One of my husbands favorite parts of Christmas is the food. Correction, this is probably his favorite thing about Christmas! In the morning we start with cinnamon rolls and then move into homemade pizza. No better way to wake up and kick off the gift opening.
½ cup warm water (120ºF)
1 (0.25-ounce) package quick-rise dry yeast
2 ½ tablespoons sugar
2 ¾ cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg
¼ cup unsalted butter in small chunks
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon espresso powder
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sieved
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon espresso powder
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Line a 9 x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with cooking spray.
In a small bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of the sugar and stir. Let it stand while assembling the other ingredients. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, remaining sugar, and salt. Stir briefly to mix.
In a small microwavable bowl, combine the milk and butter and microwave for 20–30 seconds to melt the butter. With the mixer running on low, add the milk mixture to the flour and then add the egg. Continue to mix on low for 4 minutes to knead the dough.
Preheat the oven to 200ºF. In a small microwavable bowl, combine the butter, sugar, cinnamon and espresso powder and microwave for 20 seconds on high to soften the butter, then stir into a smooth paste
Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and use a rolling pin to roll to a 9 x 15-inch rectangle. Spread evenly with the filling mixture, up to ½ inch from the edges. Roll very tightly from the narrow end into a log; cut into 9 1-inch slices.
Fit the 9 rolls into the baking dish. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, turn off the oven, and set the rolls into the warm oven for 20 minutes to rise.
Remove the baking dish and remove the plastic wrap. Turn the oven on to 375ºF and immediately place the rolls into the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes until lightly golden brown. Remove to a cooling rack for 10–15 minutes to cool slightly.
While the rolls are cooling, combine the confectioners’ sugar, milk, espresso powder and vanilla extract in a small bowl, stirring until completely smooth. Drizzle over the rolls and let stand for at least 5 minutes before serving.