Chai Spiced Cinnamon Rolls with Pears

A great use for ripe and ready pears, these cinnamon rolls are made with almond milk and chai tea for warm flavors that everyone loves in the morning.
By Valentina Celant

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Today, I am sharing with you some utterly delicious {vegan} cinnamon rolls, with the yummy addition of chai and pears. I know pears are maybe not the first thing you think of when you think of spring, but I seriously love them all year long. I bought a big bag of them earlier this week, and they all inexplicably ripened AT THE SAME TIME. So imagine me, sitting in my kitchen, with literally 7 ripe pears about to go bad. What’s a girl to do? Well, put them in cinnamon rolls, of course.

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As usual, I wanted to make a treat that I could share with my vegan bestie, if not for the sole purpose that I knew that otherwise, I was gonna eat all of these in one sitting. Imagine my surprise when I realized I didn’t even need to search for a new cinnamon roll dough recipe for these… all I had to do was switch dairy milk for almond milk in my trusty sweet roll recipe and I was done! Who said vegan food was hard, again?

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Honestly, the hardest part of this recipe was figuring out how to incorporate the chai flavor without having to buy or make a mix of chai spices. I don’t own any, and I know most people don’t either, so I had to get creative! I decided to brew a 1/2 cup of really, really strong chai tea, and use it to simmer and caramelize the pears in. While the pears were cooking, I actually ended up adding another bag of chai tea to the mixture to add an extra oomph and oh man, I am so glad I did! These are definitely cinnamon rolls, without a doubt, but the chai adds a warm, spiced and smoky note that is addicting and delicious.

This recipe is easy and versatile, and I have used this same dough for every single cinnamon roll variation on this blog. From berries & chocolate to lemon & white chocolate to s’mores to nutella… all you need is one recipe.

Chai Spiced Cinnamon Rolls with Pears
 
A great use for ripe and ready pears, these cinnamon rolls are made with almond milk and chai tea for warm flavors that everyone loves in the morning.
Author:
Recipe Type: Baking, Breakfast
Serves: 12 giant rolls
Ingredients
*for the rolls*
  • 1 cup {almond} milk
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour {+ ½ cup, separated}
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tbsp instant active dry yeast {about ½ a package}
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
*for the filling*
  • 5 pears, peeled, cored, and diced {about 4 cups}
  • ½ cup strong chai tea {I used 2 tea bags for ½ cup of water}
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
Instructions
  1. In a large nonstick pot, combine the milk, oil, and ¼ cup of sugar. Heat up to about 120F {warmer than body temperature but NOT burning hot} over medium heat, then remove from burner and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes to allow the yeast to activate.
  2. Afterwards, mix in the 2 cups of flour, cover the pot with a clean tea towel, and let the dough rise for about 1 hour.
  3. After the first rise, add in the salt, baking powder, baking soda, and additional flour. Knead until all the flour has been absorbed, and add more if needed. You want the dough to be soft and smooth but not too sticky! Using a sharp knife, cut an X on top of your dough {this helps it rise }, cover with a tea towel again, and let rise for an additional 3+ hours. You can let it rise overnight at this point, or you can also wait until the next step!
  4. When you are almost ready to assemble, prepare your filling. You want to have enough time for it to cook and then cool off completely.
  5. In a medium nonstick pot, combine the pears, chai tea, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Heat to boiling, then lower to a simmer, stirring occasionally. You want the mixture to thicken into a jam-like consistency. If you are wanting an extra kick of chai, feel free to throw in another bag of chai tea into the mix.
  6. Once the pear chunks are very soft and the mixture is thick, remove from heat and cool to room temperature before assembly.
  7. After the second rise, lightly flour a clean surface, and dump the dough on top. Knead it for 2-3 minutes, adding more flour as needed. The dough should be smooth and easy to work with, so add flour if it's too sticky!
  8. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a rough rectangle, making sure you don't roll it out too thin. Spread the prepared pear mixture all over the surface of the dough, and sprinkle with additional cinnamon and brown sugar if desired.
  9. Starting on the long side closest to you, roll up the dough, being careful that no filling falls out of the sides.
  10. Using a large, smooth knife, cut 1½-2 inch slices of dough, and place them in a greased 9x13 pan {or you can use a giant muffin pan + 9x9 baking dish}. Make sure to leave some space between the rolls to allow them to rise more!
  11. At this point, you can cover the pans with plastic wrap and either let them rise for 30 minutes in a warm place, or place them in the refrigerator overnight.
  12. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375F. Bake the rolls 15-18 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and no longer doughy.
  13. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, and enjoy!
 

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