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Cinnamon rolls don't need much introduction. They're perfect, warm, steamy, and insanely delicious - especially when smothered in homemade cream cheese frosting. Your friends and family will also be super impressed, because they look as amazing as they taste and are a great "labor-of-love" kind of breakfast for a weekend morning. 

Total time: 3 hours 10 minutes

Active time: 55 minutes

Bake time: 20 minutes

Makes 9 cinnamon rolls 


Ingredients for the rolls:


3+1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2/3 tsp kosher salt

1/2 cup butter, very soft but not melted, divided in half

3/4 cup whole milk, lukewarm

1+3/4 tsp instant yeast

1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

2 tbsp cinnamon


Ingredients for the frosting:


3/4 cup cream cheese, soft

1/4 cup butter, soft

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup whole milk

Seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean


Instructions for the rolls:


1.) Combine flour, sugar, and salt in large bowl and whisk together (use a stand mixer bowl, if you have one). Using knives or forks, cut in 1/4 cup of extremely soft butter (using your fingers if need be) until it is evenly distributed throughout the dry ingredients (you will still see small clumps). Heat your whole milk in the microwave in 10-second increments until it is between 100° F and 110° F. To the milk, add the instant yeast, and whisk briefly to combine. Pour your yeasty milk mixture into the dry ingredients along with the egg and eggs yolks.


2.) If you have a stand mixer, this is the time to use it. Fitted with a dough hook, mix this on medium for about 2-3 minutes, until a dough has formed and pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Alternatively, you can use your hands (I did)! Use a rubber spatula to mix the ingredients in a circular motion for several minutes, working it with your hands when necessary, until all the flour is incorporated. Keep in mind that this dough should be somewhat sticky, but not so sticky that you can't handle it without it gluing to your hands. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface, and lightly knead it several times until you have a nice, smooth dough ball. Transfer it to an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. If you're making the dough the night before, you can put it in the fridge at this point overnight, and allow it to rise at room temp the next morning for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size. Other wise, allow to rise at room temp for 90 minutes, or until doubled in size.


3.) In the meantime, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl until well combined. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down once or twice to deflate. Flour a very large work surface, as we will be rolling this out into a large rectangle. Turn the dough out of the bowl, topside down onto the work surface. Lightly flour the surface of the dough and your rolling pin (or wine bottle), and roll out the dough into a rectangle that is roughly 20 inches long and about 1 foot tall; the dough should be about 1/4-inch thick. Use a knife or offset spatula to smear your extremely soft butter all over the surface of your rectangle. Don't be afraid to go to the edges. Now sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture all over the surface, spreading it around with your fingers if need be.


4.) Starting at the edge closest to you, tightly roll the dough with the tips of your fingers, moving back and forth across the length of the rectangle. You should end up with a nicely rolled 20-inch long tube of dough. Grease a 9-inch baking pan (I used ceramic, but you can use whatever you have). Using a serrated-knife with small teeth, trim 1 inch off each end of the tube, and cut the whole thing into 9 2-inch segments. Transfer to your greased baking dish, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for another 45 minutes or until they've increased in size by about 50%, at which point they will probably be touching. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 375° F. 


5.) Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the rolls have puffed up and are golden brown across the tops. 


Instructions for the frosting:


1.) In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer to beat together softened cream cheese and butter until fluffy. In two additions, beat in powdered sugar until fully combined and not lumpy. Add whole milk and scraped out vanilla bean seeds and beat until smooth, creamy, and pourable.


2.) Allow your beautiful cinnamon rolls to cool no more than 5 minutes before covering (yes, covering) them with all your glaze. Take a bite and feel all your hard work pay off. For leftovers, you can store in a Tupperware in the fridge and reheat individual rolls for about 15-20 seconds in the microwave.

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