I’ve never been a huge Valentine’s Day person. It feels kind of weird to me that we’re expected to show extra affection on one particular day a year, plus the added emphasis on gifts and grand romantic gestures. I say, be affectionate all year long, and if you come across something you know your significant other will love, surprise them with it whenever, because unexpected gifts are the best kind. In keeping with our low-key Valentine’s traditions, I went to a rose care class with my mom yesterday morning and learned all about growing them in the Portland climate (I’ve now decided that, once the compost comes and gets laid down, I am going to order an absurd amount of David Austen roses to line the yard with. Hurray!) Then I came home and made these gems, which Jeremy and I scarfed down happily. And we ended the evening with a screening of ‘Harold and Maude‘ at a local second-run theater, accompanied by some tasty Portland beer. It was a wonderful day, indeed.
For the rolls, I decided to switch out the cinnamon for some fresh rosemary from the garden. My rosemary bush is still in bloom so I was able to get more cuttings of its beautiful blue flowers, and my clematis vine even started blooming (we’ve been having unseasonably warm weather here this winter) so I was able to snip off a couple of those little white buds just for fun (not to eat!) I put the fresh rosemary in the swirls of the rolls and some dried rosemary in the dough to allow the rosemary flavor to really soak in while the dough went through several stages of rising. I also infused the milk used in the dough with jasmine blossom tea, which gave it a very subtle but alluring floral note. Something about rosemary and sweet flowery flavors like rose, honeysuckle, lilac, and jasmine always go so perfectly together, and this was no exception.
To top it all off, I made a ridiculous tasty whiskey glaze with my favorite Westward whiskey from a local small batch distillery here in Oregon. All the flavors came together to make the most refreshing, sweet, buttery, and flavorful rolls I’ve ever had. If you have any fresh rosemary laying around, you *have* to make these. The dough is so soft and flakey, and if you place them in a large Dutch oven like I did (I used this amazing red Staub cocotte from Food 52’s Shop) when they’re proofing they’ll puff up together and form a giant beautiful rosemary roll collage. And then once you pop them in the oven, just the smell of them cooking is reason enough to whip up a batch. So. Damn. Good. Well, I’ve officially mad myself hungry again just writing about them, so I’m off to grab a bite before plastering the walls a bit more today. I’m doing two-toned walls, so I’m going to be attaching painter’s tape down the middle of the wall (and attempting to keep it in a consistent straight line despite the various windows and door frames throughout the living room that will make this task much, much trickier). Wish me luck!
Allow the tea to infuse in the milk using a tea strainer for 15 minutes until the milk has cooled down to lukewarm. Remove and discard the jasmine tea leaves, and stir the yeast into the lukewarm milk. Allow the mixture to rest for 5 minutes.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the eggs, flour, butter, sugars, salt, rosemary, and milk mixture until a rough dough forms. Knead the dough by hand or with the dough hook attachment of your stand mixer until smooth. Place the dough in a clean and lightly-greased bowl. Cover it and allow to rise out of direct sunlight until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Roll out the dough into a rectangle until the dough is about 1/2 inch thick. Spread the softened butter across the top of the dough, and then sprinkle the brown sugar and fresh rosemary over it. Roll up the dough like a jelly roll, and then use a sharp knife to cut it into roughly 2-inch thick slices. Place the rolls, twist side up, in a greased large Dutch oven or casserole pan. Once the pan is full, cover and allow to rise out of direct sunlight until the rolls are puffy and touching each other in the pan, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the cover and bake the rolls until golden on top, about 15-20 minutes.
While they’re baking, whisk together the glaze ingredients in a small bowl until completely smooth. Set aside.
Once the rolls are done, allow them to cool for 15 minutes before drizzling the glaze over the top of them and serving. Serve any leftover glaze alongside the rolls for dipping.