Who doesn’t love a bit of cinnamon at the holidays? Here’s a recipe for Cinnamon Roll Cookies, one of the nine recipes all made from the same easy vanilla dough that we featured in the annual Cookie Corner holiday recipes.
Here are some tips for the cookie baker:
▪ Check all your supplies ahead of time, particularly your spices, which should be fragrant. Replace them if they’re not.
▪ I use parchment paper on my baking pans, which eases removal of the baked cookies. This buttery recipe doesn’t require greased pans.
▪ It’s very important here that the butter be softened but not melted, so that air can be whipped into it. Don’t use the microwave to soften butter.
Basic vanilla dough
Makes 30-40 cookies, depending on which variety is chosen
This basic recipe is adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens 2016 Christmas Cookies magazine. Note: Gluten-free 1-for-1 baking flour, such as the Bob’s Red Mill variety, also works; see notes under the cinnamon roll cookie variation, where I tested it.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
In a large bowl, beat the butter with a mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add the sugar and salt, and continue beating on high for 2 minutes, scraping bowl as needed. Stir in the egg and vanilla until combined.
Blend in the flour, 1 cup at a time, until thoroughly incorporated.
Depending on what you want to do next, either wrap the whole batch or the divided dough in plastic wrap and chill it, or wrap it and freeze to use later.
The dough freezes well but remember there is a lot of butter in it, and it will be very solid, requiring more time to defrost than you might guess.
Cinnamon roll cookies (with gluten-free option)
Makes about 4 dozen
This was the recipe I used to test a gluten-free cookie, adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens version. It worked beautifully, though the basic dough was just slightly drier than the one made with regular flour. The cookies were a hit and no one was the wiser than they were gluten-free.
Note: I rolled out the dough on a flour-covered baking cloth, then used the cloth to help roll up the filled dough.
One batch basic vanilla dough, made (if desired) with 1-for-1 gluten-free baking flour mix, such as Bob’s Red Mill brand
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or more cinnamon)
Cream cheese icing:
2 ounces softened cream cheese
1 tablespoon softened butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons milk
Make sure the basic dough has been chilled at least 30 minutes. On a flour-covered surface, roll dough into a 15-by-10-inch rectangle. Brush dough with egg. Stir together the sugar and spices; sprinkle evenly over the dough. Roll up from a long side.
Place roll, seam side down, on baking sheet or tray, cover and freeze about 30 minutes or until very firm. (Alternately, wrap roll tightly in wax paper, then plastic, and freeze until ready to bake.)
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees. (If dough has been frozen more than 1 hour, remove from freezer before preheating oven.) Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Slice roll into 1/4-inch slices. (I use a finely serrated knife.) Place cookies 2 inches apart on prepared sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
Cool on cookie sheets 1 minutes. Remove; cool on wire racks. Top cookies with cream cheese icing.
To make icing: Beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Beat in the powdered sugar and enough milk to make desired consistency. Spread on cooled cookies.