Cinnamon Roll Cookies

Every year we attend a holiday cookie exchange party. In case you don’t know what that is, basically every one bakes A LOT of one type of cookie, brings them to the exchange and leaves with 6 of every type of cookie. It’s a fun tradition and for the last few years I had always made cookies that I knew. This year I decided to try a new cookie!

While using StumbleUpon to browse the web (a wonderful way to discover new content!) I came across these Cinnamon Roll Cookies. When Geoff saw them he demanded that we make them and I obliged.

Now, I feel that I have a reputation to maintain, so I don’t think I will repeat my experience of having the first time I make a cookie be when 15 people will be eating it that night… so let’s say these were not my prettiest cookies. But they were pretty tasty! And I think I figured out the tricks to making them better for when you make them!

The recipe itself was pretty simple, it was the technique of shaping the cookies that was where my weakness was yesterday. The first thing you want to do is make the dough. You will need:

  • 2 tsp vanilla (you’ll need more later)
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 sticks of butter (remember I was making 6 dozen cookies)
  • 1/2 c (4oz) softened cream cheese (I used reduced fat cream cheese)
  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 3/4 c all purpose flour

According to the initial recipe , the idea behind the yeast is that you add it to cold vanilla and it doesn’t activate, but gives the dough a hint of breadiness… I can’t say that I remembered there was yeast in the dough or that I noticed anything from it. What was more noticeable and wonderful was the addition of the cream cheese to the dough. It gave it this wonderful tang that just elevated this simple dough to a new level.

Start by combining the yeast and vanilla. The yeast won’t activate, so don’t worry. Next, add this mixture to a mixing bowl with the butter, sugar, and cream cheese and cream it all together. Now I want to pause here to talk about the term “cream” as it relates to butter. Something I learned pretty recently was that cream doesn’t just mean mix well. It’s actually a different state that the butter needs to get to. It’s really pretty amazing and for so many years I had not been mixing nearly long enough when recipes told me to cream butter and sugar together. If you already knew that, you’re awesome! And if not, hopefully this picture will help you understand the texture and look of “creamed” butter and sugar. 

Turn the mixer to low speed (stir on the Kitchen Aid stand mixer) and add the salt and the flour. It’s important to add the flour slowly so that you don’t lose half of it in the flour cloud (you know what I’m talking about!) Once the flour is all combined dump the dough out onto a few long pieces of saran wrap, pat it out into a disk, wrap it up and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

At some point during those 30 minutes, you’ll need to mix the filling together. This is very simple. It’s 1/2 cup light brown sugar  and 1 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon

Now is where the tricky part comes in. Remove the dough from the fridge and divide it into 4 equal pieces. Leave one piece out and wrap and put the rest back in the fridge. Throughout my time with this cookie, I had some more and successful and some less successful rolling tactics. This is my most successful: Place a piece of saran wrap on the counter (maybe 2 pieces) and place the ball of dough in the center. Place another piece on top and roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. The rectangle should be not super wide (maybe 5 inches wide). The original recipe called for a wider base, but I think that lead to very thin dough that had too many rolls in it and it was very fragile. This tactic should be better. Remove top layer of saran wrap. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the dough, leaving 1/2 inch on the left long edge free to be the seam. Using the bottom layer of saran wrap ,tightly roll the dough towards the bare edge.

Using a dough cutter or a very sharp knife divide the roll in half and you should be able to get 5-6 cookies from each half. They should be about 1/3 to 1/2 inch each. Arrange the rolls on a cookie sheet with the cinnamon sugar center facing up. They don’t expand so you can pack them pretty tightly. Bake at 375 for 11 minutes. It’s ok if they feel a little doughy once you take them out. They will set as they cool.

This next part is optional. I think the cookies are great as is, but the recipe calls for a glaze and Geoff’s theory is “there’s no such thing as a cookie that’s too sweet.” So for the first try of these cookies I made the glaze using 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla and 3 Tbsp skim milk (though the recipe calls for whole milk, I didn”t think it was worth it to buy a container for 3 Tbsp). Mix this together and once the cookies have cooled completely, dip the face of each cookie in the glaze and let them set.

Overall, these cookies were a taste success, but looked a little off in my opinion. They had great texture though and take a lot shorter than making cinnamon buns… which is an adventure for another day. 

Happy start to the holiday season!