My sisters are both crazy about my caramel pecan rolls and always ask for them when we have special occasions. In fact, when my older sister passed through town back at Christmas, she told me that my rolls were as good and possibly better than my mom's! High praise indeed, although to be honest, I still think Mama's were better. As this recipe is one I developed myself, I'm hoping it will work for everyone who tries it. I made a batch this morning for my nephew's birthday party, so measured everything out as I went along. Usually, I just add stuff until it looks right! If anyone tries this, let me know how it turns out. So here are my famous caramel pecan rolls! As always, enjoy!!!
1 cup evaporated milk or half and half, heated
1/4 cup butter, melted in the hot milk
2 tbsp. sugar or honey (honey will help keep the rolls moister)
2 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2-4 cups flour (enough to make a fairly soft dough)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. yeast
Beat together the milk, butter, sugar/honey, and vanilla until smooth. Add the yeast and salt, then the flour, starting with three cups and then adding the additional flour as needed to make a fairly soft dough. Allow to rest a few minutes and then knead until smooth and elastic. (I use my Kitchen Aid mixer for the mixing and kneading. What a wonderful invention!!!) When well kneaded, place in a greased bowl or leave in the mixer bowl, cover with a towel and put in a warm place to rise. It usually takes an hour to an hour and a half to double.
While the dough is rising, make your caramel. Place in a 1 quart saucepan the following: 1 cup dark brown sugar, 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup evaporated milk or half and half. Bring to a boil and boil hard for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. After two minutes, remove from heat and stir in 1 tsp. vanilla. Pour the caramel into a 9x13 inch pan and cover the top of the caramel with 1 1/2-1 3/4 cup pecans. Set aside.
When dough is doubled, beat down with your hand, then place on a floured board or table top. Sprinkle just a bit of flour on top of the dough, then roll out into a 22x12 inch rectangle.
Spread the top of the dough with 1/4 cup softened or melted butter and then sprinkle with the following: 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup white sugar and 2 tsp. of cinnamon, mixed together.
After evenly covering the dough with the cinnamon and sugar mixture, starting from one of the long edges, roll the dough up into a long snake, about 22 inches long. Squeeze and stretch the dough roll until it is of even thickness and about 30 inches long. With a sharp knife, cut into 1 1/2-2 inch thick slices. Place the slices, cut side down, on the bed of caramel and nuts, allowing a bit of space between the slices to give them room to rise. Allow to rise about 45-60 minutes or until puffy and light, almost doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and then bake the risen rolls for about 30 minutes or until browned on top. Remove from the oven and immediately run a knife around the edge of the pan, then place a cookie sheet on top of the pan and quickly flip it over. Allow the pan to remain in place a few minutes, then carefully remove.
Scrape any caramel and nuts remaining in the bottom of the pan and place on top of the rolls. Allow to cool completely before eating. According to my younger sister, they freeze well, but I've never tried it myself.
For a slightly lighter and moister roll, you can substitute one cup instant mashed potato flakes for 3/4 cup of the flour.