Black Forest “Cinnamon” Rolls

This month the Daring Bakers kept our creativity rolling with cinnamon bun inspired treats. Shelley from C Mom Cook dared us to create our own dough and fill it with any filling we wanted to craft tasty rolled treats, cinnamon not required!


I decided to think out of the box and add cocoa powder to my Aunt Judy’s babka dough, make a cherry filling and top the whole thing with cream cheese frosting for my version of a “black forest cinnamon roll”. There isn’t actually any cinnamon I’m just calling it that so you get the idea. I have a warning however: this recipe is a prototype. I’m putting it up because the Daring Baker’s deadline is upon me but I have some tweaking to do to achieve perfection. It is delicious as is but not quite as chocolaty as I would like it. I think I will save the revised and completed recipe for my cookbook (fingers crossed that that will happen someday!!!).

I do need to go on a brief rant here just to get something off my chest. I am feeling conflicted lately because I feel like I’m holding back some original recipes because I really do intend on putting together a collection to publish in the future. With that in mind I’m not sure if I should be having all of those recipes floating around already. Does anyone out there have any experience with this and have any suggestions for me? Because I really DO feel conflicted about it because I so badly want to share everything with all you amazing readers… I would appreciate any feedback on this matter. 🙂



Black Forest “Cinnamon” Rolls


Ingredients for the Rolls:

  • 1 recipe Chocolate Babka Dough*
  • 1 20 ounce. can pitted sour cherries
  • ¾ cup granulated white sugar
  •  2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • 1 tbsp. Maraschino Cherry Juice
  • Pinch of fine kosher or sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pure almond extract
  • Ground chocolate for dusting (use instead of flour when rolling for color)
  • ½ cup roughly chopped bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • ¼ cup slivered or chopped almonds, optional (some for the filling and some for topping if desired)
  • Maraschino Cherries to garnish, optional

Ingredients for the Frosting:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • 1-2 tbsp. Maraschino Cherry Juice, to taste, optional
  • 1/8 tsp. pure almond extract
  • Pinch of fine kosher or sea salt
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted (more or less to taste)


  • Start with one recipe of chocolate babka dough
  • In a medium saucepan cook together over medium-low heat the cherries with juice, ¾ cup granulated sugar, 2 tbsp. cornstarch, lemon juice, Maraschino Cherry Juice and a pinch of salt. Stirring constantly, cook until thickened.
  • Removed from heat and stir in the almond extract. Set aside to cool.


  • Dust a large flat surface with some of the ground chocolate (or cocoa powder) and roll room temperature dough into a large rectangle (approx. 10 X 6 inches) so that the long side of the dough faces you.


  • Evenly spread half of the melted chocolate over the rectangle. Then, spread half of the cherry filling over the rectangle, leaving a ½ inch of dough uncovered on the far long side of the dough
  • Sprinkle with a few of the almonds (is using).

I originally used chocolate chips but if you use melted chocolate and spread it over the dough it will allow for some in every bite.

  • Tightly roll the dough into a log starting at the long edge nearest to you and finished with the “uncovered” edge on the far side. Pinch the edge of dough closed and place it seam side-down on your work surface. (It will be a little gooey but that will make for a yummy roll in the end!)


  • Prepare two sheet pans with parchment or silicone baking mats.
  • Using a bench scraped or sharp knife cut the log into 12 equal pieces
  • Place the pieces on a prepared baking sheet, spacing them approximately 1-inch apart.


  • Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 hour (the sides of the rolls will touch, that is okay). (ALTERNATLY: refrigerate overnight for baking in the morning. If chilling overnight, remove from the refrigerator at least 1 hour prior to baking and place rolls in a warm place to rise and come to room temperature).


  • REPEAT above process of rolling out the dough, filling and forming rolls with the second ball of chocolate babka dough and remaining filling ingredients.
  • While rolls are completing their final rise, preheat oven to 350 degrees F with rack in the center position.
  • Bake rolls until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a roll reads 185-190 degrees F, about 25-30 minutes. The rolls will not noticeably turn golden brown since they are chocolate.


  • Allow rolls to cool for about 20 minutes before frosting.
  • While rolls are cooling, prepare the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the cream cheese, butter, lemon juice, cherry juice (if using), almond extract and salt until smooth. Gradually mix in the SIFTED powdered sugar until the frosting is of desired sweetness and consistency.
  • Spread frosting over the slightly warm rolls, garnish each with a Maraschino cherry half and a sprinkling of slivered almonds, if desired.

I tried out a bunch of different decoration techniques, some frosting with cherry juice and some without. I think my favorite aesthetically i the plain white ones. They are also my favorite to eat. Although Troy likes the pink ones, so you choose!

*Chocolate Babka Dough (prototype)

(This amount makes enough for one recipe)


  • ¼ C lukewarm water (~100°)
  • ¾ tbsp. instant yeast
  • 4- 4 ½ cups flour, plus extra for dusting (you may need more or less depending upon humidity, etc.)
  • ½ cup good quality Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ tsp. fine kosher or sea salt
  • ½ tsp. espresso powder
  • 1 cup milk or half and half
  • 4- 4 ½ cups flour, plus extra for dusting (you may need more or less depending upon humidity, etc.)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 ½ tbsp. vegetable or canola oil plus extra for greasing


  • If using dry active yeast: In a large mixing bowl measure water and sprinkle yeast over the top; sprinkle 1 T sugar over all – do not stir – set aside until foamy/softened. Do not proceed if this does not occur – the yeast may be dead. Discard and try again with fresher yeast.
  • If using instant, add yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add 3 ½ cups of the flour to start, cocoa powder and salt and mix briefly to combine
  • Bring milk (and water if NOT blooming your yeast) to a soft boil; add butter, sugar, espresso powder, salt and oil. Stir to melt the butter and dissolve the sugar (this can be done in microwave at half power with occasionally stirring) Set aside to cool.
  • Beat eggs, combine eggs with milk mixture.
  • Pour all over softened yeast and add flour and salt gradually (if using active bloomed yeast) OR add to the bowl of the stand mixer with the dry mixer (if using instant yeast).
  • Mix, adding ½ cup of flour at a time until dough comes together and cleans the bowl.
  • Dust countertop with flour – dump dough onto floured surface and knead until it is a tacky consistency. If you can handle the dough without it sticking to your fingers (it begins to stick but pulls loose) there is the right amount of flour. Sticky = if you hold the dough and in your hand for more than a few seconds and dough sticks to your fingers then it needs more flour. Be careful not to add too much however as you do not want this to be dry. Knead in more flour as necessary.


  • Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel
  • Set aside approx.. 1 hour, until double in size
  • Punch down and knead it just a little. Divide into 2 pieces.
  • Shape into balls and place in lightly greased bowls. Cover with a towel and allow to rise for another 30 minutes.
  • Cover with a towel and allow them to rise 20 minutes.
  • Continue by following instructions for the recipe you will be using (i.e. cinnamon rolls, braided bread, coffee cake, etc).
  • To continue making a loaf with the babka dough instead of using in another ecipe: preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  • Bake about 1 hour until a gentle tap with your knuckle makes a hollow sound. The temperature as read by an instant read thermometer should be between 190 and 200 degrees F.


21 responses to “Black Forest “Cinnamon” Rolls

  1. Let me know when you write your cook book! I want one and have it autographed by you! Your Black Forest yummy so looks awesome! Hugz Lisa and Bear

  2. I LOVE how creative you were with these!! And I love that it’s inspiring you to perfect this recipe – because I bet you’ll get them just right and they’ll be a dream! Thanks so much for baking with me this month!

  3. Hold some of them back Jess. It pains me to say this, because I love your recipes, but I will happily buy your cookbook. Just get started on it soon, because I don’t plan on living forever. Just another 30 years or so, LOL.

    • Awww thanks. I’ve already been starting to hold some back, so one day… Thanks for stopping by! I was confused as to why wordpress was making my “approve” your comment but I realized it’s cos of that darn new acct lol!

      • Yeah, they don’t recognize me any more. Still hoping after the renovation is over I’ll be able to open another WP account and keep it open this time, with the updated phone system. The system we have now is ancient and the wires are bug-eaten, so it has a habit of shutting down on me in mid-sentence.

    • Yes it is. So thats what i’m going to work on with this one although this is delicious as is… Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  4. I have one word for these rolls: yum. I love how you topped them! They remind me of those donut food trucks where the donuts are loaded with toppings… mmmm.

  5. My teens would adore these. Have made something similar with chocolate and orange but the black forest twist is inspired 🙂

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