3 ½cupsall-purpose flour, unbleached, plus extra for kneading
1cupsemi-sweet chocolate chips
Glaze and topping:
¼cupsliced almonds (optional
Pour the half and half into a small bowl and warm it in the microwave for about 45 seconds. Stir in the yeast and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes.
Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer, and add in 4 tablespoons of the softened butter and the granulated sugar. Mix the ingredients together on low speed. Add in the eggs and mix to combine. Stir in the salt, and then the flour and mix just until the dough comes together. Turn the wet dough out onto a floured surface and sprinkle flour over the top.
Knead the dough by hand for 8-10 minutes until it is smooth and shiny. (A bench scraper is helpful at the start of kneading to help scrape up the wet dough from the work surface.) Shape the dough into a ball and place into a greased bowl, turning the ball a couple of times. Cover loosely with a piece of plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place for 90 minutes until doubled in size.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small dish combine the brown sugar with the cinnamon.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently flatten it. Allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
Roll the dough out into a 10" x 18" rectangle. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in the microwave. Brush the dough with this melted butter, leaving the outer 1/2" dry. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar evenly over the butter and then the chocolate chips evenly over this.
Starting at a long side, roll the dough up into a log. Use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to cut the log into 1" thick slices. Place the slices on the prepared baking sheet. Cover the slices with a clean dish towel and allow them to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Once heated place the baking sheet with the rolls into the center of the oven. Bake the rolls for about 25 minutes. Check after 15 minutes - if rolls are browning too quickly, drape a sheet of aluminum foil over the top. Once they're baked remove them from the oven and allow the rolls to cool on the sheet for about 10 minutes.
Make the glaze:
Place the sliced almonds (if using) in a small skillet over medium heat. Toast the almonds, stirring them often, until they are lightly browned - about 4 minutes. Transfer the almonds to a small plate.
In a medium bowl melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the microwave. Stir the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla into the melted butter. Add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time until the glaze is smooth and fluid. Drizzle the glaze over the the tops of the warm cinnamon rolls. If using them, sprinkle the toasted almonds over the tops. Serve them while they're warm.