Chocolate Pistachio Sweet Rolls
These rather handsome rolls were inspired by our love of honey-sweet baklava and spicy cardamom buns — and a keen desire to work out some of our pandemical ennui with a baking project that’s easy enough to conquer, but long-winded enough to give our pastry muscles a satisfying workout. There’s nothing more cheerful than a pan of golden sweet rolls! And since all of us are leaning into our pantry staples, it seemed like a fantastic idea to zhuzh ours up with shelf-stable goodies, like honey, nuts, and chocolate.
We started with the soft, pillowy sweet roll dough we originally developed for our cinnamon roll recipe. It’s got a lovely, lightly sweet flavor, and we’ve added a heaping teaspoon of cinnamon to the dry ingredients for spicy warmth. It’s a delightful complement to the filling, a rich swirl of butter, sugar, vanilla, bittersweet chocolate chunks, and pistachios. When the rolls come out of the oven, we drizzle a generous amount of honey over them, just to gild the lily.
Oh my, they’re gorgeous: deep golden brown, every bite honey-sweet, lightly caramelized, and full of crunchy, green pistachios and soft, melty pockets of chocolate. They’re absolutely, decadently scrumptious, and yet not too sweet. We like to take them out onto the patio with a cup of coffee or a latte … and inhale them in the sunlight and clean morning air.
For the sweet roll dough:
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for surfaces
1 tsp cinnamon
1 pkg instant yeast
2 ½ Tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
1 large egg
1 cup whole milk
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing bowl
For the filling:
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
½ tsp vanilla extract
6 Tbsp granulated sugar
½ cup pistachios, finely chopped, plus more for garnish
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 large Gelson’s egg, lightly beaten
3 Tbsp honey
To make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 2 ½ cups of flour with the cinnamon, yeast, sugar, salt, and egg.
In a small saucepan, combine the milk and butter, and warm them over medium-low heat until the butter melts and the mixture reaches 120º.
Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and turn the mixer on low, combining the ingredients.
Slowly add the remaining 1 cup of flour to the bowl until the dough forms and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. The dough should be soft and tacky, not sticky.
Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a large, lightly greased mixing bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour, or until it has doubled in size.
To make the filling: in a medium bowl, combine the butter, vanilla, and sugar.
To assemble the rolls: On a floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle measuring about 9 x 15 inches.
Spread the filling on the dough, and then sprinkle on the chopped pistachios and chocolate.
Fold the dough into thirds: fold the top long side of the dough down to the middle, then fold the bottom long side over it. Roll the dough into a long, thin rectangle, about ½-inch thick. Trim the edges with a knife, so that they’re nice and flat.
Cut the dough into 12 ¾-inch strips, and then cut each strip down the middle, leaving one end intact. (Just an inch or so; they’ll look like a pair of trousers). Hold the strip by the ends, and then gently stretch and twist the “legs.” Wrap the twisted legs around your fingers a few times and fold the end across the loop to finish it. Repeat with the remaining strips.
Place the rolls on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with a tea towel, and let them rise until almost doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Brush the buns lightly with the beaten egg and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Drizzle the still-warm buns with honey and sprinkle with chopped pistachios. Serve warm or at room temperature.