These strawberry chocolate rolls are super soft and fluffy with no dairy! Their heart shape makes them perfect for giving on Valentine's Day or any occasion, plus they are vegan and nutritious.
Valentines Day has really never been my thing. I honestly forget about it every year, and this year was no different. It wasn’t until I was seeing everyone’s heart-shaped food on Instagram that I realized that Valentine’s Day was right around the corner🙈
So then I got thinking, and this idea for heart-shaped cinnamon rolls came to me (because cinnamon rolls are always the answer). But instead of the regular cinnamon, I decided to use the classic Valentine’s Day flavors...strawberries and chocolate!
As you can see, I stuck with that idea and it turned out to be a good decision 🙂 they’re super delicious, cute, and make the perfect gift!
These rolls are honestly better than anything you would get from a store—they’re homemade, vegan, nutritious, and are way more filling and satisfying than a regular cinnamon roll. I’m really in love with how they turned out!💕
If you don't have time to make these now, you can click here to save the recipe on Pinterest so you can always come back to it!📌
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Making the Dough
Making the dough is the thing that turns people away from making bread or rolls…but it’s really not that complicated! The most important thing is that you’re using the right ingredients, and each provides it’s own necessary quality.
How to Make Super Fluffy + High Fiber Rolls
Traditionally, cinnamon/bread rolls/bread in general are made with all purpose, or white flour. This flour is refined but soft and will result in a light and fluffy texture and taste. There really is nothing else like it.
Many people use white whole wheat flour instead of all purpose, because it's higher in fiber, keeps you full for longer, and spikes your blood sugar less. Although it may seem like it, the “white” in the name does NOT mean that it’s refined. Rather, it’s made with a different variety of wheat than the traditional, giving it a lighter taste and texture with the same health benefits of regular flour. It is harder to come across, but you can find it easily online (this brand is my favorite!)
White whole wheat flour is a great substitute for regular whole wheat and you can get pretty much the exact results you’re looking for when making things like muffins, brownies, or cookies. But for bread, it’s a different story. Bread’s purpose is to be light and fluffy, so it’s really obvious when the texture isn’t quite right. So, we're going to combine all purpose flour with white whole wheat!
This way, you’re getting the fluffy texture of the white flour, plus the nutritional benefits of the whole wheat flour. And honestly? You can’t even tell that the whole wheat flour is there (remember, we’re using the lighter variety!). Be sure that your all-purpose flour is unbleached like this one, for obvious reasons 😉
We're also going to be including flaxseed meal, for more fiber, protein, healthy fats, and omega 3 fatty acids 🙂 It’s one of my favorite ingredients of all time, and for a good reason. In case you’re not familiar, flaxseed meal is literally just flax seeds that are ground into a fine powder. They’re often used as a vegan egg replacement, but the uses don’t stop there! They are absolutely perfect to use in these rolls 🙂
The reason this high-fiber ingredient works instead of just adding more whole wheat flour is because of the fat content. While it may seem like a dry ingredient, flaxseed meal actually adds more moisture and doesn’t dry out the dough like flour does. So you just made your bread healthier AND more delicious!🥳
And one more thing I want to mention: the type of flaxseed meal you buy makes a huge difference. I actually didn’t think so at first, until I tried this brand and it really turned out so much better. It’s ground much finer, and contains more moisture–just what we need.
Ingredients for Vegan + Healthier Rolls
Besides the flour subs, there are plenty of other swaps to make these rolls both healthy and delicious.
Although many cinnamon roll recipes have eggs, it’s very common to find eggless cinnamon/roll recipes. The harder part to making this vegan is replacing the dairy.
But it’s actually pretty simple! For the milk, I used oat milk—it’s my favorite plant milk and the one I recommend, but you can also use almond, soy, or whatever your favorite vegan milk is.
Unsweetened applesauce has all the nutrients of apples (because it really is just grated apples) like fiber, potassium, and a variety of vitamins. It also adds a hint of natural sweetness—just make sure you get an unsweetened variety like this one, as many have added sugars and other weird ingredients.
Avocado oil is my favorite oil to use (apart from sesame oil, but that’s more for cooking than desserts😂), for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s got many health benefits similar to olive oil, like omega 3 fatty acids and unsaturated fats. Unlike olive oil, however, avocado oil has a neutral taste and you won’t be able to tell it’s there.
There are other neutral oils like canola and vegetable oil, but those are usually genetically modified and chemically processed, while avocado oil is not. You can buy some here—it’s a pretty good deal for the size 🙂
Instead of white refined sugar, we’re using maple syrup. While yes, it’s still sugar, it’s unrefined and natural. It also contains some antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and has a lower glycemic index. Make sure you are getting pure maple syrup and not maple-flavored syrup!
How to Use Yeast + Troubleshooting
Many people fear using yeast to make bread/rolls, but it’s really not that complicated! Really the only thing you have to pay attention to is the temperature of the milk.
A lot of people use a thermometer to make sure the temperature of the milk/water is right, but in all honesty? It’s really not necessary! I’ve baked with yeast more times than I can count, I’ve never used a thermometer, and it’s worked every time.
The temperature should be slightly warmer than room temperature, but not hot. The yeast will deactivate if it’s too hot or too cold, but there is a pretty large temperature range so it’s hard to get wrong.
You’ll know when your yeast is deactivated because it’ll look exactly the same as how it started. When your yeast activates, it’ll get a strong smell (kind of like bread), and it’ll foam. Here’s the before and after pics:
This usually takes 5-10 minutes. If you’re not seeing or smelling any difference after 5 minutes, it probably never will. If there is still no difference after 10 minutes, the yeast have been killed and you can’t use it (even if you fix the temperature). If this happens, you’ll have to start over. However, it will work as long as you make sure it’s slightly warmer than room temperature.
Making the Filling
There are two fillings in this recipe--the chocolate and the strawberry. Both are very simple!
For the chocolate filling, you'll need cocoa powder, avocado oil, and cane sugar (or any other sugar!). All you have to do is mix the ingredients together, then spread on the dough.
For the strawberry filling, it's pretty much like making jam! Just 3 ingredients: strawberries, lemon juice, and maple syrup. You'll bring it to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until thick. Then, spread the dough with more avo oil and your homemade jam!
There are many ingredients here that you can substitute! Some I’ve tried and some I haven’t. Of course, every ingredient is there for a reason, but I understand that everyone has preferences or monetary restrictions.
White whole wheat flour: You can go ahead and use entirely all-purpose flour if you want! This is the only flour sub I’ve tried. If you want to make this gluten free, you can try to use a 1:1 gluten free flour blend, but I have not tested this and the texture won’t be quite the same.
Oat milk: any plant based milk will work for this! Almond, soy, coconut, cashew, you name it…regular dairy milk is also fine if you don’t need it to be vegan!
Unsweetened applesauce: if you don’t have applesauce, you can make your own by grating an apple. You can also use 1 mashed ripe banana (it will yield the same amount), but it might leave a banana taste, and you should reduce the sugar slightly. Avocado oil will also work, or pumpkin puree like in these Vegan Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls!
Avocado oil: Sub with another neutral oil like sunflower, refined melted coconut oil (I haven’t tried either of these but it should work out fine), or light-tasting olive oil. If you only have vegetable oil or canola oil, that works too. I do not recommend using no oil, but if you absolutely must, you can substitute with more applesauce, or one of the applesauce subs mentioned above.
Maple syrup: you can use any liquid/syrup sweetener like honey or agave, although honey is not vegan. I don’t have experience with using simple syrup, but you can give it a try.
Sugar: pretty much any granulated sweetener is fine. Coconut sugar, brown sugar, and white sugar will all work. If you have a 1:1 sugar blend you are familiar with, feel free to use it here, just make sure it melts.
I really hope you like this recipe! If you decide to make it, be sure to post a picture/story and tag me @nutritiousdelights on Instagram–I’d love to see!💗
More recipes you might love:
Healthy Vegan Strawberry Crisp (Gluten Free)
Vegan Heart-Shaped Strawberry & Chocolate Rolls
- 2 ¼ cup white whole wheat flour not regular whole wheat
- 2 ¾ cup all purpose flour
- 1 ½ cup warm oat milk or any nondairy milk
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
- ¾ cup maple syrup
- ½ cup avocado oil
- 2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast or 1 packet
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ⅓ cup finely ground flaxseed meal
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 10 tablespoons cane sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons avocado oil
- 2 ½ cup strawberries
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- In the meantime, make the filling. For the chocolate filling, just mix the cane sugar, cocoa powder, and oil. For the strawberry filling, bring the strawberries, maple syrup and lemon juice to a boil then reduce to a simmer, until it reduces to the consistency of jam.
- Once the dough is done rising it should be about double in size. Fold in another ½ c all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt, then transfer to a floured surface. Use the remaining flour as needed (you may need more or less) to knead. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes. Do NOT keep adding flour until the dough is dry; only add flour if it is really sticking to the counter/surface. Divide the dough in two.
- Make sure the surface is well-floured so it doesn't stick, then roll each dough (make sure your rolling pin is floured too). Roll until it is about ½" thick. Cut off the edges to make them super clean. You can use the scraps to make more later. This is optional, but it will result in the best-looking rolls. Spread the filling evenly throughout (chocolate on one, strawberry on the other). For the strawberry filling, spread the oil on the dough before adding the "jam".
- Prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside (you will need multiple rounds since they need room to spread). Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- You can roll and cut the traditional way, but I find this method much easier and has a better-looking result: Cut the dough while it's flat, about 1" thick slices. Roll each slice individually and transfer to the prepared pan. Combine one chocolate roll with one strawberry and pinch the ends together. Form into the shape of a heart--you want to exaggerate the shape because it will spread when it bakes.
- Bake for about 8 minutes. While they're baking, make icing with powdered sugar and a splash of plant milk. Serve warm with the icing or alone. If you aren't planning to finish them on the first or second day, freeze as soon as it cools, and microwave to reheat.