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Chinese Five Spice Chocolate Chips Rolls

Transforming ubiquitous cinnamon rolls into something exotic with Chinese five spice powder and chocolate chips.

If you cook Chinese dishes regularly, chances are high that you have Chinese five spice powder stocked in your pantry. This Chinese five spice chocolate chips rolls is probably something most would not think to attempt, but once you give it a try, it seems such an obvious thing to do. It elevates the more ubuquitous cinnamon rolls that we all know and love into something that is slightly more exotic, plus you get to finish that bottle of Chinese five spice powder for once.

Chinese Five Spice Chocolate Chips Rolls
Chinese Five Spice Chocolate Chips Rolls

Chinese five spice powder

Cinnamon is one of the ingredients in Chinese five spice powder, along with star anise, cloves, Sichuan pepper, and fennel seeds. Once you take a bite into this bread, you immediately detect the familiar cinnamon aroma. The other four ingredients will of course be present, but I promise it won’t be that weird at all. So please give this a try :) Of course, if you don’t already have some Chinese five spice powder at home, just use the same amount of cinnamon powder and make this into regular cinnamon rolls instead.

Chinese Five Spice Chocolate Chips Rolls
Chinese Five Spice Chocolate Chips Rolls

Chocolate chips > glazing

Most cinnamon rolls you see comes with the requisite white glazing on top. I don’t exactly hate it per say, but my hubby always complains that he doesn’t like it. Cinnamon rolls are generally okay even without those glazing, but here I use chocolate chips instead of glazing to provide the sugar rush. He loves this version much better since he loves all things chocolate. And I love it too since it means less work for me not having to make the glazing. Most importantly though, chocolate chips pair surprisingly well with the Chinese five spice powder.

Chinese Five Spice Chocolate Chips Rolls
Chinese Five Spice Chocolate Chips Rolls

Chinese Five Spice Chocolate Chips Rolls

5.0 from 6 reviews

Author: Anita Jacobson




Prep Time: 3 hours

Cook Time: 25 mins

Total Time: 3 hours 25 mins

Serves: 8

Print Recipe


  • Bread dough
  • 7 gram (1 packet, or 2 1/4 teaspoon) active dry yeast
  • 5 gram (~ 1 teaspoon) sugar
  • 200 ml (13.5 tablespoon) milk, lukewarm (38 Celsius/100 Fahrenheit)
  • 320-360 gram (~ 3 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 75 gram (~ 6 tablespoon) sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 35 gram (~ 2.5 tablespoon) unsalted butter, softened
  • Chinese five spice chocolate chips filling
  • 3 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 6 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon Chinese five spice powder
  • 150 gram chocolate chips
  • Simple syrup (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon hot water


  1. Mix together active dry yeast, 5 gram sugar, and lukewarm milk. Set aside to bloom, or until foamy and frothy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a mixing bowl, sift together all-purpose flour, sugar, and salt. Make a well, then add in egg yolks, butter, and yeast solution. Knead until smooth and soft, only adding a bit of flour if necessary. Kneading time is about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Place bread dough in a bowl, cover with a wet kitchen towel/saran plastic. Set aside to proof until volume is almost doubled, about 1 hour in a warm kitchen.
  4. Once the bread has finished proofing, punch down to remove air bubbles. Then transfer the bread to a lightly floured work surface. Knead for 2 minutes, then roll into a rectangle of about 8-inch by 14-inch.
  5. Brush melted butter evenly over the dough, leaving only about 1/2-inch uncovered. Mix together sugar and Chinese five spice powder, then sprinkle evenly over the buttered surface. Scatter the chocolate chips evenly over the surface.
  6. Starting with the short edge, roll into a log. Use a sharp knife and cut into 8 pieces. Arrange on a greased 9-inch round cake pan (mine has a 2-inch height). Cover the pan with a wet kitchen towel/saran plastic and proof again until the dough fill the pan, about 1 hour in a warm kitchen
  7. Preheat oven to 180 Celsius (350 Fahrenheit). Bake the bread in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.
  8. (Optional) If you love shiny looking bread, make the simple syrup by mixing together sugar with hot water. Once the bread is out from the oven, brush the top with simple syrup.
Indonesian Pantry
Indonesian Kitchen


  • Angela Angela says:

    These looks so amazing! The flavor combination is out-of-this-world delicious!

    • Anita Anita says:

      Indeed Angela, this is one of those surprising instances where unexpected flavor combination works well together.

  • Danielle Wolter Danielle Wolter says:

    OMG I am in love here. Chinese five spice is such a great spice, I cook with it all the time. But I never thought to use it in rolls like this - what a great idea!

    • Anita Anita says:

      I know what you mean Danielle. I too only ever reach for Chinese five spice in savory dishes, but this bread roll turned out really well and now I am wondering if there are other cinnamon dessert out there that I need to play around with.

  • Jill Jill says:

    What a unique flavor combination! And I am absolutely loving that gorgeous close-up photo of the baked rolls. Makes my mouth water.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Haha, they are indeed amazing. :D

  • Natalie Levin Natalie Levin says:

    These rolls look so delicious and perfect for brunch!

    • Anita Anita says:

      I was having them for breakfast AND tea time. My tummy was super happy, not so sure about my waist line.

  • Sally Humeniuk Sally Humeniuk says:

    I cannot wait to try this recipe, how unique and delicious it must be! I have Five Spice in my pantry right now we love cinnamon rolls. Great recipe and fabulous photos.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Right? We all have Chinese five spice in our pantry. The trouble with me though, I finish maybe a couple gigantic bottles of cinnamon powder while my tiny bottle of Chinese five spice just sitting pretty. But no more, now I will be able to use it up before the dreaded expiration date.

  • Noreen Noreen says:

    Made these for Christmas. It was my first time making your Asian milk bread, and I followed recipe closely except: a. used coconut oil to sub for butter; b. stand mixer did the mixing; and c. used only about 60% of suggested chocolate chips. These 5-spice rolls were perfect, especially sweetness level which is subtle, not sickly sweet. I love the fact that there is no heavy cream glaze. The combination of 5-spice with chocolate is AMAZING!

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