The absolute BEST chocolate sweet roll ever! Gooey, chocolatey, decadent, and perfect anytime thanks to a secret ingredient and fudgy frosting!
If you love those gooey cinnamon rolls AND you love chocolate, you are going to LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe! It has all the perfect textures of a fluffy cinnamon roll but in a chocolate form! Heck, even the filling and frosting is chocolate. Did I also mention there’s no cinnamon either?
The BEST Homemade Sweet Rolls!
Growing up, my Mom was “known” for her baked goods. She just had this knack for making amazing bread, cakes, cookies, and fudge. However, one thing she could not make like my Grandma was her cinnamon rolls. She’d even use her recipe but they never turned out quite right. They were always ‘tough’ or ‘bready’. She made them so much that I, to this day, am not a huge fan of cinnamon rolls. But what I did love was my Grandmother’s sweet rolls. She’d make mine sans cinnamon and go with a butter sugared vanilla filling instead. Hers were fluffy, billowy, and gooey.
However what I am a HUGE fan of are these Chocolate Sweet Rolls! Seriously these rolls are so pillowy soft and fluffy that they practically melt in your mouth. And it’s all thanks to her secret ingredient but I’ll get to that later on.
Two must-have Ingredients for this recipe
As a professional Chef, I’m super picky about the ingredients I use. Once I find a brand that meets my level of expectation, it’s one that I will only use. It’s the only brand I’ll trust.
I’ve been using Rodelle Cocoas and extracts for decades in my kitchens. Simply put, it’s the best. I get the same repeatable quality of excellence from the first usage to my latest usage.
- Chocolate extract – this is something that I use in every chocolate recipe. Just like you use vanilla extract in recipes, this chocolate extract takes chocolate dishes to the next level!
- Cocoa powder – Made with one of the highest levels of cocoa butter on the market, you’re getting an absolute SUPERIOR chocolate flavor!
Chocolate Sweet Roll Ingredients
What I love about this recipe is uses basic ingredients:
- Dairy – butter, milk, cream
- Chocolate Extract (seriously this NEEDS to be a pantry stable folks!)
- Egg(s) – depends on how big of a batch you make
- Dry ingredients – flour, yeast, Cocoa powder, salt
- Brown Sugar
For this, you have two choices. I opted for the chocolate fudge although it was a resounding CHOCOLATE CREAM CHEESE poll winner on social media. I didn’t use it in this recipe as I was out of cream cheese.
- Chocolate Fudge which is chopped chocolate and sweetened condensed milk; OR
- Chocolate Cream Cheese which is Cocoa powder, cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar, and a pinch of salt
How to make these sweet rolls
I use my absolute FAVORITE mixer for all of my doughs and cookies at home. This mixer y’all can hold up to 22 cups of flour – literally, 12 pounds of dough at once! Watch the video below as it’s pretty straightforward. I do want to comment on a few items about this dough.
- The dough will be tacky/sticky. You want this so please watch how much flour you put in this.
- It is a VERY soft dough when you scrape it out of your mixer and into your greased bowl.
- Due to the addition of Cocoa powder, this dough takes about 90 minutes in a 100F proofing box. So plan accordingly.
- I’ve not made this dough (or regular sweet roll dough) by hand as it’s such soft dough. You’re welcome to try it though.
Chocolate Sweet Roll Filling
This is one thing that I had to play around with to get the right flavor while keeping the filling “cinnamon-rollesque”. I wanted it sweet and melt just enough into the dough while still being able to see (and taste) the layers.
Just 3 ingredients are all that’s needed for this:
- Very soft butter, unsalted
- Light brown sugar
- Cocoa powder
To mix, just all of the ingredients to a bowl and mix until it’s a soft paste.
How to Roll Sweet Rolls
After about 90 minutes, my dough was doubled in size – that’s what you’re looking for!
- Liberally flour a board and, using a dough scraper, scrape the dough out of the bowl and onto the board.
- Sprinkle both sides of the dough with flour and your rolling pin. Roll it out to about a 22×15″ rectangle. You want the dough to be about a 1/4″ thick so your rectangle’s exact size may vary. Since I was making this recipe for the shoot, I made half of the batch so my rectangle was only about 13-14″ by 10 as I wanted thicker layers.
- You may have to repeat lightly coating the dough and the rolling pin with flour to get it to roll out. It’s an easy dough to roll but because it’s tacky, it may stick. Just take your time but do not use an excessive amount of flour.
- Once rolled out, evenly spread out the filling over the entire rectangle.
- Starting at the long end, roll up the dough tightly like a jellyroll, pinching the seam at the end.
Make sure your roll has even thickness as this will help for a more even bake.
Cutting Sweet Rolls
There are 47 different ways that folks swear by cutting these things. I found that since this is such a soft dough that unflavored dental floss works best or a VERY sharp, thin blade I would not recommend using a serrated knife on this.
- Slide the floss underneath the roll, take both ends of the floss, pull them up on each side, cross them over the top of the roll, and pull the ends to slice.
- Place the sliced rolls into a buttered baking dish.
- Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise again for 20 minutes or until almost doubled.
At this point, you can preheat your oven to 375F.
The Secret to Gooey Sweet Rolls
So this “secret” I did not find out about until after my Grandma had passed and I was going through her recipes. Oh, she gave my Mom her recipe – well, what was listed on the front of the recipe card. It wasn’t until I turned the card over did I see she left out one minor, but seriously crucial detail.
Right before baking her sweet rolls, any of them, I can remember grandma heating a pan of what I thought was milk and pouring it over the dough before she baked it. I came to realize that it was actually heavy cream (FYI, skim or no-fat/milk substitute doesn’t work well in this as you NEED that higher fat). She’d pour it on and let it sit for about 5 minutes to almost ‘soak’ in.
In a way, this process acts almost like when you make a Panade (milk and bread for say meatballs or meatloaf). That softened bread and liquid are what help keep the items tender. Well, heavy cream acts like that. It helps to tenderize the dough as it bakes. And it’s what makes these gooey and so pillowy soft!
You want to use warm cream and not hot. As the rolls bake, the cream heats up and gets pulled into the dough becoming the secret as to why these things are just so amazing! Now with cinnamon rolls, when you’d bake them, you’d look for them to be golden brown. Since these are chocolate, it’s hard to tell by the color. So I trust my digital thermometer. Insert it into the dough and look for 200F.
Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 15-60 minutes before adding the frosting. I like to let them cool a bit as I don’t want my frosting to seep into the rolls but hey, you do you. There really is no wrong way to frost these.
Chocolate Fudge Frosting
I love this 2-ingredient frosting. Literally, just add sweetened condensed milk and chopped chocolate (or REALLY high-quality chocolate chips) to a bowl and microwave in 30-second increments. Once it’s melted and shiny, work fast on spreading it on top as it sets fast (well unless your rolls are still warm).
Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
This honestly is pretty tasty and definitely something you’ll want to use this holiday season!
- Whip softened cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add in the confectioners’ sugar, salt, and cocoa powder.
- Beat until light and fluffy. If desired, add a tablespoon or so of cream to make it to desired consistency.
Seriously y’all, these sweet rolls are what dreams are made of. If you love chocolate and breakfast rolls, you will LOVE THESE!
Now I still make cinnamon rolls for Mr. Fantabulous but these are my personal favorite. What I love about it is you also add other things to the filling and frosting:
- mini chocolate chips
- cinnamon – yes, chocolate and cinnamon pair well
- caramel or peanut butter
Freezing Sweet Roll Dough
When I have freezer space, I’ll make up a few individual pans of these and freeze them. What I do not do is bake them before freezing. No, simply let the dough rise the first time, roll, slice, and place on a sprayed parchment-lined pan about an inch apart.
- Pop the tray into the freezer, unwrapped, and freeze until mostly frozen.
- Remove the pan from the freezer, pop the frozen rolls into a freezer-safe bag and freeze for a month
- When I want to bake them, I’ll place some frozen ones in a buttered baking dish, cover them with plastic wrap, and place them in the fridge overnight to thaw.
- Remove the pan from the fridge, and allow the rolls to perform the second rise.
- Bake as directed.
Overnight Sweet Rolls
This is something Grandma did every Christmas growing up. She’d have trays of these in her fridge as we would go to her house for breakfast while we had dinner at ours. Grandma would make the rolls the night before, slice them up and place them in the buttered trays. Then she’d pop them into the fridge (covered) overnight.
The next morning she’d get up an hour or so before everyone and take the trays out of the fridge, let them come to room temperature, and then do the 2nd rise. By the time we got there, she was pulling warm sweet or cinnamon rolls out of the oven.
How to store sweet rolls
Does saying ‘your belly’ count as an acceptable answer? Once they are done and cooled, IF you have any leftovers, cover the pan with plastic wrap and leave it on the counter for up to 3 days.
To reheat, place in a warm 350F lightly covered with foil for a few minutes.
Equipment I used to make Sweet Rolls
- Stand Mixer – seriously this one is THE BEST I’ve ever used in my career!
- Rolling Pin – what I love about this one is it had a ruler on it!
- Dough Scrapers – trust me, you will love these!
- Bread Proofer – I’ve had this for years and not only does it fold down to fit on a shelf, but it’s also one of my favorite kitchen items!
Chocolate Sweet Rolls with Fudge Frosting
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Proofing: 2.5 hours
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 3 hours
- Category: baking, breakfast, desserts, sweet rolls, brunch
- Method: baking
- Cuisine: baking, breakfast, desserts, sweet rolls, brunch
The absolute BEST chocolate sweet roll ever! Gooey, chocolatey, decadent, and perfect anytime thanks to a secret ingredient and fudge frosting!
Chocolate Sweet Roll Dough
- 306.1 grams / 1 1/4 cups warm whole milk
- 85.2 grams / 6 tablespoons softened butter, unsalted
- 7 grams of instant dry yeast
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons Rodelle Chocolate Extract
- 132.6 grams / 2/3 cups of granulated sugar
- 37.9 grams / 1/4 cup Rodelle Cocoa Powder
- 600 grams / 4 3/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 6 grams / 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 117.6 grams / 1/2 cup heavy cream, warmed
Chocolate Sweet Roll Filling
- 113.4 grams / 8 tablespoons softened butter, unsalted
- 195 grams / 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 37.9 grams / 4 tablespoons Rodelle Cocoa Powder
- 14 ounce can Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 280 grams / 1 3/4 cup chopped chocolate or high-quality chocolate chips
*See notes for the Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting recipe
Make the Dough
- To the bowl of a stand mixer, add the milk, butter, sugar, egg, yeast, and Rodelle Chocolate Extract. Mix just to melt the sugar. In a separate bowl add the flour, Rodelle Cocoa Powder, and salt. Whisk to combine.
- Turn off the mixer and add in the dry ingredients. Turn the mixer on low and mix for about a minute. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides. Turn it back on and mix for about 5-7 minutes more, scraping down as needed.
- The dough should start to pull away from the sides. *Note that the dough will be very sticky/tacky/soft. This is what helps make it gooey. I add between 4 ½ – ¾ cups of flour depending on my ambient kitchen temp and humidity.
- Use a spatula and transfer the dough to a large greased bowl. Cover and proof until doubled in size – typically 90 minutes to 2 hours.
Roll, Slice and Rise Again
- While the dough is rising, prepare the chocolate sweet roll filling by mixing all of the ingredients together into a paste. Set aside.
- On a generously floured board, scrape your dough out. Sprinkle the top of the dough and your rolling pin with flour. Roll out into a rectangle roughly 22×15” in size though this can vary. It’s not super exact. If you want thinner layers, roll it out larger. I opt for smaller as I want thicker layers. *Note: You may have to repeat lightly coating the dough and the rolling pin with flour to get it to roll out. It’s an easy dough to roll but because it’s tacky, it may stick. Just take your time but do not use an excessive amount of flour.
- Once rolled out, evenly spread out the filling over the entire rectangle. Starting at the long end, roll up the dough tightly like a jellyroll, pinching the seam at the end. To slice, use unflavored dental floss to slice into 6 (if doing a half batch), 12, or 15 rolls.
- Place the sliced rolls into a buttered baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for about 20 minutes or just until doubled in size.
Add the Secret Ingredient & Bake
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. 5 minutes before baking, remove the plastic wrap, and pour the warm cream all over the rolls. Let this sit for 5 minutes to soak in a bit.
- Bake for 18-25 minutes or until the internal temperature of the dough is 200F. The time will vary based on how big or little the rolls are. Check them at around 19 minutes. If the tops start to get too dark, loosely cover with foil.
- Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes to 60 minutes before frosting. See post for details.
Frost & Enjoy
- Add ingredients to a microwave-safe dish and heat in 30-second increments stirring after each session. Once the mixture is smooth and shiny, spread as little or as much on the rolls as desired. *See notes for the Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting recipe
Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces softened cream cheese
- 70.9 grams / 5 tablespoons softened butter, unsalted
- 241.8 grams / 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 37.9 grams / 4 tablespoons Rodelle Cocoa Powder
- Pinch kosher salt
- 1-2 tablespoons heavy cream *optional
- In a large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add in the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Beat until smooth and creamy. If desired, add a tablespoon or two of heavy cream for a looser consistency
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Recipe Reviews & Comments
nyla ieu says
It took me a while, but I have a total sweet tooth so it was worth it!
Absolutely outstanding! Made these over the weekend and they were a huge family hit! Chocolate for breakfast! WIN WIN! Make these chocolate sweet rolls all!