Cinnamon Roll Cookies

Cinnamon is my favorite spice. It feels bold to type those words out on the page, but I sense it's the truth. Cinnamon reminds me of late autumn afternoons, when the sky is darkening, the air is crisp, and the leaves on the trees mimic the shades of the rainbow. Cinnamon reminds me of my mother's homemade rice dishโ€”creamy, sweet, and covered with a thick layer of spice. Cinnamon reminds me of apple cider and spiced wine, close friends, and cozy evenings.

I'm finally ready for fall.

There has been a long running debate in my house over cinnamon rolls and caramel rolls. It's a bit of a silly debate to have in the first place; either roll is welcome in our home and eaten without complaint. However, if push comes to shove, our opinions emerge and are freely given. My family prefers the richness of a caramel roll, drowned in a thick layer of its namesake, while I am fond of cinnamon rolls, tender and covered in a lovely cream cheese glaze. Homemade and hot from the oven, though, it's hard to go wrong with either option.

I told you it was a silly debate.

The weather has been quickly in decline the last week, with cooler temperatures and windy evenings. Cool weather makes me feel like baking and, since I've been avoiding the oven for much of the summer, the yeast was calling me from the refrigerator. There is something about the feel of dough beneath my fingers and the scent of yeast hanging in the air that has a calming effect on me. Without much thought, I found myself whipping up a batch of cinnamon rolls. However, instead of leaving myself with a pan of large rolls I could never hope to enjoy all by myself, I cut the dough thinly and baked the rolls on their sides, turning the classic rolls into sweet cookies I can share with everyone.

A few seconds in the microwave elevate these cookies into a warm, sticky sweetness I adore.

Cinnamon Roll Cookies are full of sweetness and cinnamon and fall. The cookies are essentially cinnamon roll dough, cut thinly and baked. The cookies crisp up around the outside, but stay soft and tender on the inside resulting in a classic cinnamon roll flavor with a new texture. The cookies are made with yeast and do take a bit of time to put together, but I think the end result is definitely worth the trouble. The recipe is easily doubled if more cookies are on the menu.

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Cinnamon Roll Cookies

Yields about 18 cookies

Cinnamon Roll Dough
1/4 cup (59 ml) lukewarm water
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup (56 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups (188 grams) all-purpose flour

In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast on top of the lukewarm water and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes. Stir in the melted butter, sugar, lightly beaten egg, and salt. Add the flour gradually until incorporated.

On a lightly floured surface, turn out the dough and knead until elastic (about 5-7 minutes). If the dough is too sticky to work with, add more flour until the dough becomes workable, but be careful not to add too much or the rolls will become tough. Alternatively, you may use a stand mixer to knead the dough using the dough hook attachment.

Cover the dough with a clean dish towel and allow the dough to rise in a warm location for 1-2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.

Punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a 15 by 12-inch rectangle.

3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar, for sprinkling

In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar, cinnamon, melted butter, and salt until uniform. Spread the cinnamon filling evenly over the rolled out dough, keeping a 1/2-inch border around the edges.

Begin rolling the longest sides of the dough rectangle towards the center so that they meet in the middle. Using a sharp knife, cut off the ends of the dough and toss. Continue cutting the roll into 1/2-inch thick segments.

Place the cookies on a parchment-covered baking sheet at least 2-inches apart and cover with a kitchen towel to rise until doubled in size (about 20-30 minutes).

Preheat oven to 375 F (190 degrees C).

Sprinkle cookies with granulated sugar and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the cookies are golden. Allow to cool slightly before digging in.