These sticky buns reach new heights with a warm, extra-gooey caramel sauce poured on just before serving, then topped with a handful of salted pecans. You’ll probably want a fork and a knife to dig into this delicious mess. Enjoy with a steaming mug of coffee on a cozy winter morning, or serve as part of a brunch buffet.
Sticky-Sweet Pecan Caramel Rolls
1/3 cup (2 oz./60 g.) vegetable shortening
1 3/4 cups (14 fl. oz./430 ml.) whole milk
1/3 cup (5 oz./155 g.) honey
1 package (2 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast
1 extra-large egg
5-6 cups (25-30 oz./780-940 g.) all-purpose flour
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 1/2 cups (20 fl. oz./625 ml.) heavy cream
2 1/2 cups (17 1/2 oz./545 g.) plus 1/3 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g.) firmly packed brown sugar
6 Tbs. (3 oz./90 g.) unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup (5 oz./155 g.) granulated sugar
1 Tbs. ground cinnamon
For the salted pecans:
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups (6 oz./185 g.) coarsely chopped pecans
1 tsp. kosher salt
In a saucepan, melt the shortening over low heat. Add the milk and honey and heat to 105°-115°F (40°-46°C). Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle in the yeast, and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve.
Stir in the egg. Add 5 cups (25 oz./780 g.) of the flour and the salt. Fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough that does not stick to the bowl. Remove the paddle attachment and fit the stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. Knead the dough on medium-low speed, adding more flour if needed, until the dough is smooth, 5-7 minutes.
Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface. Cut the dough in half, and shape each half into a ball. Place on the floured surface and cover with a moistened kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm spot until it doubles in bulk, about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a heavy saucepan, whisk together the cream and 2 1/2 cups brown sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking frequently. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, whisking frequently, until slightly reduced, about 9 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Butter a 15-by-10-inch (38-by-25-cm.) baking dish with some of the melted butter. Spread 1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml.) of the caramel sauce into the bottom of the dish. In a bowl, mix together the granulated sugar, 1/3 cup brown sugar, and the cinnamon. Roll out 1 ball of dough on a lightly floured work surface into a 15-by-19-inch (38-by-23-cm.) rectangle, with the short side facing you. Brush with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the melted butter, leaving a 1-inch (2.5-cm.) border at the top. Sprinkle with half of the cinnamon sugar. Starting at the bottom, roll up the dough into a log. Pinch the seam to seal. Cut the log crosswise into 6 slices with a sharp knife. Arrange the slices, cut side up, in the prepared dish. Repeat with the remaining dough, butter, and cinnamon sugar. Cover with the towel and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
To make the salted pecans, in a frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the pecans and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until toasted, about 3 minutes. Drain on a double thickness of paper towels.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Bake until the rolls are golden, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush the rolls with the remaining butter. Let stand for 3 minutes. Place a large rimmed baking sheet over the dish. Using pot holders to protect your hands, hold the baking sheet and dish together, and invert the rolls onto the sheet. Let cool for 5 minutes. Separate the rolls with two forks and let cool for 5-10 minutes more.
In a small saucepan, reheat the remaining caramel sauce over low heat just until warm enough to pour. Serve each roll on an individual plate, topped with 3-4 tablespoons of the sauce and a handful of the pecans. Serve the rolls warm. Makes 12 rolls.
Find more great recipes for sunrise specialties in our book Williams-Sonoma Breakfast Comforts, by Rick Rodgers.