Ube Cinnamon Rolls

Have you ever heard of ube before? (no, its not the same as taro)

Besides its lovely purple hue, ube is a purple yam and is staple dessert ingredient in the Philippines. It’s often boiled and mashed, and commonly used for jams, puddings, or to color sweet desserts and breads. The flavor is a cross between vanilla and pistachio, and has often been compared to the flavor of white chocolate as well.

Being in University (all. the. time), I had never had a chance to get the infamous Cinnabon before; in quarantine, I DEFINITELY did not have the chance to get Cinnabon. So I thought, why not bring Cinnabon to me? However, I wanted to incorporate something different, a flavor that would complement the white chocolate icing that I would drizzle on the cinnamon rolls. Ube! I used ube powder to bring out the color and the flavor of the purple yam.

PRO TIP: In addition, I also chose to drench the rolls in some heavy cream before putting them in the oven so the rolls would soak up the delicious cream. This kept the rolls so unbelievably moist and soft, even when stored overnight.

  • Difficulty: ★★★
  • Ingredients: ★★★
  • Time: ~2 hours

Ingredients (makes ~6)

For the Dough:

  • ½ cup warm milk 
  • 2 tbsp ube powder
  • Purple food coloring
  • 1.25 teaspoons instant dry yeast
  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter (softened)
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (divided)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar

For the Filling:

  • ¼ cup salted butter (almost melted)
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup heavy cream (for pouring over the risen rolls)

For the Frosting:

  • 3 ounces cream cheese (softened) or melted white chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp salted butter (softened)
  • ~⅔ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ tablespoon vanilla extract 


  1. Pour the warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast overtop.
  2. Add the eggs, butter, salt and sugar and mix 
  3. Add in 2 cups (save the other ¼ cup and add only if you need it) of flour and mix. Allow the mixture to rest for 5 minutes so the flour has time to soak up the liquids.
  4. Knead the dough, adding in up to 1/2 cup more flour if needed to form a dough. Knead for 5-7 minutes or until the dough is elastic and smooth. 
  5. Grease a large bowl and put the smooth dough in it
  6. Cover the bowl with a towel or wax paper and let rise/proof for about 30 min in a warm (but turned off) microwave or oven
  7. While the dough is rising, prepare the cinnamon filling. In a medium bowl, combine the soft butter, brown sugar and cinnamon, mixing until well combined. Set aside.
  8. Sprinkle a pastry mat generously with flour. Turn out the dough onto the pastry mat and sprinkle the top of the dough with additional flour. 
  9. Flour a rolling pin and roll the dough to a rectangle – dough should be about ½ in thick
  10. Use a rubber spatula or spoon to smooth the cinnamon filling over the whole dough rectangle.
  11. Starting on the long end, roll the dough up tightly jelly-roll style. 
  12. Cut into 6 slices and place in a greased baking pan
  13. Cover the pan and allow the rolls to rise for 20 minutes or until nearly doubled in size
  14. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  15. Warm the heavy cream slightly
  16. Once the rolls have risen, pour the heavy cream over the top of the rolls, allowing it to soak down in and around the rolls.
  17. Bake at 375 degrees for ~20-23 minutes, until the rolls are lightly golden brown and the center rolls are cooked through. 
  18. Take out and let rolls cool. While the rolls are cooling, prepare the cream cheese frosting.
  19. In a large bowl, combine the softened cream cheese (or melted white chocolate) and butter using a spoon or hand mixer. Blend well.
  20. Add in vanilla extract and the powdered sugar. Beat and mix until combined.
  21. Spread the frosting over the cooled rolls
  22. Store in an airtight container and enjoy!!

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