Words cannot begin to describe how utterly sinful and delicious these rolls were. I miss them so much. *tear* While they take a bit of time to make, I highly suggest you make these NOW!
I prepared the dough the night before and then baked the rolls the next day. They tasted just as good the next day and the next. If you’re planning on having them around longer than that, I suggest freezing them without the icing. In fact, I only put the icing on my rolls when they are being served.
Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls
For the Dough:
1 package or 2 1/4 tsp of active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon, plus 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk or half-n-half at room temperature
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more for kneading
3/4 teaspoon salt
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan (or spray)
For the Filling:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans (I omitted)
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts (I omitted)
1/4 cup raisins (I doubled)
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 Tablespoons maple syrup (I subbed 1 Tbsp each of honey and corn syrup)
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
For the Icing:
1 1/2 – 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup buttermilk (?? I wasn’t sure about using buttermilk, and I didn’t have whole milk, so I used half-n-half)
Making the Dough:
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine yeast, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1/4 cup water heated to 115 degrees F. Stir to combine and let sit until frothy and foamy, about 10 minutes.
Add remaining sugar, milk, light brown sugar, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk. Beat with a wire whisk until well combined. Fit the bowl onto the mixer, fitting with the dough hook attachment. Add the flour and salt and mix on medium speed until the dough just begins to come together. Turn the machine on medium-high and knead the dough for 4 minutes.
Add the butter and continue to knead for about 6 minutes. The dough will the wet and sticky. Place the dough on a well-floured work surface, and knead about 1/3 cup all-purpose flour into the dough. Don’t worry, the dough still might be a little sticky. It’s ok. Just set the dough to rest in a large greased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
While the dough rises, make the filling. Combine the sugar, dark brown sugar, pecans, walnuts, raisins, cinnamon, salt and cloves in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Stir in the maple syrup. Set aside.
When the dough has doubled in size, dump if from the bowl onto a heavily-floured work surface. Gently knead the dough until it is no longer sticky, adding more flour as needed (about 3 Tablespoons of flour). Work the dough for about 1 or 2 minutes. Once it’s no longer sticky, place a kitchen towel over the dough and let rest for 5 minutes before you roll it out.
Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 10 x 10-inch square.
In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese with an offset knife until it’s smooth and spreadable.
Spread the cream cheese evenly over the dough square. Fold the square into thirds like you would fold a letter to fit into an envelope. Take the open ends of the rectangle and fold into thirds again, to make a smaller dough square. (There are detailed photos of this process on Joy’s site)
Invert the dough so that the seam is face down and, using the rolling pin, gently roll it into a 10 x 20-inch rectangle. You make find that some cream cheese sneaks through. Be as gently as possible with the dough, but continue to work it until you reach the size you need.
Turn the dough so that the short sides are parallel to you. You’re going to roll from the short sides of the dough.
Brush the top of the dough with half of the melted butter. We’ll use the rest of the butter after the rolls are baked.
Pour all of the filling onto the dough. Spread evenly, leaving a 1-inch boarder at one of the short edges of the dough so the roll can be properly sealed. Lightly press the filling into the dough.
Using your hands, lift up the bottom edge of the dough and roll it forward into a tight cylinder. Place dough cylinder seam side down on a cutting board. Using a sharp, thin knife, trim off the uneven edges (This step is optional. I kept everything).
Cut cylinder into 8 equal slices (I used sewing string to cut them nicely without squishing down the rolls). Nestle the slices, cut side up and evenly spaced in a butter 9 x 13-inch (light colored) metal baking dish. Cover pan with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to let rise for 2 hours. You may also refrigerate rolls overnight.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Uncover the rolls. If you refrigerated the rolls, let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before baking. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
Make the icing: While the rolls are baking, whisk together the sugar and buttermilk, milk, or half-n-half in a small bowl until smooth.
Transfer the pan of cinnamon rolls to a cooling rack. Brush with remaining butter (I used 2 Tbsp). Let cool for 5 minutes. Dip the tines of a fork into the icing and drizzle over the rolls. Serve immediately.