Melomakarona cinnamon rolls

Make cinnamon rolls using Greek melomakarona cookies! The dough is soft, buttery and easy to make. The filling is a combination of orange marmalade, ground up melomakarona cookies, cinnamon and butter. After they are baked the cinnamon rolls are topped with a honey cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with some more crushed melomakarona. A drizzle of honey finishes everything off beautifully!

Melomakarona cinnamon rolls

For those who may not know, melomakarona are Greek cookies that are traditionally made at Christmas time. They are perfect for the holidays because they are lenten (meaning that they contain no eggs and no dairy). They are full of walnuts, spices and orange flavour. Once baked these cookies are dipped in a honey syrup and are then topped with a crushed walnut mixture. They are so simple to make and if you want to try them, this recipe for melomakarona is absolutely fail-proof!

The idea for this recipe came to me last year actually. I always love to share new ways to enjoy melomakarona during the Christmas season – it has become a Mia Kouppa tradition! In the past, there has been an incredible melomakarona cheesecake, a divine melomakarona ice cream cake, and perfect melomakarona muffins. This recipe for melomakarona cinnamon rolls is definitely worthy of joining this group of recipes!

Melomakarona cinnamon rolls

Why this recipe works

The secret to any great cinnamon rolls is making a perfect dough. This dough recipe is actually so easy to make, and you will be amazed by how simple it is to work with once you start to roll it out. Don’t worry about the dough being too difficult to handle, or breaking apart.

I use a layer of orange marmalade in the filling – there are a couple of reasons for that. First, the orange flavour in the marmalade matches the melomakarona flavour well. The second reason is that the stickiness of the marmalade helps the ground up melomakarona cookies to stick to the dough, making it easy to roll everything up!

You will notice that before baking the cinnamon rolls I top each one with a bit of heavy cream. Trust me, this is a great step! You will get the softest, moistest cinnamon rolls ever with this trick!

Melomakarona cinnamon rolls

Key ingredients

Don’t be intimidated by this recipe! Even if you are not a baker, you will be able to manage them, I promise!

For the dough

Lukewarm water – make sure the water is not too hot or you will kill your yeast

Dry yeast – during the proofing, make sure you see bubbles form; this lets you know that your yeast is still active

Sugar – helps to feed the yeast

All purpose flour – also called plain or regular flour

Egg – use large eggs, at room temperature

Egg yolk – an extra egg yolk for added richness

Butter – use unsalted butter and keep it at room temperature

Kosher salt – the larger crystals are great; they give a burst of salty goodness

For the filling

Butter – unsalted butter

Cinnamon – ground cinnamon

Crushed up melomakarona cookies – make a fine crumb

Orange marmalade – this helps your filling stick to your dough

For the topping

Heavy cream – can be heavy whipping or cooking cream

Cream cheese – use full fat cream cheese

Butter – more unsalted butter!

Honey – I use either Greek or locally sourced honey

Icing sugar – sometimes called powdered or confectioner sugar

Crumbled melomakarona cookies – you will need more cookies to decorate the top

How to make melomakarona cinnamon rolls

Instructions to make the dough

Step 1
Prepare your yeast mixture by combining the yeast, lukewarm water and sugar. Mix well and allow to sit in a warm place for 10 minutes. You should see that bubbles have formed on the surface of your mixture.

Step 2
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment combine all of your dough ingredients, including the yeast mixture. Mix on medium speed for approximately 8 – 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and has pulled away from the sides of the mixing bowl.

Step 3
Transfer to a large bowl that has been lightly coated with flour. Cover with plastic wrap and then a clean towel. Leave in a warm spot for at least 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.

Step 4
After the dough has risen, punch down the dough and then transfer it to a floured work surface. Roll the dough out until you make a rectangle that is about 13 x 18 inches.

To make the filling

Step 1
Combine the softened butter with the cinnamon, and then add in the crushed melomakarona. Mix well to combine. Spread the orange marmalade over the dough, and then spread the filling over that, covering all areas of the dough.

Step 2
Roll the cinnamon rolls as tightly as possible, being careful not to tear or break the dough.

Step 3
Using dental floss (the easiest way), cut the melomakarona roll into 2 inch sections; you should get 8 melomakarona rolls. Transfer them to a parchment lined baking pan. Cover them loosely with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel and allow them to rise for 30 minutes.

Step 4
Preheat oven to 350 Farenheit.

Prepare the topping

Step 1
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until well combined.

Bake the melomakarona cinnamon rolls

Step 1
Once your melomakarona rolls have rested for 30 minutes, top each one with about ½ tablespoon of heavy cream. Bake in the middle rack of your oven for 25 – 30 minutes.

Step 2
Once the melomakarona rolls are done, let them cool in the pan for about 2 – 3 minutes and then top with the cream cheese and honey topping. Spread evenly across the melomakarona rolls. Drizzle more honey on top, and then garnish with crumbled melomakarona cookies.

Melomakarona cinnamon rolls
Melomakarona cinnamon rolls

Baking tips and helpful hints

Use a food processor or blender to crumble your melomakarona

You want to create a fine crumb for your filing, and topping. You want to do this without making a paste, so watch your mixture carefully. If you don’t have a blender or food processor that you can use, a mortar and pestle will work fine too; this will just take a little more effort on your part.

Check that your yeast is still active

The worst thing to do is bake with yeast that has died. What a disappointment! Fortunately, it is easy to know if this has happened. When you mix your dry yeast with the lukewarm water and sugar and let it sit, you should see that bubbles have formed and the yeast looks a little puffed up. This is a good sign. If nothing much has changed in your bowl after 10 minutes or so, they you can assume that your yeast is dead and your dough will not rise.

Use lukewarm water when proofing your yeast

If you use water that is too cold, the yeast will not rise. If you use water that is too hot, you can kill your yeast. The water should be warm enough that you can stick your finger in it comfortably.

Use the right size pan

In order to make 8 cinnamon rolls I use a rectangular metal baking pan that is 8 x 11 inches. I also line it with parchment paper.

Add heavy cream to the top of your rolls before baking

As the rolls bake the cream that you poured over top, and that settle to the bottom of the pan, will heat up. The liquid will then travel up the rolls and this will make them incredibly moist. The fat, milk solids, and milk sugars in the cream will turn into a sweet, sticky syrup that coats the rolls’ bottom. Honestly, this is a game-changer!

Melomakarona cinnamon rolls

Frequently asked questions

What is the best way to slice cinnamon rolls?

Using dental floss is the best way to slice cinnamon rolls. If you only have mint flavoured dental floss, don’t worry about it! Wet a paper towel and run it down the length of the dental floss several times; you should be able to remove the flavour. You can test that out by licking a portion of the dental floss (that you won’t be using to slice the cinnamon rolls of course). If it still tastes of mint, keep wiping!

When is the best time to ice cinnamon rolls?

I like to ice them when they are still a bit warm, so that the topping gets a little melty and gooey. Don’t do this when they are too warm however; you don’t want your icing to melt right off.

Will the cinnamon rolls rise as they bake?

They will! You will let your dough rise twice; the first time when you make it, and the second time when you shape your cinnamon rolls. You will see that with the second rise, the cinnamon rolls in your pan may not have risen so much. That is okay. When you place them in your oven to bake they will rise and each roll will connect with the other – this is what you want.

Melomakarona cinnamon rolls

If you are looking for more delicious ways to start your day, check out some of my favourite breakfast ideas.

Eggs with potatoes and tomato (Αβγά με πατάτες και ντομάτα)

Tsoureki French Toast

Greek-style hard boiled eggs

Eggs with potatoes and tomato (Αβγά με πατάτες και ντομάτα)
Tsoureki french toast
Greek style hard boiled eggs

How to store

These cinnamon rolls have a cream cheese frosting so I guess the best thing to do would be to store any leftovers in the refrigerator. Honestly however, I keep them at room temperature in a covered container for a few days without ever having a problem!

How to reheat

If you have stored them in the fridge, or if they are a few days old and a bit dry, simply reheat them for about 20 0r 30 seconds in the microwave. They will be soft and gooey and as delicious as when freshly made!

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Melomakarona cinnamon rolls
Melomakarona cinnamon rolls

Melomakarona cinnamon rolls

Sweet rolls made with crumbled melomakarona, or Greek cookies and topped with a honey cream cheese frosting.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: Greek
Diet: Diabetic
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Rising time: 3 hours
Total Time: 4 hours
Servings: 8 pieces
Calories: 497kcal
Author: Billie Bitzas

Equipment

  • mixer
  • baking pan (8 in x 11 in)

Ingredients

For the dough

  • ¾ cup lukewarm water
  • tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg whisked
  • 1 egg yolk whisked
  • cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp butter, unsalted melted
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt

For the filling

  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup crumbled melomakarona cookies 4 - 5 cookies
  • 5 tbsp orange marmalade

For the topping

  • 4 tbsp heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp butter, softened
  • ½ cup cream cheese
  • ¼ cup icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey

For the garnish

  • 1 - 2 tbsp honey
  • ¼ cup crumbled melomakarona cookies about 1 cookie

Instructions

To make the dough

  • Prepare your yeast mixture by combining the yeast, lukewarm water and sugar. Mix well and allow to sit in a warm place for 10 minutes. You should see that bubbles have formed on the surface of your mixture.
    ¾ cup lukewarm water, 2½ tsp active dry yeast, 1 tbsp sugar
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment combine all of your dough ingredients, including the yeast mixture. Mix on medium speed for approximately 8 - 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and has pulled away from the sides of the mixing bowl.
    3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, ⅓ cup sugar, 4 tbsp butter, unsalted, 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • Transfer to a large bowl that has been lightly coated with flour. Cover with plastic wrap and then a clean towel. Leave in a warm spot for at least 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  • After the dough has risen, punch down the dough and then transfer it to a floured work surface. Roll the dough out until you make a rectangle that is about 13 x 18 inches.

Prepare the filling

  • Combine the softened butter with the cinnamon, and then add in the crushed melomakarona. Mix well to combine. Spread the orange marmalade over the dough, and then spread the filling over that, covering all areas of the dough.
    ¼ cup butter, softened, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 cup crumbled melomakarona cookies, 5 tbsp orange marmalade
  • Roll the cinnamon rolls as tightly as possible, being careful not to tear or break the dough.
  • Using dental floss (the easiest way), cut the melomakarona roll into approximately 2 inch sections; you should get 8 melomakarona rolls. Transfer them to a parchment lined baking pan. Cover them loosely with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel and allow them to rise for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350 °F

Prepare the topping

  • Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until well combined.
    3 tbsp butter, softened, ½ cup cream cheese, ¼ cup icing sugar, 2 tbsp honey

To bake

  • Once your melomakarona rolls have rested for 30 minutes, top each one with about ½ tablespoon of heavy cream. Bake in the middle rack of your oven for 25 - 30 minutes.
    4 tbsp heavy cream
  • Once the melomakarona rolls are done, let them cool in the pan for about 2 - 3 minutes and then top with the cream cheese and honey topping. Spread evenly across the melomakarona rolls. Drizzle more honey on top, and then garnish with crumbled melomakarona cookies.
    1 - 2 tbsp honey, ¼ cup crumbled melomakarona cookies
  • Enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 497kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 109mg | Sodium: 479mg | Potassium: 60mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 32g | Vitamin A: 855IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 2mg

Thanks for sharing!

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