This Cake is a Giant Chocolate Cinnamon Roll

November 19, 2015

Mozzarella sticks. Onion rings. Fully-loaded nachos. Milkshakes. Pluto-sized Levain chocolate chip cookies. Anthony Myint's French Toast Crunch. Doughnuts. Chocolate babka.

These are all are foods that make me supremely frustrated.

Because no matter how badly I want to eat them—how very badly—it's hard to find an appropriate time. They're too all-consuming to be side dishes (if I order mozzarella sticks, I might as well ask them to wrap up the pizza before bringing it to the table); too large, after a normal-sized meal, to be desserts; and too sweet to be breakfasts (that's right: I said it!).

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Have it between meals and you might not be hungry when it's time for dinner. Have it for a meal and you might find yourself munching on baby carrots at 4 P.M. The best solution is to find a friend to share with you, but even once you've carved out time to eat the food (let alone make it) and paid asked a friend to help you, the experience will be more like an obligatory coffee with the person who's been emailing you for weeks than a joyful reunion with a long-distance boyfriend.

Photo by James Ransom

Cinnamon rolls fit all the criteria of a maddening food. They're too sweet and messy and, if you're making them from scratch, time-consuming for a run-of-the-mill breakfast. They do not qualify as a "light snack." They are probably not what you're looking for after a heavy meal and yet they aren't elegant enough to cap off a light one.

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Top Comment:
“Sarah! You did it! Chocolate yeast dough! My brother is a fan of the cinnamon bun, I shall make this for him over Christmas. ”
— aargersi

But the solution is surely not to give up.

To find the time (and stomach-room) to eat cinnamon rolls, you must transform them into a full-fledged sweet. Rescue them from the no man's land between breakfast and dessert and drop them squarely into the SUGAR category. Make them gaudy and sophisticated enough for a dinner party. Prepare them in a way so that each person can have exactly however much he or she wants. Turn cinnamon rolls into cake.

Photo by James Ransom

In this recipe, a chocolate yeast dough (emboldened with cocoa powder and chocolate chunks) is spread with butter, sugar, and bits of almond paste and additional chocolate. It's then curled around itself into a hypnotic spiral that bakes into a tall cake with the lift and fluff of a cinnamon roll. A cream cheese glaze adds tang; sugared almonds, crunch.

Of course you could make these into individual rolls, but cake offers a clearer direction. Because you (and your holiday guests) know exactly when they should have a piece of cake—and they'll always have room.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Alicia
  • Abby Reisner
    Abby Reisner
  • Reggi Levin
    Reggi Levin
  • aargersi
  • Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
    Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


Alicia January 20, 2016
We have nut allergies -- can the almond paste and flavoring be left off or substituted some way? I thought maybe more cream cheese but since I don't use the almond ingredients, I'm not sure if that's appropriate. Thanks in advance!
Sarah J. January 20, 2016
You can leave it out without a problem! And it wouldn't be a bad idea to add some extra chocolate chips and vanilla extract to compensate (but it's not necessary!).
Alicia January 20, 2016
Sweet! Thanks for your quick and kind response. Have a great day and we are looking forward to trying this!
Abby R. January 20, 2016
Ha! Yes. Yes yes yes. This is the most accurate story I've ever read.
Reggi L. November 22, 2015
How far in advance can this be made? Should it be eaten the day it is made?
Sarah J. November 22, 2015
It's definitely best the day it's made, but store it in an airtight container (or wrap it in plastic wrap without the glaze) and it will be good for 2 to 3 days!
aargersi November 19, 2015
Sarah! You did it! Chocolate yeast dough! My brother is a fan of the cinnamon bun, I shall make this for him over Christmas.
Sarah J. November 20, 2015
YAY! Hope he likes it!!!
Riddley G. November 19, 2015
I love this post and cake so much and will be make it a.s.a.p.
Marian B. November 19, 2015
Marian B. November 19, 2015
omg, still
Kenzi W. November 19, 2015
^^ *like*
Niknud November 19, 2015
ohmygod! OHMYGOD!