Chocolate Pistachio Cinnamon Rolls with Orange Glaze

Photo credit: Caryssa Lim

// Written  by Caryssa Lim //

I have an ongoing list of things that make me happy tucked into the last page of my journal. If you ever have a chance to take a look, you would find that the list is comprised partly of food and partly of dogs, with the rest being just a mixture of weird little quirks. What’s at the top of this list, you ask? The answer is, naturally, cinnamon rolls. One of my happiest moments was the first time I made these sweet rolls. I call them cinnamon rolls, but they’re also bedazzled with pistachios, dark chocolate, and orange zest too, so they’re more like cinnamon rolls on steroids.

Cinnamon rolls are traditionally leavened with yeast, and these rolls were my first foray into making yeast breads. If you’ve ever worked with yeast, you know how nerve-racking it is to wait while your dough is rising, and you definitely know what a bummer it is when your dough fails to rise properly. I guarantee you though that you won’t encounter any such problems with this recipe—it really is foolproof. The first time I made these cinnamon rolls they were perfect, and they’ve been perfect every time I’ve made them since. This recipe was originally posted by Joy the Baker, and she has my eternal love for introducing these cinnamon rolls into my life.


For the Rolls:
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 packet (0.25 oz) active dry yeast (about 2 1/4 tsp)
~4 1/2 cups of flour, divided
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
scant 2 tsp salt

For the Filling:
1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 oz) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar
ground cinnamon, to taste
zest of 1 orange
1/2 to 3/4 cup shelled and coarsely chopped salted pistachios
4 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped

For the Glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 to 3 Tbsp fresh orange juice
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract


First things first, it’s best to measure out your ingredients for the dough beforehand. While the dough is rising for an hour, you can prepare the ingredients for the filling.

    1. Heat milk, oil, and sugar in a large pot (your dough will rise in here) at medium heat. Right before it is about to boil, remove it from the heat and set aside. When the mixture is at 105 F (I used a candy thermometer), sprinkle a package of active dry yeast on top and let it sit for one minute.
    2. Add four cups of flour directly into the large pot and mix with a wooden spoon until it is just combined. Cover with lid and set aside in a relatively warm place for 1 hour. I usually put mine in a turned-off oven.
    3. While the dough is rising, you can begin to peel and chop your pistachios and dark chocolate and zest your orange.

Photo credit: Caryssa Lim

Photo credit: Caryssa Lim

    1. After 1 hour, your dough should have risen, and you can add your baking powder, baking soda, salt, and remaining flour. Mix until combined and use immediately.
    2. At this point, you can preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease two 8×8 square pans.
    3. Take about half of the dough and put on a flat, floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll our your dough into a large rectangle (about 12×8 inches).
    4. Pour half of the melted butter over the dough generously, and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Sprinkle generously! I usually sprinkle the sugar until the grains stop dissolving into the butter, and I can see the grains.
    5. Now, you can sprinkle half of your pistachios, dark chocolate, and orange zest. I love looking at the insides of cinnamon rolls. Aren’t they gorgeous?

Photo credit: Caryssa Lim

    1. Now taking the side furthest away from you, roll tightly towards you. As you roll, you can tuck in the ends. When you get a beautiful log shape, you can cut the log into 8 equal sized rolls and place them into one greased pan. Repeat with remaining half dough.
    2. Let the rolls sit in the greased pan for about 15 minutes or until they increase in size. After the 15 minutes, you should be able to see the rolls touch each other in the pan.

Photo credit: Caryssa Lim

  1. Place in the oven for 20-22 minutes, or until golden.
  2. To make the glaze, whisk powdered sugar, vanilla extract, orange juice, and hot water. To increase or decrease thickness, you can increase the amount of powdered sugar or hot water.

Ta-da! Beautiful, golden-brown, generously-stuffed cinnamon rolls!

Photo credit: Caryssa Lim


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