The smell of cinnamon sugar means Christmas is coming. Every December, my mother bakes her famous cinnamon rolls. She spends a weekend turning out batches of them, baking them in round cake pans. Her cinnamon rolls are the best I've ever had: thin and nearly crisp at the edges. They're tightly coiled with intensely buttery spirals of cinnamon sugar, and nothing like the pillowy frosted behemoths you find in airports.
She wraps them in aluminum foil and ties each one with waxy red ribbon. We'd drive around to friends and neighbors to drop them off; nothing makes people smile like warm, homemade baked goods. This little act encompasses all the best parts of the holidays: sharing, gifting, enjoying delicious food.
This year, I'm channeling my mother and making sweet rolls, too. But instead of spreading the dough with melted butter and showering it with cinnamon sugar, I'm spreading mine with cookie butter. If you've never had cookie butter, take a look in your grocery store. Most shops carry it now and after one bite, you'll quickly understand why it's gained such a cult following. Made from crushed speculaas cookies (a crunchy, spiced Dutch holiday cookie), it has the texture of peanut butter and a caramelized sweetness that manages to be creamy, decadent, and festive all at once.
I use a simple and easy-to-roll-out yeast dough, which is a perfect one to master for riffing on this recipe. You can swap out the cookie butter filling for jam, Nutella, or peanut butter. You could top the cookie butter with toasted chopped nuts or toasted coconut flakes or even chocolate chips. You can use the dough for a monkey bread or a pull-apart loaf, or even just simple sweet rolls to spread with butter.
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These cookie butter rolls freeze beautifully; having a few batches on hand in the freezer is a wise move for the holidays. Just pop one in the oven to warm it up and serve it for breakfast on Christmas morning. I can't think of a nicer gift.
(And psst: You can find a video of me making these sweet rolls right here.)
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