Now, I have two things to say about this recipe: 1) I believe this is by far the least healthy thing I have ever made (this is one recipe where veganizing it is still equally bad for you), and 2) making cinnamon rolls is a pain in the @$$. I started making them at 9:30am thinking I would have a late breakfast. It is now 2:45 in the afternoon and I just finished eating the first one. I would say that it would make it much easier if you started the rolls the night before. Once ready to be baked just stick them in the fridge and wait till the morning.
That said, they're probably worth both the time/stress and the negative effects to your otherwise super healthy vegan diet.
There are three main parts to the recipe: the dough, the filling, and the caramel sauce. I am not the sort of person who can just come up with my own original baking recipes, and so I used this Paula Deen recipe (I know, you don't need to say anything about it, none of us are fans, but I figure when it comes to cinnamon rolls, she's probably the best resource around). I veganized it and substituted ingredients to make it into apple cinnamon rolls. Recipe here.
For the caramel sauce, I used this super-detailed recipe from The Brown Eyed Baker, but again, I veganized the recipe. (Recipe here). I will briefly describe how to make the caramel, but if you're new to making caramel (and because making caramel is terrifying) you should go to her site for more detailed instructions. Her directions are still applicable despite the vegan ingredients.
Also, this recipe will make much more caramel than you need, a little over 2 cups. I only used 1 cup for the cinnamon rolls. I wanted the extra caramel to be able to dip apple slices in, and to eat with a spoon.
OK. So here it goes.
Apple Cinnamon Rolls with Salted Caramel
Time: All freaking morning
Makes 15 rolls
For the Dough
1/2 cup apple cider
1/2 cup soy milk
1/3 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks (from here on out known as "Earth Balance")
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast (this should be the equivalent of one packet)
3 1/2 cups flour
In a saucepan bring the cider, milk, and Earth Balance to a boil. Remove from heat as soon as the boiling begins and let cool slightly. Once the cider/milk liquid has cooled to about 100º-110ºF, sprinkle the yeast in, stir, and let sit for a few minutes to activate. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, salt, and egg replacer. Pour the liquid into the sugar mixture and stir to combine.
Starting with 2 cups of flour only, stir flour into liquid until a dough forms. Continue adding flour until the dough is no longer sticky, but is still soft (I ended up using 3 cups total, but you might need more).
Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes, and then place in a greased bowl. You will want to place the dough some place warm to help it rise. My house was chilly, so I heated the oven briefly (up to probably 90ºF) and put the dough in there.
Let the dough rise until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. My dough did nothing for the first 45 minutes, because it was sitting in the cool house. Once I put it in the warmer oven, it doubled by the end of the next 45 minutes.
While the dough is rising, prepare your filling.
For the Filling
2 cups chopped apples
8 tablespoons Earth Balance, divided
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
In a saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the chopped apple, and sauté the apple for about 5 minutes, until browned. Remove from heat.
Melt the other 6 tablespoons of butter in the microwave or in another pot.
Combine the cinnamon and brown sugar in a separate bowl.
Once the dough has finished rising, punch it down. On a floured surface, roll the dough out into a 9x15 inch rectangle. Pour half the melted Earth Balance onto the dough, and spread evenly using the back of a spoon. Sprinkle half of the brown sugar-cinnamon mixture over the butter and smear about evenly. Sprinkle the apple mixture across the dough, drizzle, with more butter, and sprinkle with the rest of the sugar mixture. Make sure that everything is spread evenly.
Working from the LONG side of the dough (I made this mistake) roll the dough up (i.e. your dough should be a 15 inch long roll, not a 9 inch one). Cut the dough into 15 pieces (each piece about an inch thick).
Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan, and place the cinnamon rolls in 3 rolls of 5. Let rise in a warm place for another 45 minutes (I know. More rising sad faces).
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Bake for 30 minutes, until cinnamon rolls are browned.
While the rolls are baking, make the caramel.
For the Salted Caramel
2 cups sugar
12 tablespoons Earth Balance, melted and cut into pieces (yes, this recipe now includes 25 tablespoons "butter")
1 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoons sea salt, or as the Brown-Eyed Baker suggests, fleur de sel
Make sure that your butter and coconut milk are measured and ready to go near the stove where you will make the caramel.
In a large saucepan, heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking frequently. Once the sugar melts, stop whisking, and instead tilt the pot back and forth to swirl the mixture. Continue to do so until the sugar begins to turn a deep reddish caramel color (again, the Brown Eyed Baker has pictures that will help make this clear. I am not able to multitask like that).
Once you have gotten the right color, carefully add the Earth Balance to the pot, being aware that it may sputter. Continue swirling the mixture until the Earth Balance is melted.
Remove from heat and add in the coconut milk, again, mind your sputtering. Whisk to combine. Add the salt and whisk away!
Once the caramel sauce has cooled slightly, drizzle 1 cup over the cinnamon rolls while they are still in the pan.
You can reserve the rest of the caramel sauce for another use.
And, voila, you finally can enjoy your cinnamon rolls! It's likely that the calories you burnt making them cancels out the calories that you will consume when eating them. ;)