I hope you’re having a great week and enjoying the start of the holiday season. To me, the Holidays are a time for warm flavors like vanilla bean, roasted apples, pumpkin and of course caramel. The flavors that can be used in both sweet and savory. Comfort foods. The holiday season also means spending more time indoors, in the kitchen, baking. Making more complex recipes because things are finally slowing down after summertime and you have an hour to watch a show while the dough rests.
If the holiday season is more stressful than fun for you, getting to work with dough is super therapeutic for me. And if that doesn’t do it for you, getting to eat a caramel walnut roll? That’s the best form of therapy out there.
Caramel walnut rolls are my all-time favorite pastry. First and foremost, because I absolutely adore caramel. You know those 3 for a dollar homemade soft caramel that little gift shops sell? Those are the way to my heart. Take the crappy icing off of a cinnamon roll and put caramel on it? I’m all in. Not to mention they’re warm and buttery and full of brown sugar, is there really any better comfort food? I don’t think so.
The house I grew up in was a few blocks away from a bakery that sold the best caramel pecan rolls, they were so good, I would gladly be late to school to pick one up on my way. Now every time I visit Winona, I always stop by the bakery to grab a couple on my way out of town.
Now that I live in Qatar, my trips to Winona are rare and I still find myself craving these things. So why not make them myself? I figured it really couldn’t be THAT hard, cinnamon rolls are easy to make, and they’re basically the same thing. Plus I already have a super yummy caramel sauce recipe. The best part was that I got to use walnuts instead of pecans. I’m just not a huge fan of pecans. I went for it and I was not disappointed.
When To Make These
This recipe makes about 12 large rolls, so ideally these are for a crowd. They make an awesome holiday breakfast, I mean they literally smell like Christmas when they’re baking. But they could be used for a brunch or if you’re having guests over. You could make them fresh and bring them to work to share. They only take about 25 minutes to bake so you could easily prepare everything the night before, then pop them in the oven and hop in the shower. Pull them out and bring hot caramel walnut rolls to work with you that morning.
This recipe is pretty self-explanatory but I just wanted to make some notes for anyone who’s never made rolls before. First, if you don’t have time to rest the dough for a full hour, you can cut the rising time in half by placing the dough in a warm, humid spot. I put mine in the laundry room with the dryer running and it rises in about 30 minutes.
Secondly, when you’re rolling the dough, you want to make sure you’re getting a nice, even rectangle and that the dough is of even thickness all the way through. If not you’re going to end up with all different shapes and sizes.
Lastly, a not on caramel. When you’re making the caramel sauce, consider that it will continue to cook slightly in the oven, and that will thicken it up just a little bit. So when you cook the caramel sauce, take it off the heat just a little bit before it reaches you’re desired consistency.
Prep: 30 minutes | Rest: 1 Hour | Bake: 25-30 Minutes 350° F| Yield: 12 Large rolls
For the dough
- 1 C Whole Milk, warm
- 1 Packet (2 1\4 tsp) Yeast
- 3.5-4 C All Purpose Flour
- 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
- 2 Large Eggs
- 4 TBSP Butter, melted
- 1/2 tsp Salt
For the Caramel Sauce
- 2 C Walnuts or Pecans, roughly chopped
- 1/2 C (1 stick) Butter
- 1 C Brown Sugar, packed
- 1 C Heavy Cream
- 1/2 C Light Corn Syrup
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla
For the Filling
3/4 C Brown Sugar
2 TBSP Cinnamon
2 TBSP Butter, melted
- Warm milk in microwave safe bowl, add yeast and let sit 2-3 minutes.
- In a large bowl whisk together eggs, salt, brown sugar, butter, and yeast mixture.
- Add 3.5 C of flour and mix until a crumbly dough forms. Dump onto a floured surface and knead the dough until smooth. If it still seems wet, add another 1/2 C of flour.
- Place in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- In a saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar together, stir in heavy cream and corn syrup. Bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes or until the caramel is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- In a greased 13×9 glass baking pan, add walnuts and pour caramel sauce over top.
- Once the dough is done rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
- On a floured surface, roll the dough out to a semi-thin rectangle. Remove any rounded or jagged edges.
- Using a pastry brush, brush melted butter over the top of the dough. Evenly spread the cinnamon and brown sugar over top and gently press it into the butter.
- Starting from the longest side of the dough, roll into an even log.
- Cut the log into 1.5-2 in. pieces and place each piece in the caramel and walnuts.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Cool slightly.
- Once cooled, invert the pan onto a large plate or cookie sheet, covered with parchment.
- Serve warm.