Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls
When it comes to leftovers, my belief is that every person belongs to one of two camps. You either like them, or you don’t.
I personally have always been a fan of leftovers. My brain is filled with fond memories of cold pizza, leftover birthday cake for breakfast, and carry-out Chinese from the night before. Pasta, soup, and casseroles- all better on day two. I’ve even been known to eat giant spoonfuls of mac and cheese straight from dish in the fridge, and I promise you it’s delicious.
Ok, ok, I can hear you gagging.
I may have an absurd level of tolerance for leftovers, but I’m pretty sure there’s at least one day per year that we can all get behind leftovers.
THANKSGIVING! The day of giving thanks and putting down some grub. The day to fill your heart with gratitude and your plate with tan colored food. When else can you justify cooking 18 pounds of food (32 pounds if you count the turkey) and binge snacking for 72 hours straight? When else can you dirty every Pyrex dish in your house and justify running the dishwasher 4 times in one day?
Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving! That’s when!
I am pro Thanksgiving leftovers. I vote yes to breakfasts made of cranberry sauce oatmeal and veggie plate dinners. I am all for lunches of open-faced turkey sandwiches on thick slices of cornbread and eating pumpkin pie as a breakfast food. And this year, I’m preparing Thanksgiving dinner with leftovers in mind because I have officially perfected the sweet potato cinnamon roll.
Yes, you heard me right. You can call your mother and tell her you’re finally eating more vegetables, because sweet potatoes. In a cinnamon roll. With pecans. And frosting.
These sweet potato cinnamon rolls are made by combining a typical dough with some sweet potato puree. The puree, which is made simply by pureeing cooked and peeled sweet potatoes, keeps the dough fluffy and moist for days. Filled with a cinnamon sugar spread and toasty chopped pecans, these sweet potato cinnamon rolls are topped with a cream cheese frosting and will make your house smell like a fall-flavored dream.
This dough starts decadently by melting the butter into the milk and sugar. After some yeast proofs in the warm milk, the sweet potato puree and some dry ingredients are added. We let the dough rise before the remaining dry ingredients are tossed in. After a quick once over with the rolling pin, a schmear of butter, sugar, and spices, and a sprinkle of pecans, these sweet potato cinnamon rolls are ready for baking.
Hot from the oven, these cinnamon rolls get frosted with a glossy cream cheese frosting. I prefer sweet frosting, but you can certainly decrease the amount of butter and sugar here to have a more dominantly cream cheese flavored frosting. Once they’re frosted, the sweet potato cinnamon rolls are ready for action. And by action, I mean devouring.
If you’re in charge of any dish this Thanksgiving, make sure it’s the sweet potatoes… And while you’re whipping up that dish you should casually throw in an extra potato or two… And when there’s leftovers, well, you know what to do. This sweet potato cinnamon roll recipe will be waiting for you.
Cheers to you and happy Tuesday!
- 1 cup milk (whole or 2%)
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2-1/4 teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup sweet potato puree (see notes below)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened slightly in the microwave but not completely melted
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons of cream or milk, plus more as desired
- In a large pot, combine the milk, butter, and sugar over medium heat and allow to warm just before the milk is scalding. Remove from burner and allow to cool until luke warm. Add the yeast and allow to dissolve, about 2 minutes.
- Add the sweet potato puree to the milk mixture, stirring gently to combine. Add 3 cups of the flour and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and allow to rest and rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour. If your dough hasn't doubled in size within that hour, place the dough in a slightly warmer spot of the kitchen.
- Combine the remaining flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and add to the risen dough. Stir to combine. At this point, you can refrigerate the dough overnight or roll out to use immediately. If you decide to save it, punch dough down into bowl if it over-rises.
- Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface to a 12"x18" rectangle. Combine the butter, brown sugar, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon in a bowl to create a paste. Spread softened butter mixture out across the dough , leaving a 1/2 inch border around the sides. Evenly sprinkle the pecans over the dough.
- With one of the long ends closest to you, begin to roll the dough away from you, pinching the dough together at the end to seal your roll. Trim off any shaggy ends (no more than 1 inch) Using a sharp knife, cut 1" slices from your log of dough.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place buns 1" apart in a baking dish (I use 3- 8"x8" baking dishes) and cover again with a sheet of plastic wrap or a tea towel. Allow to rise for 25-30 minutes, or until buns are puffed and rounded. Bake in the oven until buns are golden brown, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool on pan for 10-15 minutes and then top with glaze.
- In a medium sized bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add the powdered sugar slowly and beat until combined. Add the vanilla and cream, beating until smooth. Add additional cream if you wish to have a more loose glaze.
- To make sweet potato puree, peel 1 large sweet potato and cube it into 1" pieces. Place cubes in a pot of water boiling over medium high heat and cook until tender to a fork, about 10 minutes. Drain water and set aside to cool slightly. Once cool enough to handle, place potatoes in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Be sure no large clumps remain, or your rolls will also have clumps in them. Allow to cool in the fridge slightly prior to adding to the cinnamon roll dough. The puree can be made and saved in the fridge several days in advance.