Chocolate Cinnamon Meringue Rolls

Many years ago, in the Pillsbury Bake-Off contest, a marshmallow wrapped in crescent dough won the Grand Prize. Who woulda’ thunk it?

I will get to the above in a moment.

Chocolate Cinnamon Meringue Rolls.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Well, when the Daring Bakers give you Meringue Coffee Cake made with yeast, make Chocolate Cinnamon Meringue Rolls!

A little backstory first.

Chocolate Cinnamon Meringue Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

I’ve never been a huge fan of coffee cakes made with yeast, or danish or yeast doughnuts for that matter.  You know the yeasty cakey part of a NYC style crumb cake? I never eat it.  I pull off all the lumpy, sweet crumbs, and even search for lumps in the cake itself; the ones that separated and slid into the doughy batter in hopes of camouflage. The carnage is torn remnants of golden cake scattered around my plate in lots of odd patterns, left to wither and dry until slipped into the trashcan mercifully. The one exception to my yeast cake aversion is a tahini, date syrup and pistachio yeast cake I had in a cafe in upstate NY.  I think the date syrup soaking the yeasty cake is what made it palatable to me.

Chocolate Cinnamon Meringue Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

SO, I probably love every single yeast bread, sweet and savory, that’s known to man, so why does yeast bread suddenly turn ‘meh’ for me when it’s called a coffee cake?

Drakes is the reason.  Drakes has ruined me.

Yes, those little plastic-wrapped, miniature coffee cakes in a box – so moist, delicious and deceptively cute, but really evil, evil enough to make me want to eat a whole box in one sitting; evil enough that I hold all coffee cake ‘cake’ in comparison to them.  I’m humbled to admit it, but yes, it’s true.

Chocolate Cinnamon Meringue Rolls with Cream Cheese FrostingIt probably didn’t help that my father couldn’t resist a good deal on one or two day old pastry from the local supermarket bakery when I was growing up, so there were a lot of borderline stale danish, crumb cake, and coffee cakes at our breakfast table.  They dipped it all in their coffee, so it was of no concern to them. I don’t drink coffee, and I’m not a milk dipper.

However, there are some exceptions to this ‘cake’ rule, like babkahhh (my weird spelling of it because my Dad used to draw out the ahhh when he brought one home from Zabars), with lots of filling, whether it be chocolate and/or cinnamon, and of course, huge, goo-filled cinnamon rolls and extra sticky buns.  Just give me lots of filling or goo with the yeasty base, and it’s all good.

Chocolate Cinnamon Meringue Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a Meringue Coffee Cake. with yeast.

In this version of coffee cake, Italian or French meringue holds in the goo, lots of gooey goo, a little seeping into the dough.  I think this is it for me.  I don’t need as much filling to enjoy a yeast coffee cake when meringue is baked into the dough, stretching out the filling and making it well, just gooey-er  The dough our hosts provided to us is rich, silky, sexy perfection – easy to work with, and extremely easy to eat.  You cannot fail with this dough, no matter what you do with it, sweet or savory.

Chocolate Cinnamon Meringue Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

Okay, I admit, I sort of slithered into cinnamon rolls because I was worried it would be yet another plate of scrappy cake remnants while I ate filling and parts of the cake with filling on it.  With rolls, if it wasn’t moist or gooey enough, I could always drown it in cream cheese glaze or frosting on an individual basis.

Here’s some slight changes I made to come up with these chocolate meringue, gooey, cinnamon rolls.

  • I used all the dough in the recipe (which makes two coffee cakes) to make one dozen large chocolate meringue rolls.
  • I made a Swiss meringue in lieu of the Italian or French meringue in the recipe, then added dark cocoa, for a deep chocolate meringue.
  • Combined the cinnamon with dark brown sugar instead of granulated sugar.
  • Increased the cinnamon and chocolate chips (I used Jamie’s version)
  • Topped the finished rolls with swirls and swirls of luscious cream cheese (aka I could lick it off a dirty tire) frosting.  However, these didn’t need any kind of frosting!

I guess you could say I turned the Swiss meringue filling into a chocolate marshmallow meringue after whipping it into oblivion. But this is a good thing when it came to rolling up the dough in terms of less leakage since the chocolate, cinnamon brown sugar, and nuts sort of nestled in and stuck.  I froze the rolled tube of gooey love prior to slicing and to also aid in holding the filling in.  I now wish I didn’t go to all those stops to hold the filling in after seeing some of the crispy meringue bits on other Daring Baker’s cakes.  It looks too good.  I can’t wait to make this coffee cake again, as an actual coffee cake, with crispy shards of meringue seeping out of the cuts in the dough!

Chocolate Cinnamon Meringue Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

Whenever I need to decorate something to photograph for my blog, my hand shakes, and it turns out ugly. I think I have a raging case of Blog fright.

So, here’s a tip, a tip to anyone who loves to bake cinnamon rolls – occasionally ditch the butter that’s spread on the dough prior to the cinnamon-sugar deposit, and use sweetened meringue instead.  Not only is it better for you, but it gives you a gooey-er cinnamon roll.

Now I know why a marshmallow wrapped in crescent dough won the Grand prize in the Pillsbury Bake-Off many years ago.  The marshmallow melted into a gorgeous, golden, sticky goo upon baking, just like the chocolate brown sugar cinnamon meringue in these rolls,.resulting in an extra-gooey, heavenly sweet roll.

How many times have I used the word gooey in this entry? There really is no other word that sufficiently describes, well, gooey, you know?

Having said all that, I love challenges that change my opinion, and this one most certainly reformed me as far as yeast coffee cakes go.  A silky, rich dough plus meringue is now my go to yeast coffee cake (or rolls).  Thank you Jamie and Ria for an eye-opening and delicious challenge!

Chocolate Cinnamon Meringue Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

For the recipe for this awesome meringue coffee cake, which you could make into my chocolate cinnamon meringue rolls, below, click HERE.

Chocolate Cinnamon Meringue Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 12 cinnamon rolls
The chocolate in the meringue gives the filling a fudgy texture!
  • 4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour
  • ¼ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon (5 g / ¼ oz.) salt
  • 1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons / 7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast
  • ¾ cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk
  • ¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)
  • ½ cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
Swiss Meringue
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 pinch cream of tartar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons dark, unsweetened cocoa powder
Chocolate Cinnamon Filling
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1½ cups (170 g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon or more milk or cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Make Dough
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted
  3. With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the egg
  4. s and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.
  5. Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 ½ cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.
  6. Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use vegetable oil) bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes.
Make Swiss Meringue
  1. Once dough is risen and ready to roll, fill a medium saucepan one quarter full with water. Set the saucepan over medium heat, and bring water to a simmer.
  2. Whisk together egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of electric mixer, and place over saucepan. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, about 3 to 3½ minutes. Test by rubbing between your fingers.
  3. Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes. Add vanilla, salt, and cocoa powder and mix until combined and thick.
Combine Filling
  1. In a medium bowl, Combine dark brown sugar, cinnamon, chocolate chips or chunks, and nuts if using. Set aside.
Assemble, Proof, and Bake Rolls
  1. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough a few turns, then using a rolling pin, roll out into an 18-inch x 24-inch rectangle. Spread the Swiss meringue over the rectangle, leaving the bottom 1-inch meringue free for sealing. Sprinkle the cinnamon brown sugar-chocolate mix evenly over the meringue, leaving that 1-inch bottom uncovered and clean.
  2. Starting at the top, from the 24-inch side, tightly roll dough toward you, using the last 1-inch edge to seal roll. Gently wrap roll in plastic wrap, then place roll in freezer for about 20 minutes so you can get clean cuts with no ooze and smushing of the dough. Score the roll every two inches, then cut into 12 equal (2-inches each) pieces. Grease a 9”x13" baking dish and place rolls in it cut side down. Cover dish with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. When rolls are doubled, place in preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until nicely browned.
Make Frosting
  1. Beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. On low speed, stir in powdered sugar until combined and thick. Slowly drizzle in milk or cream until you reach a consistency desired (I like it a little thick, so only used 1 tablespoon milk). Stir in vanilla and salt and beat once more. Spread or drizzle frosting over warm rolls. Serve warm because that's when they're the best!

Finally, I’m submitting these rolls to Susan over at Wild Yeast for her weekly Yeastspotting bread baking showcase. I rarely have time to bake breads as of late, so when I do, I always send them her way!

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58 Responses to Chocolate Cinnamon Meringue Rolls

  1. I was just finishing up my post, scheduled to air at midnight, when you’re popped into my inbox. Now I want to get back into the kitchen and do a re-do of chocolate meringue cinnamon rolls. Thanks, girlfriend 😉 I did consider a roll version, and I did ixnay the wreath shape reminiscent of our previous stollen, but your rolls, with swirls and swirls of cream cheese frosting, look so much more exciting than my log. But then again, I had caramel sauce oozing out…everywhere…and more to go on top…all over!

  2. Namratha says:

    Woah, those logs look oh so good! Scrumptious pictures, make me want to grab a roll.

  3. Sue says:

    Lisa, You REALLY know how to fill a cinnamon roll! I had actually forgotten all about the DB challenge this month, but now that I have seen yours I really want to try it tomorrow. These look AMAZING!

  4. chef_d says:

    YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMY!!! I love cinnamon rolls and your chocolate meringue cinnamon rolls look so delicious!! Cream cheese frosting looks awesome too, excuse me while I wipe my drool LOL! Excellent job as usual!!

  5. Crumbs of Love says:

    I love that you made them into cinnamon rolls. They look really great. Oh, even though I live in Calgary now, I grew up in Long Island and also LOVE Drakes coffee cakes (sadly, no one here has any idea about them AND my last name is Drake! :()
    Best, Sandie

  6. WOW Lisa those scrolls look so tempting I love the idea of the cooked Italian meringue (I think I saw one other person use it so far in my travels in the blogosphere). The patterns in the final scrolls are stunning. Superb work. And you meet the deadline this month LOL LOL.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  7. Renata says:

    LIsa, what a fantastic post! Your cinnamon rolls look divine! Next time I make this cake I will certainly remember to make it your way, I love it!

  8. Simone says:

    Cinnamon rolls. Mmmm love those too and I love your take on the meringue with adding chocolate to it. Your swirls look so pretty! I didn’t have a lot of experience (read; none) with yeasted cakes so this was a real surprise for me and I totally loved it!

  9. Oh WOW Lisa those look so tempting..absolutely beautiful!! yummm!! *drool* =)

  10. Rosa says:

    A lovely take on the original recipe! Those rolls look droolworthy.



  11. They look absolutely lovely – great job. I was wondering how Italian meringue would work with this so thanks for trying it! Glad it could reform you – that dough is miraculously lovely.

  12. Shelley C says:

    Look at you, early bird on this one! 🙂 This was an awesome recipe, wasn’t it?? I love that it was awesome enough to change your opinion on yeasted coffee cakes! Very cool. Your cinnamon rolls look fantastic, and that is a great tip to freeze them first to avoid the leakage of the filling. I love how tight you got the roll, too – I aim for that, yet have never quite managed it… I wish I had one of those for breakfast right now… Amazing job (as always!) on the challenge.

  13. Dang! It’s posts like these that make me wish I was still a DB! These look fabulous! And I am with you on the whole coffee cake thing. My mom would buy and Entemann’s Crunch Cake (read:dry coffee cake with cinnamon sugar pellets on top) I would eat only the top, Never understood why anyone would eat the rest!

  14. Megan says:

    I would be all over these. I love cinnamon rolls and babka. But I’m with you on plain old coffee cake. I try to do a 4 parts crumb to 1 part cake ratio. 🙂

  15. Chocolate meringue cinnamon rolls??? That’s awesome. I’m going to have to try your recipe! Great job on the challenge!

  16. pavithra says:

    Wow the filling is awesome.. outstanding.. great job on the challenge. Fabulous !!! Love the idea of making like a cinnamob bun shape.. excellent work and stunning pictures.


  17. Laura says:

    I agree with you, this is a keeper!

    I think your idea of making a Italian meringue is a good one since my meringue leaked out while the cake was proofing.

    I am almost ready to publish my post, waiting for the third version to proof.

    Great job!

  18. foodbake says:

    O my. Yours looks gorgeous and a wonderful idea with the Italian meringue. After these, plain cinnamon = plain boring!

  19. Love that you made this into a cinnamon roll type instead of the standard coffee cake ring 🙂 The photos are completely drool-worthy.

  20. Jamie says:

    Wowee I could dive headfirst into these buns! Brilliant idea and I’m on it! Fantastic and yeah to the gooey, chocolaty, cakey goodness of these babies! One sexy, smooth, silky dough for sure and now you want me to turn around and make it again! Glad you found the way over your I-hate-coffee-cake hump and turned it into one fabulous treat! xoxo Jamie

  21. Mary says:

    They look fabulous! I’ve been meaning to make cinnamon rolls and I’ll definitely use the meringue trick. These remind me of chocolate rolls that Cinnabon sold briefly here. They were my fave, but were only available for such a short time. Maybe it’s time for me to make my own!

  22. Rachel says:

    Oh my gosh, Lisa! I am drooling over these and if they are as gooey and delicious as you describe, this is getting bookmarked for future use. 🙂

  23. Lou says:

    Like the rools and I love the chocolate meringue – great idea. I didn’t put enough chocolate in my one so I love yours with the extra chocolate!

  24. MandyM says:

    Oh that looks goooooood! I have yet to make my coffee cake. Ended up in bed with bronchitis for a friggin week, all in all was sick for just over 2 weeks. Eck. Annoying!
    I’m still definitely going to try this challenge though, when I told Andrew about it he all but ordered me to the kitchen right there and then, hahaha!
    Looks great Lisa 😀

  25. Suz says:

    Oh, I am so making cinnamon buns now. They look utterly stunning. The picture of the sticky remnants in the bottom of the pan actually makes me feel a little faint! Wasn’t the dough wonderful? I think I might be using it for all sorts of recipes now.

    Great photos!

  26. Jenny says:

    I love the dark chocolate meringue idea, what a great way to bump up the profile while simplifying the filling. They look so cute!

  27. Ruth H. says:

    One word sums up my responce to your post – YUM!!! Those rolls look so amazing. The chocolate meringue must have been delicious, and you have me wanting to make another batch of this…! Thank you, thank you so much for sharing this with us!!

  28. claire says:

    When I made this I thought that it was very similar to cinnamon rolls to start with…just a different form. I had actually never heard of yeasted coffee cake…all the coffee cakes I know are truly cakes! Your rolls look great! I’ll have to try the meringe in my cinnamon rolls next time I make them. That did give a nice texture to the end product.

  29. ferji425 says:

    Your rolls look heavenly! Delicious 🙂

  30. Jenni says:

    Oh girl. Delish! I was thinking as I made mine that they would make good cinnamon rolls. Glad you did it! Beautiful, as always!

  31. bobbie noto says:

    I also used an Italian meringue for my filling, it just seemed natural. You can never go wrong with a filled cinnamon roll!

  32. Sheena says:

    Oh my, chocolate meringue and cinnamon? And I love the individual rolls, they look so tempting! Beautiful pictures.

  33. shaz says:

    I totally loved this challenge too. Funnily enough, hubby peered suspiciously at the meringue filling and asked, “is that marshmallow?”. He’s not a fan of marshmallow. Your cinnamon roll version sounds fantastic, and chocolate meringue, why didn’t I think of that?

  34. This looks amazing, Lisa. My grandmother always used a meringue filling in her coffee cakes–it is such a great idea. Love how you applied this to cinnamon rolls–such a clever twist.

  35. Oh you naughty girl changing it up so much, the rolls look amazing.

  36. Leslie says:

    Lisa, there aren’t that many things I’d lick off a tire but cream cheese frosting is definitely up there on the list. I must make this again your way (without the inevitable screw ups that make my Daring Bakers posts so predictable). But babka…that would be something I’d use this dough for in a heartbeat.

  37. That looks stunning Lisa Michele! I’m so sad that I missed out on this month’s DB but your rolls have inspired me to give these a go outside of the DB time! 😀

  38. marcellina says:

    Chocolate meringue? Now, I thought I wasn’t won over by the meringue in this coffee cake but now if its chocolate meringue? Well, I’m back!!! Yep, I’m going to make your version. It looks truely gooey-gooey! YUM!

  39. Dan says:

    Yummy – love your buns. Chocolate, cinnamon a great combo with drippy frosting. Great job again and photos are great love the lighting.

  40. Simona says:

    Should we now call you the reformed yeasted coffee cake maker? I totally enjoyed reading your story. I think it is nice when life plays us this kind of tricks and we find ourselves in a place where we thought we would never be. Would it be ok if I get the plate without the frosting? 😉

  41. Your photos an ingenuity are incredible – and this is one of the very first times I have seen you do the required recipe only ONCE! What did it taste like? You missed that part – and I double checked. It looks divine – though would be a bit of a shock for someone expecting a cinnamon bun!

  42. Patri says:

    Those rolls look amazing! And the pictures are mouth-watering, thanks for such a wonderful show and congrats on a great challenge!

  43. 5 Star Foodie says:

    Absolutely love the idea of chocolate meringue cinnamon rolls, so scrumptious!

  44. Oggi says:

    Oooh I love gooey-er cinnamon rolls. And your rolls are awesome.:)

  45. FOODESSA says:

    I’ve never really cared much to make this kind of dessert…nor have I really been tempted much to eat it. Up until now, that was a good thing for my ever growing hips…sigh. All this to say Lisa, you’ve done it to me again…this sure looks like a scrumptious treat like I’ve never had to face before. Thank goodness you’re not my friendly neighbour. LOL

    This post and its pics are so you…I’d recognize the uniqueness anywhere on our Foodie cyber world. Great challenge well succeeded ;o)

    Ciao for now and have a great week,

  46. All of the versions of the coffee cakes I’ve seen look fantastic, and I keep thinking that I need to try adding meringue to a coffee cake. But, now that I see these cinnamon rolls and realize I could have cinnamon rolls with less butter, more goo, and meringue, I must have this!

  47. Aparna says:

    I like that you turned them into cinnamon rolls! And they look soooooooo good.
    I think we must be soul mates at heart on some level. I still do not like yeasted cakes (even though this dough was good) except stuff like brioche, but you can’t keep me away from yeasted bread! 🙂
    And I was so worried about the “gooeyness” of the meringue, I must have asked Jamie and Ria that a few times that they assured me it wouldn’t be so. 😀

  48. Your photos are incredible! So are your cinnamon rolls.

  49. Maranda says:

    Yours looks fantastic! And so delicious! I love the idea of doing them like cinnamon rolls, though it’s too bad it didn’t turn out that well…but nothing a little frosting can’t fix! Great job on this challenge!

  50. These look so good. I love cinnamon rolls and your look amazing!

  51. kelly says:

    VERY cool idea to make the challenge cinnamon roll style. Love it. But (and it’s a big butt, erm, but…) as much as I’d agree the meringue is more healthy, mine didn’t make my coffee cake more gooey, which is a total bummer, because I love me a nice gooey any kind of thing like this — yeast or no yeast. Wonder what I did wrong : /

    • lisamichele says:

      Kelly. I added lots of extra chocolate and made an italian meringue, which is ‘gooeyer’ than french meringue, so when the filling melted, the marshamllow like meringue held it in, unlike french meringue which would more likely evaporate into the dough and just sweeten it. Try using an italian meringue next time, and see what happens 😀

  52. Michelle says:


  53. Sophie33 says:

    Thrse rolls look Absolutely Fabulous!!! drool,…drool,…even more drooling,…MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM,…:)!

  54. Lea says:

    Wonderful idea, sounds and looks yummy!
    I was waiting so long to participate in that challenge, but my cake didn’t satisfy me!

  55. Elle says:

    Gorgeous and a great take on coffee cake.

  56. Jolie says:

    Yum! All that chocolate in a cinna bun! bookmarked .

  57. It’s closing in on 110 here and I still want to turn on the oven for this!

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