Mocha Cinnamon Rolls with Espresso Glaze


- Words and Photography by Elise Lehr and Michael Gaffney, Founders of Rosemary and Miint - As daylight begins to wane in the late fall, we begin to gather inside more and more often with family and friends. As frost begins appearing in our gardens and on our windowpanes, we start adding more layers before we leave the house or apartment. We instinctively start seeking out new forms of warmth as the days of summer fade into memory. The warmth that we seek could come literally from a roaring fire or from the heating pads stuffed into your gloves while you sit over a hole in the ice. For us though, warmth comes from meeting up with friends more often to catch up or from enjoying a cocktail while the snow piles up outside. The most satisfying part of winter though is to make good food and share it with others.

As kids, we both grew up helping out with baking in the kitchen. There was always a cake or a pan of delicious brownies around to have for dessert (or breakfast!). We always had cookies to share with friends at school and to this day, we both still bring extras to work with us for everyone to enjoy.

On chilly days here in St. Paul, we want nothing more than cinnamon rolls and a cup of coffee. We love experimenting with different flavors and we’ve finally settled on a winner for our favorite cinnamon roll recipe. Elise has been toying with this recipe for a few months and ended up with these Mocha Cinnamon Rolls with Espresso Glaze. We dislike overly sweet pastries and like to consider these a more “grown-up” version of what we are all used to. The addition of espresso powder helps to cut down on the sweetness considerably and pairs quite well with the chocolate chips. The sliced almonds add a bit of crunch and liven things up a bit.

These are a staple if we are making brunch but are great for any occasion. Whether it’s as your breakfast as you run out the door or with your coffee as you take your Fika in the afternoon, these are a satisfying addition to your recipe box.

Mocha Cinnamon Rolls with Espresso Glaze

Total Time: 70 Minutes + Rising and Proofing Time | Makes between 8 and 12 rolls depending on pan size



  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup + 2Tbsp Whole Milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 ½ cups flour
  • 2 tsp. Active-dry yeast
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp. Salt


  • ¼ cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup softened butter
  • 2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • ⅛ cup sliced almonds
  • 2 Tbsp espresso powder


  • 1 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


To make the dough, sift all of the dry ingredients for it together into a large bowl and make a well in the center. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and then beat in the milk followed by the eggs.

Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry and mix with a wooden spoon until the dough is pulled together but still sticky. Leave sit for 5 minutes.

Dust your work surface with flour, then turn the dough out onto it. Flour your hands lightly and begin kneading the dough. Add flour as needed but avoid adding too much. After kneading for 5-10 minutes the dough should feel springy and smooth. Oil a large bowl and place the dough into it, covered and let rise for an hour, or until doubled in size.

While the dough rises, mix together your filling ingredients. Place all of the ingredients except the butter into a bowl and mix together until well-combined.

Once the dough has risen, add more flour to your work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Sprinkle lightly with flour and then press it out into a rectangle that is about 12 x 10 inches. Spread the softened butter out evenly onto the dough with your fingers all the way to each edge. Next add the filling mixture evenly and then form into a tight roll from long end to long end.

Cut the roll into 12 even slices with a sharp knife dusted with flour.

Grease a pan of your choice and add the slices into it, making sure to keep the seams facing inward.

Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and allow to proof in a warm place for 30 minutes or until risen. While proofing, preheat your oven to 400F.

Bake the rolls for 10 minutes and turn down to 350F. Bake for another 20-25 minutes. The rolls should have risen more, taken on a golden color all over, and cooked fully through.

While the rolls are baking, make your glaze. Begin by dissolving the instant espresso powder in 1tsp of hot water. Then, whisk the remaining ingredients together until the glaze takes on a creamy texture. If it’s too runny, add confectioners sugar 1 Tbsp at a time; if it’s too thick, add milk a splash at a time. Let the rolls cool for 20-30 minutes in the pan and then pour the glaze over them. Let it set and then enjoy!