Growing up, mall food was a thing of luxury to me. You know, Chinese parents. In the same way that going to the movies meant enjoying buttery popcorn by smell, I could only enjoy the flavors of Cinnabon and Mrs. Field’s Cookies through their intoxicating scents, inhaling deeply the way I imagine Charlie did when walking past Mr. Wonka’s gates. Looking back, I’m glad my parents didn’t spoil me by buying me whatever I wanted. But I’m equally glad I can spoil myself by making whatever I want, now.
Several years ago, Ben and I plotted to visit the local mall to get a special Cinnabon-y treat. For some reason, it had come to mind and we were both craving it. When we arrived, mouths watering and splurge-ready (I’m pretty sure mall food will feel like a splurge for the rest of my life), we were distraught to find that it had closed right before we arrived! Noooooo!!!!
On the way home, disappointed and hungry for sweets, I decided we could just make it ourselves. I looked it up and found a promising recipe– “Clone of a Cinnabon” on allrecipes.com. Unfortunately, the instructions required a breadmaker. There’s probably an easy workaround, but I’m no bread master, so I had to study the comments to figure it out. Here is the resulting recipe after reading dozens of comments and reviews! I also increased the proportion of filling and icing. Noms. It breaks my 8-ingredient preference (although you should have most of the pantry items already), but trust me– it’s worth it. So deliciously worth it!
The ooey gooey cinnamony and buttery brown sugar filling screams comfort food, and the cream cheese icing is just a melty glob of lip-smacking yum! I add a splash of lemon juice to my frosting to give it a little zing. Most people can’t tell what it is, but it gives it that extra something that makes it really finger-licking delicious! My favorite is the very middle, where you have the highest ratio of sweet filling to bread, and can wipe up all the extra frosting into one marvelous final bite. Sigh.
You can make these the night before and refrigerate them, then pop them into the oven the next morning. You can also freeze them and thaw them in the refrigerator the night before you plan to make them, so it’s a great make-ahead treat as well!
There are few things better than waking up to the warm scent of brown sugar, butter and cinnamon wafting through your room! It’s a perfect way to wake your loved ones on a Saturday morning, and also reheats wonderfully in the microwave for a midnight snack!
Clone of a Cinnabon Recipe
adapted from the recipe on allrecipes.com
To chill ahead of time or freeze:
Refrigerate: After shaping the rolls and placing them in the greased pan, let it rest, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, place them into a cold 350ºF oven to bake for 25-30 minutes. There is no need to let them sit out.
Freeze: The unbaked rolls also freeze well: cut, freeze, then place in plastic bag for later use. When ready to use frozen rolls, let thaw in refrigerator overnight first. In the morning, place them into a cold 350ºF oven to bake for 25-30 minutes. You can also make the icing ahead of time, then spoon it onto waxed paper to freeze in individual portions. Once frozen, wrap individually in plastic wrap and store in a freezer bag and then thaw when ready to use.