Raspberry Cinnamon Rolls

by Jillian
Soft and fluffy cinnamon rolls loaded with sweet raspberries and smothered in mascarpone icing!

Soft and fluffy cinnamon rolls loaded with sweet raspberries and smothered in mascarpone icing!

Cinnamon rolls are by far my favorite pastry. In fact, I might even like them more than doughnuts! There’s just something about the lusciously holy combination of cinnamon, brown sugar, and yeasty bread. Of course, I always make sure to drench my cinnamon rolls in PLENTY of icing 😉

Although these hot summer months probably don’t have you aching for a warm and doughy cinnamon roll, I’m confident I’ll be able to reel you in if they’re loaded up with sweet and juicy raspberries…

These Raspberry Cinnamon Rolls are absolutely breathtaking, to say the least.

No seriously, they will literally take your breath away once you take a bite. They’re THAT good.

What I adore about these cinnamon rolls is how the flavor and slight tartness of the raspberries really helps to balance out the sweetness of the overall cinnamon roll. It’s also a nice change from your traditional cinnamon roll.

I ended up using the same tried-and-true dough recipe I used for my World’s Best Cinnamon Rolls. This dough is soft, slightly chewy, and EXTRA pillowy. Aside from the typical ingredients like yeast, sugar, butter, eggs, and flour, there are a few key ingredients that make this dough as heavenly as it is:

  • Sweet potatoes – I had come across several cinnamon roll recipes that incorporated mashed potatoes into their dough to create that soft, super moist, and perfectly fluffy roll. Apparently, potato starches hold and attract more water than wheat starches, which helps to increase the moisture content in baked goods. Adding mashed potatoes also makes the dough much easier to shape and handle. I was very intrigued by the mashed potato idea so I decided to try sweet potatoes since they would add more natural sweetness and flavor to the dough.
  • Greek yogurt – Buttermilk seemed to be a pretty common ingredient in most sweet dough recipes, so I figured I’d change it up slightly by using greek yogurt and adding milk. I read that equal parts greek yogurt and milk are a great substitute for buttermilk, so I decided to give it a try. However, if you’re using regular (non-greek) yogurt which tends to be thinner than greek, you’ll need to use 3/4 yogurt to 1/4 milk. 
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice – Because why add plain ol’ cinnamon, when you can amp up the flavor with Pumpkin Pie Spice? Along with cinnamon, it contains nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice, which are all wonderfully warm spices to incorporate into cinnamon roll recipes.

It’s also CRUCIAL to treat your dough with love. Be gentle. Don’t manhandle it by over-kneading it or adding too much flour. In fact, you only need to add just enough flour until the dough just cleans the bowl and is still tacky to the touch. Over-flouring only makes for drier, tougher, and chewier rolls. I recommend rolling the dough out on a silpat if you have one. NOTHING sticks to it, which makes the process of rolling out and rolling up super simple!

To fill the cinnamon rolls, I spread 4 tablespoons of softened butter (soft is much easier to spread!) over the dough, then sprinkled on about 1/4 cup of brown sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Now, normally I would pile on a lot more butter and brown sugar, but since these are raspberry cinnamon rolls, we gotta leave some room for them. Just combine some frozen raspberries, sugar, and a little cornstarch in a bowl, then sprinkle it evenly over the dough. You’ll definitely want to use FROZEN raspberries rather than fresh so that they don’t smash when you roll up the dough. Using frozen berries not only makes rolling and slicing much easier, but it’s also A LOT less messy!

To slice the rolls, you’ll either want to use a super duper sharp knife or a piece of unflavored floss. I’ve had more success with floss since it cuts right through the dough and the filling without smashing the rolls.

Once the rolls are spaced evenly in a baking dish, you can place them in a warm spot to double in size, then bake them up. However, I almost always place the rolls in the refrigerator overnight so that I can bake them up the next morning. If you choose this option, immediately place the rolls in the refrigerator so that they don’t rise. In the morning, take the rolls out and allow them to come to room temperature and rise for 45-60 minutes before baking them in the oven.

Soft and fluffy cinnamon rolls loaded with sweet raspberries and smothered in mascarpone icing!

Now let’s move on to the icing…

While cream cheese icing would’ve been perfectly fine for these cinnamon rolls, I decided they deserved something a little fancier…

Something like…Mascarpone icing.

Mascarpone cheese is similar to cream cheese, but the flavor is much lighter and less tangy. It’s also less rich and not as dense as cream cheese. You can usually find it in the deli or fancy cheese case of your grocery store. 

While making the mascarpone icing, I learned that mascarpone cheese is little more temperamental than cream cheese. Thus, it’s really important to make sure that all of your ingredients are room temperature before combining them. Make sure that you’re not beating warm butter with cold mascarpone cheese, or else you’ll end up with a curdled mixture. This is what happened to me. Hey, I never said I was perfect!

If this happens to you, however, no need to panic! It’s actually really easy to fix! Just remove a couple of tablespoons of the curdled mixture and place it into a small microwaveable bowl. Heat it in the microwave until it’s completely melted, then add it back into the mixing bowl. Turn the mixer on, and beat everything until it’s smooth. If it still looks curdled, just keep repeating this reheating technique a tablespoon at a time until the mixture comes together. Trust me, it eventually will!

I don’t care how long Cinnabon has been making cinnamon rolls, NOTHING can compare to the flavor of a homemade cinnamon roll baked fresh from your own oven. Not to mention, you get the added benefit of filling your entire house with that sweet cinnamony goodness! These Raspberry Cinnamon Rolls are tender, fluffy, and so darn moist. The raspberries add an extra kick of fresh, fruity flavor that’s guaranteed to make your tastebuds dance. And the mascarpone icing brings a delicate sweetness that pairs incredibly well with these rather addictive rolls.

Soft and fluffy cinnamon rolls loaded with sweet raspberries and smothered in mascarpone icing!

Raspberry Cinnamon Rolls

Soft and fluffy cinnamon rolls loaded with sweet raspberries and smothered in mascarpone icing!
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 25 minutes
Rising Time 3 hours
Total Time 5 hours 25 minutes
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 Rolls

Ingredients
  

Dough:

  • 2 ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast (one 1/4-ounce packet)
  • ¼ cup warm water*
  • cup + 1 teaspoon granulated sugar divided
  • cup mashed sweet potato
  • ¼ cup greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup milk
  • cup unsalted butter melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3-3¼ cups all-purpose flour

Filling:

  • 4 Tablespoons salted butter softened
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups frozen raspberries (don't thaw them)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Mascarpone Icing:

  • 6 ounces mascarpone cheese at room temperature**
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature**
  • 1 Tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 ½ cup powdered sugar

Instructions
 

Make the Dough:

  • In a glass measuring cup, combine the yeast, water, and 1 teaspoon of sugar; set aside to foam for about 5 minutes. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the mashed sweet potato, 1/3 cup of sugar, greek yogurt, milk, melted butter, egg, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.
  • Switch to the dough hook, and add the yeast mixture and 3 cups of the flour. Mix the dough on low and allow it to knead for about 6-7 minutes. If dough is still too soft, add more flour, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until dough just cleans the bowl, but is very soft. It should still stick to the bottom of the bowl.
  • Coat a large bowl with cooking spray and place dough in bowl. Seal tightly with plastic wrap. Place bowl in a warm place and allow dough to rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  • After dough has doubled in size, punch it down. Turn dough out onto a floured Silpat or floured countertop. With a rolling pin, roll it out to an 17x12-inch rectangle.
  • With a butterknife (or your fingers), spread butter evenly over the entire surface of the dough. Sprinkle the brown sugar over it, followed by the cinnamon.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the raspberries, granulated sugar, and cornstarch. Sprinkle raspberry mixture evenly over the dough. Lightly pat it down with your fingertips to help the sugar and raspberries adhere to the dough. Roll dough tightly into a log (from long side to long side), ending with the seam side down. Pinch the ends to seal.
  • Using plain, unwaxed dental floss (or a sharp knife), slice the rolls into 12 evenly-sized rolls. Arrange the rolls cut-side down in the baking dish. Cover tightly with plastic wrap--make sure to coat plastic wrap with cooking spray so that it doesn't stick to the rolls as they rise.

*If baking immediately

  • Allow the rolls to rise again in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

*Or...If You Want to Bake the Rolls the Next Day

  • Place covered rolls in the refrigerator for up to 16 hours. Before baking, let the rolls sit at room temperature until they have nearly doubled in size, about 45-60 minutes.

Baking:

  • For either version, bake at 350ºF for 23-25 minutes, or until golden. While rolls bake, prepare the icing.

Make the Icing:

  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the mascarpone cheese and butter together on medium speed for about 1 minute. Add the corn syrup, lemon juice, extracts, salt, and powdered sugar and beat for 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl, and beat for 1 more minute until light and fluffy.
  • Once rolls have baked, remove from the oven and immediately spread the icing over the warm rolls, allowing the icing to melt into every crevice moistening the rolls even more! Serve immediately.
  • Rolls are best eaten fresh, but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Reheat leftover rolls for 15-20 seconds in the microwave before serving.

Notes

*Different brands require different water temperatures for the yeast to react with. Make sure to use a food thermometer to get the correct temperature. You don't want the water too hot, or it will kill the yeast; too cold, and the yeast won't react. Mine had to be anywhere between 100ºF-110ºF.
**It's crucial that your butter and mascarpone cheese are BOTH room temperature to prevent them from curdling and separating. If you do come across this issue, no need to panic! Simply remove a couple of tablespoons of the curdled mixture and place it into a small microwaveable bowl. Heat it in the microwave until it's completely melted, then add it back into the mixing bowl. Turn the mixer on, and beat everything until it's smooth. If it still looks curdled, just keep repeating this reheating technique a tablespoon at a time until the mixture comes together. Trust me, it eventually will!
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