Date, Walnut and Bourbon Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

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.


    • Creative Culinary says

      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? :)

  1. says

    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

    • Creative Culinary says

      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!

    • Creative Culinary says

      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!

    • Creative Culinary says

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

  2. says

    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

    • Creative Culinary says

      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. :)

  3. says

    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

  4. says

    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!

    • Creative Culinary says

      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!

  5. says

    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!

    • Creative Culinary says

      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.

    • Creative Culinary says

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

    • Creative Culinary says

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

  6. says

    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….

    • Creative Culinary says

      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.

    • Creative Culinary says

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

  7. says

    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.

    • Creative Culinary says

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

    • Creative Culinary says

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

    • Creative Culinary says

      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! :)

    • Creative Culinary says

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

  8. says

    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

    • Creative Culinary says

      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.

  9. says

    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

    • Creative Culinary says

      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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