Easter has never constituted a significant blip on my holiday radar over the past few years, but this past weekend, my friend Irma hosted a small Mexican brunch and it was everything. Chilaquiles—one pan with red sauce that she deemed too tomato-y, and one with homemade tomatillo salsa that was deemed authentic and devoured by everyone—eggs, perfectly ripe avocado, salty, crumbly cojita cheese, icy palomas, and a perfectly set chocoflan.
Five of us took down nearly half the bundt cake and it was not okay (but also very, very okay).
The deeply delicious yet peaceful nature of it all reminded me of the occasions when I’ve hosted meals–Irma pulled off a stunning from-scratch brunch AND showed up a classy dress, makeup and hair. A far cry from my typical “entertaining” where I’m hopping in and out of the kitchen like a crazy in a sweaty T-shirt. I hope to grow out of that someday.
Time is money, as they say, and I invested some time that really should have been put towards, say, reading the 200+ pages for my Leading Change class, and into practicing these almost-instant chocolate cinnamon rolls, which played a lovely chocolate sidekick to Irma’s chocoflan at brunch.
While I am in principle against using microwaves excessively (ever since a power tower scare in our neighborhood, long story), I can’t deny the great value a microwave can play in, say, a time-crunched student lifestyle. I think every once in a great while can’t hurt–just make sure to stand way back from the microwave while it’s on. At least two feet. Just in case. Because moderation but also safety.
These cinnamon rolls are almost cakey soft (my favorite texture of all time); they can made more structured with an extra tablespoon of oat flour, or even cakier with less oat flour and an extra dash of cocoa powder. They’re a riff off of Kylie’s single-serving cinnamon roll which means it’s mostly healthy but still ridiculously good. They’re not too sweet—in fact, barely sweet at all, which is why you can justify a generous drizzle of glaze over the top since the gooey filling is a sweet and harmless mixture of dates and cinnamon–and chocolate chips if you’re feeling extra-special.
They’re really much simpler than the number of photos in this post might indicate, but I’m practicing my process photos, so please forgive the excess. You can make one, start-to-finish in under 15 minutes, promise.
Remember that one time you left the lid of your date container askew in the fridge and all your dates dried out? No? Just me? Well, maybe I’m alone in my inability to acquire perfectly soft and ripe dates, but just in case you have this issue too, I’ve changed up Kylie’s recipe just a bit to a) adapt the date filling to transform even the toughest of dates into a paste-appropriate filling and b) make them chocolate, clearly.
To clarify: even though two cinnamon rolls are shown in this post, the following recipe makes just one individual (substantial!) cinnamon roll.
Single-Serving Cinnamon Roll
- 2 dates chopped finely
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- chocolate chips optional
- 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon oat flour for a more structured, firm dough
- 1.5 tablespoons cocoa powder increase to 2 tablespoons and only use 1/3 cup oat flour for an extra soft, cakey texture
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- pinch of salt
- scant 3 tablespoons mashed banana
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil melted
- For a glaze:
- powdered sugar yogurt, and/or milk
- Add enough water to cover the chopped dates in a small microwavable dish. Add the baking soda and microwave for 40 seconds. Set aside to cool.
- In another bowl, stir together the oat flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt, then stir in the coconut oil and mashed banana. Flour a surface and roll dough into 2-3 long, thin ropes between your palms. Press the dough into long, thin rectangular shapes.
- Drain the date mixture and stir in cinnamon and chocolate chips, if using. Spread the date paste over the rectangles. You can either roll each rectangle into into 2-3 mini cinnamon rolls and place in a greased ramekin, or roll everything into one large roll by overlapping the ends of each rectangle (see GIF above).
- Microwave dough in a greased ramekin for about 1 minute and 15 seconds (depending on the power of your microwave; mine is pretty strong).
- To make a glaze, add about 1/4 teaspoon of water or milk to 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar and stir until pourable. Adjust to desired consistency. Alternatively, you can sweeten some yogurt with sugar or maple syrup to use as a glaze.