Cheddar Swirl Rolls

Last week I asked you guys to help me choose a recipe to blog, and while chocolate cookies were the winner of the day, cheesy carbs were a close second. So, for everyone who wanted the cheesy carbs, here you go!

These cheddar swirl rolls come courtesy of Deb‘s Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. They were one of the very first recipes I flagged upon an initial flip through the book, for obvious reasons I hope. They’re actually labeled as a breakfast item, an alternative idea for those who don’t enjoy sweet, decadent cinnamon rolls for their first meal of the day. That’s a problem I can’t relate to at all, I will always choose sweet over savory when it comes to breakfast, and cinnamon rolls are pretty high up on the list. I’m pretty sure I could eat one every day and never get sick of them.

Cheddar Swirl Rolls

I thought these cheddar swirl rolls would be equally as good any other time of the day, though, and I ended up serving them alongside a bowl of lightened-up broccoli cheddar soup. It only seemed fair that all the calories I saved by making a light version of the soup should go toward carbs, right?

The process of making these rolls is very much reminiscent of cinnamon rolls. You start with a rich, buttery yeast dough but instead of filling it up with brown sugar and cinnamon, you use a combination of sharp cheddar cheese, parsley, and one slightly unexpected ingredient: grated onion. The onion sort of melts into the dough as the rolls bake so it’s not texturally obvious. If you didn’t know, you probably wouldn’t be able to put your finger on the onion as an ingredient but it definitely elevates the flavor of these rolls. They’re soft and tender with gooey cheese swirls – in other words, completely impossible to resist.

Cheddar Swirl Rolls

I’ve been trying so hard to get back on track with healthy eating after returning home from vacation this week, but looking at the pictures of these rolls again has left me with a serious craving :) And as luck would have it, I’ve got everything I need to whip up another batch so I guess you know what I’ll be doing today!

Cheddar Swirl Rolls
barely adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

{Note: To make ahead – prep the dough to the point before the first rise and refrigerate it for up to 3 days. Just bring to room temperature before you continue with the recipe. Also, I halved this recipe without any issues, so that’s an option.}

Dough
3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to lukewarm, plus 1 tablespoon for brushing the rolls

Filling
1/2 cup grated onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
1 1/2 cups (170 g) grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of black pepper

Cheddar Swirl Rolls

To make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, salt, pepper, and sugar. Mix briefly to combine. In a medium measuring cup, whisk the yeast into the milk to dissolve. Add the yeast mixture and the melted butter to the mixer and beat on low speed just until a rough dough comes together. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough on low speed for about 5 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic.

Spray a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Shape the dough into a ball and place in the prepared bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together all of the ingredients for the filling. Line two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and set aside.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll into a rectangle measuring about 12×16-inches. Spread the filling evenly over the dough, leaving about 1/2-inch border at the edge. Starting with a short side, roll the dough into a tight log. Cut the dough into 12 rolls, each about 1-inch wide. Place 6 of the rolls into each of the prepared pans, spacing them out evenly. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and gently brush it over the rolls. Cover the pans with plastic wrap and let rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350 F when the rolls are nearly done rising.

Remove the plastic wrap from the pans, and bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes, or until they’re golden brown and the cheese bubbles. Serve warm!