Rich & Fluffy Chocolate Sweet Rolls

These outrageously rich and indulgent chocolate sweet rolls come together with a buttery soft fresh homemade dough and brown sugar chocolate filling. They’re shaped like cinnamon rolls, but taste like flaky chocolate babka. Drizzle the warm rolls with espresso glaze or choose another topping from the suggestions below.

chocolate rolls with espresso glaze

Melty chocolate, fresh dough, and espresso glaze. What’s not to love about this trio?

Tell Me About These Chocolate Sweet Rolls

  • Flavor: I often use softened butter in softer bread doughs, but opted for melted butter here. I find melted butter adds more, well, buttery flavor. This dough is sweet and so buttery– in fact, it would be fantastic completely plain. But plain’s not in our language today and we’re filling it with brown sugar, cocoa powder, a bit of cinnamon, vanilla, and lots of real chocolate. Don’t limit them to the morning hours because these chocolate sweet rolls definitely taste like dessert.
  • Texture: Because there’s fat in the dough from the whole milk, eggs, and butter, the bread is extra soft, rich, and flaky. Though all-purpose flour is fine, bread flour promises extra bread-like chewiness. These textures work perfectly with the gooey chocolate swirls and smooth espresso glaze. Each bite has different twists, flakes, and pockets of melty chocolate– similar to the texture of apple cinnamon babka. They’re like warm chocolate babka rolls.
  • Ease: It goes without saying that homemade bread takes time and effort. Consider these chocolate sweet rolls a fun afternoon or weekend baking project. The dough requires 2 rises, but otherwise is pretty straightforward. You can even get started the night before by following the overnight instructions. Take your time and have all of your ingredients ready. If you’re new to baking with yeast, review our Baking with Yeast Guide.

chocolate cinnamon roll

Use a Rich Dough for Chocolate Rolls

Before I show you how to make chocolate rolls, let’s talk about the dough. This is a rich dough, which means that it’s prepared with fat like milk, butter, and eggs. Rich doughs make soft breads such as dinner rolls, pull apart bread, and glazed doughnuts. Lean doughs, on the other hand, are made without much fat and produce crusty bread like bagels, artisan bread, and pizza dough. There are so many ways to bake bread and if you want to expand your bread skills, here are all of our yeast bread recipes. (This cheese bread is a reader and team favorite!)

  • Instant Yeast or Active-Dry? You can use instant yeast or active-dry yeast in the chocolate rolls. I usually use instant yeast and still take the time to quickly proof the yeast in step 1. Proofing the yeast means mixing it with a little sugar and the warm liquid to prove that it’s active– the mixture will look foamy on top, see photo below. But this step is not usually required when using instant yeast. Still, it doesn’t hurt and takes 5 minutes and you can prep your other dough ingredients as you wait.

This rich dough is supposed to be very soft, so don’t add more flour than absolutely needed. Embrace the softness and a sticky work surface because if you don’t mind the mess, you’ll be rewarded with the richest, flakiest chocolate rolls. I heard chocolate croissants were borderline jealous of all these flakes.


Do These Taste Like Cinnamon Rolls?

As far as the process goes, we’re essentially making cinnamon rolls but with a chocolate filling. Make the dough, let it rise, punch it down, roll it out, add the chocolate filling, roll up jelly roll style, cut into rolls, let them rise until puffy, then bake. If you’ve made homemade cinnamon rolls before, this process isn’t anything new. We do use cinnamon in the filling, but it’s really just a background flavor behind all the chocolate and brown sugar. They certainly resemble cinnamon rolls, but they taste like homemade bread swirled with gooey melted chocolate.

Step-By-Step Photos

Proofing the yeast:

yeast milk and sugar mixture proofing in glass bowl

Here is the soft dough before and after the 1st rise:

rich dough before and after rising

rolled out dough with chocolate filling on top

rolled out dough with chocolate filling on top

rolling up the chocolate rolls dough

dough log cut into 12 pieces

Here are the rolls before and after the 2nd rise. See how puffy they get?

two photos showing chocolate rolls before and after rising

I don’t want to stand in your way of chocolate bliss, so I promise I’m almost done. 😉

Espresso Glaze & Other Topping Options

I couldn’t decide on a topping that would be legendary enough for these extraordinary rolls, but espresso glaze comes pretty close. The bitter espresso powder helps offset the sweet confectioners’ sugar and all the sweetness in the rolls themselves. Other topping options include salted caramel, vanilla icing, the maple icing from maple bacon doughnuts, or cream cheese icing from cinnamon rolls. For something simple, a light dusting of confectioners’ sugar would be beautiful. Peanut butter frosting would be over-the-top and I’m certain all your sweet teeth would be satisfied for weeks. Ha!

And, again, these rolls are RICH so you could easily skip the icing on top.

two side-by-side photos showing espresso glaze

chocolate sweet rolls in pan

Chocolate Sweet Rolls Video

Print
clock clock icon cutlery cutlery icon flag flag icon folder folder icon instagram instagram icon pinterest pinterest icon facebook facebook icon print print icon squares squares icon heart heart icon heart solid heart solid icon
chocolate sweet rolls in pan

Chocolate Sweet Rolls

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 28 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 30 minutes (includes rise times)
  • Yield: 12 rolls
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These rich and fluffy chocolate sweet rolls come together with a buttery soft fresh homemade dough and brown sugar chocolate filling. They’re shaped like cinnamon rolls, but taste like flaky chocolate babka. You can make the chocolate rolls within a few hours or get started the night before using the overnight preparation option.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup (240ml) whole milk, warmed to about 100°F (38°C)
  • 6 Tablespoons (75g) granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon (9g) active dry or instant yeast
  • 5 Tablespoons (72g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups (530g) bread flour (spoon & leveled), plus more as needed for hands/work surface

Chocolate Filling

  • 6 Tablespoons (90g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100gpacked light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons (10g) unsweetened natural or dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (135g) semi-sweet chocolate chips or a 4 ounce semi-sweet chocolate bar, finely chopped*

Espresso Icing

  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream*
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder*
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (180g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted (sift after measuring)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Prepare the dough: Whisk the warm milk, 2 Tablespoons sugar, and the yeast together in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or paddle attachment. Cover and allow mixture to sit for about 5 minutes or until foamy on top. *If you do not own a mixer, you can do this in a large mixing bowl and in the next step, mix the dough together with a large wooden spoon/rubber spatula. It will take a bit of arm muscle. A hand mixer works, but the sticky dough repeatedly gets stuck in the beaters. Mixing by hand with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula is a better choice.*
  2. Add the remaining sugar, the butter, eggs, salt, and 1 cup (about 130g) of flour and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add 3 cups (about 400g) flour, switch the mixer down to low speed, and beat until a soft dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Dough will be very soft, but not overly sticky. Beat in 2-3 more Tablespoons of flour if dough seems very sticky. Avoid adding more flour than you need.
  3. Knead the dough: Keep the dough in the mixer and beat on low speed for an additional 3 minutes or knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 3 minutes.
  4. 1st Rise: Lightly grease a large bowl with oil or use nonstick spray. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to coat all sides in the oil. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise in a relatively warm environment for 2 hours or until double in size. (I always let it rise on the counter and it takes about 2 hours. For a tiny reduction in rise time, see my answer to Where Should Dough Rise? in my Baking with Yeast Guide.)
  5. Grease the bottom and sides of a metal or glass 9×13 inch baking dish or line with parchment paper.
  6. Roll out the dough: Punch down the dough to release the air. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface and using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough into a 10×16 inch rectangle. Make sure the dough is smooth and evenly thick. If the dough keeps shrinking as you roll it out, stop what you’re doing, cover it lightly, and let it rest for 10 minutes to relax the gluten. When you return to the dough, it should stretch out much easier.
  7. For the filling: Mix all of the filling ingredients together except for the chopped chocolate/chocolate chips. The softer the butter is, the easier it is to mix. (Microwave it for a few seconds to soften if needed.) Spread mixture all over the dough. Sprinkle chopped chocolate/chocolate chips evenly on top. Tightly roll up the dough to form a 16-inch-long log. If some filling spills out, sprinkle it on top of the roll. With an extra sharp knife, cut into 12 even rolls, between 1-1.5 inches each. Arrange in the prepared baking pan.
  8. 2nd Rise: Cover the rolls tightly and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. (Or use the overnight option below.)
  9. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Bake rolls for about 25-28 minutes or until they are lightly browned on top. After about 15 minutes, tent a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the pan to prevent the tops from browning too quickly and baking unevenly. Remove pan from the oven and place pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes as you make the icing.
  10. Make the icing: Warm the cream on the stove until barely simmering or warm it in the microwave for 15-30 seconds. Whisk espresso powder into the warm cream, then whisk in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract until combined. Drizzle the icing over the warm rolls and serve immediately.
  11. Cover leftover frosted or unfrosted rolls tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions – Overnight: To prepare the night before serving, prepare the rolls through step 7. Cover the rolls tightly and refrigerate for 8-12 hours. (16 hours max. 8-12 hours is best, but 16 hours is OK if absolutely needed. Do not exceed 16 hours.) The next morning, remove from the refrigerator and allow to rise on the counter for 1-2 hours before continuing with step 9.
  2. Make Ahead Instructions – Freezing: Baked rolls can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm up before enjoying. You can also freeze the unbaked rolls and here’s how: bake the rolls in step 9 for only about 10 minutes. Cool completely, then cover tightly and freeze. To serve, take the rolls out of the freezer and place in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. Once thawed, finish baking them for about 20 minutes.
  3. Milk: Use whole milk for the best, richest tasting dough. You could also use buttermilk. 2%, 1%, or nondairy milk work in a pinch. Do not use nonfat milk.
  4. Yeast: Make sure you use 1 Tablespoon of yeast, which is a little more than 1 standard packet. You can use active dry or instant yeast in this recipe. Follow all of the same instructions. If using active dry yeast, the rise times are usually *slightly* longer, but not much. Reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.
  5. Best Flour to Use: For best texture, I recommend bread flour. The same amount of all-purpose flour works and the rolls will still be wonderfully rich and soft. The rolls are a little more chewy and flaky when using bread flour.
  6. Chocolate: I usually use and recommend one 4 ounce (113g) baking chocolate bar, such as Ghirardelli or Bakers 4 ounce bars sold in the baking aisle. Chopped fine, this is about 3/4 cup. You can use semi-sweet or bittersweet. Avoid white chocolate or milk chocolate because the rolls will be overly sweet. You can use about 3/4 cup of chocolate chips, mini or regular size, instead. Chocolate chips weigh a little more, so use 135g if you are using a scale.
  7. Heavy Cream & Espresso Powder: In first part of the icing recipe, we are essentially making a creamy and very strong espresso liquid by mixing warm cream with espresso powder. Feel free to use 3 Tablespoons of very strong brewed espresso or black coffee instead. Mix icing ingredients together, then add 1 more Tablespoon brewed espresso or black coffee to thin out if needed/desired.
  8. Half Batch: You can halve this recipe by halving all of the ingredients and using an 8 or 9 inch square or round pan. The 1st dough rise time may be a bit shorter. Roll the dough out to (approximately) a 7×10 inch rectangle. Roll up into a 10 inch log, then cut into 6 rolls. 2nd dough rise time will be about the same. Bake time is a few minutes shorter.

Keywords: chocolate sweet rolls

How to Join the May Sally's Baking Challenge

Make the chocolate sweet rolls. Feel free to leave plain or use your desired glaze/topping. If you aren’t into this recipe, here is the alternate baking challenge recipe:

  1. any previous challenge recipe you haven’t made yet OR
  2. One Giant Sugar Cookie. We thought this would be a fun recipe for Mother’s Day, even if you just make it for yourself!

After you make the chocolate rolls or the alternate recipe, email us your recipe photo. For a bonus entry, leave a review on the recipe below.

By emailing your recipe photo to us, you are automatically entered in the baking challenge. 1 winner receives a $250 Amazon Gift Card. The challenge is open to the whole world. Challenge ends on May 31st at 5pm eastern. The winner will be selected at random, emailed their prize, and posted in the June Baking Challenge blog post on June 1st 2021.

Visit the Sally’s Baking Challenge FAQ page if you have any questions about Sally’s Baking Challenge. Sign up for Sally’s Baking Challenge emails so you’re alerted as soon as new challenge post is published!

109 Comments

  1. I had so much fun making these today! The dough came together beautifully. I just pulled them out of the oven and I couldn’t resist eating one right away. So yummy. You were right…they are RICH! I sprinkled a little powered sugar on top and it was perfect.

  2. tabitha taylor says:

    In years past, I have attempted to make homemade cinnamon rolls and failed each time. I came across your recipe for chocolate sweet rolls and decided I’m going to attempt it one last time! Wow!! Your recipe was so easy to follow, love the background information on why you use the ingredients you do..And it was a success!! Thank you! My family loves them!

  3. These were so so SO good! The dough was nice and soft, the espresso drizzle went perfectly with the chocolate sweet rolls. I just omitted the espresso drizzle on a few and replaced with a vanilla drizzle so my daughter (7) would eat it. It was a hit with the family! This recipe is definitely a keeper!

    1. Delicious! Made the half batch today and cut into 12 small rolls.

  4. The recipe is very detailed and easy to follow. I am a first-time baker, so I was very pleased with the outcome. These rolls are so good. I love the addition of chocolate to a good old fashioned cinnamon roll. I will definitely make them again…and again.

  5. These turned out great. My kids don’t like espresso, so I used an orange icing instead.

  6. this looks delicious! would i be able to substitute the chocolate for nutella, by any chance??

    1. Hi Valentine, I’m sure that would be fine! I would use about 3/4 – 1 cup for filling.

  7. I got a little hung up on how long to let the dough knead the dough, since I wasn’t sure what you meant by “pulls away from the side”. I was expecting a cleaner “pull away” but started the 3 minute timer near the beginning just in case. It seemed a little too sticky compared to other cinnamon roll doughs, but after the 1st rise it felt really good. The end result came out fantastic, in spite of maybe over/under kneading. Ooh, the espresso icing is worth a huge mention also. It was such a nice contrast, and really made these rolls seem more decadent. Will definitely be using this recipe again!

  8. Hello! My six year old and I made these yesterday! They are delightful! We had so much fun mixing and rolling and filling and eating!! We made them without the icing and they were delicious. Thanks for all your great recipes!!

  9. Sandy widmaier says:

    Made these this morning (up at 5:30) and they are so delicious. I drizzled some ganache over the top. Yummy to infinity!!! These will not last even 3 hours. Thank you again sally. I love these challenges. Sandy widmaier

  10. Sheila Calnan says:

    I’m giving 5 stars, for the ease and smell of these wonderful creations. They are for a friend, so didn’t eat one.
    This has got to be the easiest yeast dough I’ve worked with. My first rise on the counter was only a little over an hour.
    I added a few PB chips with the mini-semi sweet chips and made a simple cream cheese icing. I added some cinnamon and a little extra vanilla. I went with this instead, as a little one will be eating them and didn’t know how espresso would taste to her.
    Thanks Sally for another great recipe!
    Now, go and send my email.

  11. Karen Hadwen says:

    The dough was so soft and easy to work with!

  12. Hi,
    I just finished making this recipe and found it very easy to follow.
    My only suggestion is that I didn’t have the espresso powder and used 3 tablespoons of strong brewed coffee instead which meant that my icing was runny and didn’t sit on the rolls like Sally’s did.
    They tasted delicious anyway!

  13. Easy to make! The dough is soft and the chocolate is delicious. I subbed 2oz of semi sweet out for dark chocolate. I skipped the espresso icing because I don’t prefer sweet sweet things! It was such a fun recipe to try. I shared with my sister and she said they were bakery quality!
    I don’t have a stand mixer and the dough wasn’t difficult to make by hand at all!

  14. I always enjoy making cinnamon rolls!! So when I seen this recipe for Chocolate Sweet Rolls, I knew I wanted to try it!! I drizzled it with a vanilla glaze & I was very pleased with how tasty the rolls are!! Love your recipes!!

  15. Excellent recipe as usual. Just made them and the icing topped it off nicely. Hard to stop eating them.

  16. My husband and I had a blast making this, especially rolling out the dough on such a small table! It was really really delicious, the dough was so soft and just perfection. I used cream cheese frosting though (much like for cinnamon rolls).

  17. Well, I thought the dough for these rolls was easy to make and was soft, light, and delicious when baked. Unfortunately, my husband and I disliked the filling. It tasted bitter to me, and I didn’t care for the combination of cinnamon with the chocolate. I should have gone with my gut instinct and left out the cinnamon.

    I have been making homemade cinnamon rolls using a favorite recipe for ages, but I will use this dough recipe and my usual filling for my next batch. It’s THAT good!

  18. Made these today and they came out great. First time using yeast (and my dough hooks lol). Recipe is simple for someone who has never made rolls before, dough rolls out really nice. I intend on trying to make the cinnamon rolls..only problem I forsee is eating too many! Thanks for another great recipe!

  19. Wowsers! This recipe came together so smoothly and the taste was incredible! They are rich, and that small amount of cinnamon truly balance it all together and the espresso icing was a perfect pairing. I did half batch of these and it was the perfect amount for our family. Will definitely make them again!

  20. Sarah Smith says:

    These turned out perfect! They are delicious. Next time I am going to add cinnamon to my dough for a bit more cinnamon taste. Lakewood Flooring

  21. Orit Afek says:

    This was a fun and easy recipe to make! The rolls turned out beautiful and tasty!
    Since we don’t like icing on the rolls, I just brushed them with Simple Syrup immediately as they came out of the oven, for added sweetness and shine.
    Great recipe, thank you Sally!!!

  22. My husband and I really enjoyed making these together. The recipe was so detailed and easy to follow and the outcome was delicious!

  23. Sairey Russell says:

    These are delicious! I used dark chocolate for the filling and a salted caramel icing. I also spaced the rolls out on a baking sheet before putting them in the oven. This prevented the centers from collapsing.

  24. I was nervous about making these but they turned out wonderfully! Love Sally’s foolproof recipes!!

  25. Can you use milk chocolate chips for a less “bitter” taste?

    1. Absolutely.

  26. Hi Sally,
    Would I be able to substitute light cream (5% fat) instead of whole milk (3.25%) fat as my local grocery store does not carry whole milk?
    Thanks.

    1. Hi Mikayla, I don’t recommend cream in this dough because it’s simply too thick. Feel free to use reduced fat milk instead.

      1. Thank you so much for your response Sally! I’ll use 1% milk as that is what I have on hand!

  27. Ronda Husereau says:

    Great recipe! Not a huge cinnamon roll fan so I love this take on it. I used a vanilla drizzle and a ganche drizzle and they are amazing! Very easy to follow recipe.

  28. Why can’t I use non-fat milk in this recipe? Is it ok to use? My family has a lot of food allergies and we usually only use non-fat milk. Thank you! I can’t wait to try this recipe!

    1. Hi Taylor, you definitely could, but you’ll lose some flavor, softness, and richness in the dough. Though I haven’t tested this, I’m sure you could replace 1-2 Tbsp of the milk with melted butter. Just add more butter when you mix in the melted butter. (Don’t add it when you proof the yeast.)

  29. Jennee Chew-Jones says:

    These are sweet roll perfection. The texture of the bread is soft, pillowly, and heavenly and there is the perfect amount of chocolate flavor. I thought the espresso glaze complimented the rolls perfectly. Could not ask for more!

  30. Kaitlyn Oliver says:

    Mm mm good! The dough is so soft and fluffy! And anything with chocolate is a win in my book. I would like to try them again and substitute 1 cup of whole wheat flour. I opted to go without the espresso icing, we prefer our sweet rolls without and I didn’t have whole cream at home. Definitely a win and will be going in my recipe box.

1 2 3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

With kitchen-tested quality recipes and step-by-step tutorials, my goal is to give you the confidence to bake and cook from scratch.

Sally's signature

Recipes You’ll Love

Archives

Categories

Join the community on the 1st of every month as we tackle a new challenge recipe. Review Sally's Baking Challenge FAQ page if you have any questions.

View More

A tradition since 2013, every December we countdown to Christmas with 10 new cookie recipes in a row!

View More

The first week of every November is all about Thanksgiving Pies.

View More

My Cookbooks

Sally's Cookbooks

About Sally

Welcome to my Kitchen!

I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally

×