Yield: 6 chai cinnamon roll hearts // Total Time: 2 hr. 45 min. // Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links.
Send some love with these adorable chai spiced cinnamon rolls that are shaped little hearts.
Chai Cinnamon Roll Hearts
I love all things yeast dough, which is why I’m always eager to try different ways of shaping and baking it! These chai cinnamon roll hearts are just a fun way to make some bread and to share with your loved ones. They are seriously so light, fluffy, and full of flavor! Below you’ll find a whole bunch of tips and tricks that I hope are helpful for making these small cinnamon roll hearts.
Weigh your ingredients
- Weighing your ingredients is important for getting the recipe perfect and getting consistent results. Not weighing your ingredients can lead to adding too much or too little of an ingredient and can easily throw off a recipe. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend purchasing a kitchen scale. This one is super cheap and worked well for me when I was starting out!
Kneading the dough
- Kneading this dough will take a longer time than you are probably used to. This dough is enriched with eggs and butter which makes it take longer for the proper amount of gluten to develop. Kneading in the mixer can take me anywhere from 10-20 minutes. The dough is ready to be used when it passes the windowpane test and has pulled away from the sides and bottom of the bowl. If you are weighing your ingredients, just trust the process! If you are using cup measurements and the dough just is not coming together after 15 minutes, try adding in 1 tbsp. of flour at a time.
Room temperature ingredients
- It is important for the ingredients to be at room temperature so that they properly incorporate with each other. Take out the egg and butter at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hr 30 min. before starting the recipe. To bring an egg to room temperature quickly, you can place it under hot water for 1 minute. To bring butter to room temperature quickly, slice it, place it on a plate, and microwave it in 5 second intervals!
Heating the milk
- Heating the milk is important for bringing the yeast to an optimal temperature for rising. The milk should be heated to ~100°F / 38°C but it does not have to be exact. As long as the milk is between 95°F – 110°F, it is good to be used. If the temperature exceeds 110°F, wait for it to cool down before using so that you do not kill the yeast!
Dough rising environment
- For the first rise, I recommend letting the dough rise in the fridge overnight simply because it’s much easier to work with when it’s cold, and then you don’t have to worry about doing everything in one day. For the second rise (and if you do choose to do both rises in one day) – you’re going to want to make sure your dough is in a warm environment for it to rise faster. If the room is cold, the dough will take longer to rise. I like to place my bowl of dough on top of my oven, preheat the oven to the lowest temperature it will go, and then turn the oven off and let it continue to rise there.
The windowpane test
- The windowpane test is (in my opinion) the best way to tell that your dough has been properly kneaded. Once the dough starts to pull away from the sides and the bottom of the mixing bowl, it is most likely ready. However, just to be sure that it’s good to go I check if it passes the windowpane test. To do that, take some of the dough in your hands and start to slowly stretch it out. If it can get thin enough to where light passes through it before tearing, then it’s good to go! If not, keep kneading until it does!
Ingredients and substitutions
For the dough:
All purpose flour: for structure and chewiness.
Active dry yeast: for making the dough rise. You can easily substitute in instant yeast if that is what you have on hand. You will just skip the step of combining the warm milk, sugar, and yeast!
Salt: for balancing and bringing out the sweetness of the brioche. Salt also “controls” the yeast to make sure that it does not overly expand.
Granulated sugar: for sweetening the brioche and for helping the yeast with rising. We will use a little bit of sugar in the brioche as well as in the hazelnut sugar.
Eggs: for binding and adding moisture.
Unsalted butter: for tenderizing the brioche rolls and giving them a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth feel. I would not recommend substituting in salted butter since salt is important to controlling yeast growth and the amount of salt in salted butter is quite variable.
Whole milk: for tenderizing and hydrating the dough. Whole milk will provide the softest rolls because the extra fat helps tenderize the dough. You can however swap in 1%, 2% or your favorite non dairy milk alternative! Just note that the dough may be a little less soft and fluffy due to the varying fat content.
For the filling:
Dark brown sugar: for sweetness and to add some extra flavor to the filling. You can also use light brown sugar here.
Chai spice: I absolutely love chai, but if you’re not a fan you can easily just use an equal amount of cinnamon here.
Unsalted butter: for buttery goodness and for giving the sugar something to stick to.
For the vanilla icing:
Powdered sugar: to sweeten up the icing.
Vanilla: for flavor.
Salt: a pinch of salt helps bring out the flavor and sweetness of the icing.
Milk: to thin out the icing, use your favorite dairy or non-dairy alternative milk here.
How to: chai cinnamon roll hearts
Here are the steps to follow to make these hearts. You can find the complete recipe (which is printable!) at the end of this blog post.
1. Make the dough. Mix together the warm milk, sugar, and yeast and leave to rest until the mixture begins to foam. Then, combine all of the dough ingredients in a stand mixer and knead. You will know the dough is ready when it passes the windowpane test (more details later in the post!)
2. Let rise overnight. Optional, but I recommend it. It eliminates having to do all the work in one day and the dough takes on a bit more flavor. Once the dough is done kneading, butter the inside of the bowl, cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap, and place it in the fridge to rise overnight. If you are making this all in one day, simply butter the mixing bowl, cover it with plastic wrap or a towel and leave it out in a warm area for 1-1.5 hours, until the dough has doubled in size.
3. Make the chai filling. In a small mixing bowl, melt the butter in 20 second intervals until it’s just completely melted. Stir in the dark brown sugar and chai spice, then set aside.
4. Roll out the dough. Once the dough has finished rising (either overnight or same-day), lightly punch it down to remove any excess air in it. Divide the dough into 6 even balls (~55g each.) Lightly flour your work surface and roll each dough ball out to a 6×4″ rectangle.
5. Form the hearts. Spread the butter and chai sugar over each rectangle. Roll up each rectangle starting from the longer (6″) side, then pinch the ends of the roll. Stretch the log out so that it is 5″ in length, then fold it on top of itself. Use a sharp knife to cut down the middle of the folded log, leaving the end uncut. Fold the two pieces down – and there you have your heart!
6. Let the hearts rise. Spread the hearts out evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Lightly cover the pan with a towel, and let the hearts rise in a warm environment until doubled in size (~30-45 minutes).
7. Bake. Brush with egg wash and bake the hearts for 15-20 minutes, until the tops start to turn golden brown. Some of the filling will leak on to the pan, this is normal and a bit unavoidable with the shape! But don’t worry, there will be plenty of chai goodness left in the hearts still.
8. Make the vanilla icing. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla, salt, and milk until smooth.
9. Serve and enjoy! Drizzle the icing over the hearts, serve, and enjoy!
Chai Cinnamon Roll Hearts Q & A
Can I double this recipe?
- Yes! I can’t emphasize using a kitchen scale enough for especially this recipe already, but if you are going to double or half the ingredients it is even more important that you weigh your ingredients. The dough is very hydrated and slight alterations can change the texture of the dough.
Is it okay to use instant yeast instead of active dry yeast?
- Yes of course! Instead of mixing the heated milk, sugar, and yeast together, just pop all of the dough ingredients into your mixing bowl to start kneading. I do recommend refrigerating the dough overnight to make it easier to work with and more flavorful. However, if you are making the recipe all in one day, and using instant yeast, simply let the dough rest for just 10 minutes as the first rise, then proceed with the rest of the recipe.
Can I make the dough ahead of time?
- Yes, and I highly recommend it! Brioche dough is a very enriched dough that can be hard to work with when warm. Simply knead the dough together, cover it, and leave it to rise in the fridge overnight. When ready to make the wild blueberry sweet rolls simply take it out of the fridge and proceed with the recipe.
How should I store these hearts?
- These hearts will definitely taste the best on the day that they are baked, but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Why do you measure in grams?
My recipes are all written in grams because it is a more accurate way to bake. When you use a kitchen scale, you ensure that your baked goods turn out as close to the written recipe as possible. Plus, the cleanup is way easier when using a scale! I will provide standard cup measurements but please note that I have not tested the recipe using cup measurements. Here is my favorite kitchen scale, and here’s an article about why I use a kitchen scale, and why you should too!
A note on oven temperature.
Ovens vary and fluctuate in temperature. For example, I always have to set my oven to 330°F if I want it to bake at 350°F. If you love to bake like I do, I highly recommend getting an oven thermometer. They are super helpful for letting you know when your oven might be lying to you. I use this one.
Chai cinnamon roll hearts troubleshooting
My dough just isn’t coming together
- I can’t recommend the use of a kitchen scale enough, especially for this super hydrated dough. If you’ve been kneading and kneading and the dough still won’t pass the windowpane test, add 1 tbsp. of flour at a time and knead for 2 minutes until the dough comes together.
My yeast mixture isn’t foaming, what should I do?
- The mixture should start foaming around 5 minutes in. If it has not foamed after 10 minutes, the yeast is likely dead. You want to make sure that the milk temperature does not exceed 110°F / 43°C or it will kill the yeast. If you try it again and it still does not foam, the yeast you are using may be expired and you will want to purchase some more before proceeding.
Tools and ingredients
You can find all my favorite tools and ingredients that I use on my Amazon Storefront page, here!
Did you make these chai cinnamon roll hearts?
If you made these chai cinnamon roll hearts I would love to see them and know your thoughts! Please leave a comment and review down below, and tag me on Instagram @freshbeanbakery. If you have any questions about the recipe I will gladly do my best to answer them in the comments below!
Chai Cinnamon Roll Hearts
- 80 g whole milk (⅓ c.)
- 1 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 160 g all purpose flour (1 ⅓ c.)
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 egg room temperature
- 42 g unsalted butter room temperature (3 tbsp.)
- 42 g unsalted butter softened (3 tbsp.)
- 70 g dark brown sugar (⅓ c.)
- 1 tsp. chai spice
- 120 g powdered sugar (1 c.)
- 2 tbsp. milk
- ½ tsp. vanilla
- ⅛ tsp. salt
- In a microwave safe measuring cup, heat the milk to 100°F / 38°C. Whisk in the yeast and the sugar. Set aside until the mixture begins to foam. (~5 minutes)
- While waiting, add the flour, salt, egg, and butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. When the yeast mixture begins to foam, add it in to the rest of the ingredients.
- Knead the dough on low speed for 1 minute to allow the ingredients to come together. Increase the speed to medium-high and knead for an additional 10 minutes, or until the dough passes the windowpane test. (This will happen after the dough has cleaned the sides and bottom of the bowl)
- At this point I would recommend covering the bowl with plastic wrap and leaving it to rise overnight in the fridge. If making the hearts in one day, cover the bowl with a towel and leave it to rise in a warm environment until doubled in size (~1 hr.)
- In a small mixing bowl, mix together the chai spice and brown sugar. Set aside.
Shaping the Hearts
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Once the dough has finished rising (either overnight or same-day), lightly punch it down to remove any excess air in it. Divide the dough into 6 even balls (~55g each)
- Lightly flour your work surface, then roll out each dough ball to a 6 x 4" rectangle.
- Spread the 1/2 tbsp. of softened butter over each rectangle, followed by 1 tbsp. of the chai sugar mixture. Roll up each rectangle starting from the longer (6") side, then pinch the ends of the roll.
- Stretch the log out so that it is 5" in length, then fold it on top of itself. Use a sharp knife to cut down the middle of the folded log, leaving the end uncut. You will be cutting through the part that you folded over. Fold the two pieces down – and there you have your heart!
- Spread the hearts out evenly on the baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Lightly cover the pan with a towel, and let the hearts rise in a warm environment until doubled in size (~30-45 minutes).
- Brush the tops of each roll with egg wash or milk. Bake the hearts for 15-20 minutes, until the tops start to turn golden brown.*
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla, salt, and milk until smooth.
- Drizzle the icing over the hearts, serve, and enjoy!