These eggnog rolls with eggnog icing do take time to make, but they are not difficult, and there is nothing better on Christmas morning.
For best results, make the dough a day ahead (and it can be made up to two days ahead). I prefer to make these by hand so I can feel the dough, but you may use a stand mixer with dough hook.
Place the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl or stand mixer and mix to combine. Add the eggs and eggnog and gently mix on low until it all comes together in a moist dough ball. Add the softened butter, one tablespoon at a time, until all the butter is incorporated. Now you can mix the dough more aggressively, either by kneading it by hand, or by using your mixer on medium for about 3-5 minutes. If you are kneading by hand this step will take about 8 minutes of kneading. Under kneaded dough will result in dense rolls. Mix or knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. It should be soft, elastic and moist but not sticky. If the dough is sticky, add more flour in small increments, and mix or knead until you achieve the desired results.
Form the dough into a smooth round ball, and transfer it to a lightly greased bowl. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let stand in a warm, draft free spot for about 1 1/2 hours. The dough will not double in bulk or rise substantially, but it will swell slightly and appear bloated.
Grease a 9-inch x 13-inch glass baking dish with butter or line the bottom with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Use a floured rolling pin to gently roll out the dough to fit the baking dish. If it’s not exact that is fine. Just make sure the dough is evenly thick. Gently place the rolled out hunk of dough in the greased baking dish. Press down to make sure it fits evenly and that the dough is touching all sides of the glass pan. Refrigerate overnight, and flip the dough over at some point in order to get both sides totally flat and smooth. The dough will be soft and a tad difficult to handle when putting it into the glass pan, but once it’s been in the refrigerator it will be easier to handle. The dough can sit in the refrigerator for up to two days prior to baking.
The day of baking and eating:
Prepare the filling by combining the sugars, softened butter and spices in a small bowl.
Place the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface. Re-grease the baking pan with butter and line the bottom with parchment paper. Make sure the sides of the dish are greased all the way up to the top, so the rolls can rise high without sticking. Roll out the dough. Keep the rectangle shape, and roll the dough out to approximately 16 inches x 19 inches, and about ½-inch thick.
Spread the filling evenly over the dough, coating it all the way to the edges. Starting at the shorter side of the dough nearest you, slowly roll the dough into a tight spiral. Place the log seam side down on your work surface. Use a large serrated knife to cut the dough spiral into 10 rounds about 1 ½ inches wide. Arrange the rolls in the greased baking dish with about ¼ inch of room around each roll. Cover the rolls with a kitchen towel and let stand in a warm, draft free spot for about 50 minutes. They should swell up and rise, but again not significantly.
Preheat the oven to 375° about 20-25 minutes before baking the rolls.
Bake the rolls until light golden brown or about 25 minutes. The inserted toothpick coming out clean trick is a good test to gauge inside doneness. Watch the rolls carefully during the last minutes of baking as they can burn quite easily. Cool for 10-15 minutes.
While the rolls bake, prepare the Eggnog Icing. Whisk together the powdered sugar, eggnog and cardamom in a medium bowl until thick and smooth. Place the icing in the refrigerator for about 5 minutes so it can firm up and thicken.
Dollop or drizzle the eggnog icing on top of the warm rolls. Put on as little or as much as you like. I tend to ice the rolls lightly and serve them with an extra bowl of icing, so folks can add more if desired.
Serve the rolls while they are still warm. That’s a must.