stirring halfway through to melt the butter and chocolate evenly. Continue mixing at the end of that time to finish melting the butter.
  • Add the sifted powdered sugar and milk. Stir vigorously until your icing is smooth and starts to shine. Slowly add more milk if needed to make the icing pourable. (If you make the icing ahead of time, it will thicken as it sits. You may need to add more milk and whip it until it's once again the right consistency.)
  • Drizzle icing over the rolls with a spoon. If you want a neater look, fill a plastic zippered bag with the icing. Zip the bag shut. Snip a small hole in one corner and squeeze icing over the tops of rolls. Be sure you have sealed the bag before you start squeezing. I'll let you figure out what happens if the bag pops open.)

Video

Notes

Directions for making bread with a stand mixer or by hand:
  • To make this recipe in a heavy-duty stand mixer:  Add ingredients to the bowl in the same order. Turn on LOW to mix until all ingredients are moistened. Then, using a dough hook, turn the speed to 2 or 3. Continue beating/kneading until dough becomes smooth and elastic (about 5-10 minutes). Cover and allow to rise in a warm place. Deflate dough gently and shape as indicated in the recipe.
  • If making by hand: Combine all ingredients into a shaggy ball in a large bowl. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead with your hands until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Kneading will likely take 10-20 minutes, depending on your experience. Place the dough ball into a greased bowl. Cover and allow to rise until double. Deflate the dough gently and shape as indicated in the recipe.
  • Please note: If you only have active dry yeast, use 1/4 teaspoon more than called for in the recipe. It no longer needs to be dissolved first, but you can if you prefer.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Chocolate Bread Machine Recipe for Cinnamon Rolls
Serving Size
 
1 slice
Amount per Serving
Calories
 
248
Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
11
g
17
%
Saturated Fat
 
5
g
31
%
Trans Fat
 
1
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Cholesterol
 
39
mg
13
%
Sodium
 
219
mg
10
%
Carbohydrates
 
34
g
11
%
Fiber
 
2
g
8
%
Sugar
 
15
g
17
%
Protein
 
5
g
10
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Author: Paula Rhodes
Course: Bread
Cuisine: American
Keywords: bread machine recipe, breakfast yeast bread, chocolate cinnamon rolls, chocolate cinnamon rolls with chocolate frosting
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4 Comments

  1. These look delicious! I would like to make them using a bread flour substitute. Do you happen to know how much vital wheat gluten I should add to each cup of all purpose flour to accomplish this?

    Thanks so much.

    1. Hi Jocelyn,
      Good to hear from you. I’m sorry that I don’t know how much vital wheat gluten you would have to add. Most people who use bread flour substitutes don’t want to eat gluten so they wouldn’t add vital wheat gluten to anything they eat. I’m not hopeful that you would have something delicious, but I haven’t tried it so I can’t really say.

  2. Catherine Campbell says:

    5 stars
    First, a belated THANK YOU for this website! It was a lifesaver during lockdown & supply chain issues.
    I’ve made these yummy rolls & they are a neighborhood fave. For the holidays, I added some orange zest to the filling since that seemed Christmassy, and it worked out beautifully. I’m going to try baking this as a loaf & using for French toast next.
    Thanks again!

    1. Hi Catherine,
      I love hearing from you. What a great idea to add orange zest. You must be a rockstar in your neighborhood!! Thanks for writing.