Meet the all-time American fave - a cinnamon roll. It's a sweet wonder of mine created with dough, cinnamon, sugar, and butter. In the U.S., cinnamon rolls are often iced with vanilla-type frosting. At Lake Tahoe you can find cinnamon rolls pre-made and packaged at the market, at Cinnabon stores, and in a tube to keep refrigerated until you pop it open and whip up the rolls yourself. I chose to combine the tube and home-style method.
Last week while grocery shopping at our friendly Safeway, I stopped by Starbucks and gawked at a sweet cinnamon roll. I almost ordered a few to go with my bag of whole grain bread and pasta, fruits and vegetables. But I pondered: "I can make these at home and add caveman-type fruits and nuts." So, I left the store and was roll-less yet I knew I'd get my cinnamon roll fix sooner than later.
On Wednesday morning I grabbed a pre-packaged tube of cinnamon rolls out of the fridge. At first, I had a brief moment of guilt and thought, "Gosh, on Sunday mornings my mom used to make these puppies from scratch." Then I got a flash of reality and mumbled, "I'd rather work and chill than make homemade dough." So, I compromised and grabbed a mixed-up collection of healthy toppings. I tossed the canned frosting. "I'm going to make my own cream cheese icing," I announced out loud to my best friend, Simon the Brittany with a heart of gold and who still misses his best dog pal. While my dog went to work on a new squeaky bone, it was my job to give these rolls a fresh spin and enjoy them fresh and warm out of the oven.
Semi-Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
1 package tube, refrigerated cinnamon rolls
1 cup (each) raisins, dried cranberries, chocolate chips (60 percent cacao content), walnuts
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put round-shaped cinnamon rolls on a nonstick cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. Sprinkle with fruit, chocolate, and/or nuts. Mix it up. Bake for about 12 minutes or till bottom of rolls are golden brown. Drizzle with frosting. Makes 8. Serve warm or freeze.
Real Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup cream cheese, whipped
2 tablespoons European style butter, melted
1/4 cup organic 2 percent low-fat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 to 2 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice, fresh
In a bowl, mix butter, cream cheese, and milk with an electric mixer or blender. Add the sugar, extract, and lemon.
OK, so here's the lowdown on my 21st century cinnamon rolls. They may not be as yummy as Cinnabon's delights, but they come close. The melted chocolate and new raisins gave these rolls a nice touch. The add-ons provided plenty of variety. The best part is without doubt the fresh cream cheese frosting with a taste of lemon. I ate one (OK, two) and paired them with a cup of hot chamomile tea. I froze the rest of these cuties to serve with hot coffee (lots of it) on a future cold, winter morning (probably many of them) to wake up to a warm surprise that'll perk me up (and Simon) like cinnamon rolls with a fresh twist.
Motto: Cinnamon rolls are like life. You can grab a quick fix or create something good by yourself with a bit of patience to make it extra special.
- Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include "The Healing Powers" series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. (The Healing Powers of Honey and Coffee are offered by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is www.calorey.com.