When I first started going solo in the kitchen as a youngster, I was very concerned with cooking by the book.
Mom never minded me hovering over her shoulder (or if she did, she hid it really well), and I asked a lot of questions.
Once I felt ready to make meals on my own, I asked her to help me write out my own recipe cards, which I still have in my recipe box at home. My favorite one is for canned corn. She didn’t make fun of me when I asked her to help me write down the steps for how to heat it up and how much salt and pepper to add, and from the food stains on my notecard, I clearly used the “recipe” more than once over the years.
Nowadays, though, I’m a lot more adventurous and tend to tweak recipes regularly and without hesitation. Such was the case recently when I used a recipe for cake mix cinnamon rolls to make chocolate sweet rolls instead.
I actually used two authors’ recipes as my basis for this week. The rolls recipe comes from the blog “Norine’s Nest.” You can find her post at https://www.norinesnest.com/cake-mix-cinnamon-rolls/. The other recipe started as the filling recipe for some sweet rolls by Kate Wood on her blog “The Wood and Spoon.” You can find her recipe at http://thewoodandspoon.com/chocolate-sweet-rolls/. I made changes to each to come up with the concoction below.
Cake Mix Chocolate Sweet Rolls
- 1 Dutch chocolate cake mix
- 2 packages yeast instant or active
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 cups flour
- 2-1/4 cups hot water
- 6 ounces dark chocolate chips or chop up a bar
- 6 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons espresso or instant coffee powder I used a mocha-flavored
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- about 1/2 cup sliced almonds or your favorite nut, chopped
- 1-1/3 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk you may need to add more
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- In a mixer with a dough hook (or you can start by mixing with a wooden spoon and switch over to kneading to bring it together), combine the cake mix, yeast, salt and two cups of flour.
- Mix until it’s well combined and add the water slowly while the mixer continues to run.
- Add in the rest of the flour, and mix until everything is well combined and the dough is pulling away from the sides of the bowl to form a ball.
- Turn the dough out onto a well-floured workspace, sprinkle the top with more flour and knead five or six times with floured hands until it forms into a well-shaped ball.
- Cover the dough with a clean cloth and allow it to rise until it’s doubled in size (mine took about 20 minutes).
- When the dough is almost ready to work with, combine the chocolate chips and butter into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 10 to 15 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until the mixture is smooth. Add the remaining filling ingredients except the sliced almonds and set aside.
- Punch the dough down and roll out into a large rectangle about 1/4-inch thick.
- Spread the filling out evenly over the entire rectangle of dough and sprinkle on the almonds.
- Tightly roll the rectangle from the long side so that you get a nice, long, snake-like roll.
- Cut the roll into 1-1/2-inch thick slices.
- Grease two 9×12-inch pans and place the slices, with one of the cut sides up, into the pans. Space them out a bit to give them room to rise.
- Cover both pans with a clean cloth and let them rise for about 30 more minutes or until they double in size.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake the rolls for 20 minutes or until they are a golden brown.
- Before serving, mix the icing ingredients together until smooth. If it’s too thick, add a little more milk until you get the consistency you like.
- Let the rolls cool for about 10 minutes, and then drizzle or spread the icing over top of them.
- Store any leftovers in an airtight container.
These were absolutely delicious. I immediately delivered them to friends and family to get them out of the house before we ate too many of them ourselves.
The best part of this recipe is that it’s super easy to customize. Just choose another cake mix and filling ingredients, and you have a completely new type of sweet roll to enjoy.
Younger me would have been amazed at how off script I went with this recipe, but we all start somewhere. Looking back, I’m just so thankful I had someone willing to patiently show me the ropes in the kitchen—canned corn recipes and all.
This piece first appeared in print on June 27, 2019.
Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.