These Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls are the perfect addition to your Spring's sweet treat menu. They are most certainly not your traditional cinnamon rolls and the bold carrot cake flavor won't disappoint. Super fluffy, thick, sweet, and a bit of a crunch from the pecans tucked away in between each roll; this recipe is one of my favorite cinnamon roll recipes to date. Topped with a light cream cheese glaze, these cinnamon rolls will have you feeling like you've cut into a nice, moist slice of carrot cake, indeed.
Start by combining the yeast and brown sugar in a small bowl and then slowly pouring in the warm water, while stirring everything together. Allow 10 minutes for the mixture to sit and the yeast to activate (It'll become foamy when done right!).
Meanwhile, melt the butter and milk together over the stovetop on low to medium heat, stirring frequently until the butter has fully melted. NOTE: You don't want the mixture to get too hot or boil! Set aside and let it cool.
Next, combine the all-purpose flour, brown sugar, sea salt and spices in a large mixer bowl and stir until well combined. Then add eggs and grated carrots and stir again.
Add the dry ingredients and yeast mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, until well incorporated.
Change "mixer head" to kneading accessory and knead dough for 5-10 minutes on medium-high speed until dough ball becomes smooth and elastic and dough springs back when lightly pressed with 2 fingers. NOTE: If dough is too sticky, add 1 Tbsp of flour at a time until texture is achieved!
Once dough ball is perfectly kneaded, add it to a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit and rise for 1 hour to an hour + 15 minutes.
In the meantime, you can work on the filling!
Melt butter and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, and brown sugar and set aside as well. In a separate bowl, add chopped pecans (and/or walnuts) set aside also.
Once the hour has gone by and your dough has risen (almost doubled in size), preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, flour a flat surface and place the dough on it and using a rolling pin, roll it out to a rectangle (approximately 9"x14), trimming the edges if needed. NOTE: Try not to make the dough too thin or else rolling it up will be hard to do!
Then, generously brush melted butter overtop of dough and spoon the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the butter and generously sprinkle nuts atop the cinnamon-sugar mixture. NOTE: I also use a brush to sweep sugar mixture evenly across the dough to ensure that every bite is sweet!
Tightly roll dough (long-ways) and using a pastry cutter, cut dough into 1.5" rolls, placing each roll into a large baking dish (lined with parchment paper!).
Then place plastic wrap over the baking dish with rolls and let them rise again (for another 20 minutes).
Once the rolls have doubled in size for a second time (or have gotten significantly larger), brush rolls with a little more melted butter and then bake them for approximately 25 minutes in the preheated oven.
While all the baking magic is happening, make the cream cheese glaze (recipe in Notes) and set aside.
Remove the rolls from oven and wait 5 minutes or so, and then drizzle glaze atop everything and garnish with freshly grate carrots and chopped nuts, if desired.
CREAM CHEESE GLAZE:
***Directions: Simply combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer & beat together on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and coconut milk, and continue to mix on medium speed until you reach the desired consistency. **Add more milk (1 Tbsp at a time if too thick).
RAPID (INSTANT) RISE YEAST VS. ACTIVE DRY YEAST: If you’re not using the Rapid Rise Yeast for this recipe, please know that the rise time will be twice as long (about 3 hours) since regular Active Yeast doesn’t work as quickly.
OVERNIGHT OPTION: If you don’t want to make your Cinnamon Rolls on the same day, you can simply follow all steps (including the initial 1+ hour rise) and after cutting rolls and placing them into your baking pan, just cover them tightly (using foil paper of plastic wrap) and refrigerate them overnight or for 8-12 hours instead. The following day, remove from refrigerator and keeping them covered, let cinnamon rolls rise at room temp 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
TO STORE: Cinnamon Rolls can be kept fresh at room temperature when tightly wrapped or sealed for up to 3 days. Fresh for up to 1 week in the Refrigerator. Baked rolls can be frozen up to 2 months.
TOASTED PECANS: Add chopped pecans to a baking sheet and toasting them in the oven (400 degrees Fahrenheit) for 5-10 minutes, tossing them halfway to avoid browning on one side.