I usually only make cinnamon rolls on special occasions. But it's fall, the season of all things pumpkin. And every time the crisp breeze rustles through the red leaves on our maple tree and stirs my hair, or the evening is chilly enough for a fire, or my husband moves closer to me on the couch and we snuggle under the same fuzzy blanket, it feels like a special occasion.
Although it's now November, Colorado weather is notoriously mercurial, and we may still have a few 70-degree days ahead. But it snowed for the first time yesterday morning, and with darkness falling before I even leave work at the end of the day, it feels like fall is slowly drifting towards winter already. The snow melted after a few hours, when the sun came out, and now I'm looking forward to the first real snow on a Saturday morning, one that falls quietly all day while we're cozy inside by the fire.
I always make cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning, and then again just once or twice throughout the year, but a few weekends ago all I could think about was cinnamon rolls, soft, warm and yeasty, their cinnamon and sugar swirled centers filled with creamy pumpkin. The night before, I mixed up the dough and let it rise overnight, so that the next morning all I had to do was roll out the dough, spread it with melted butter and pumpkin, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, and let the rolls rise a little more while the oven heated.
Instead of a glaze, I spread their swirled tops with an ever-so-lightly-sweetened cream cheese frosting, and the tangy frosting was perfectly complementary to the sweet rolls.
Usually, I'll scramble some eggs for breakfast, rather than just eat something sweet, but these mini rolls were so perfect on their own with hot coffee, that I couldn't help but forego my usual side of eggs and just eat two or three of these.
In our pantry, I keep coffee beans in an old yellow plastic canister, given to me by my mom. My husband usually makes the coffee on weekend mornings, and if I'm still in bed when he gets up, I love listening to him scoop out the beans for grinding and the hiss and steam of the coffee maker as it percolates. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee that follows, and bacon, too, if I'm lucky, is enough to get me out of bed. I think of all the mornings that canister has seen over the years, and that I'll probably always use it for my coffee beans. Why buy something new when that has so many memories?
Mini Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
- 2/3 cup whole milk, warmed to between 110 and 115 degrees F.
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 packet active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons soft butter
- 1 egg
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons soft butter
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- pinch salt
Measure the milk into a saucepan or microwaveable dish, add the raisins, and warm to between 110-115 degrees F. Pour into the bowl of your stand mixer. Sprinkle with the sugar and yeast, and let stand for 5 minutes until foamy. Add the remaining ingredients, reserving 1/2 cup of the flour. Mix with the dough hook until combined, then knead on medium speed for 7-8 minutes, gradually adding the remaining 1/2 cup flour, until smooth and the dough pulls away from the bowl.
Place in a greased bowl, cover with a towel, and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about an hour (or you can leave on the counter overnight).
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick, into a long rectangle measuring 24 inches long by 8 inches wide. Brush with the melted butter, spread with the pumpkin, then sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon.
Roll the dough up to form a log 24 inches long. Use a sharp knife, dipping it in flour as needed, to cut into 24 1-inch rolls.
Grease a mini muffin pan (it should have 24 molds) and place the cinnamon rolls cut side up in the pan. (If you don't have a mini muffin pan, just place them an inch or two apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.) Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest and rise again for about 30 minutes while you preheat the oven.
Preheat the oven to 350. Bake the rolls for 13-15 minutes until golden brown.
Use an electric mixer to beat the frosting ingredients until smooth and creamy.
Remove the rolls from the oven. Let cool for about 5 minutes, then spread with the frosting. Serve the rolls warm.
Yields 24 (2-3 per person)
Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen