Spicy Sticky Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing. (Faith Durand / January 22, 2014)


A winter tradition in my family when I was growing up was my mother's warm and yeasty cinnamon rolls. Prepared ahead of time but baked in the morning, they had a way of enticing people out of bed. My brothers anticipated them eagerly and devoured them instantly.

I love her recipe and use it too, especially when we have overnight guests, since these rolls are so easy to make ahead and bake off in a few minutes. This recipe makes two dozen rolls, and I like to make a full batch but freeze half of them for impromptu brunches.

I do add my own twists; I like to go beyond cinnamon and add a few extra spices for aroma and taste. Star anise, cardamom, coriander -- they add a little something special.

These cinnamon rolls are sweet, spicy, and decadent, and they can satisfy those who want a crunchy sugar glaze on the bottom and creamy icing on top. All it takes (all it ever takes, really) is a little extra butter and a little extra sugar. These are not a breakfast for those on a diet and are not a good idea to make every weekend. But when you're making cinnamon rolls, in my opinion it's best to go all out -- they're a generous treat for family mornings, a tradition from my family to yours.

Spicy Sticky Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

Makes 24 rolls

For the dough:

2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast

1 1/4 cup milk, lightly warmed

1/2 cup sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon salt

4 1/2 - 5 cups flour

For the filling:

4 small cinnamon sticks

1 star anise pod