I’m not here to tell you to eat your vegetables.
My strategy lately is more like, eat all of the sugar until your body absolutely cannot take it anymore and it’s actually craaaaaving green things.
So like, have a salad and the next morning throw some carrots in your cinnamon rolls and we’ll call it even, yeah?
I was really skeptical of carrot cake for a while, I promise you. And then I saw one that I just couldn’t resist with stripes of cream cheese frosting and I was quickly in love. I even choose carrot cake over chocolate things sometimes!
These cinnamon rolls are rich, creamy, and bursting with flavor having been stuffed with toasted pecans and brown sugar. For a yeast dough, this one is fairly simple and straightforward! Don’t be alarmed by the amount of ingredients and steps, just read the whole recipe through once and then take it one step at a time. That is allllll bread is. One step at a time.
The carrots in this recipe add a really nice texture to the dough, they almost melt into it and it feels like you’re eating funfetti cinnamon rolls!
Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls
makes 2 dozen
for the dough:
2 cups whole milk
1/2 c unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/2 c sugar
1 packet yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1 1/2 c grated carrots (about 3 medium)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
4 1/2 c all purpose flour, divided
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
for the filling:
1/2 c unsalted butter, melted
1 c brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 c pecans, chopped
1/2 c shredded coconut (optional)
for the cream cheese frosting:
4 oz cream cheese (or mascarpone! I used mascarpone! it’s so creamy!)
1.5 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 TBSP milk
For the dough:
-Combine the milk, butter and sugar in a large pot over medium heat. Bring just to a simmer and stir to dissolve sugar. Allow to cool to a temperature that feels like a hot shower you’d want to get into after a day in the snow (about 105 degrees). Sprinkle the yeast over the top and allow to sit for about three minutes.
-While the yeast mixture is setting, grate the carrots over a clean dishtowel that you don't care about at all. Squeeze the carrots out over a sink and squeal in delight at the vibrant orange color that carrot juice actually is. You’re drying the carrots out as much as possible here so the water content doesn’t mess with the dough.
-Pour the yeast/milk mixture into a large bowl. Stir in two cups of the flour, the nutmeg and the ginger until combined. Stir in another cup, and stir in a final cup of flour with the grated carrots until combined. Cover with a damp towel and allow to proof for about an hour in a draft free space. (you can put this in the oven with the oven turned off but the oven light turned on- the heat from the light creates a really great temperature for proofing!
-After an hour the dough should be doubled in size and smell yeasty. Stir in the final 1/2 cup flour along with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Turn out onto a generously floured surface and knead slightly. You want this dough to be soft but not too sticky to roll out- add flour 1/4 cup at a time if it feels too sticky!
-Grease two 9” pans with butter or canola oil. Set aside.
-Divide dough into two equal rounds and then roll out into rectangles that are about 1/4” thick, about 10”x16”
-Melt the butter. Pour half of the butter mixture onto the first rolled out rectangle, brush the butter to evenly cover the surface leaving a 1/2” boundary around all edges. Sprinkle half of the brown sugar evenly across the surface, followed by half of the cinnamon and pecans and coconut, if using.
-Starting from the far edge, slowly roll the dough into a log (lengthwise). I like to use my fingers in a typewriter fashion here, moving from one end of the log to the other. Cut the log into 12 equal rolls using a bench scraper, then place in the pie dish cut side up. It’s okay if it’s not perfect! You’re covering it with icing later! And no one on this good earth has ever been mad about an ugly cinnamon roll once it goes in their face, I promise.
-Repeat with the other half of the dough, and allow both trays to sit on the stove for a second proof while you preheat the oven to 375.
-Bake for 20-22 minutes, until golden brown.
-While the rolls are baking, whisk together all the ingredients for the frosting until it’s pourable, adjusting the confectioners sugar and milk as needed to get it to your desired texture.
-Pour the frosting onto the rolls immediately after they come out of the oven- these are fantastic hot or at room temperature, we ate them for every meal for an entire day!!
YAY! YOU DID IT! NOW YOU GET TO EAT SOME BUNNNNNSSS TO CELEBRATE!