Place yeast and 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add warm milk. Stir to combine and let sit about 5-10 minutes until it starts to look foamy.
Stir in about 2 cups of all purpose flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Then stir in eggs, vegetable oil, 2 teaspoons vanilla, and orange zest.
Stir in more flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft dough forms. Place dough on lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until dough comes together and more elastic. Place dough in lightly greased bowl, turn dough to coat, then cover with plastic wrap or damp towel and let rise for about 30-45 minutes or until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, prepare filling by mixing together 1 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons cinnamon in a small bowl.
Lightly butter two 13x9-inch baking dishes.
Roll dough out into a rectangle about 15 inches by 24 inches. Spread softened butter over top of dough and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top. Tightly roll dough up at the long end so you're left with a 24-inch roll.
Slice dough into 24 rolls. Place 12 rolls in each baking dish. Cover and let dough rise for another 30-45 minutes or until doubled in size again.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F while rolls are rising.
Once rolls have doubled in size, remove cover, and bake cinnamon rolls at 350 degrees F for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside to cool.
Prepare frosting by placing ricotta and mascarpone in large mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar, then 1 teaspoon vanilla, orange juice, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and dash of salt until smooth and not lumpy.
Frost tops of cinnamon rolls with cannoli frosting and sprinkle mini chocolate chips on top.
SNAPPY TIPS: Be sure your ricotta cheese is thick and/or well-drained or the frosting may be liquidy. You could use more mascarpone and/or less ricotta for a thicker frosting. The orange zest gives the dough a nice subtle orange flavor. You can omit the 1 tablespoon of orange zest or add more for a stronger flavor.SNAPPY SUBSTITUTIONS: Instead of vanilla extract you could try almond extract and/or Fiori di Sicilia. Instead of or in addition to the mini chocolate chips you can use chopped pistachios.
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keywords: from scratch baking, National Cinnamon Roll Day