Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Mascarpone Icing

First, let me ask you to please forgive me. I feel I should be, as tomorrow is Thanksgiving, talking about pomegranate glazed turkey or rosemary mashed potatoes, but I'm not. See, we woke up the other morning to about an inch of snow--our first snow of the season!--and my attention was pulled...

I love Albuquerque snow. Like Santa or the tooth fairy, it is rather shy and tends to arrive in the middle of the night when there are no witnesses. I'll wake up in the morning and feel a certain charge in the air, like something is different, like something big happened during the night, and, sure enough, I will discover that the world is covered in soft white powder. The best part is that the snow usually melts off the roads and sidewalks by mid-day so there is hardly a need to own a snow shovel. (Although, just for the record we did pick up a snow shover at an estate sale a few years back.) 

I woke up at three o'clock Sunday morning with that familiar excited feeling. I quietly slid out of bed, tip-toed across the cold hard-wood floors, past the snoring dogs, and pulled back our bedroom curtain a crack to peek outside. Sure enough, everything was dusted with snow. I was so excited that I jumped back into bed and woke Colin up to tell him. Needless to say, we were up early to enjoy the snow. And what is better on a cold snowy morning then fresh warm cinnamon rolls?

As luck would have it, I started a batch of overnight cinnamon rolls the night before. We never have cinnamon rolls for breakfast because they usually take hours and hours to prepare but, fortunately, I found an overnight recipe. 

I got everything ready the previous evening. I mixed the dough, let it rise, rolled it out, slathered it with butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar, rolled it up into a log, cut the rolls, placed them in a baking dish, and put them in the refrigerator to rise slowly overnight. So when our snowy Sunday morning rolled around all I had to do was let them sit on the counter for a half an hour and then cook them. In about an hour of waking up, and with minimal effort on my part, we were drinking hot coffee, eating fresh-from-the-oven cinnamon rolls, and watching the snow fall.

I usually make a sticky bun topping for my cinnamon rolls with sugar, corn syrup, and pecans but that is more of dessert than a breakfast dish, so this time I decided to be different. I promised you all that I would show you what to do with all that wonderful mascarpone cheese you've been making, and here is: I thought I would make a variation of the cream cheese icing by substituting mascarpone cheese (which is milder and more delicate than cream cheese), sweetened with pure maple syrup.

The cinnamon rolls were tender, moist, and flaky and not overly sweet (I can't stand anything too sweet for breakfast). The mascarpone icing was also delicious; it added a creamy, maple-laced sweetness to the rolls. The icing began to melt into the hot rolls like butter as soon as it was spread on. This recipe make twelve rolls and they were gone before the snow could even melt off the driveway!

But, don't feel you have to wait for snow to make these. Start and batch tonight and you've got a delicious and easy holiday breakfast tomorrow. Whatever your Thanksgiving plans are, I hope you have a safe and wonderful holiday!

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Mascarpone Icing (adapted from Alton Brown)
makes 12 rolls

For the dough:
3/4 cup buttermilk
4 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 1/2 to 4 cups of all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

For the filling:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (you could double this amount if you like your rolls sweeter)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped (optional)

For the icing:
2 tablespoons, more or less to taste, pure maple syrup 

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, mix the buttermilk, egg yolks, egg, sugar and butter until just combined. Add 2 cups of the flour, dry yeast, and salt and mix until moist and combined. Switch to a dough hook and on slow speed add another cup of flour. Continue to add flour 2 tablespoons at a time until dough forms a ball and pulls cleanly away from the side of the bowl but is not too dry. Continue to mix for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Turn the dough on a surface dusted with four and knead for 30 seconds. 

Form the dough into a ball a place in a large clean bowl. Put a plate over the bowl and place in a warm draft-free area. Check the dough to see if it is fully risen after about a hour and a half. To check the dough gently poke the center of the dough ball 1/2 inch deep with a wet finger. The dough should feel soft and spongy and the hole shouldn't fill in. If the dough feels hard or the sides of the hole swell in, let it sit another 10 minutes and recheck. 

When the dough is ready, gently deflate it in the bowl and turn it out onto a surface lightly dusted with flour and form into a ball. Allow it to rest a minute but make sure to place the bowl over the dough ball to prevent it from drying out. Meanwhile, mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt for the filling in a medium bowl. Grease a 9- by 13-inch glass baking dish. Gently shape into a 18- by 12-inch rectangle. Spread the softened butter evenly over the dough leaving a border along the 18-inch edge furthest from you. Sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly over butter. If you are using pecans, sprinkle them over the sugar mixture and softly press everything into the dough.

Starting at the closest 18-inch edge, begin to roll the dough into a tight 18-inch log. With a sharp, serrated knife, gently cut the log into 12 even pieces. Place the spirals in the prepared baking dish, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerate overnight or for up to 16 hours.

To bake, remove the baking dish from the refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature for 30 minute. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F. Bake the rolls uncovered for about 30 minutes or until puffy and golden brown. Allow the rolls to cool in the dish slightly while preparing the icing.

For the icing, mix the mascarpone cheese and maple syrup in a medium bowl with a spoon until well combined. You can adjust the sweetness by adding more maple syrup if you would like. Serve the rolls hot with a slathering of icing.

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