A soft and fluffy cinnamon roll filled with dulce de leche and shredded coconut. If you're a coconut caramel lover, then these cinnamon rolls are my treat to you! They're topped with a dulce de leche glaze - served warm, sticky, sweet and hard to beat.
What are these Caramel Coconut Rolls like?
In short, these coconut caramel cinnamon rolls are amazing!! Like seriously - if you like dulce de leche caramel and coconut, you can't go wrong with these.
They're made with a super soft brioche cinnamon roll dough - the same dough that forms the base of my classic Brioche Cinnamon Rolls as well as others like my Nutella and Raspberry Cinnamon Rolls. They're then filled with dulce de leche caramel sauce and loads of sweetened shredded coconut. On top is a quick sticky glaze featuring a bit more dulce de leche.
The overall flavor combination is inspired by alfajores.
Inspired by Alfajores
So have you ever had alfajores? An alfajor is essentially a spiced sandwich cookie particularly popular in Spain and parts of South America. It comes in many variations - some including chocolate, others have nuts. In Argentina, it is generally made with a dulce de leche filling and rolled in coconut. These cinnamon rolls use the same flavors to bring this sweet cookie treat to a perfect brunch version - an alfajor cinnamon roll!
To make these rolls, you'll need the ingredients for the dough and the filling. We'll discuss the frosting later!
For the Dough
- Milk - this should be full fat or whole milk. The fat content is important to the enriched bread and the yeast. This should also be warmed to 104°F/40C. It is OK if it is a bit warmer (say 114°F) but you want to avoid it being hot hot. If it's too hot, it will kill the yeast and your bread won't rise.
- Dry active yeast
- Sugar - either superfine granulated or caster sugar will work here. The sugar is divided in this recipe. A teaspoon will be mixed into the yeast and milk to help enliven your yeast. The rest goes straight into the dry ingredients.
- Flour - all purpose flour or plain flour.
- Bread flour - a white bread flour or strong flour. This will help the gluten in your rolls and will give them a better structure than using just all purpose.
- Eggs - large eggs, ideally at room temperature.
- Butter - unsalted butter, softened at room temperature. The butter here can be salted, but it will add salt to the overall recipe. If you substitute with salted butter, I'd recommend reducing the extra salt added by about half.
For the Filling
- Dulce de leche - you can make your own using Sweetened Condensed Milk, see my Banoffee Blondies for more details. Or you can use ready made store bought. Dulce de leche is essentially just a caramelised milk, so any thick caramel sauce should work here.
- Shredded coconut - I use sweetened flaked coconut here. You can use dessicated coconut, but I find it doesn't usually have as strong a flavor. The key is you'll want a soft and sweetened coconut to go well in the filling. I wouldn't recommend using a large hard flaked coconut as a substitute.
- Ground cinnamon - they wouldn't be a cinnamon roll without some cinnamon!
How to Make the Dough
The process for this dough follows the same steps as my Brioche Cinnamon Rolls.
You start by ensuring you liven up your yeast - sprinkle this into the warmed milk and add a teaspoon of sugar. Give this a stir and leave for 10 minutes until foamy.
Tip: if your yeast doesn't become foamy after 10 minutes, you may want to start over at this stage. If the milk is too cold, it may not have activated. If the milk is to hot, it may have killed the yeast and the dough won't be a success. It could also be a sign that the yeast has expired.
In a bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a dough hook attachment, stir together the flours, remaining sugar and salt. When the yeast is ready, add this to the flour mixture immediately followed by 2 eggs and 1 egg white, reserving the last yolk for an egg wash later.
Knead on a low setting for 15 minutes until the dough has come together and is starting to pull itself from the sides of the bowl.
Add your butter, bit by bit (I do about a tablespoon at a time), continuing to knead until incorporated. Then keep kneading on the low speed for 15 minutes until it is again pulling itself from the sides of the bowl.
Tip: the dough will probably not pull itself cleanly from the sides of the bowl, but should be showing signs of holding together. This is a super soft and sticky dough.
Scrape the dough into a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set in the fridge to proof for 8 hours (or overnight).
Filling and Rolling
You'll want to start off by lining a square baking pan with parchment paper in preparation.
Once your first proof is done, turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Gently press this into a rectangle and then roll with a floured rolling pin until you have a large rectangle about 12" wide by 15" long.
The filling for this recipe is reminiscent of my Banoffee Cinnamon Rolls, there is no butter or sugar needed. Spread the dulce de leche over the surface, then sprinkle with the ground cinnamon and then finally the shredded coconut.
Roll the dough from the bottom to the top into a tight log. Then, using flavorless dental floss or a thin kitchen twine, trim the uneven ends of the dough. Divide into 9 equal rolls, slice with the twine and place in your lined baking pan. Cover with a clean towel and allow to proof at room temperature for 2 hours.
When ready, preheat your oven and brush the rolls with a quick egg wash using your reserved egg yolk. Bake until risen and golden.
Tip: my dulce de leche filled cinnamon rolls tend to take a little longer in the oven than my other cinnamon rolls. This is because the caramel filling will add moisture and be a bit stickier than a butter and sugar mixture.
Dulce de Leche Frosting for Cinnamon Rolls
To finish off the perfect coconut and caramel brunch - you'll need some quick cinnamon roll frosting. You can of course top these with a simple vanilla glaze or a cream cheese frosting, if the mood strikes. But, I highly recommend using a dulce de leche glaze here!
- Powdered sugar - or icing sugar. Sifted if lumpy.
- Dulce de leche - or a caramel sauce.
- Milk - I like to use full fat (whole) milk, but you could also use 2% (or semi-skimmed). I wouldn't recommend using a 1% (or skim) milk as these are very watery for a frosting.
How to Make the Dulce de Leche Glaze
In a mixing bowl, simply whisk together your ingredients until smooth. If you want to adjust the consistency, you can do this easily with additional powdered sugar (to thicken) or additional milk (to thin). Tip: Just do any adjustments in small increments and check as you go, or you may find yourself needing to re-adjust loads!
Once your rolls are baked, let them cool about 10 minutes before frosting and serving.
Top Tips for this Recipe
- Brioche dough is a very sticky bread dough. It most likely won't pull itself clean from the bowl while kneading. If you knead on a low setting for 15 minutes before adding the butter and then again for 15 minutes once the butter is added, this should be enough for it to come together. I set a timer to help me ensure I don't stop too soon!
- I strongly recommend using sweetened flaked coconut in this recipe - it is soft shredded coconut pieces. You can substitute with dessicated coconut, but this is not sweetened and is usually hard dried pieces. This will impact the overall flavor and texture, but should still work in this recipe. I do not recommend trying large dried coconut flakes - these will leave hard pieces in your rolls. You can use fresh grated coconut here, but the additional moisture may impact the baking times.
- Dulce de leche (or caramel) is a fairly wet filling for a cinnamon roll. It will make the buns stickier than the usual butter/sugar combo and will make them more prone to sinking into themselves as they cool, especially if underbaked. This is why I recommend 30 minutes for these rolls instead of my usual 25 for my other brioche dough cinnamon rolls (such as my Blueberry Cinnamon Rolls or Cranberry Cinnamon Rolls).
As with my other cinnamon roll recipes, these coconut caramel cinnamon rolls are best eaten fresh baked. That's not to say you can't have leftovers! Leftover rolls can be kept at room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap, for about 3 days. They will stale quickly, especially if not covered well.
Yes! These are an overnight recipe for coconut and caramel rolls. The majority of the work in kneading the dough will be done the night before, leaving just the last stages for the morning.
The filling and rolling will take a few minutes. The second proof is best left for about 2 hours, but then baking in 30 minutes means these are ready to serve up in perfect timing for brunch!
Looking for more brunch inspiration? Try:
Caramel and Coconut Cinnamon Rolls
- 8" square baking tray
Ingredients for Dough
- ¼ cup full fat milk or whole milk, warmed to 104°F (40C), plus extra for egg wash
- 2¼ teaspoon dry active yeast
- 1 tablespoon superfine granulated sugar or caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all purpose flour or plain flour, plus extra for dusting your work surface
- ¾ cup strong bread flour
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the bowl
Ingredients for Filling
- ½ cup dulce de leche or caramel spread
- 4 oz sweetened flaked coconut
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Ingredients for Frosting
- ½ cup powdered sugar or icing sugar, sifted if lumpy
- 1 tablespoon dulce de leche or caramel spread
- 1 tablespoon full fat milk or whole milk
Instructions for Dough
- Begin by sprinkling the yeast and 1 teaspoon of your sugar over your warmed milk. Stir and set aside for about 10 minutes until active and very foamy. (see note)
- Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, stir together the flour, bread flour, salt and remaining sugar.
- When the milk and yeast is ready, add this to the flour mixture, immediately followed by two whole eggs and 1 egg white. Reserve the final egg yolk for an egg wash when you are prepared to bake.
- Knead the mixture for 15 minutes, until a dough has formed and this is beginning to pull itself from the sides of the bowl. (see note)
- Slowly add the softened butter, a bit at a time, continuing to knead as you go.
- Once all the butter is incorporated, knead for 15 more minutes until the dough is again pulling itself from the sides of the bowl.
- Scrape the dough into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator to proof overnight (or for 8 hours).
Instructions for Filling, Rolling and Cutting
- After the long first proof, flour your work surface and turn the dough out of the bowl. Press this into a rectangle and then use a floured rolling pin to roll out into a large rectangle about 12" wide by 15" long.
- Spread the dulce de leche over the surface of the dough, then sprinkle with ground cinnamon and finally add the coconut in an even layer.
- Roll the dough from the bottom to the top into a tight log.
- Then, using a flavorless dental floss or thin kitchen twine, trim the ends to remove uneven and unfilled dough. Divide the remaining log into nine and cut your nine rolls. Place these in a parchment lined square baking pan and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Allow to proof at room temperature for about 2 hours until doubled in size.
- Near the end of this second proof, preheat your oven to 350°F (175C/155C) and whisk the reserved egg yolk with a splash of milk. Brush the egg wash over the top of your rolls.
Instructions for Baking and Frosting
- Bake the rolls in the centre of your preheated oven for about 30 minutes until risen and golden.
- Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes while you prepare the frosting.
- In a small mixing bowl, stir together the powdered sugar, dulce de leche and milk until smooth. Drizzle this over the top of your warm buns and serve.
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