Cherry Sweet Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing + Toasted Almonds is a bakery-style treat that will become your favorite way to start the day.
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Iced Sweet Cherry Rolls
Start your morning off right with these warm, deliciously indulgent cherry sweet rolls with cream cheese icing and toasted almonds. Whether you’re baking up a batch for a cozy holiday breakfast or a special weekend treat, this delicious recipe is sure to make your house smell amazing and your taste buds sing with joy!
They are inspired by our Cozy Mystery Cooking Club book, Murder at the Beacon Bakeshop by Darci Hannah. The story takes place in Michigan, one of the biggest cherry producers in the country. I considered trying to replicate the iced cherry Danishes described in the book (actually, I did try), but I’m still a total newb when it comes to laminated dough.
But, sweet rolls? Game on!
Follow this step-by-step guide and you will have everything you need to create this delicious and impressive breakfast treat for your family or friends!
Gather Your Ingredients
- Bread flour — I always use bread flour for sweet rolls. I like King Arthur. It produces a lofty, fluffy texture with a chewy bite that I love.
- Instant yeast — this variety of yeast is very stable and cuts the rise time in half versus active dry yeast.
- Milk — I use 2%; this provides moisture to the dough and a little goes in the icing, too.
- White Sugar — this is food for the yeast and sweetens the dough and filling.
- Unsalted butter — room temperature; used in the dough and the icing.
- Kosher salt — a little salt to enhance our sweet bake.
- Eggs — add a richness to the dough.
- Frozen cherries — frozen dark, sweet cherries are readily available year round.
- Corn starch — to thicken the filling.
- Lemon zest + juice — to bring a little tartness to the filling.
- Cream cheese — wonderful with cherries, this gives a tangy quality to the icing.
- Powdered sugar — for an easy sweet icing.
- Vanilla extract — just a little for the icing.
- Sliced almonds — toasted, for a nutty crunch.
Helpful Kitchen Tools
Mix the Sweet Roll Dough Ingredients
- Combine half the flour and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm milk, sugar, 1/3 cup of the softened butter, and salt until it reaches 115-120 degrees. Pour the milk mixture into the mixing bowl and beat on low speed for 20 seconds.
- Add the eggs; beat for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.
- Beat in the rest of the flour in two additions, scraping down in between. Mix until just combined. The dough will pull away from the sides of the bowl, but still be sticky.
- Turn the dough out on a bench dusted with two tablespoons of flour and knead for 3 to 5 minutes, incorporating all the flour.
- Shape it into a ball, and place it in a large bowl that’s been lightly greased. Turn it over once, then cover and set in a dry, warm place to double in size; about 30 minutes.
Make the Cherry Filling
- Roughly chop the drained cherries then place them in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Press the cherries to release as much juice as possible, then transfer to a small saucepan.
- In a small bowl, combine corn starch with some of the cherry juice to make a slurry. Add this to the saucepan along with sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
- Cook over medium-low until it thickens, stirring often. Take it off the burner and add more lemon juice if you like.
Assemble the Cherry Sweet Rolls
- Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle measuring 18” long x 12” wide.
- Spread the cherry filling all over. Starting with a long side, roll it into a cylinder. Use a sharp knife to cut it into 12 equal pieces.
- Transfer the rolls to a lightly greased 9” x 13” baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and set on the counter for the second rise; about 45 minutes.
Bake + Frost the Cherry Sweet Rolls
- During the last 20 minutes of rise time, heat oven to 350°F. Bake for 20 minutes then check for doneness. They should be a light golden brown around the edges. Bake for an 5 extra minutes if needed. Remove the baking pan to a cooling rack.
- Combine the remaining butter with the cream cheese. Add powdered sugar, vanilla and milk to the cream cheese mixture and stir until smooth and spreadable.
- Use a spoon or offset spatula to spread the icing. Sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds.
- Cherry filling — instead of making the cherry filling from scratch, try using cherry pie filling (for extra sweetness) or cherry preserves (available with sweet or tart cherries). You’ll need about 1-1/4 cups of either to replace the homemade filling.
- Yeast — active dry yeast can be used instead of instant yeast. The only change to the instructions is that the first rise may take about an hour. On the second rise, just watch that the rolls expand to fill the baking pan, but the time may be about the same.
- Extract — for some extra almond flavor, swap the vanilla for almond extract in the cream cheese frosting.
- Pink icing — Replace some or all of the milk in the icing with drained cherry juice for a pretty pink hue.
Helpful Recipe Tips
Give yourself a head start by placing frozen cherries in a fine mesh strainer fitted over a bowl. Cover and thaw in the fridge overnight. You could even roughly chop the frozen cherries first, then you can skip straight to pressing the juice out once thawed. Most packages will provide quick thawing tips as well (like in the microwave), if you forget.
If your space is cool or drafty, consider rising the dough in a ‘room temp’ oven with just the oven light on. The heat from the bulb can be enough to boost the temp — the yeast will do its thing around 75°F.
Complete the steps through cutting the rolls and placing them in a baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The rolls will do their second rise slowly overnight. The next morning, remove them to the counter to rest while the oven preheats.
Place almonds in a dry skillet, then set it over medium heat. Toss or stir them often to get toasty brown all over. Don’t walk away because they can go from golden and crispy to burnt in the blink of an eye.
Have We Got Sweet Rolls For You!
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- Spiced Cranberry Orange Sweet Rolls
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Cherry Sweet Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing + Toasted Almonds
- 4 cups bread flour +2 tbsp, divided
- 1 packet instant dry yeast like Red Star brand
- 1 cup 2% milk
- ⅓ cup white sugar
- 1 stick unsalted butter room temperature, divided (use ⅓ cup for dough, remainder for icing)
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 2 large eggs room temperature
Cherry Filling (makes about 1¼ cups)
- 3 cups frozen dark sweet cherries thawed, drained + roughly chopped, reserve the juice (see notes)
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 to 3 tsp lemon juice
Cream Cheese Icing
- 3 oz cream cheese room temperature
- 1½ cups powdered sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp milk plus more, if needed
- ¼ cup sliced almonds toasted
- In the bowl of stand mixer, combine 2 cups of flour and the yeast with a fork.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm milk, sugar, 1/3 cup of butter, and salt until it reaches 115-120 degrees, stirring occasionally. Add this to the bowl of flour. Using the dough hook attachment, mix it on low speed for 15-20 seconds.
- Add the 2 eggs. Beat on low for 30 seconds, scrape down the sides, then beat on medium for about 3 minutes.
- Add the remaining 2 cups of flour, 1 cup at time. Beat just until each cup is incorporated and scrape down the sides in between. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl, but still be a little sticky.
- Dust a work surface with the remaining 2 Tbsp of flour and turn your dough out. Knead by hand for 3 to 5 minutes, incorporating all the flour.
- Shape it into a ball and place it in a lightly greased bowl. Turn it over once to coat, cover with a tea towel and allow to rise until doubled in size; about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the filling. Place chopped, pressed cherries in a small saucepan. Combine the corn starch with 2 tbsp of reserved cherry juice to make a slurry. Add this to the saucepan along with the sugar, lemon zest + 1 tsp of lemon juice. Cook them over medium-low for up to 5 minutes. Stir often to prevent burning. Take it off the heat as soon as it thickens. Taste and add more lemon juice if needed. Set aside to cool.
- Lightly dust a work surface and rolling pin with flour. Punch down the dough and turn it out on your work surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 12" x 18".
- Spread the cherry filling all over. Starting with a long edge, roll the dough into a cylinder. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 12 equal rolls. Place the rolls into a lightly greased 9"x13" baking dish. Cover and allow to rest on the counter for another 45 minutes. They will expand and fill the pan.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees during the last 20 minutes of rest time. Bake for 20 minutes. Check them for doneness. The dough around the edges of the pan may turn a very light golden brown. If they are still pale, bake them for up to 5 minutes longer. Remove them to a cooling rack.
- Prepare the icing by combining what's left of the stick of butter with the cream cheese. Mash them together with a fork or back of a spoon until smooth. Add 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and mix. Add the vanilla, milk and remaining cup of confectioner's sugar. Mix until smooth.
- Spread icing over the rolls with an offset spatula or spoon. Sprinkle almonds over the sweet rolls.
- How to defrost frozen cherries: Place frozen cherries in a fine mesh strainer fitted over a bowl. Cover and thaw in the fridge overnight. Chop + press the thawed cherries over the bowl to release as much juice as you can. (You could roughly chop the frozen cherries, then you can skip straight to pressing the juice out once thawed.) Most packages will provide quick thawing tips as well.
- Where to rise the dough: If your space is cool or drafty, consider rising the dough in a ‘room temp’ oven with just the oven light on. The heat from the bulb can be enough to boost the temp — the yeast will do its thing around 75°F.
- Overnight option for cherry sweet rolls: Complete the steps through cutting the rolls and placing them in a baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The rolls will do their second rise slowly overnight. The next morning, remove them to the counter to rest while the oven preheats.
- How to toast sliced almonds: Place almonds in a dry skillet, then set it over medium heat. Toss or stir them often to get toasty brown all over. Don’t walk away because they can go from golden and crispy to burnt in the blink of an eye.
Nutritional values are estimated and provided as a general guideline only. I earn a commission from Instacart from qualifying ingredient purchases.