Who doesn’t love cinnamon rolls?! They have a buttery dough and are topped with a cinnamony, shimmery, sugary topping and gooey, sweet icing! Recently, I wondered what would happen if I took a cookie cutter to some cinnamon roll dough and cut a couple of steps out of the process of making them. The result is that Christmas Tree cinnamon rolls are not technically rolls, but they’re adorable, festive looking and have the amazing cinnamon roll taste.
I sent a picture of these to my mom and she told me they reminded her of the Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls that she makes every Christmas morning. I was so happy they reminded her of those because that was the taste and festive feel I was hoping for!
Those cans of cinnamon rolls are delicious and easy, but there’s nothing like homemade. I know not many people would have the time to make their own cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning (or on weekend mornings), so this recipe is in between true cinnamon rolls and the store bought kind. The only drawback is you don’t get to twist the store bought can open! We used to love doing that as kids.
For this recipe, I used the recipe Cinnamon Coffee Rolls from Elise Manning’s book The Complete Home Baking Book. It’s a simple, overnight dough that does NOT require kneading. It’s the perfect dough to whip up on Christmas morning (or any morning). I only changed a few things from the dough recipe and used ideas from another cinnamon roll recipe in the same book for the heavy cream coating!
After proofing the yeast and combining the dry ingredients, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until you get a cornmeal like consistency. Next, you just add the yeast and eggs and stir everything together. Cover the dough and put it in the fridge til morning.
In the morning, before grabbing your dough, prepare your toppings. This will give you a nice production line once you’re ready to dress the trees.
You’ll need three small bowls for the toppings:
- In the first bowl, you’ll mix brown sugar (I like dark here, but light is nice too) and cinnamon.
- In the next bowl, melt 2 tablespoons of butter.
- In the third bowl, you’ll make a heavy cream mixture (more on that later).
Next, grab your dough and a rolling pin and roll a 15 x 10 inch rectangle. The number of rolls (I know they’re not technically rolls, but you know what I mean) you get will depend on the size of your cookie cutter. My Christmas tree cookie cutter is 4 inches and I was able to make over 2 dozen. You can use any shape cookie cutter you’d like. I think snowmen would also be super cute! The cuter the cookie cutter, the more likely you are to recruit some little hands to help out.
Once the trees are all on your baking sheets, brush the tops with melted butter and then sprinkle them with the brown sugar-cinnamon mixture. I love both the warm cinnamon look and taste this gives the trees.
After cutting the trees out and coating them with butter and sugar, the original recipe instructs you to let the rolls rise until doubled. I skipped this step since we’re not technically making rolls and proceeded to cover my trees in the most amazing heavy cream-brown sugar mixture.
This mixture is from the Extra-Special Cinnamon Rolls recipe from the same book. The heavy cream topping consists of:
- heavy cream
- brown sugar
I mean. There’s everything in there! Brush it generously over your little trees and then they’re ready to go into the oven. It may seem redundant to add more sugar over the butter, cinnamon and sugar already on the trees, but it’s definitely worth it!
The baking time may vary by just a few minutes, depending on the size of the cookie cutter you use. When you notice the sides beginning to turn light brown, go ahead and take them out.
Mix the frosting together either before taking the dough out of the fridge or while the rolls are in the oven or freshly out of the oven. To frost them, if you don’t have a piping bag, a zip lock bag with a tiny bit of one of the corners snipped off works great!
These rolls, like regular cinnamon rolls taste best when eaten warm and the same day. If you want to eat them later on, I find they taste better after a few seconds in the microwave.
These Christmas tree cinnamon rolls are the perfect combination of easy and special and I hope they become a part of your holiday tradition!Print
This recipe for easy overnight Christmas tree cinnamon rolls makes the best homemade treats topped with vanilla icing!
FOR THE DOUGH
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water (110 F)
- 4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 egg
- 1 cup milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm (110 F)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, light or dark
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
HEAVY CREAM MIXTURE
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
- 2 tablespoons soft butter
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon hot water
- Sprinkle the yeast over lukewarm water and stir to dissolve.
- Whisk together the flour, 1/4 cup sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in the butter with a pasty blender until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Add the yeast mixture, egg yolks, and milk. Stir with a fork until well blended. (No kneading is necessary). Cover with aluminum foil and chill in the fridge overnight.
- In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup brown sugar and cinnamon and mix well. Set aside.
- In another small bowl, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter. In another small bowl, combine the heavy cream, brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.
- Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it on a floured surface into a 15 x 10- inch rectangle. Using a tree shaped cookie cutter dipped lightly in flour, cut out the Christmas trees and set them on the baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
- Brush each tree with melted butter then sprinkle each tree with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Next, use a brush to coat each tree with the heavy cream mixture.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the sides just begin to turn light brown. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to cookie sheets to cool completely, if desired.
- Icing can be added while the trees are still warm since they are best eaten warm! Frosting can be spread on the trees using a knife or piped on.
FOR THE FROSTING
- Combine confectioners sugar, butter, vanilla, hot water in a bowl. Beat until smooth. Add 1 more tablespoon of hot water, if necessary to make the frosting a spreadable consistency.