Really, why mess with a good thing? These rolls are basic – a simple, tender dough rolled up with brown sugar and (lots of) cinnamon. Instead of a thin, runny, sugary glaze they are smothered with a thick cream cheese glaze. The glaze is tangy instead of sickly sweet, so it pairs perfectly with the sweet rolls.
I’m sure you know this, but there are cinnamon ROLLS and there are cinnamon BUNS. The rolls always seem dry and too sticky to me (and usually have raisins and nuts), whereas the rolls are doughy, soft, and smell like a Cinnabun when they’re in the oven. Buns are where it’s at, just like Sir Mixalot has always said.
To make these, start after dinner and before you go to bed roll them up. In the morning they will be ready to bake. These rolls would be a GREAT Easter morning treat!
Cream Cheese Glazed Cinnamon Rolls
Barely adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
1/2 c. milk (any fat percentage will work)
8 tbsp. butter (ideally unsalted but salted if it’s all you have)
1/2 c. warm water (microwave for about 25 seconds)
1 envelope instant yeast (also called Rapid Rise)
1/4 c. sugar
1 egg, plus 2 egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp. salt
4 1/2 – 5 c. all purpose flour (plus more for dusting the countertop)
3/4 c. packed brown sugar (ideally light brown)
3 tbsp. cinnamon (yes, that’s a lot, do it)
1/8 tsp. salt
8 oz. light cream cheese, softened but still cool
2 tbsp. milk or cream
1 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1. Microwave milk and butter until butter is melted. Cool to luke warm (about 10 minutes). Stir it when butter is soft but still kept it’s shape – it will likely melt completely as you stir.
2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle (or in a large mixing bowl), mix together the water, yeast, sugar, eggs and egg yolks at low speed until well mixed. If using mixing bowl, mix with hand held electric mixer.
3. Add salt, warm milk mixture, and 2 c. of the flour. Mix at medium speed until thoroughly blended, about 1 minute.
4. Switch to the dough hook (or a mixing spoon if using hand mixer) and add another 2 c. flour. Knead at medium speed until the dough is smooth and freely clears the sides of the bowl (about 10 minutes). If mixing by hand, use the spoon until dough comes together into a rough ball. Dump out onto floured counter and knead with your hands at least 10 minutes.
5. Scrape the dough onto a floured work surface and knead briefly with your hands to bring together into a round. Place into a lightly greased mixing bowl (a large bowl) and turn to coat in grease.
6. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. I like to use my oven – definitely draft free in there – just remember not to turn it on for any reason!
7. Press down the risen dough and turn out onto a floured surface. Roll or press dough into a 16 x 12 in. rectangle (roughly, don’t worry about exact measurement).
8. Mix together the filling ingredients and sprinkle evenly on the rectangle leaving a 1 in. border on the far end. Roll up dough tightly, starting at the long end closest to you, pulling it over itself as you roll. Pinch the edge closed as well as the ends of the roll.
9. Lightly flour the dough and press/squeeze the roll gently to form a 16 in. cylinder.
10. Using thread or plain dental floss, cut 12 rolls from the cylinder. Slide the string underneath, pull the ends up, cross them over the top, and pull. The string criss-crosses itself and slices the dough cleanly and efficiently.
11. Place rolls evenly (and cut side up) in a greased 13 x 9 in. pan. The rolls won’t all touch at this point – they will rise into each other.
12. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 1/2 – 2 hours in a warm place, if baking that day. To make the next morning, place rolls in the fridge. Rolls can stay in the fridge for up to 2 days; they will rise very slowly in the cool air.
13. Once risen (or the next morning), preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the risen rolls for 25-30 minutes on the center rack of the oven (I think underdone is better than overdone).
14. While rolls bake, make glaze. Whisk together (or beat with electric mixer) the powdered sugar and cream cheese. Add milk/cream, vanilla and salt and whisk until smooth. Set in the fridge until needed.
15. Invert rolls onto a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. To invert, place the rack on top of the rolls and flip the dish over whilst holding the rack on top.
16. Turn the rolls upright onto a large serving plate. Spread evenly with glaze and serve.