The stories of my childhood culinary experiments are the stuff of legends in my family. The scrambled eggs served in a slightly melted plastic cup from the microwave no doubt brought true emotion to my mom’s heart on Mother’s Day. Ahem. Much like the corn pudding to which I added four tablespoons of onion powder to give it “some accent.” Yes, the attempts to treat mom to a wonderful Mother’s Day brunch were many. Too bad I didn’t have a simple recipe to follow back then!
With that in mind, these Chai Spice Rolls are incredibly easy. The traditional flavors of Indian Chai tea – clove, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom and white peppercorn – combine smoothly with pre-made dough and a smooth cream cheese filling. With a little assistance from an older sibling or family member, even a youth can make this fool-proof Mother’s Day recipe. Little bakers may need assistance with the oven, as well as popping open the dough tubes and flipping the finished rolls onto a plate. But it’s otherwise very kid-friendly!
A few tips: You must let the vegan cream cheese come to room temperature. Otherwise it’s too hard to mix in the chai spices. On the opposite end, the crescent-style dough is easier to work with when cold from the fridge. Most brands of crescent-style dough is what we call “accidentally vegan” – the makers likely didn’t intend to make a vegan product, but it’s that way anyhow. Giant brand, Trader Joe’s and Pillsbury all make vegan crescent dough tubes.
Easy Chai Spice Rolls
1 8-oz. container of vegan cream cheese, softened to room temperature (we used Tofutti)
pinch of ground white pepper, ground nutmeg, ground clove, ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbls. powdered sugar
2 tubes crescent-style dough
1/2 cup vegan margarine (we used Earth Balance)
1 cup brown sugar
4 Tbls. maple syrup
2-3 Tbls. brewed chai tea (one tea bag and a cup of hot water)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350.
In a mixing bowl, combine softened vegan cream cheese with ground white pepper, ground nutmeg, ground clove, ground cardamom, ground ginger, vanilla, cinnamon and powdered sugar. Set aside. Spray a round bundt pan or a cake pan with non-stick spray, especially the edges.
Crack open the first tube of crescent style dough and unroll all 8 triangles. Place a 1-tablespoon dollop of cream cheese on the big part of each triangle. Close the dough around the creamy middle and pinch all edges shut so that each roll is “stuffed” with chai-spiced cream cheese. Place in the bundt/cake pan. Repeat with second tube of dough.
When all 16 rolls are stuffed and in the baking pan, it’s time to make the gooey, sticky part. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine vegan margarine, brown sugar and maple syrup. Heat on low power for 1 minute at a time, stirring frequently until margarine and sugar are both melted. This can also be done in a saucepan over low heat on the stove.
Pour brown sugar sauce evenly over chai rolls in the baking pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes until rolls are golden and puffy. The smell will be heavenly by the time they’re done!
While still hot, invert the baking pan onto a serving dish. It doesn’t need to look perfect, that’s part of the charm of the rolls. As they cool, mix hot chai tea with powdered sugar until a smooth sauce forms. Drizzle liberally over the plated rolls.
Serve to your mom at brunch, or treat her to breakfast in bed with a cup of hot tea and warm chai spice rolls! Want to mix it up? Try adding dried fruit, like raisins or cranberries, or chopped pecans to the brown sugar sauce.
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