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In the past, my January food columns have focused on healthy meals, designed to help you rebound from excessive and indulgent holiday eating. We’re ... not doing that this year.

I’ll totally be making healthy dinners (and lunches) this month, but do you really need me to offer you healthy options right now? No, you don’t. We still have plenty of reasons to be eating our feelings. So here’s a recipe for small-batch cinnamon rolls — just one portion of an unhealthy dessert, about six small rolls.

From-scratch cinnamon rolls are best fresh, anyway. I made these on New Year’s Eve and my husband and I ate the whole pan, allowing us a fresh start for 2021.


(Adapted from Stresscake)

Makes 5 to 6 rolls



1/2 teaspoon yeast

1 tablespoon warm water

7 tablespoons almond milk

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

Vegetable oil for greasing bowl

For the filling:

2 tablespoons softened butter

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of salt

For the icing:

1 1/2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon butter, softened

1 teaspoon almond milk

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt


Make the dough and first rise: Let yeast bloom in warm water for 5 minutes or until foamy. Best to do this in the bowl you’ll be using to mix. Once yeast blooms, add all other dough ingredients and mix until a dough forms and nothing is sticking to the side of the bowl.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 1 to 2 minutes. (This is a really nice dough and you probably won’t need the entire 2 minutes before it’s smooth and elastic.)

Grease a bowl with a splash of vegetable oil and add dough, cover tightly with plastic wrap or tinfoil, and let rise at least 1 hour.

Make the filling: Mix together butter, sugars, cinnamon and salt. If butter is too stiff, you can microwave the ingredients for 10 seconds to soften and help everything become homogenous. Don’t go longer than this; you want a smooth paste, not a liquid.

Once dough has risen to the point where it has doubled in size, roll out on a lightly floured surface until it’s approximately 10 inches by 12 inches. Spread filling on your 10x12 rectangle, leaving around 1/2 to 1 inch of the longer edge naked/without filling.

Starting with the 12-inch side of your dough that has filling spread to the edge, fold over 1/2-inch to start rolling, then roll your dough into a log. Brush a little water along the edge of the dough to seal — just a few drops. Cut your log into six equal pieces.

Liberally butter a small baking dish (I used a 6-inch circular aluminum pan) or muffin tin and place cinnamon rolls in the dish, then cover tightly with plastic and let rise again, at least an hour or until rolls have about doubled in size.

Mix frosting ingredients together, and microwave for 10 seconds if things aren’t coming together smoothly. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake 18 to 22 minutes, until rolls are just golden brown (or further if you like them a bit toasty). Let cool completely before frosting.


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