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There is little else I like better than cinnamon rolls. They're ooey-gooey, melt in your mouth, and make lingering over breakfast a must. The only thing that could make them better is chocolate… and not having to make frosting!!
Now don't get me wrong, I love frosting and I've been known to eat it with a spoon a time or two. Just a time two.
There's a beauty in simply dumping a pan upside down and watching lovely golden sticky caramel sauce drip out. And there's a beauty in diving in face first and eating it too, but more so when no one else is there to witness your stickiness.
I've come to the determination that everything just looks better in a cast iron pan. Like makes me want to take a picture every time better, and no, not just because I happen to blog about scrumptious recipes. This recipe can be made in a 9×13 pan, but in true pioneer fashion (you did know this blog is based upon Pioneering Today, right?) you haven't really cooked unless you bake your chocolate caramel cinnamon rolls in a cast iron skillet.
Cast iron skillet baking directions:
You'll need two skillets. I used one large and one smaller one for this recipe. Measure out 1/2 cup of coconut oil and divide it between the two pans, putting a little bit more oil in the larger pan. Place the skillets in the oven and hit pre-heat. As soon as the coconut melts completely, after about 3 to 5 minutes, turn off the oven.
Using an oven mitt, because we don't want to burn our fingers, pull out the skillets. Swirl the melted coconut oil around until it covers the whole surface of the pan. Plus, it makes me feel like a real chef. Sprinkle the rest of the caramel sauce ingredients over the melted coconut oil.
Put your rolls, cut side down, into the skillet. The heat from the cast iron will help these rolls to rise nicely, especially on chilly fall and winter days, and because of the smaller pan, the rolls will puff up instead of out. Anyone else's favorite part the center of the roll, especially when it's almost not quite all the way done? Yea… I may be kinda weird that way.
My husband doesn't like raisins and I don't like nuts, so I substituted chocolate chips for raisins. It was so good, I decided to add in some cocoa powder and my Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls were born.
Directions for a regular 9×13 pan.
Layer ingredients for chocolate caramel sauce in your 9×13 pan.
After dough has risen, roll out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle approximately 18×14 inches. Spread softened butter over surface of dough. Sprinkle brown sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon and chocolate chips over the surface.
Roll up, keeping it tight as you go. (Like rolling up a sleeping bag) Cut into approximately 15 pieces, keeping them even with a sharp knife. I've heard some people use a string, but a knife's always worked fine for me. Place cut edge down in pan on top of the sauce with sides just touching.
Cover with tea towel and allow to rise for one hour. Or cover with plastic wrap and put in fridge if baking in the morning, allow to come to room temperature before baking.
Bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 25 minutes, depending on how thick you cut them. I prefer mine on the doughier side so I pull them out as soon as they're golden on top. Let cool in pan for 3 minutes then invert over platter or plate. Scrape remaining caramel sauce from pan onto cinnamon rolls. Enjoy!
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Melissa K. Norris inspires people's faith and pioneer roots with her books, podcast, and blog. Melissa lives with her husband and two children in their own little house in the big woods in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains. When she's not wrangling chickens and cattle, you can find her stuffing Mason jars with homegrown food and playing with flour and sugar in the kitchen.