Yeah, you read that right, Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls. And, what could possibly be more decadent than combining these two sinful treats? I have worked for several years to develop the perfect cinnamon roll recipe. I’ve taken bits from here and there and changed techniques and altered amounts and cooking times. Seriously, these cinnamon rolls are perfect with a little powdered sugar icing. But, why stop there? Add some thin sliced apples to the filling and then top it with rich caramel. This is NOT a quick recipe, not by a long shot. But, aren’t the best things in life worth waiting for? As a caution, you probably want to make these when you are taking food somewhere. Otherwise, you really will end up eating the whole pan (which is only bad if you value the current size of your waistline).
For the best time management, start your dough first. Mix the yeast, water, milk and sugar together and let the yeast bloom for about 10 minutes. Add in the salt, egg and soft butter. Then, add in the flour. I start with 1 1/2 cups and my paddle attachment. It should look something like this.
Then, I switch to my dough hook and add flour 1/2 cup at a time until it reaches the right consistency. It will be soft and still sticking to the bowl at the bottom. Don’t add more flour. You want it to be soft so your rolls don’t dry out. These will be golden brown on top, but soft and tender (unless you add too much flour, then they will be dry and crispy). Cover this and let it rise until double.
Next, I slice apples super thin on my mandolin. Leave the peels on, unless you’re just absolutely opposed to apple skins, then, by all means, peel the apples first. If you don’t have a mandolin, slice them as thinly as you can by hand. Super-thin slices really do work best.
Cook those down with some butter over VERY low heat for about an hour. The apples will be soft, but also dry. Don’t skip this step to save time. If you put fresh apples in your cinnamon rolls, you’ll end up with a soggy mess. Trust me. Set your pan of apples aside to cool.
Mix up the cinnamon/sugar filling. Brown sugar and a high cinnamon to sugar ratio keeps the filling from being too sweet. A little flour keeps it from melting out during rise and bake time.
After your dough has risen, gently remove it from the bowl and put it on a heavily floured surface. Roll it into a rectangle that is about 18″x24″x1/4″. Keeping the dough nice and thing makes sure that you never get a bit of bread without a good amount of filling too.
Spread melted butter over the dough. Be sure to leave about 1/2″ unbuttered along one long side so you can seal it. Then, cover the butter with your cinnamon sugar. Go all the way to the edges of the dough. Top that with your cooled apples.
Starting at the edge with filling on it, roll tightly. Seal edge and slice into 1″ thick rolls. Place in a pan and refrigerate overnight. You could cook these same day, just let them rise for about 30 minutes on the counter.
Are you tired yet? Almost done. Now you make the caramel. Add sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar, light corn syrup and butter to a heavy sauce pan.
Cook and stir over low heat for 25-35 minutes or until lightly browned. Then add vanilla and salt. This will set up slightly. You’ll probably have to warm it a bit before spreading over your baked cinnamon rolls.
The next morning, take the cinnamon rolls out of the fridge, preheat your oven, bake, frost and enjoy!
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 package yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup room temperature butter
1 1/2-3 cups flour
5 Tablespoons room temperature butter – divided
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons cinnamon
1 Tablespoon flour
Using the paddle attachment on your mixer, mix together water, yeast, milk and sugar. Let sit for 5-10 minutes so yeast can bloom. Add in salt, egg and butter. Mix well. Add in 1 1/2 cups flour and mix well. Change out paddle for dough hook and add flour 1/2 cup at a time Dough should be soft and pulling away from edges, but not the bottom, of the bowl. Knead for 2 minutes. Cover and let rise until double – about an hour.
Core apples and slice thinly on a mandolin (or by hand). Add apples and 1 Tablespoon butter to a small saucepan. Cook over very low heat until apples are tender and liquid has cooked away (45 mins-1 hour). Set aside to cool.
While apples are cooking, stir together brown sugar, cinnamon and flour. Set aside.
When dough has doubled, gently remove it from bowl and place on a heavily floured surface. Use a floured rolling pin to gently roll into an 18″x24″ rectangle. Dough will be about 1/4″ thick.
Spread dough with 4 Tablespoons room temperature butter. Leave about 1/2″ of dough on one long side unbuttered. Spread cinnamon sugar mixture over the buttered dough. Scatter cooked apples over the cinnamon sugar.
Starting with the long side of the dough that is covered with filling, tightly roll to unbuttered edge. Seal by pinching dough together. Slice into 1″ rolls and place in a baking dish. Cover and place in fridge overnight.
The next morning, remove rolls from fridge. Preheat oven to 350*. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Top with caramel while still warm.
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
Place milk, butter, brown sugar and corn syrup in a heavy sauce pan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 25-35 minutes or until golden brown. Stir in vanilla and salt.