Thursday, February 6, 2014

Ono Sweet Rolls

Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
Tell me who didn't fall in love with Israel's version of this classic the very first time they heard it?  Nobody!  That's who!  It is just as much perfection as Judy Garland's rendition, in my humble opinion.  To many of those between the age of newborn to, oh, let's say, 50 - 60ish, it IS the song of Hawaii.  His mixing it with "What A Wonderful World" just makes it all that much better.  A trip to Hawaii isn't complete until I've heard it at least three different times.  It might be while shopping in a store, or in the hotel elevator, or while lazing by the pool.  But it always brings a smile to my face and a lighter beat to my heart.  As will these incredible Ono Sweet Rolls.  "Ono" means delicious in Hawaii, you know.  So just go ahead and put some Cream of Coconut, shredded sweetened coconut, some macadamia nuts, and a can of pineapple juice on your grocery list.  

I returned from a trip to Hawaii about a week ago.
My husband had a work conference to attend and, you can
bet, I certainly went along for the ride!
I love it when his conferences are held in
such prime locations!

We were on the island of Maui to be specific.
It wasn't our first time here.
We've been here about four times, I think, and
have done many of the fun activities available.
Our first trip we went up to Mount Haleakala to see
the sunrise and then biked back down, at our own pace,
to return the bikes to the rental store.
It was a great adventure!

We've driven the road to Hana - twice.
Once by ourselves.
Once with our children.
Two very different experiences.
We feel we've done it enough now.

We've snorkeled at locations all around the island.
We've watched whales from the shore
while they are making their journey through 
the islands during the winter months.
You don't need a special excursion to see them.
They get quite close to shore and they make full breaches.
It is exciting to see every single time!

This time we drove up to Mount Haleakala, elevation 10,023 feet, to see the sunset.
So gorgeous!
This time we also made a trip to a 
small town called Makawao where there's this place
called Komoda Bakery that was supposed 
to have amazing baked goods.
I got this tip from a friend of mine who has
been to Hawaii a number of times.
She has never steered me wrong - and
she certainly didn't this time!
We filled our box with an assortment of
doughnuts - on a stick, filled with fruit, filled
with cream, filled with bean paste - we had to
try them all.
We also grabbed a bag of Hawaiian Sweet Dinner Rolls -
that ended up being our favorite of all!
We hauled that bag with us all over!
And it didn't matter how squished they became,
they still tasted amazing!

So these treats got me to thinking about Hawaiian sweet things.
And it got me trying to make Hawaiian Sweet Dinner Rolls.
I'd learned in culinary school that the sweetness 
in these rolls comes from pineapple juice.
In my recent quest to eat as few things from a can as possible,
I marched right down to my grocery store and bought
a couple of pineapples.
I would crush up my own pineapple and strain off 
the juices and I'd be ready to make my rolls!

I failed miserably.

Soooo, you know how you're not supposed to use fresh
pineapple when you make Jell-o?
Something about the fresh fruit interferes with the gelling process.
Well, apparently, it's true with making bread as well!
Let me share what I learned!

Pineapple has this enzyme called bromelain.
Bromelain eats proteins.
Gluten is protein.
So while you're trying to create this
gorgeous gluten that makes for a fabulously
soft roll - you know, the bread that kind of stretches like cheese
when you pull it apart?) - well, that bromelain is
eating it just as fast as you're making it!

The bread is a dud.
And it makes you sad.

I even tried to use the fresh pineapple pulp to add to
some pork sliders - that were going to sit on top of these
fabulous buns!
But the fresh pineapple started eating that protein, too, 
and I was left with patties that had a slimy, baby food texture.

Apparently, the heat from the canning process
kills that enzyme, which is why you're usually guided 
to use canned pineapple.

Duly noted.
Lesson learned.

I came up with a great recipe for the rolls -
but then I couldn't stop the train there.
It occurred to me that this roll dough
would make a fabulous cinnamon roll, too -
only I would make them with all 
the delicious elements of Hawaii!
The pineapple juice would sweeten the 
dough AND the frosting.
Toasted macadamia nuts would be the nut of choice.
I'd still add some cinnamon to the sugar inside, 
but I'd add some ground ginger as well.
Some toasted coconut would be the perfect topper
and some cream of coconut would be
fabulous with that pineapple juice in the frosting.
The more I thought about it, the more I 
KNEW it would be fantastic!
And I was right!
I love it when I'm THIS right!
You know you save that last bit of the center
for the last bite, too!

In Hawaii, the word for delicious is "ono."
I thought it the perfect name for these
Hawaiian-inspired sweet rolls!

Ono Sweet Rolls
makes 1 dozen

For the dough:
4 c. all-purpose flour (500 g)
1 T. instant yeast
1/3 c. sugar (67 g)
1 t. salt
1/3 c. powdered milk
1/4 c. coconut oil
1/4 c. butter
1 c. canned pineapple juice
1 egg

For the filling and topping:
1 c. shredded sweetened coconut, such as Baker's
1 c. macadamia nuts, chopped 
1/2 c. unsalted butter, soft
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 t. ground ginger
pinch of kosher salt
3 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. cream of coconut (look where they have their cocktail drink mixes)
1/3 c. pineapple juice
2 T. butter, melted

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and powdered milk.  In a separate small bowl, heat the coconut oil and butter in the microwave for about 10 - 15 seconds til they just start to melt.  Lightly beat the egg.  Add the melted butter and coconut oil, the egg, and the pineapple juice to the dry ingredients and mix together, starting on low and working your way up to medium high speed.  The dough will be sticky but soft.  Knead for 5 minutes.

Remove the dough from the bowl and put into another bowl that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Turn the dough to coat and cover with plastic wrap.  Put in a warm place until it almost doubles in size - about an hour.

While the dough is rising, toast the coconut by spreading it out evenly on a sheet tray and placing it in a 350 degree oven.  Cook for about 10 minutes, checking on it every 3 - 4 minutes.  Remove and let cool.

Toast the chopped macadamia nuts in the oven or in a small saute pan on the stove top over medium heat.  They have a high fat content and will burn easily so don't get distracted.  Let cool.

When the dough has risen, lightly flour a working surface and remove dough from the bowl and place on the floured area.  Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a rectangle about 12"x 18".  Spread the soft butter evenly over the surface with a spatula.  Mix the sugars together in a bowl with the cinnamon and ginger and salt.  Sprinkle that over top of the butter.  Next, add the chopped and toasted macadamia nuts - being sure they are evenly dispersed.
Working with the long edge, roll the dough up, trying to keep it fairly tight as you roll.  Once rolled, pinch the seam together all along the edge.  Place the seam side down on the cutting board and then, using a knife with a serrated edge, such as a bread knife, slice the rolled dough into 12 even pieces - about 1 1/2" thick.  Grease a 9"x12" baking dish with cooking spray or butter and place the cut slices, cut side down, in the pan.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for another hour, until they have risen and are starting to touch each other.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 20 minutes - or until the tops are light golden brown.  They will expand and fill the pan. 

While they are baking, whisk together the powdered sugar, the cream of coconut, the pineapple juice, and the melted butter.  

When you remove the rolls from the oven, let them cool for about 5 minutes and then give them a light coating of the frosting.  Let them cool further and give them a more thorough frosting.  Top with the toasted coconut.

*I think these would also be good with well-drained crushed pineapple spread over the inside! 


  1. My mouth is watering reading this! You are a genius. I should drop by your house more often, instead of just driving by! Your neighbor, Jeanne

    1. Haha! Jeanne, I thought you were a gluten-free house! Next time I'm looking for a home for some of these concoctions, I will make a trip to your door!

    2. Nope, we eat all grains here! We were experimenting that one time to see if the kids had allergies to grains. Luckily not! I feel very sorry for those poor gluten free people! I mean, rice is good and so is corn, but nothing bakes up like wheat flour.

  2. Tim says Maui is a Happy Cow area. They loved it there. Cow's just lie on edge of cliff and chew their cud looking out over ocean, Soooooooo!!! Happy!!!
    These look so delicious, but right now not on my diet when I hit my goal these are on my list.
    Love ya
    Aunt Linda

    1. That's so funny because that's what I've said to my husband as we drive around - "That has to be the luckiest cow on the planet!" He says, "Why?" Me: "Because he gets to be a cow in Hawaii!" And I say the same when I see a dog or a cat or any other creature! Luckiest beasts of all!

      Stay on course on that diet! Just know that these are waiting across the finish line!
      Love you!