cream cheese cinnamon rolls

Ahhh. Hello, Cinnamon Rolls. I remember the morning I made you as if it were yesterday.

The year was 2010. The month was April. The time was a hair before the buttcrack of dawn on a dark, beautiful Saturday morning. I slipped through the front door around 4am, returning from work and mindful of our guests sleeping fitfully upstairs. I guess a decidedly grown-up activity such as purchasing luxurious guest room pillows is just a step above me. Maybe when I’m 30. I mean, honestly, I only recently managed to get the right size sheets for the bed. If you stay over, you might hate the terrible pillows, but I’ll make you homemade cinnamon rolls. I’m not a monster!

Back in the kitchen, I mixed the dough, wincing at the sound of the dough hook doing its thing. No one stirred. While the yeasty dough began working it’s magic in the confines of a plastic-wrapped bowl, I started some fig bars (this dough with this filling.) Figs were poached. Cookie dough was mixed and relegated to the refrigerator. But that’s another story for another time.

The proofed dough was ready to be rolled, slathered with cream cheese, folded, rolled again, slathered with butter and spicy cinnamon sugar, then rolled up, and cut! and proofed! and that’s where snapped exactly one picture:

cream cheese cinnamon rolls

The events that followed are a sleep-deprived blur…baked cinnamon rolls slathered in cream cheese icing being gobbled, a fabulous dinner at a fabulous restaurant, getting silly with limoncello, a splishy splashy bike race with a scary number of riders hitting the fences at every corner, and ending the night soaking wet, freezing, and exhausted (complete with squicky, squishy shoes) yet glad to have spent it with some of my favorite people.

Cream cheese cinnamon rolls, people. They’re the best. Trust me, because in Saveur I trust.


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Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls (adapted slightly from Saveur)

makes 8 large rolls


3/4 ounce fresh yeast

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk, room temperature

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 egg

1 egg yolk

2 3/4 cups flour, plus more for kneading

3/4 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter


1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

2 tablespoons maple syrup


4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature


4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup buttermilk

To make the dough: combine all ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a hook. Mix on low speed for about 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Combine sugar, maple syrup, and spices, stirring to combine. Set aside.

Punch the dough down and place on a floured surface. Use a floured rolling pin the roll the dough into a 10″ x 10″ square. Spread the super-soft cream cheese evenly over the dough square, then fold square into into thirds like a letter. Take the open ends of the rectangle and fold into thirds again, to make a small square. Invert the dough so that the seam is face down, and roll into a 10″ x 20″ rectangle.

Turn the dough so the short sides are parallel to you. Brush the top with 4 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle the filling over the dough, leaving a 1″ border at the edge farthest from you. Roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Place on a cutting board and cut into 8 equal pieces. Place in a sprayed or buttered 9″ x 13″ pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours. (Alternatively, the rolls can be refrigerated overnight–just let them sit at room temperature while the oven is preheating in the morning.)

Preheat oven to 375. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Whisk together the icing while the rolls are baking. Let rolls cool 5 minutes, then use the tines of a fork to drizzle icing all over. Serve immediately.

2 responses to “cream cheese cinnamon rolls”

  1. Christy says:

    Best cinnamon rolls ever. Worth a terrible night’s sleep, at the very least.

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