Giant pecan cinnamon rolls full of toasted pecans, gooey cinnamon filling, and a rich icing that is topped with even more pecans. They rise overnight in the refrigerator so they're perfect for lazy weekends and holiday brunches!
Mix warm (110F) water and a tablespoon of brown sugar; stir in yeast.
Set the mixture aside for a few minutes until it begins to bubble. I know this is no longer necessary but I think it still gives better results.
Mix about 2 cups of the flour, eggs, egg yolks, and buttermilk into the yeast mixture until smooth.
Add the vanilla, salt, and butter.
Slowly add more flour until a soft dough is formed. You can do this by hand or with a heavy duty mixture and a dough hook.
Once the dough holds together turn it out on a floured surface. You can also knead with your mixer if you prefer.
Knead a few minutes until smooth and satiny, but still somewhat soft. It will feel like your earlobe if you pinch it.
Place in a large, greased bowl and turn the ball of dough over to grease the top. Cover with a tea towel, place in a warm spot, and let rise.
Let rise for 1 hour, or until double.
Punch dough down; let rest for 5 minutes. This gets some of the elasticity out and makes it easier to roll.
With a rolling pin roll the dough out into a rectangle that is about ½ inch thick or a little more.
Spread the dough with ¼ cup of the cooled, melted butter.
Mix the remaining ¼ cup of melted butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar together.
Spread this over the dough and sprinkle with the pecans pressing in lightly.
Roll up as for a jelly roll, pinch the long edge to seal, and cut in 12 thick slices.
Place the slices, cut side down, on a greased cookie sheet.
Cover with greased plastic wrap.
Refrigerate the rolls overnight. You can also just let them rise at room temperature for about an hour if you want to bake them immediately but they aren't as good.
Next morning place the rolls on the counter while you preheat the oven. Remove the plastic wrap gently.
Bake the pecan cinnamon rolls in a 375F oven about 30 minutes or until done. (An insta-read thermometer in pushed in the center will read 195-200F) Be sure to use a middle oven shelf and a heavy baking sheet. Watch carefully because the sugar will make the bottoms burn if you are not careful.
Remove from the oven.
While the rolls are baking mix the topping ingredients together until smooth.
Spread on warm rolls.
Cover with chopped pecans.
*For smaller rolls roll out a larger rectangle and cut into 24 rolls - half the calories.**To toast pecans place them on a heavy cookie sheet in a 350F oven for about 5 to 10 minutes stirring every minute or two until toasted. Watch that they don't burn!*** When I updated the recipe (September 2021) the only thing I changed was to double the filling because I had started making it that way and it was a big hit with my family. You can make it the old way by just halving the filling ingredients and leaving out the last 1 ½ cups pecans if you really really want to. :(Expert Tip:Oh NO! I'm out of powdered sugar! If you're out of Confectioner's (powdered) sugar you can try this easy substitute. Just blend 1-½ cups regular sugar and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in a blender until powdered. It will take about a minute. Use as you would Confectioner's sugar.
If you spray the inside of the plastic wrap with cooking spray it won't stick to the unbaked dough in the refrigerator or the frosting after the sweet rolls are done.
Cutting the pecan cinnamon rolls from the roll is easy with dental floss! Just run a string under the roll, bring it up the sides, cross over on the top and pull gently. The floss will cut through the dough cleanly and easily.
You can also cut through them with a sharp knife.
Always place cinnamon rolls cut side down on the greased baking sheet.
I add a pinch of chipotle to my cinnamon to make it a little spicy. About ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon per 2 tablespoons works for us.