Someone should probably stop me before I turn into a human pretzel! I just can’t get enough of that salty-sweet flavor and crispy texture. These pretzel cinnamon rolls are soft, buttery, and sweet on the inside, but crisp and salty on the outside. Top it off with maple whiskey glaze and it’s tough to ask for anything more! And yes… I did go a little crazy with the pictures today =P.
As the classic joke goes, I love cooking with whiskey, and sometimes I even put it in the food. Cue the groans. 😀 back when I shared my pumpkin bread pudding I mentioned the bottle of Crown Royal maple-aged whiskey that I got on a tremendous sale. Ever since then, I’ve been digging that maple whiskey pairing. Thankfully, I exercised enough self-control and managed to make the bottle last until almost November! Whiskey + maple makes for a deep, nutty flavor that works perfectly with cinnamon.
The pretzel cinnamon rolls did go through a trial and error process. Here’s what they looked like the first time (which I used to tempt everyone on Instagram):
They tasted great, but they were too dense inside, and didn’t have quite enough surface area for pretzel-crusting. The main issue was that my dough was not moist/tacky enough. The secondary issue was that they needed to be cut into fewer, larger rolls. After I noted these things, I made some tweaks, and after some testing, the final recipe was born. Ah, seriously what’s better than a warm cinnamon roll and a cup of coffee on a cold, rainy morning? (Answer: the kitchen staff of Vedge cooking me a five-course breakfast in bed).
So pretzelfy your cinnamon rolls today! Or don’t. The pretzel topping is optional, these are great as regular cinnamon rolls too. =]
Pretzel Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Whiskey Glaze
For the dough:
- 1/2 cup plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk very warm (but not burning hot)
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar divided (or light brown sugar)
- 1 tbsp active dry yeast scant (1 packet)
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour plus more for kneading
- 1/2 tsp salt (if you skip the pretzel topping, increase this to 3/4 tsp.)
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 ripe banana mashed very well
- 2 tbsp coconut oil melted and warm
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil (or more coconut oil; I used avocado oil)
For the filling:
- 3 tbsp coconut oil softened
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
For the pretzel crust:
- 2 tbsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- coarse sea salt
- Turbinado sugar
For the maple whiskey glaze:
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar (you can use powdered coconut sugar, though the glaze will have a dark color)
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp whiskey
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- cornstarch (if needed)
To prepare the sweet roll dough:
- Stir 2 tb. of the sugar into the warm milk until mostly dissolved. Stir in the yeast. Set aside for 5-10 minutes until frothy. If it never becomes frothy, there is a problem with your liquid temperature or with the yeast being inactive, so you'll need to start over.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, add the flours, salt, and ground nutmeg, and stir together to combine.
- Once the yeast has been activated, whisk the remaining sugar, mashed banana, and oils into the yeast mixture.
- Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet mixture into it. Stir until the dough comes together. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let the dough rest for about 10 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. (Or however you prefer to knead your dough - I mix the dough in a wide nonstick bowl and knead it in the same place). Knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and slightly springy (but still tacky, i.e., it has a feeling of being moist even though it doesn't stick to your hands very much).
- Place the ball of kneaded dough in a warm place and cover it with a damp towel. Let rise for about 90 minutes, or until doubled in size.
To shape and fill the cinnamon rolls:
- Punch down the risen dough and transfer it to a well-floured surface. Prepare a square baking pan, lightly greased.
- Roll out the dough into a large rectangle, approximately 10 by 18 inches. Spread the softened coconut oil onto the dough, leaving a small border around the edges.
- Stir together the ground cinnamon and coconut sugar, and sprinkle it evenly over the coconut oil.
- Roll the rectangle of dough hotdog-style into a log about 18 inches in length. Moisten your fingers with water to seal the edge of the dough.
- Cut the roll into 9 equally-sized pieces. If you measured out 18 inches, then each piece would be 2 inches wide. Some people like to use a piece of thread to make a clean cut; I just use a very sharp knife.
- Place the rolls in three even rows into the greased baking dish. Cover loosely with a towel, and place somewhere warm to rise for about an hour, or until they have risen again to fill the baking dish. (Alternately, you can cover the dish with plastic wrap and let rise in the refrigerator overnight, then bring to room temperature again before you proceed).
To make the optional pretzel topping:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Whisk the baking soda into the boiling water. Use a brush to lightly coat the tops of the rolls with the mixture. Quickly sprinkle with a 50-50 mixture of coarse salt and coarse sugar. Bake immediately (see next section).
To bake the pretzel cinnamon rolls:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit if you haven't already. Bake the pretzel cinnamon rolls for about 25 minutes, or until they spring back when pressed.
- If you have chosen to use the pretzel topping and the crust is browned before the rolls are done all the way through, cover the pan for the remainder of the baking time.
To make the maple whiskey glaze:
- While the pretzel cinnamon rolls cool, whisk together all of the ingredients for the glaze. If the glaze is too thin, you can add cornstarch to thicken it.
- After the rolls have cooled for at least 15 minutes, drizzle the glaze over them.
- Leftover rolls will keep for up to 2-3 days in a tightly covered container in the fridge, or up to 2 weeks in the freezer (if freezing, I recommend not glazing them first).
The banana should be very ripe and soft. If it isn't quite there, it will still work in the recipe, but it will impart a noticeable banana flavor.
The turbinado sugar is used to add to the "crunch" of coarse salt without making the rolls overly salty. If you don't have it, you can omit it, but be judicious with the salt in that case.
These pretzel cinnamon rolls were made using sweet roll dough adapted from Food Network. Wondering why the instructions call for 9 rolls but these pictures show that I made 8? Ya… I screwed up this batch. I absentmindedly cut the log in half and at that point I was kind of forced to make an even number… 🙂