Date, Walnut and Bourbon Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

Date, Walnut and Bourbon Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

July 30, 2012

I love dates; they are natures ooey, gooey, sweet treat in one package. Not just for baked goods, they are also a fabulous addition to appetizers, salads and more. One of my favorite appetizers is this one I recreated from Ya Ya’s, a nearby restaurant that I love. It’s simply a date stuffed with a pecan that is then wrapped in bacon and grilled…perfect sweet, salty, crunchy heaven if you ask me.  It didn’t take convincing when I heard from the folks at Natural Delights wondering if  I would like to try some of their dates. I was envisioning sticky toffee pudding or date bars or a salad but then something jelled in my head and I was dying to make cinnamon rolls with a date filling. Dates, toasted walnuts, cinnamon, butter and bourbon as a matter of fact. Now how bad could that be???

I must admit I was ill prepared for the package that showed up on my doorstep a couple of days later. Not ‘just’ dates but some fabulous date rolls that were rolled in either coconut, pistachios or almonds. Natural, healthy and sweet, those little rolls have filled many a craving lately when the itch for something sweet has taken over my senses. Why oh why have I been giving away boxes of those treasures? Because I love my local blogging buddies, that’s why!

These are so good! I received a couple of packages of plain dates that I planned to use for baking but those little rolls were a delightful surprise. Coated in either almonds, coconut or pistachios I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite. OK, twist my arm…I actually think I like the almonds the best.

As an aside, I know you see a lot of food bloggers include name brand items in their posts; often accompanied with an offer to win something as an incentive to get readers engaged or even to get new readers. I won’t deny that I get offered more opportunities than I can manage but my agreeing to anything has one simple criteria. I have to really love the product and it has to fit what I consider the ‘culinary point of view’ of this blog. In the simplest of terms? I love dates; featuring them is a no brainer. I don’t like tofu; you’ll never see it here even if a trip to Japan was included in the offer! I guess it’s as simple as remaining authentic to this blog and to it’s intent…sharing the foods and cocktails I love, not those I’m paid to promote. Thought you should know.

As much as I loved the date rolls; this is what really does me in. Though I admit I have used those packages of date pieces you can buy in the baking section of the grocery store, you know, the ones chopped and then covered with sugar? They are convenient but ever since I started using whole Medjool dates, there has been no going back. With the whole dates though, you do have to remove the seed before using them in baking. A quick slice with your chef’s knife and the seed is exposed and easy to pull out and discard.

I wish I had a heartfelt tale of how these came about but I think it was subliminal; I did just have coffee the other day right across from DuffyRolls and they make the most amazing cinnamon rolls…yes, that had to be it! It was meant to be. I decided that a bit of bourbon added to the mix of dates, sugars and nuts might be nice and guess what? I was right! The final touch is a drizzle with some bourbon cream cheese icing; it’s lucky to see these rolls with that stuff; I could have eaten it all up with a spoon!

The recipe I used  for the actual cinnamon rolls was something I got from a neighbor; I have no idea where she obtained it but it was easy enough to make and I loved the results. The filling is just an exaggeration of a standard cinnamon/sugar/butter mixture. Some dates, toasted walnuts and bourbon boost it a lot! If I had one point of contention I guess it’s that I took the ‘huge’ to heart and without the recipe including a recommended pan size, I put the rolls into a dish that turned out to be too large. They did rise fine but I think if they had been in a smaller pan, they would have risen higher instead of spreading out; I’ve made a point of indicating the pan size I would recommend after my experience but really, I’m not complaining, promise.

This should come as no surprise that I decided a bit of bourbon would be nice, right? I might as well leave that bottle of Maker’s Mark next to my stove; it gets used a lot for baked goods. A little bit mixed with the filling and a bit more used in a cream cheese icing. Yum. Delicious. Yes I said it. DELICIOUS!!

These were everything I expected but I have to admit that the first one was the best. I left them out while I did a photo shoot and then forgot to cover them right away. That’s a mistake in Denver, the dry environment here will start to dry foods out quicker than a dehydrator! Still, they measured up…yes, ooey, gooey, cinnamony, boozy, datey and deliciousy!! You want one huh?

Date, Walnut and Bourbon Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting
Cook time
Serves: 8 Large Cinnamon Rolls
For the Dough:
  • ¼ ounce dry yeast
  • ¼ Cup + ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup Milk, room temp
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
For the Date Filling:
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup dates
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts (Yes, toasted even though they're being baked into something. World of difference in their flavor).
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tbsps Bourbon
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the Cream Cheese Icing:
  • 3 oz of softened cream cheese
  • 1 Tbsp softened butter
  • 1 and ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp bourbon (optional)
  • Finely ground walnuts for garnish (optional)
To Make the Dough:
  1. Put yeast, ½ teaspoon sugar, and water into your mixing bowl. Let sit for ten minutes until the yeast is dissolved and it looks foamy.
  2. Stir in milk, brown sugar, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt until combined.
  3. Add flour one cup at a time to the mixing bowl.
  4. Mix with a dough hook for 4-5 minutes until the dough is soft and thoroughly combined.
  5. Add the softened butter and let the dough hook beat it into the dough; this will be a very pliable and somewhat sticky dough so don't add a bunch of flour thinking it should be thicker.
  6. Beat with the dough hook for another 4-5 minutes.
  7. Flour your counter lightly; turn the dough out and make sure it's lightly covered on all sides with flour.
  8. Place dough in a clean bowl, cover and let rise for two hours until it doubles in size (I put mine into a warmed oven; it only took 90 minutes. And by warmed I mean 90-95 degrees approximately).
To make the Filling:
  1. Cut dates in half and remove pits.
  2. Put sugar and brown sugar into food processor along with dates, toasted walnuts, cinnamon, salt and bourbon and pulse gently until combined but still chunky.
  3. Cut cold butter into chunks and add to processor and pulse until just combined.
To assemble Cinnamon Rolls:
  1. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and roll into a large rectangle approximately 12"x24"
  2. Sprinkle date filling over the surface of the dough.
  3. Starting at the short end, roll the dough tightly into a cylinder of dough and filling; approximately 12-14" in length.
  4. Cut the roll into 8 even pieces, turn pieces cut side up and put into a large (9x13"") buttered baking dish.
  5. Cover and let rise for an hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees 15 minutes before rising time is complete.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes; open the oven and reverse the position of the tray. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until the rolls are lightly browned.
  8. Let the rolls cool for 20 minutes while you make the icing.
To Make the Icing:
  1. Cream together the cream cheese and butter.
  2. Add the powdered sugar ½ cup at a time until completely incorporated.
  3. Blend in bourbon and enough milk to create a smooth consistency.
  4. Drizzle the icing over the rolls; garnish with additional nuts if desired.
I decided to try making these at night and baking them in the morning and it worked like a charm. After putting the cut pieces in the baking dish, I covered it with plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator.

In the morning; I preheated my oven for a couple of minutes, turned it off when the temp was around 90 degrees and put the rolls into the warmed oven to proof for an hour.

Remove from oven, preheat it and bake.

Since posting I've had someone tell me that they proof the pieces first, then cover them and refrigerate them overnight. Those would be ready to bake in the morning first thing; I'm trying that technique next.

These are best served warm; reheat in the oven or microwave before serving if not served at the time they are made.

Want more? Check out this version Kelly Luna made after hearing about what I had planned! More YUM. Bourbon Date Blueberry Cinnamon Rolls

 Disclaimer: I was provided with a product for review but I was not paid to write this post; all commentary is my own.

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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

1 addie @ August 22, 2012 at 12:39 pm

i want to make these so BADLY :) I am a huge fan of cinnamon rolls. I also love dates and you really just don’t see them used as much as they should be!


2 Creative Culinary August 23, 2012 at 11:27 am

I could have used your help Addie; they are pretty decadent and I had one each morning for a couple of days. So good!


3 addie @ culicurious August 24, 2012 at 9:07 am

Yummmm :) totally jealous


4 Roxana | Roxana's Home Baking August 3, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Oh yes, I want one, I could take even two if you’re generous!
I love dates too and love the date filling in your cinnamon. My favorite, so far, filling is pumpkin but I can not wait to try dates. Mmm
Roxana | Roxana’s Home Baking Most Recent Post: Walnut blondies


5 Creative Culinary August 6, 2012 at 9:49 am

Oops…all gone. I had to get help from neighbors or I could have eaten these for every meal. I think I’m kidding but maybe not? :)


6 Terra August 1, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Oh my word!!! Did you know I have a serious love for cinnamon rolls, it is kinda dangerous actually:-) I walk by them at places….and I have to just keep walking. At panera bread they make a homemade cinnamon roll that is the size of your head, and melts in your mouth! I love your addition of dates….and look at you adding bourbon, you and your alcohol treats, I LOVE IT!!!! They really do look fantastic! Do you have any left? Hugs, Terra


7 Creative Culinary August 2, 2012 at 10:00 am

I know…I’m bad. But I LOVE bourbon in baked goods if it at all fits. Call me one dimensional…but they are GOOD! Hugs back!


8 Maureen @ Orgasmic Chef August 1, 2012 at 8:04 pm

I’m gobsmacked by how delicious these looks. Those dates rolled in bits make me swoon too!
Maureen @ Orgasmic Chef Most Recent Post: Sugar Free Spiced Oranges & My First Giveaway


9 Creative Culinary August 2, 2012 at 9:56 am

I love that word and know that if I used it I would sound like an idiot so thanks for making me smile this morning!


10 Paula July 31, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Warm a few of them up for me, I’m coming for breakfast!!!
Paula Most Recent Post: Puppy Cookies


11 Creative Culinary August 1, 2012 at 9:08 am

It’s not fair to tease me like that you know…unless you really are on your way? (A girl can wish right?).


12 sippitysup July 31, 2012 at 10:59 am

I can see why anyone would love these rolls. But hate tofu? Really?? Have you had soft tofu molten in a soup with a whole duck cracked into it? Served with raw crab on the side. OMG. You will be a changed woman. Not that you need changing. Just sayin’! GREG


13 Creative Culinary July 31, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Oh gosh Greg that duck and crab and all sound just great. Hold the tofu. :)

OK, in truth it just doesn’t appeal but I admit I’ve never had a great dish with it. You know in the vein of why bother when it doesn’t appeal. But I’ll eat it in a dish. Green pepper on the other hand? No convincing nor duck nor crab can get me there. :)


14 Hima July 30, 2012 at 9:52 pm

You had me at dates. That was before the cinnamon. And walnuts. And dreamy icing.

Are there any left over? I may show up tomorrow morning for one.
Hima Most Recent Post: Muted Monday


15 Creative Culinary July 31, 2012 at 1:24 pm

All gone…but only because I give them away so I can’t eat them for every meal!


16 Amanda July 30, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Well – where to start? There’s so much in this post to love. I love that you are only prepared to share the things you truly love yourself and utterly relate to that. I love that you hate tofu & relate to that too. ;-)
I adore cinnamon buns, walnuts and dates – especially the medjool dates & you are so right – once you’ve tried them only a crazy person would go back, despite the seed.
And I love that you added bourbon. I’d be disappointed in you if you didn’t. xxx
Amanda Most Recent Post: All eyes are on London – and the Borough Market is well worth a second look!


17 Creative Culinary July 31, 2012 at 1:28 pm

I do not want to disappoint! Natural Delights tells me that they will have seeded Medjools in a few months…now that I would LOVE!


18 Abbe@This is How I Cook July 30, 2012 at 8:12 pm

These sound yummy. After being in Israel I became a huge fan of dates. And if you ever need more just go over to Parker Road where there are a ton of good Middle Eastern markets. They have great prices on dates and olives, too, if you like them!


19 Creative Culinary July 31, 2012 at 1:27 pm

We’ll have to arrange to make that trek together; I keep promising to setup a daylong field trip to Parker Road, so many great markets there.


20 Nisrine July 30, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Barbara, these are very lovely cinnamon rolls. I’m loving the addition of dates and bourbon!!


21 Creative Culinary July 31, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Thank you…I was starting to feel guilty about the bourbon; you have helped me not to. :)


22 Wendy Read - Sunchowder July 30, 2012 at 4:23 pm

I really luuurve cinnamon buns too :) My daughter got a job at Cinnabun, you think that would have cured me! The additional of dates and bourbon is genius. I am going to have to try these for myself! Great post as always Barb.
Wendy Read – Sunchowder Most Recent Post: Recipe for Cherry Pinot Grigio Jam


23 Creative Culinary July 30, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Thanks Wendy…and I would be happy to share; don’t want to get too woozy from eating cinnamon rolls!


24 Jamie July 30, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Fabulous!!! Oh I grew up eating and loving dates and I married a man who loves dates but we always eat them straight from the package, I never bake with them! Why not? These cinnamon buns are making me want to start. Or you can just save a couple of these gorgeous babies for me? And the bourbon? You kill me, you know….


25 Creative Culinary July 30, 2012 at 4:56 pm

I love them straight too but can’t deny baking elevates them. The taste in these cinnamon rolls is subtle; I’m sort of craving an old fashioned date bar now. Hold me back.


26 Kelly Luna July 30, 2012 at 11:29 am

GORGEOUS, Barb! You hade me at “bourbon date” but the addition of walnuts and cream cheese icing? OH, baby! Sign me up! Thanks for linking to my post – and for the wonderful inspiration!
Kelly Luna Most Recent Post: Bourbon Date Blueberry Cinnamon Rolls


27 Creative Culinary July 30, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Fun how that turned out isn’t it…yours look great too; blueberries might have to appear in my next batch.


28 Karen Harris July 30, 2012 at 8:56 am

If there is anything better than a homemade cinnamon roll I’d like to know what it is. I’ve never thought of adding dates but it does seem like a natural filling ingredient. I’m going to have to give these a try. They sound amazing.


29 Creative Culinary July 30, 2012 at 9:42 am

I was very happy with them. The flavor of the dates is really muted but they sure do make for a nice gooey filling.


30 kelley {mountain mama cooks} July 30, 2012 at 8:22 am

Oh yum!! My boys love the dates rolled in coconut as a snack. These rolls look amazing. Seriously, how can you go wrong when with a bourbon icing? :)
kelley {mountain mama cooks} Most Recent Post: Veggie Bagel Sandwich


31 Creative Culinary July 30, 2012 at 8:34 am

You’re on to me…I could not help myself!


32 Baker Street July 30, 2012 at 8:15 am

The date filling sounds too good but its the cream cheese topping that makes these perfect! :)
Baker Street Most Recent Post: #MuffinMonday: Honey Pine Nut Muffins


33 Creative Culinary July 30, 2012 at 8:36 am

It is pretty divine I have to admit. It seriously took some willpower to not just spoon it into my mouth! Seriously :)


34 Suzanne July 30, 2012 at 8:13 am

Oh wow, dates specifically medjool are my favorite snack. I love the appetizer suggestion with the pecan and bacon and those rolls look fantastic. Saving for cooler weather I love cinnamon rolls and the addition of the dates is a fabulous idea, I never add raisins (not crazy about them) but dates definitely.
Suzanne Most Recent Post: Bake Together-Chocolate Shortcake With Cognac Infused Apricots


35 Creative Culinary July 30, 2012 at 8:33 am

I did bake these EARLY in the morning while the house was still cool…you know, I had that craving and 90 degree heat was NOT gonna stop me! :)


36 Megan's Cookin' July 30, 2012 at 8:10 am

I could definitely put away one (or two!) of those. I love Dates!!!


37 Creative Culinary July 30, 2012 at 8:17 am

My exact thoughts..although I have to admit…they are big and they are rich. Even I was happy with just one!


38 Holly July 30, 2012 at 7:55 am

Oh I was hoping you would post this recipe today!! Let me tell your readers that tasting these rolls is even better than drooling at the photographs. Thanks for sharing these scrumptious treats with me. My husband ate the whole thing without a crumb to spare, which at my house is proof that a recipe is spot on. He is a very particular taster and he thought the rolled dates with almonds were a nice combination as well. I liked the cinnamon rolls too even without being a date lover. The bourbon was a nice addition and I’m learning not to be surprised when alcohol shows up in your baking. You have the right touch so as to highlight the flavors without over-doing it.
Thanks again for sharing and thanks, too, for the lavender. I just posted a lavender shortbread recipe this morning.
Holly Most Recent Post: Lavender Shortbread


39 Creative Culinary July 30, 2012 at 8:15 am

I was happy to share; actually delighted to. I’m happy to have a couple left I can freeze for me but unless I’m baking for company I always need help with the bounty. So glad you and your hubs enjoyed them.


40 Lora @cakeduchess July 30, 2012 at 7:12 am

I do want one! Every since you tweeted the teaser photo the other day. And I can say we don’t have that dry problem here. In fact, it’s total opposite as I’m sure you can imagine;) Love these rolls and would love one for breakfast. Great idea on the bourbon.
Lora @cakeduchess Most Recent Post: Silent Sunday Italy: Bellagio


41 Creative Culinary July 30, 2012 at 8:13 am

You are the yeast maker extraordinaire…I’m a relative novice so all things considered, even with them spreading a bit more than I envisioned, I was a happy camper.


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