Cinnamon rolls and I kinda have a thing. You see, we’ve practically been lovers since the 3rd grade when I discovered they were the one thing the lunch ladies at my school made from scratch that actually tasted like food.
Chili and cinnamon roll days were a special occasion and only came around once every few weeks in the winter months. This meant every fourth Friday people went into an all-out flurry rushing to the cafeteria to claim their sticky prize. Little did they know I’d sidled them and was always first in line, wide-eyed gripping my tray with a silly grin on my face, waving my finger at the biggest cinnamon roll in the bunch chirping “Ooh ooh, mine mine,” at the lunch ladies. They surely hated my 10-year-old self, tragically crooked teeth and all.
What ensued next was practically material for “50 Shades of Grey.” As I sat perched on the brown plastic benches in our cafeteria I stole delicate bites of my cinnamon roll between sinfully large spoonfuls of chili and anticipated that last ooey-gooey center bite – a climax and tragic ending all in one. Once the experience drew to a close it was cold lunch city provided by mom until the next chili and cinnamon roll day came around.
I’ve tried to make cinnamon rolls from scratch before, but without my mom by my side gently instructing me at every tur they always turn out like hockey pucks – nowhere near worthy of being enveloped in creamy frosting and consumed while cuddled up in a cozy chair with a hot cup of tea. Not even close.
So my solution in the meantime? Cinnamon roll cookies. PUMPKIN cinnamon roll cookies. You know, because it’s fall and whatnot.
This caramel glaze is my mom’s super secret recipe that she would share with anyone who asks. I called her the night before I baked my cookies to copy down the instructions and once more when I was in the process of making it. I wanted to make sure it was just right; can’t bring cinnamon roll disgrace to the family name, after all.
Hmm, based on the texture, caramel flavor and how it practically slid off my whisk onto my cookies, I’d say I nailed it.
Wondering what they taste like? Imagine a delicate sugar cookie with a gooey pumpkin butter-brown sugar center and a melt-in-your mouth caramel glaze. One cookie in and you’ll already be dreaming about your next two.
These aren’t your delicate tea time, laugh with your mouth closed and legs crossed type of cookie. They’re more of a full fat chocolate milk from the can “eat like a trucker while grunting ‘yeeeee haw'” type of cookie. Get the picture? Yeah…good.
- 1 stick butter, slightly softened + 4 Tbsp for filling
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar + 4 Tbsp for filling
- 1 egg
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 4 Tbsp pumpkin butter
- 1 tsp each cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice (for filling)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C).
- Cream sugars and butter with mixer; add egg and beat until combined.
- Add dry ingredients to a sifter. Alternate adding milk and dry ingredients to the butter mixture while mixing. Then add vanilla and stir.
- Chill for 30 minutes before rolling out. Roll out into a rectangle on floured surface, spread with butter, pumpkin butter and top with brown sugar, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice.
- Carefully and tightly roll into a log, then use floss or a serrated knife to cut into equally thin slices.
- Transfer to a baking sheet (they won't spread much) and bake for 14-15 minutes, being careful not to over-bake. They will be a little tender looking, but take them out, let them rest for 3-4 minutes on the baking sheet, and them transfer them to a cooling rack.
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- splash of milk
- Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
- Add brown sugar and stir. Simmer the mixture while stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add powdered sugar and milk and stir. If you desire a thicker or thinner frosting, compensate with more milk or powdered sugar.
- Spread or pour the glaze over the cookies (I used a spoon), sprinkle with more cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice (optional) and enjoy!
- Store in an air-tight container at room temperature to keep fresh for at least 3 days.