Saturday, December 7, 2013

Overnight Caramel Pecan Rolls

Okay, folks: we have officially reached my list of things that I baked for Thanksgiving this year.  Be ready for an overload of sweets this week (maybe you'll find something to bring to a Christmas party?).  I can say that most of the things I baked for our family's party at Tracy and Gary's were well-loved, but by far, this was the favorite, and the most exciting.

First, some background: my uncle Artie always brings pecan rolls from the Old Mill restaurant here in town.  A dozen pecan rolls costs $14, and we need about 4 dozen, so it's practically more expensive than the turkeys to buy all these rolls, but they are just so good.  This year since the party was in Belchertown and Artie was on call, there weren't going to be any pecan rolls for the first time ever at the Haley family Thanksgiving... until Tracy asked me if maybe I would try to make them myself.

As a girl who grew up in Massachusetts, it felt sort of wrong to be "competing" against the Old Mill's pecan rolls because they're legendary around here, but I started to really warm up to the idea.  I searched for a long time for recipes, and found millions, but I finally settled on this one for a few different reasons.  First, and probably most importantly, they are logistically the best ones to make for Thanksgiving because all of the work gets done the night before.  Then they get refrigerated overnight and you can just pop them into the oven in the morning.  Isn't that perfect?  I also picked them because the pictures seemed to look the most similar to the Old Mill's rolls, and also it had 142 reviews with an average rating of 4 1/2 stars, so I knew it was tried and true.  Oh and lastly, the great thing about recipes from is that you can type in the yield that you want, and the recipe automatically adjusts the ingredients, which is just awesome if you happen to be baking 50 pecan rolls the night before Thanksgiving :)

Behold... the dental floss roll-cutting trick!
I actually gave these guys a try the week before Thanksgiving just to make sure that they were good enough, and ohhh were they good enough.  My family was in love with them; one recipe yields 24 rolls and we had devoured all but 4 of them a week later.  They're soft, sweet, slightly sticky, and simply to die for, so we all agreed they passed the test, and the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I created pecan roll mayhem in my kitchen as I made a double batch of these babies.

Here are some interesting things about the recipe: first, you may not believe me, but this is really an easy recipe.  They honestly don't take that much time (I mean, yes they take an overnight rest and an hour's rising time, but during that time you can be relaxing, or sleeping, or if you were me, baking for 8 straight hours) and they are so much less difficult than you expect.  Basically you make a dough, let it rise, roll it out and spread it with butter and cinnamon and sugar, roll it up and cut it into individual rolls (I read the comments on this recipe and found out about the awesome tip to use dental floss to cut the rolls by passing the floss under your roll and pulling the two ends... genius... it led to perfectly cut rolls).  Then - here is another really interesting part - you make a ridiculously easy caramel sauce (melt butter and brown sugar in a pan, add corn syrup, and you're done... in fact, some of the comments said that people used this recipe just for the caramel sauce!) and pour that in the bottom of the pan.  Then sprinkle the pecans on top, and add the rolls on top of that.  And you're done!  The next day after you bake them, you invert the pans on top of your serving dishes, so that the caramelly-pecanny bottoms are now the tops, and voila: pecan rolls.  Honestly: so good, and so simple to make. I got so many compliments on these guys that they stole the show from my actual desserts (these were served with dinner!) but I am not doing any complaining.  I am celebrating that pecan rolls are just a few rather fun steps and one overnight away any time I want them!


overnight caramel pecan rolls
yield 24 pecan rolls

for rolls:
2 cups milk
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 egg
7 cups all-purpose flour

for caramel sauce:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cup pecan halves (I added some more, probably about 1/2 cup more)

for filling:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon


1) Warm the milk n a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat.  Let cool until lukewarm.  In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

2) In a large bowl, combine yeast mixture, milk, sugar, oil, baking powder, salt, egg, and 3 cups flour.  Beat until smooth.  Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition.  When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.  Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil.  Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

3) Make the caramel sauce: Heat brown sugar and 1/2 cup butter until melted.  Remove from heat; stir in corn syrup.  Divide mixture between two 9x13-inch baking pans.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup pecans in each pan.

4)  When dough has doubled in size, punch down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface.  Roll out into a large rectangle and spread with butter.  Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.  Starting with the long side, roll up the rectangle into a log, and slice it into 1-inch-wide rolls.  Place the rolls slightly apart in pans.  Wrap pans with aluminum foil and refrigerate at least 12 hours but no longer than 48.

5) Remove rolls from refrigerator and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

6) Bake uncovered in preheated oven until golden 30 to 35 minutes.  Immediately invert pan on heatproof serving plate.  Wait 1 or 2 minutes before removing pan, so that caramel drizzles over rolls.


  1. Your instructions don't match the ingredients. Ingredients for caramel sauce don't match the directions. Do you add cinnamon to the sauce or not? White sugar or brown. How much cinnamon and sugar do you spread on the dough?

    1. You are totally right! I have made these so many times but never noticed I had switched the titles for caramel sauce and filling. All fixed now. Thank you!