Date Filled Cinnamon Rolls with Toasted Hazelnuts are the perfect holiday (and winter!) breakfast! A sticky date paste fills these rolls instead of traditional brown sugar. Toasted hazelnuts are added to the filling, and the rolls are topped with a sweet and light cream cheese icing. These Date Filled Cinnamon Rolls are truly irresistible!
I PROMISE I’m getting around to sharing wedding deets! Just waiting for the photos to come back and MAN! Life has been insane lately!
So. My birthday is in two days and I’m celebrating early with a batch of these Date Filled Cinnamon Rolls!! Josh is a HUGE fan of cinnamon rolls. I actually didn’t like them until I met him. Mom always made Rhodes cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning – a quick pop in the oven and they were fresh and ready to eat after opening gifts. I always passed it up. They were just too rich for my taste (imagine that!).
And then Josh came along. Our second “official” date was lunch at a local restaurant called Max & Emily’s. We split a cinnamon roll on the walk back to his apartment and I was hooked. Later that summer, we visited the farmer’s market and purchased half a dozen raspberry-filled cinnamon rolls from a sweet Amish woman. The batch was gone that night!
Since then, cinnamon rolls have held a special place in my heart. They remind me of Christmas morning and my second date with the man I married. Every year, I’ve made Josh a fresh batch of homemade cinnamon rolls for his birthday. So this year, I made some for mine!
I have a feeling twenty-seven will bring amazing things. I know it sounds cliche, but I’m ready for some changes. Twenty-six saw an immense amount of progress mentally and emotionally. I grew in ways I didn’t think possible and have become a stronger woman. I spent the majority of twenty-six still battling disordered eating. I learned what soul-searching means and I started practicing yoga. Wellness has more meaning now than ever before. I’m grateful for the lessons, the peaks, and the valleys. And to have family and friends by my side to walk with me.
So let’s get on with these Date Filled Cinnamon Rolls, shall we?
Yes, this is an overnight cinnamon roll recipe, so you’ll need to start the night before. I’m old fashioned that way. It requires a little TLC, but all good things in life usually do! The dough is sweet and so flaky after baking. I kept the sugar content a little lower in the dough and it still turned out fabulous!
Instead of traditional brown sugar and a stick of butter (if you’re looking for that recipe, check out these ones!), the filling for these cinnamon rolls is date paste. Not just any date paste, though. Medjool dates are softened on the stove, then processed with coconut oil and the perfect amount of cinnamon. This date filling is something of my dreams! Sweet, but not sugary sweet. Before rolling the log, we’ll toast hazelnuts and finely chop them, sprinkling them on top of the date filling.
Let me tell you: the date and toasted hazelnut combination is absolutely divine! I just can’t get enough! The date paste is seriously good enough to eat with a spatula. And the icing!
As the Date Filled Cinnamon Rolls bake, we’ll make the cream cheese icing. At my home on Christmas morning, this was everyone’s favorite part. My sisters would beg to eat the leftover icing (if there was any!). I used reduced-fat cream cheese, a tablespoon less butter, and only a cup of powdered sugar. And I still had leftover icing (to eat with a spoon), so you may not use it all. The glaze on these rolls is heavenly! Sweet and creamy, the perfect consistency. I may have just eaten it straight out of the bowl!
These Date Filled Cinnamon Rolls are coming at a perfect time before Christmas, too! If your family is anything like mine, it just doesn’t get any better than a fresh batch of cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. As my apartment filled with the aroma of fresh yeasted bread, dates, and toasted hazelnuts, I could only think about Christmas with my family. Cozy by the fireplace, in our pajamas, laughing as we share gifts and memories. Cinnamon rolls on our plates, cup of coffee in our hands. It’s a tradition I’ll carry with me always. I just love filling my home with the scent of fresh pastries in the winter. It’s such a cozy feeling!
I’ve decided that I’m starting the cinnamon roll tradition with my own family, too. On Christmas morning when the whole house is sleeping, I’ll be the one in the kitchen rolling out dough for a fresh batch of holiday love. That’s just what cinnamon rolls are – love wrapped up in a bun!
So make this holiday unforgettable with perfect, fluffy Date Filled Cinnamon Rolls with Toasted Hazelnuts. They’re a must-have all winter long!
Oh. And happy birthday to me!
Pin these Date Filled Cinnamon Rolls for later!
Gooey cinnamon rolls are whole wheat & refined-sugar free, filled with creamy dates and cinnamon!
- 1 c. unsweetened almond milk, heated to 105 F
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 3 c. all-purpose flour
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/4 c. butter, softened
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 c. pitted Medjool dates
- 2 c. water
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil or butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp coconut sugar
- 1/2 c. hazelnuts
- 4 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese
- 3 Tbsp butter, softened
- 1 c. powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
The night before, prepare the dough: heat the almond milk to about 105 F. Add to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast over top. Allow the yeast to proof about 5-10 minutes. When done, the yeast will be foamy and the mixture will smell yeasty. If the yeast does not foam, your milk may have been too hot and you'll need to start over.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt.
When the yeast has proofed, add the melted butter and egg yolk to the yeast mixture. Using the dough hook on low speed, add the flour mixture to the yeast. Continue to knead on medium-low speed. The dough will appear sticky but should start to form a ball. Stickier dough will yield a fluffier cinnamon roll, so be cautious not to add too much flour. Knead for 5 minutes until dough forms a smooth elastic, yet still slightly sticky, ball.
If you're kneading by hand, pour the wet ingredients into the dry and knead either using your hands or a silicone spatula. Since the dough will be sticky, dust your hands with flour as you go. Alternatively, kneading with a spatula will keep things from sticking too much.
After kneading, cover the dough in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. Cold dough is much easier to work with in this recipe! You can either make the date filling now or wait until the next morning.
To make the date filling, add the dates to a small saucepan and cover with water (about 2 c.). Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer 2-3 minutes or until dates are soften. Drain.
Place the dates into a blender or food processor and add the coconut oil, brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Process until smooth. If making the night before, refrigerate until ready to use.
The day of: preheat the oven to 350 F. Place the hazelnuts onto a rimmed baking tray. Roast 5-10 minutes or until they turn golden and the skins begin to split. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, chop the hazelnuts.
Remove the cold dough from the refrigerator. Dust a clean work surface with flour and place the dough on top. Again, it's much easier to work with cold dough. Use a rolling pin to roll your dough into a 10x13-inch rectangle.
Spread the date paste over the dough, leaving 1/2" border around each side. Sprinkle half of the toasted hazelnuts on top, reserving the other half. Beginning with a short edge, roll the dough tightly. Place seam-side down and pinch the edges to seal.
Using a serrated knife, gently slice into 10 cinnamon rolls. Avoid pressing down on the dough and let the knife do the work. Place the rolls into a 10" cake pan or 8x8" square pan, leaving some room for the rolls to expand.
Cover the rolls with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise 1 hour or until doubled in size. 15 minutes before the rise time is done, preheat the oven to 350 F. Brush the cinnamon rolls with an egg wash and top with remaining hazelnuts. Bake at 350 F for 20-22 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove and cool while you make the icing.
In a bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, softened butter, confectioner's sugar, and vanilla. Blend with a hand mixer on medium-low speed. If you want a thinner icing, add 1-2 Tbsp almond milk.
Spread the icing on the cinnamon rolls while still warm. Refrigerate any leftovers up to 3-4 days.
To make these cinnamon rolls for Christmas day (and save time!), try this schedule!
Christmas Eve morning: make the dough. Wrap and refrigerate 8-10 hours.
Christmas Eve night: make the filling and toast the hazelnuts. Shape the dough, fill with date paste and toasted hazelnuts, roll into a log, and slice. Place the rolls into your baking pan and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
Christmas morning: allow the rolls to come to room temperature 20-30 minutes, then bake according to instructions. Serve hot!
*Recipe loosely adapted from Two Red Bowls