Homemade Cinna Minis

by Andie Mitchell on December 15, 2010

It may be odd that some of my most vivid, and favorite, memories of childhood involve skipping school. And Burger King.

It wasn’t that I didn’t like it; I did. I loved school. But I loved being home more. Or, I loved that skipping school and “feeling sick” often fell on days that Mom was home. She worked days, she worked nights, she worked weekends, and over time, and then over-over time… And then maybe she picked up a part-time shift at the Gap to buy my brother and I clothes.

So, on the rare occasion that she’d be home during a weekday, I wanted to, I need to…too. Mom’s still in her slippers and nightgown? I’ll wear my flannel onesie all day. Mom’s got a doctor’s appointment? Hey! I’ve got no plans! Mom could use a few more hours of shut-eye? Good Lord, I’m tired.

I wanted to be next to her, to smell the Clinique Happy infused in her clothing, to hear her talk about pillow shams and duvets and curtain swags and things I had absolutely no interest in whatsoever. She was precious. Our time was precious.

It was no coincidence, then, that I was sick exactly six times per semester, the maximum number of days allotted to each student before failing. I suppose, looking back, that I viewed them as personal days. Like accrued time off that would be wasted if I didn’t take advantage. And I was never one to let a good thing slip by. Not when Sally Jessy Raphael was on, then Phil Donahue, and there was fast food breakfast to be had.

Our favorite spot was Burger King. Or maybe it was just mine and she appeased me. We’d order French toast sticks and individual Tropicana orange juice cartons with those pesky un-poke-able straws, or sausage, egg, and cheese Croissan’Wiches and Crispy Crowns. But whatever drive through delicacy we chose, we always got Cinna Minis too.

It was bliss. Just thinking about it now evokes a nostalgic happiness that I can’t quite put into words.

I realize that it may seem a bit sad to proclaim such affection for a meal displayed on golden letter boards with a drive up window, as though I’m prizing airplane food above the meals I’ve eaten in restaurants with fine china, three separate forks, and a few Michelin stars, but believe me when I say that those morning meals were some of the best breakfasts of my life. Because on six special days per semester, we were together.

To this day, when I look at the clock before 10am, which is everyday (we hope), I think for at least two seconds about the fact that McDonald’s and Burger King are still serving breakfast.  I feel a sudden urge to get in the car and plug “Calorie Bomb Chain” into the GPS. I salivate.

You can imagine the way my heart palpitated, then, when I saw Alice Medrich’s recipe for “Sticky Pecan Bites” with a variation for mini cinnamon buns. Homemade Cinna Minis? I said a serenity prayer.

These bitty buns are almost unbearably delicious. They’re reminiscent of my favorite BK boxed breakfast item, but a world better. The cream biscuit dough is flaky, oh-so-tender, and buttered. The inner swirl is warmly spiced with cinnamon and gooey with caramelized brown sugar. I couldn’t help but stir together a glaze to drizzle across their golden brown coils. Frosting makes life more manageable for me.

I love that they’re tiny, or, roughly the size of a Pog for those of us who’d like to admit how cool we were in 1996. Their smallness allows you to exert a shred of portion control, to share them, to hoard them, and/or to stare at them lovingly, as I do with all cutesy things. They’re currently giving babies and puppies some stiff competition.

Here’s how you can make your own:

In a medium bowl, stir together brown sugar and cinnamon. Set that aside. Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.

Stir in the cream and mix until just combined. The dough will be soft and moist.

On a lightly floured counter top, roll out the dough using a rolling pin dusted with flour as best you can until you have a rectangle that’s roughly 12″x7″.

Smear softened butter all over the surface of the dough.

Sprinkle the brown sugar-cinnamon mixture evenly over the butter. Starting at one end (one of the 7″ sides), roll the dough up into a tight spiral.

Now use a sharp knife to cut the roll into 24 small spirals.

Place the cinnamon buns cut side up into an 8″ or 9″ greased baking pan or place one cinnamon bun into each of the cups of a greased mini muffin tin. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, until the buns turn a faint golden.

Turn the cinnamon buns out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

While the buns are cooling, make the glaze by mixing powdered sugar and a splash of milk and vanilla in a small bowl until smooth.

Drizzle the glaze over the cinnamon buns and serve immediately.

Homemade Cinna-Minis

(recipe adapted from “Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunch Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies” by Alice Medrich)

Makes 24

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

¾ cup heavy cream

2/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1 ¼ tsp. cinnamon

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon milk

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400° F. In a medium bowl, stir together brown sugar and cinnamon. Set that aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Stir in the cream and mix until just combined. The dough will be soft and moist.

On a lightly floured counter top, roll out the dough using a rolling pin dusted with flour as best you can until you have a rectangle that’s roughly 12″x7″. Smear softened butter all over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle the brown sugar-cinnamon mixture evenly over the butter. Starting at one end (one of the 7″ sides), roll the dough up into a tight spiral.

Now use a sharp knife to cut the roll into 24 small spirals. Place the cinnamon buns cut side up into an 8″ or 9″ greased baking pan or place one cinnamon bun into each of the cups of a greased mini muffin tin. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, until the buns turn a faint golden. Turn the cinnamon buns out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

While the buns are cooling, make the glaze by mixing powdered sugar with milk and vanilla in a small bowl until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the cinnamon buns and serve immediately.

These are best when eaten the day they are baked.

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

managermamma December 15, 2010 at 6:46 am

The most beautiful cinnamon rolls I’ve ever seen! Gorgeous step-by-step pictures! Here in Italy they are not known so when I make them my friends love them. I’ll try your recipe, it looks easier than mine. Bravissima!

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Can You Stay for Dinner December 15, 2010 at 8:00 am

Thank you so much!!

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Tes December 15, 2010 at 6:50 am

How adorable are those cinnamon rolls. It sounds so simple to make. I definitely have to try this :)

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Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman December 15, 2010 at 6:57 am

I love how teensy they were. I didn’t realize it until you showed one in a cupcake tin, but they’re adorable. And that was a great story. I love how you weave your personal stories into this. (Oh, and my husband totally agrees fast food breakfasts are the best, though he prefers McDonald’s.)

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Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean December 15, 2010 at 7:02 am

These look SO good! if i wasn’t home by myself I would make them but i need someone else around so i don’t eat them all!

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Heather (Heather's Dish) December 15, 2010 at 7:16 am

oh these look so gooey and yummy and amazing!

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RhodeyGirl December 15, 2010 at 7:29 am

Do you have any left? Will you take a pic of one in your hand (even a cell phone pic)?? I can’t imagine a cinna mini the size of a POG!!! that is so teeny tiny I LOVE it~!!! from these photos you can’t tell how cute and tiny they are! They look really tasty.

I love mini anything. why is that?!

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Julie @SavvyEats December 15, 2010 at 7:50 am

My family has cinnamon rolls EVERY Christmas morning…might just have to make some cute mini ones!

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Amy @ Second City Randomness December 15, 2010 at 7:55 am

I specifically remember a time where I faked sick for 2 days in a row. On sick days, my grandma watched me. It was my fun time with just me and her. Granted, she lived next door, but it was time I didn’t have to share her with my brother. :)

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Shanna, like Banana December 15, 2010 at 8:03 am

Cinn-buns are one of my fondest chilidhood memories from my Grandma. I only wish I got her recipe before she passed on =(

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Grumpy Goat December 15, 2010 at 8:31 am

Look fantastic. Any special reason why you used softened butter instead of regular melted butter? Just curious.

Thx.

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Can You Stay for Dinner December 15, 2010 at 8:46 am

Hey there! I’m sure melted butter would work well, but the softened melts into the dough slower in the oven, so that might be more beneficial to the finished product!

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Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine December 15, 2010 at 9:01 am

Oh these are adorable. I have a feeling that they’d be dangerous- anything that miniature and tasty always is!!

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spabettie December 15, 2010 at 10:30 am

these look gorgeously delicious… and I *LOVE* reading the story… very nostalgic… in high school I was on ski team, and we’d stop at McDonalds for breakfast… I would get hash browns and ketchup packets… fun food memories! :D

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Fervent Foodie December 15, 2010 at 6:31 pm

This reminds me so much of my mom and I when I was younger. We considered ourselves French-Fry-Connoisseurs. We’d go to the McDonald’s drive through and grab a supersize to share, then to Wendys for a biggie, then to the BK Lounge for a king size… all which were conveniently located in the same quarter mile stretch. And we’d contrast and compare the pros and cons of each chain’s fry recipe.

Those were the days….. :)

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Can You Stay for Dinner December 16, 2010 at 5:13 am

Ahh Mary I love that! You and your mom must have had such fun!

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M.J. Jacobsen December 15, 2010 at 9:10 pm

We have cinnamon rolls every year for Christmas breakfast…….these will be easy and fun to make! I’ll just have to make a lot to satisfy my 6’7 son!!! Great recipe!

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Can You Stay for Dinner December 16, 2010 at 5:12 am

Thanks, M.J.! What a tall son! My family, we’re all big people but not really over 6’5″!

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thecompletecookbook December 15, 2010 at 9:32 pm

Can it get any more perfect than this? :-) Mandy

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Can You Stay for Dinner December 16, 2010 at 5:11 am

Thanks so much for all of your encouragement Mandy!!

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Nicole December 16, 2010 at 3:48 am

Gasp! I have to make these as soon as possible!!

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Megan (Braise The Roof) December 16, 2010 at 8:36 am

Playing hooky really was the best feeling. Funny how things like going through the drive through are such fond memories now- for me, too! My favorite BK breakfast offering were there mini hashbrowns- can you recreate those for me, too? ;)

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Can You Stay for Dinner December 16, 2010 at 8:52 am

Be still my heart! Those crispy crowns were the end all, be all to my existence!! I’m putting on my apron now…

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patridew December 16, 2010 at 10:25 am

My daughter just started loving cinnamon rolls. I will make these and she will love me more.

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Can You Stay for Dinner December 16, 2010 at 10:45 am

Haha, I know- good food garners lots of love!

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Stephanie @cookinfanatic December 16, 2010 at 10:40 am

Homemade cinnamon rolls are the best! These minis are so cute too, love them! You seriously have some of the most fun recipes :)

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Can You Stay for Dinner December 16, 2010 at 10:45 am

Thanks Stephanie!!

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Wendy (The Local Cook) December 16, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Oh my word, that looks awesome!

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Lu December 17, 2010 at 7:40 am

I know what I’m making for Christmas morning now. Yum. I’ll even take pictures this time. I love the anecdote about sharing the time with your mom. Now, as an adult, I love to stay home with my mom and just hang out. By the way, that glaze? Can I just get an IV drip for the hubby?

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Emily December 17, 2010 at 10:13 pm

These look good!! And I cannot believe you mentioned pogs…haha…haven’t thought about those in years!! :)

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Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) December 18, 2010 at 5:27 am

Your recipes always make me stop and want to bake right away. Immediately. These look beyond amazing. :D

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Can You Stay for Dinner December 18, 2010 at 5:59 am

Thanks Sarah!!

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Decor Girl December 20, 2010 at 12:11 pm

I am just getting ready to make a family cinnamon roll recipe… You’ve inspired me to make a cute mini version. The old fashioned ones are huge and who needs to eat like that any more? I know, it’s a holiday, “need” has nothing to do with it.

Thank you.

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Online Sunshine May 9, 2011 at 1:12 pm

I have to admit, this was the first recipe of yours I’ve tried that didn’t turn out well. I’m sure it was some mistake on my end because they weren’t as small as a pog, wouldn’t fit in my mini muffin pan, and were just too sweet for us to eat.
So, I will just lick the screen and think about how good yours are.

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Reema August 10, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Hi, what can I use instead of the heavy cream? Its not always available here in the middle east. Can I use whipping cream or just milk? Thanx!

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Hannah August 31, 2011 at 8:37 pm

I used whipping cream and they turned out fine.

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Hannah August 31, 2011 at 8:36 pm

I just made these, and I can only describe them as a cinnamon roll sugar cookie. They have the consistency of a soft sugar cookie, but the taste of a cinnamon roll. There’s also a little crunch with the baked butter and brown sugar. They are quite sweet, next time I would use a little less glaze. These would be a perfect dessert after a breakfast for dinner meal. After I made them I had many instant yummmmms from my family. These are a cute little treat and I will definitely make it in the future.

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ashley December 11, 2011 at 6:59 am

I just made theese this morning. They are great! MUCH MUCH better than the ones from a can!

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d January 9, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Can these be assembled at night and baked the next day, so they are fresh out of the oven when eaten?

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Kimberly January 20, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Can I use 3/4 cup of milk instead of heavy cream?

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Susan April 16, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Sorry to burst everyone’s bubble but these came out terrible! Though I’m not a professional, I’m a good baker and most everything I try comes out quite good – these didn’t. I used a 9X9 pan and fit only 20 into the pan. They did not cook in the stated time – kept them in for longer and still seemed underdone even though the filing was gooey & starting to burn. I think the dough is simply too wet with not enough leavener. If you want to try this recipe, I suggest definitely using a cupcake tin.

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Moran June 11, 2012 at 6:45 am

they turned out pretty great to me…

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Cathy August 5, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Thanks so much for the great story, yummy recipe, and the walk down memory lane! My sisters and I used to walk pretty far in the freezing cold to and from school. On those especially cold days, my mom would have cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate waiting for us. The three of us would sit next to each other and put our toes under the radiator and Mom would put her legs across all of ours to warm them up! I will definitely give this delicious recipe a try. Thanks again! :-D

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Pattimontreal August 14, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Just discovered your site recently – seeing the cinnamon minis now I must comment. Andie, almost every day I walk past one of the most exclusive bakeries in Montreal, wholesale, and sometimes they have leftovers at very reasonable rates. It is a challenge to look the other way especially as my son (my roommate, the sweet tooth) does not like them so I would be forced to eat it myself. Imagine my delight to discover that in Belize, where I am escaping to, also loves cinnamon rolls.
These lovelies of yours look scrumptious (a 50s word??)
I have not had time to go through your entire site-do you do the photography yourself? I am IMPRESSED. You go girl!

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Vanessa September 27, 2012 at 10:56 am

These looks sooo yummy!! Can you tell me what the calorie, protein, fiber, carbs and fat count is on these?

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Judy Day October 28, 2012 at 7:28 am

These were delicious! Thanks you!

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litegal1 November 1, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Just pulled mine out of oven and popped a few in my mouth. They look absolutely adorable, but the taste is more along the lines of a sweet biscuit. Not bad – just not that lovely cinnamony bun feel to them. I did scale cream back to 2/3 cup and rolled from the 12″ side, not the 7. A snap to whip up – from prep to popping time, we’re looking at maybe 20 minutes…

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Carrie January 1, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Not only do these cinna-minis look super delicious, your narrative is so touching. I really enjoyed reading it…the recipe & pix were just a bonus.

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Becca August 19, 2013 at 2:05 am

Andie, I’m new to your blog! (Lovin’ it btw) I was just curious what the calories were and serving size? I may have looked over it. Thank you! And thank you for the recipes, inspiration, knowledge and motivation.

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