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Chocolate Cranberry Sweet Rolls

These fluffy, pillowy-soft sweet rolls are made with a buttery brioche dough, and swirled with a combination of tangy-sweet cranberries and rich dark chocolate. Think of them as cinnamon rolls for chocolate lovers, perfect for a weekend or holiday breakfast!

  • Author: Alexandra
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Rising Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 35 minutes
  • Yield: 12 sweet rolls 1x
  • Category: pastries and sweet rolls
  • Method: baking
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Scale

Brioche Dough

  • 8 1/2 ounces (1 cup) whole milk, divided
  • 1 3/4 ounces (1/4 cup) granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 ounces (5 tablespoons) butter, cubed
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 lb 2 1/8 ounces (4 1/4 cups) bread flour, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Cranberry Chocolate Filling

  • 7 1/4 ounces (2 cups) frozen cranberries
  • 3 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 6 ounces (1 cup) good-quality chocolate chips or chopped chocolate 
  • milk, for brushing

Instructions

Brioche Dough:

  1. Proof the yeast: Pour 2 ⅛ ounces (or ¼ cup) of milk into a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 10-20 seconds, or until warm but not hot  (between 105-110ºF). Stir in one tablespoon of sugar. Sprinkle yeast on top and stir in. Let mixture sit until a foamy layer forms on the surface (about 15-20 minutes).
  2. Warm butter and milk: While the yeast is proofing, combine cubed butter and remaining 6 ⅜ ounces (¾ cup) of milk in a second microwave-safe bowl, microwaving the mixture just until the butter melts (usually 40-50 seconds). Stir and let cool until lukewarm before moving on to step 3.
  3. Combine into dough: Add lukewarm butter mixture to proofed yeast along with the egg. Mix together with a large spoon, breaking up the egg in the process. Add 17 ounces (4 cups) bread flour, remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar, and salt. Fold the dry ingredients in until a shaggy dough forms.
  4. Knead: Turn dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and begin to knead. It should be very soft, but shouldn't stick to your hands or the kneading surface; if it does, add more flour a bit at a time. (I usually need to add no more than an additional 1 ⅛ ounces (¼ cup)). Knead until tender and elastic, about 10 minutes. Then, shape into a smooth ball.
  5. Rise: Lightly grease a bowl about twice the size of the dough. Transfer dough to bowl, turning over once to coat the top surface with oil. Cover bowl with oiled plastic wrap and let rise at warm room temperature until doubled in size (typically around 90-105 minutes).

Cranberry Chocolate Filling:

  1. Prep the filling: Combine cranberries and granulated sugar in a food processor fitted with the steel blade attachment. Pulse together until cranberries are finely chopped. Place back in the freezer to keep cold while rolling out dough. Chop chocolate for filling if you have not already done so (standard size chocolate chips don't need to be chopped).

Assembling and Baking the Chocolate Rolls:

  1. Prep pan and rolling surface: Grease a standard 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray. Lightly flour a surface for rolling; a large sheet of parchment works well.
  2. Roll out dough:  Transfer dough to rolling surface and roll out to a 12" x 16" rectangle, keeping the thickness of the dough even throughout.
  3. Add filling: Brush dough lightly with milk, leaving about a 1" clear border along the longer sides. Sprinkle cranberry mixture evenly on top, followed by chopped chocolate or chocolate chips.
  4. Roll and slice: Starting with one of the 16" sides, roll dough up as tightly as possible, doing your best to keep the filling in place as you go. Once rolled into a log, use fingertips to seal dough at the opposite end, and roll the dough so that the seam is at the bottom. Use a sharp chef's knife or serrated knife to cut the log into twelve equal pieces.
  5. Second rise: Carefully transfer individual rolls to prepared muffin pan. If any filling leaks out in the process, spoon over tops of rolls in pan. Lightly cover rolls with a piece of oiled plastic wrap and let rise until very puffy. Once the rolls are starting to rise above the top of the pan, they're ready to bake.
  6. Bake: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Bake rolls in preheated oven for 20-23 minutes, just until the rolls around the outer edges of the pan are starting to turn golden. Let cool briefly before serving.

Notes

Recipe Tips

  • When rolling this dough out, keep in mind that the cranberry filling could potentially stain any porous surface. 
  • Don't force the rolls into the muffin pan if they seem too large; instead, try using a jumbo muffin pan or 9"x 13" baking dish. 

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions: 

  • I recommend whole milk, but would suggest nothing less than 2%.
  • Instant yeast will also work for this recipe; note that your dough will likely rise faster if using it. 
  • I prefer salted butter in this recipe, but unsalted will work too. 
  • To quickly bring an egg to room temperature, place it in a cup filled with warm water and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
  • Although I highly recommend using bread flour for these sweet rolls, all-purpose flour would likely work in a pinch. No matter what you use, weigh it if possible, or use the spoon and level method if measuring by volume. Only use as much flour as you need to form a soft dough that doesn't stick to your hands. 
  • Frozen cranberries can most likely be substituted with fresh, but I haven't tested it. 
  • I recommend a good-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate for this recipe; I'd suggest using one with no higher than 75% cocoa. 

Storing and Reheating: 

  • If not serving immediately, cool rolls to room temperature on a wire rack before storing in an airtight container or zip-top bag in the refrigerator. Individual rolls can be reheated in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. 

Keywords: chocolate rolls, chocolate sweet rolls, cranberry rolls, sweet rolls, chocolate bread rolls,