As I write this blog post, it's early Monday morning. The work week starts again (as if it ever really halted). My to-do list overflow-eth. And I need a cinnamon roll!
Today, I'll have to settle for the virtual kind as it's a writing, not a baking day. I'm fortunate enough to be part of a writer's group that will meet this afternoon. The other writers will be critiquing chapters from a culinary novel I'm working on. And I have to critique their work as well.
Even constructive criticism, kindly given and much appreciated, can take a bit of a psychic toll.
So I need another cinnamon roll with a good cup of dark coffee. Or maybe a cinnamon roll that combines the two, as in these Coffee Lover's Cinnamon Monkey Bread Rolls. Sigh. . . .
So all this leads me to the topic for this blog post--ingredients. Especially those that play well with cinnamon.
First up is cinnamon. It used to be so easy to select a cinnamon for baking. Now we're spoiled for choice.
Indonesian cinnamon (at the 6-o'clock position in the photo), the typical grocery store variety, is lighter in color and milder in flavor--with a slight citrus tone--than other cinnamons. China Cassia (at the 3-o'clock position in the photo) has more of a reddish tinge and a medium cinnamon flavor. My personal favorite, Vietnamese or Saigon cinnamon (at the 9-o'clock position in the photo), has a darker color and a robust cinnamon flavor.
Dark brown sugar with cinnamon heightens the cinnamon flavor, while light brown or granulated sugar with cinnamon gentles it.
The deep flavor of chocolate can add another dimension to cinnamon rolls if you use it with a light hand. Too much chocolate, and it overwhelms rather than complements. Mexican chocolate, available in the Hispanic section of the grocery store and at gourmet shops, already combines chocolate with cinnamon and sugar as it's meant to be grated for Mexican hot chocolate.
Here you see the Ibarra or grocery store brand on the left as well as artisan Mexican chocolate you could find at a gourmet or chocolate shop on the right. The chocolate comes in disks or tablets that you then grate.
Here, you see grated Mexican chocolate on top of a typical cinnamon roll filling of cinnamon and brown sugar.
To let the filling flavor shine through, I'd use a simple vanilla-flavored glaze at the end.
There's another way to add chocolate--and coffee-- to cinnamon rolls. I found these espresso chocolate chips from the King Arthur catalog. I simply dot them on a cinnamon filling, then finish with a vanilla glaze.
Substituting brewed coffee for other liquid in a typical confectioner's sugar glaze, as the Pioneer Woman likes to do, adds a nuance of flavor that complements traditional cinnamon rolls.
Now, I feel better--part wake up and part comfort. Ready to start the day. Ready for whatever this writing life throws at me.
And I hope you feel the same.
Check out I Love Cinnamon Rolls! on amazon.com