Vanilla latte cinnamon rolls infuse the coffee house flavor of a vanilla latte into a sweet, gooey cinnamon roll. They make a delicious weekend breakfast treat!
This post was recently updated with fresh photos. The recipe remains as delicious as ever!
Perhaps the thing that I love most about food is that every recipe has a story all its own. Every dish invokes a feeling of emotion brought on by an ingredient, an aroma, or the flavor. Food brings comfort.
When I’m developing a new recipe, something has often driven me to combine specific flavors. Inspiration can come in many forms, be it a memory, a trip to the Farmer’s Market, or as in this case, a Friend.
When I began blogging just under two years ago, I had no idea how many truly wonderful people that I would meet. I honestly thought that only my husband and immediate family would read this little blog, so when the rest of y’all showed up, I was thrilled–to say the least. Even more surprising are the friendships that have begun over reading about each others lives. Whether you are a Blogger or not, thanks for hanging out with me. I love ya like my own!
Wanna know who else I love? Jeanne. Girlfriend & I get along so well that she’s like my Sister from another Mister. (And Mrs., for that matter.) If you haven’t stopped by Jeanne’s place yet, you really should. To know her is to love her. Her kind heart and Laugh at Life attitude is truly infectious. Jeanne’s the kind of gal that will surprise you with an apron in the mail because she saw some fabric that reminded her of you. She also sends hilarious cards or goodies just to let you know that she was thinking of you–even though you are in near daily contact with each other. Jeanne’s that kind of friend.
Then I might go ahead and surprise her with a custom pie pan from the talented Kace. Jeanne & I are Pie Gals through and through. Now we can bake All the Things in matching pie plates, even though we’re separated by miles.
Being that I live in the (now) Great White North, and Jeanne lives in the Very Tropical South, we often talk about how cool it is when we can get together and hang out on the front porch. We’re fortunate enough to visit at least once a year. I love the internet for bringing her into my life.
These Vanilla Latte Cinnamon Rolls are inspired by the thoughts of those days. So these are for you, Jeanne–my sweet friend and lover of Vanilla Lattes. One day soon, we’ll be sitting on the porch stuffing ourselves with cinnamon rolls, sipping steamy mugs of chai, and watching the world go by.
As for the rest of you–no worries! Cinnamon rolls are on the house! I made enough to share. 🙂
By the way, today happens to be Jeanne’s birthday! So, if you’ve got a minute and want to pop over to her blog to wish her a Happy Birthday, that would be Mighty Awesome of you!
Now let’s make Vanilla Latte Cinnamon Rolls!
This recipe is made over 2 days, and three steps: dough, filling, and icing. None of the steps are overly complicated, so don’t let the two-day-think freak you out! The extra time is just for the dough to chill out in the refrigerator. Actual hands-on time the first day is less than 30 minutes. Cool? Good.
Let’s start with the sweet dough:
Pour the milk and half & half into a Dutch oven…or, a wide bottomed pot of some sort.
Add the sugar…
then pour in a little canola oil, and set it over medium heat.
Whisk to emulsify the oil into the milk mixture.
Slice a whole vanilla bean lengthwise, and scrape the caviar from the inside of the bean.
Wrap the vanilla bean caviar in plastic wrap so that it doesn’t dry out. This will serve as the flavor base for the icing.
Float the (now) empty vanilla beans in the pot–this will infuse a layer of vanilla flavor into the dough.
Continue to heat, whisking occasionally until the mixture just comes to the beginnings of a boil. You will see tiny bubbles and a little foam form around the inside edges of the pot. The (just barely) boiling breaks down the enzymes in the milk that will otherwise inhibit the yeast from doing it’s thing and getting the dough to rise. Flat cinnamon rolls are a real bummer, man!
Whatever you do, do not allow the milk mixture to come to a vigorous boil, or the half & half may start to separate. Separated half & half is also a big bummer.
So after the milk mixture has come to a (not vigorous) boil, turn off the heat, and fish out the vanilla bean hulls. I’d love to say that you can use the bean hulls for another application, but after swimming around in milk products, I’m afraid that you’ll have to pitch ’em.
Allow the milk mixture to cool to lukewarm, that is to say–still a bit warm to the touch, but definitely not hot. Think of the temperature that you might heat the contents of a baby’s bottle for a feeding.
Not that I have much experience with heating baby bottles because my boys were very Anti-Bottle, but that is (NOT) a story for another time. 😉 Moving on…
And I totally apologize for the Nursing Babies reference in the middle of a food post. I don’t know what came over me.
Once the milk mixture has cooled to lukewarm, set a large mesh strainer over the pot and add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to the strainer. Sift the dry ingredients through the strainer and over the milk.
Sprinkle the yeast over the whole she-bang. I almost always use Rapid Rise yeast or Instant yeast because they are more feisty and get to work fast. Active Dry yeast will also work.
Stir the dough together with a wooden spoon until everything is well combined. The dough will be sticky but not super wet. Drape a clean towel over the pot. Allow to rise in a warm, draft-free area until the dough is doubled in bulk–between 1 to 2 hours, depending on how frisky your yeast is feeling that day.
Truth: Once the dough has completed the initial rise, it can be used at anytime.
More truth: The dough is much easier to handle and well behaved if you pop a lid on the pot, and refrigerate the risen dough overnight. The dough will rise a little more, and the dough will be less sticky because the flour will have absorbed more of the wet stuff. I highly recommend overnight refrigeration.
Helpful Tip: Take the butter and cream cheese required for the filling and icing out of the ‘fridge that night so that it’s ready to go in the morning.
In the morning, take the dough out of the refrigerator, and let it sit in the pot at room temperature while you whip up the filling and icing.
Blend the filling ingredients well with a hand mixer.
Set the filling aside while you tackle the icing.
Be sure the both the melted butter and brewed coffee have cooled to room temperature before making the icing.
Place the softened cream cheese in a bowl with the powdered sugar, and then pour the half & half, melted butter and coffee over top.
Add the vanilla bean caviar and half & half to the bowl. The vanilla bean caviar will give the icing a robust vanilla flavor that can’t be replicated with vanilla extract. Besides, you end up with all those cool vanilla bean specks in the icing, so you know exactly what you are getting.
Blend the icing with a hand mixer until it is smooth and creamy. The icing is perfectly pourable, which is exactly how we like it. I double-dog-dare you to try not to eat a spoonful of the icing. It’s inevitable. Make peace with that fact.
Finally! We are ready to assemble the cinnamon rolls! Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Generously grease four 9-inch pie plates with cold, unsalted butter. I end up using a total of about 1/2 tablespoon.
Clean and dry your work surface (read: counter.) I spray mine with equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water, mixed with a few drops of essential oil. Spray the counter. Wipe clean. Dry with another cloth. Done.
Generously dust the counter with flour so that the dough doesn’t stick.
Turn the dough onto the prepared work surface, dusting the top with flour. Roll the dough into a 24″ x 8″ rectangle-Ish. Don’t go getting out your rulers and straight-edges on me! Just eye-ball it, and it’ll be just fine.
Use and offset spatula to spread the filling evenly over the dough.
Keep the filling to within 1/2″ of the edges of the dough so that it stays nicely tucked inside later on.
Now if your counter is anything like mine, the pesky dough will stick a little bit regardless of how much flour I through down ahead of time. If this happens to you, gently loosen the edges with a bench scraper or thin spatula. Keep the scraper (or spatula) handy in case the middle sticks, too.
Tightly roll the dough over the filling, beginning on the longest side opposite you, and rolling toward yourself.
Take your time to make sure that the roll is nice and tight. We don’t want any loosey-goosey cinnamon rolls around here! Pinch the edges closed to seal in the buttery filling.
Slice the roll into 1″ pieces, and set them in the prepared pie plates. I usually get 24 pieces, or 6 cinnamon rolls per plate. Except for when I get 22 pieces, and end up with 2 plates with 6 cinnamon rolls and 2 plates with 5 cinnamon rolls.
I try not to let that bother me. 😉
Let the cinnamon rolls rest in the pie plates for 10 minutes before baking.
Bake at 350° F for 16 to 18 minutes or until they are lightly golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
Pour the icing over the warm cinnamon rolls.
Use an offset spreader to ensure maximum icing coverage over the cinnamon rolls.
The benefit of pouring icing over warm vanilla latte cinnamon rolls is that it gives the icing an opportunity to nestle in the grooves.
Cinnamon rolls swimming in icing is a very good thing.
Happy Birthday, Jeanne! I hope you all enjoy the Vanilla Latte Cinnamon Rolls. I can’t wait to bake a batch with you again very soon!
By the way, vanilla latte cinnamon rolls freeze beautifully! I tell you how to do it in the printable recipe: