Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls

13 Sep

With the slightly cool weather, I’ve been obsessed with kind of hooked on apples.  I can’t wait to go to an apple orchard and load up on an insane amount of apple-y goodness!  Since I’ve already made my trusty apple crisp, I thought I’d branch out and try a new recipe.  Enter these tasty treats.

Breakfast is supposedly the most important meal of the day, so why not make it delicious?  One of these puppies, along with some coffee (or this autumn magic in a box) makes a long day of work a lot easier to start.

I made these on a Friday night for a Sunday morning breakfast, so I followed the instructions for retarding the dough in the fridge.  They were still fabulous.  I also ended up freezing the frosted and completely cooled leftovers by wrapping them in foil then sealing them in a freezer bag.  When you’re ready to eat them, take them out of the freezer the night before, letting them thaw on the counter, then nuke them before eating.  This is a great option for those times when you have surprise guests or you just need a boost to get your morning started.

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Recipe ever-so-slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats

Makes 8-12 large cinnamon rolls or 12-16 smaller rolls

Ingredients:

Cinnamon Rolls:
6½ T. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
5½ T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg, slightly beaten
3½ cups flour
2 tsp. instant yeast
1 cup plus 2-4 T. whole milk or buttermilk, room temperature

Filling:
1½ T. unsalted butter
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch slices
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp. cornstarch
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
Pinch salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 T. plus 1 tsp. sugar
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon

Glaze:
4 oz. cream cheese
1 T. unsalted butter
3 T. caramel sauce
1 T. milk
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar

Directions:

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter on medium-high speed until smooth.  Mix in the egg until incorporated.  Mix in the flour, yeast and milk until a dough forms.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed, about 8 minutes until the dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky.  (You may need to add a little extra flour or liquid to achieve this texture.)  Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, make the filling.  To make the caramelized apples, melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the apple slices, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Mix until the apples are evenly coated.  Cook about 18 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.  Set aside to cool.  In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon to blend; set aside.

Mist a work surface with spray oil.  Roll it out into a rectangle with a rolling pin, lightly dusting the dough with flour if needed to keep it from sticking (about 12 x 14 inches for larger rolls or 9 x 18 inches for smaller rolls).  Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and mix to blend.  Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the surface of the dough.  Evenly distribute the caramelized apples over the top of the dough.  Starting with the wide edge, roll up the dough into a cigar-shaped log, creating a cinnamon sugar spiral as you roll.  Pinch the seam shut, and with the seam side down, slice the log into your desired number of rolls.  Transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, placing the rolls about ½-1 inch apart.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature 75-90 minutes, until the rolls have grown into each other and have nearly doubled in size.  At this point, the rolls can also be covered and retarded in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.  Pull the pan out of the refrigerator 3-4 hours before baking to let the dough proof.

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown.  Let cool in the baking about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

To make the glaze, combine the cream cheese and butter in a small heatproof bowl and microwave in 15-20 second intervals until it is warm enough to whisk together.  Whisk in the caramel sauce, milk and vanilla extract until smooth.  Whisk in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth.   Swirl the glaze over the top of the cinnamon rolls.  Let cool at least 15-20 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

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