Chocolate-Almond-Coconut Swirl Rolls

I’m in the mood to celebrate today, and swirl rolls seemed a perfect way to toast the new look of the website.  Aren’t they gorgeous?  (Both the rolls, and the design, I mean.)

I’ve been working with Erin and Melissa at Wooden Spoons Kitchen on the re-design over the past few months.  I had a vision that I wanted the tiles on a chalkboard-styled background, more legible fonts that better reflected my personality, and a nifty cleaned-up sidebar.  The look they created for me far surpassed my expectations… (wow!) I’m thrilled with the results.

And the rolls… I made them during the lovely MLK holiday on Monday.  My Facebook feed was brimming over with inspiring quotes from the great Dr. King. One of my favorites: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”

I thought to myself: “Umm… does baking count?  For others in my family?”

I’m not sure that’s what he had in mind, but it was certainly a start at 7am.

Chocolate-Almond-Coconut Swirl Rolls

Ever since last summer, when I stopped by the El Camino Bakery in Winston Salem on a college road trip, I’ve been dreaming of replicating their Coconut Swirl Breakfast Rolls.  But then I got into the kitchen, and, as I do, got a bit carried away.  It seemed the coconut filling needed a friend… a chocolate friend.  Then it seemed a touch too sweet, and gosh, I decided these rolls should have a bit of protein (as it WAS breakfast and all…), so  almonds went into the mix.

For the roll itself, I tweaked a Seasons and Suppers recipe, which promised a brioche-like roll… and delivered.  Thus we found ourselves with light pastry stuffed with what tasted like crushed Almond Joys.  This made for very happy houseguests… one of whom happened to be a fabulous photographer.  The thing is, she had to shoot these rolls before she was allowed to eat them. The Sunday Times was still lying about on the kitchen table, and made for a nifty background.  Such is life in House Morell. I am still trying to get through that paper.  (And thanks again for the great photos, Syd!)

Chocolate-Almond-Coconut Swirl Rolls

What a lovely way to spend a holiday weekend morning.

But the “What are you doing for others?”  (other than sharing fabulous recipes with friends and family and my dear blog readers) has been haunting me ever since… do I volunteer enough?  Give enough? Am I really making a difference?

Then just this morning, I read Mark Bittman’s piece about the State of Food in the United States.  Bottom line: It’s not good.  46.5 million Americans – nearly half of them children – are receiving SNAP benefits (formerly food stamps.)  That translates roughly 15 percent of the population.  Heartbreaking stuff … how is this happening in America?

Chocolate-Almond-Coconut Swirl Rolls

I’ll still mulling over how best to make a difference in my community… I’ve been researching opportunities at No Kid Hungry to supplement my work at Food and Friends… I’ll be sure to report back.  (and I’d be curious to know how you, food-loving readers, make a difference for the hungry in your communities…)

In the meantime I leave you with another quote from Martin Luther King:   “I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.”

I do suspect Dr. King would have enjoyed one of these sweet rolls (really, who wouldn’t?)… I urge you to indulge in one as you’re contemplating his words.

Chocolate-Almond-Coconut Swirl Rolls

The dough is based on a recipe found on the wonderful Seasons and Suppers


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2/3 cup milk, slightly warmed
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds

Powdered sugar, for dusting


In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve yeast in warmed water and milk and mix in 1 cup flour until it forms a batter. Cover bowl with a towel and let it rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes.

Add the brown sugar, butter, eggs, salt and 2 cups of the flour to the risen batter. With the kneading hook or by hand, mix dough, adding more flour in small increments until you have a smooth dough – about 10 minutes.

Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with a towel and set it out again to rise for a couple of hours, or until the volume is doubled.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Place the coconut, chocolate chips or chunks and almonds into the bowl of a food processor, and pulse for about two minutes, until you have fine crumbs.

Prepare your baking pan – I used a 9-inch cast iron skillet, but a 8-10-inch springform pan would work – by greasing generously with butter.

When dough is risen, turn dough onto a floured surface and deflate slightly, With a rolling pin, roll it out, forming a rectangle about 14 inches by 18 inches.  Brush the entire area with the melted butter, then spread the coconut-chocolate-almond mixture evenly across the surface.

Starting with the long edge, roll the dough tightly jelly-roll style. Cut it into 12 slices about 1 1/2 inches wide. Before placing slices in baking pan, tightly pinch together the bottom of the slice, by pinching the edges towards the middle. Place in baking pan and repeat with all the slices. Allow to rise again for about 30 minutes, or until puffy and filled in within the baking pan.

Preheat oven to 390° F. and bake for about 25 minutes. *Check at 15 and 20 minutes into cooking to check for browning. If top is getting too browned, cover loosely with a sheet of tinfoil.

Remove from oven and set aside.  Allow to cool a bit, then dust generously with powdered sugar.

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13 Responses to "Chocolate-Almond-Coconut Swirl Rolls"
  1. These rolls look amazing! I would like one. I am also interested in food an those less fortunate. I love the look of your site. I will bookmark the name of those who helped you out.

  2. Your website design is fantastic, congratulations on that AND these heavenly rolls. They look just as good, if not better 🙂

  3. suzanne says:

    The rolls look wonderful, so are the photo’s. The filling sounds great, love the “almond joy” flavors.

  4. These rolls are so pretty and I love the site design as well! Yum 🙂

  5. I’m drooling!!! These sound so amazing – with all my favorite flavors 🙂

  6. Gorgeous photos! I love anything that has coconut in it, and especially baked goods!

  7. Great new site design! These rolls sound so yummy, I’d love a warm one with a scoop of ice cream perhaps. This has been featured as one of my favourites over at Sweet and Savoury Sunday. Stop by, grab a button and link up again with us this week. Have a great day!

  8. This recipe looks delicious, can’t wait to try it. Your photos are lovely, they are really special and add so much to your blog!

  9. These are so awesome filled with all my favorite flavors! YUM 🙂

  10. Carole says:

    These look amazing (good job, Syd!) and delicious (kudos, MB!)…and your new website design is beautiful! Stopping by from Sweet & Savoury Sundays and pinning to Pinterest!

  11. sbo says:

    This is a very good article. Thank you for a great information.

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