There was always music playing in my childhood home, especially around the holidays. Once the tunes turned to holiday jingles, it signaled that there was fun to be had and cookies to be made. My mom would always mix it up, from the classics to her favorite R&B artists. Years later, I've inherited her eclectic tastes while adding my own favorites, so my Christmas baking happens to a soundtrack of Frank Sinatra, Burl Ives, Mariah Carey, and yes, Alvin & The Chipmunks.
Some of my best memories were made dancing around the kitchen with my family, and the tradition continues now that I'm a mom. Universal Music's Christmas Playlist is plenty of tunes both contemporary and classic, and it's been the joy of my family's Christmastime kitchen.
Now that the baking scenes in my kitchen involve a curious toddler with flour-dusted cheeks, more family-friendly classics seem to be rolling out of my oven. My son, Everett, knows it's baking time once I turn on our favorite holiday tunes, pull up his step-stool to the kitchen counter, and start prepping our ingredients. At nearly two years old, he helps me pour, stir, and even knead dough! (Okay, he mostly pokes at the dough and dances on his step-stool.) He always has a smile on his face, watching with amazement as I whip up ingredients.
These Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls are everything you could ever want from a holiday treat – cozy like regular cinnamon rolls, but dressed up with extra spice and festive flair. From brunch to dessert, the gooey cinnamon filling and creamy frosting are irresistible. I've added a bit of fresh nutmeg and eggnog into the dough itself and then slathered on the eggnog frosting while the buns are still warm. This way, the frosting oozes between the layers of the pastry and makes them even more delectable.
One of the best things about these cinnamon rolls is how they come together just in time for breakfast, without a 3AM wake-up call. If you want to be eating warm cinnamon rolls in your PJ's, start the dough the day before. If you begin the proofing process in the morning, you can skip the babysitting part of yeasted dough and pop it in the fridge for a long, slow proof of about 8 hours. Before bed, fill and shape the buns and place them back in the refrigerator for a good night's rest. In the morning, let them come back to room temperature as the oven pre-heats. Meanwhile, turn up your favorite holiday jams, and prepare your second mug of coffee. Make the frosting while they bake and then frost while they are still slightly warm!
Spiced Cinnamon Eggnog Rolls
For the dough
1 cup eggnog
1 teaspoon dry active yeast
2¼ to 2½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
For the filling
4 to 6 medjool dates, pitted (optional)
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, very soft
½ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon cinnamon
For the frosting
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 to 2 cups confectioner's sugar
2 to 4 tablespoons eggnog
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste or ¼ vanilla bean, seeds scraped (optional)
In a small saucepan (or in the microwave), heat the eggnog until warm (about 100º to 105ºF). Stir in the yeast and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the yeast begins to dissolve and foam up.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together 2 ¼ cups flour, sugar, salt, and nutmeg.
In a separate bowl or large glass measuring cup, whisk together the egg, yolk, and melted butter. Once the yeast mixture gets all frothy, combine it with the other wet ingredients. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Using a dough hook, or by hand, knead the dough for about 5 minutes. It should be smooth, elastic, and slightly sticky when done. Add in the remaining ¼ cup of flour as needed.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest until the dough doubles in size (about 2 hours at room temperature or 8 hours in the refrigerator).
Once the dough has doubled in size, make the filling (recipe below). Punch the dough down and roll it on a lightly floured work surface into a 10-inch by 12-inch rectangle. If coming from the refrigerator, allow the dough to relax and come to room temperature before rolling. Spread on the filling, leaving about a ½-inch border on each side.
Carefully but tightly roll up the dough. Using dental floss, kitchen shears, or a serrated knife, cut the dough into 8 to 10 even pieces.
Place the cinnamon rolls in a buttered cake/pie pan or 7-inch by 11-inch baking dish, allowing for a bit of room between the buns. Let rise at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 350ºF. Bake for about 18 to 24 minutes, or until slightly golden.
Alternatively, cover the cut buns with plastic and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, allow the buns to rise at room temperature for about 45 minutes while the oven pre-heats. Bake and slather with frosting (see below) while they are still slightly warm.
Place the dates in a heat-safe container. Cover with boiling water and let stand for 10 minutes. Drain the dates and place in a food processor. Grind the dates into a smooth paste and set aside.
In a separate bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients until well combined. Mix the brown sugar mixture with the dates until it creates a smooth, cinnamon-scented paste. If you would like to forgo the dates and make a more traditional filling, increase the butter by 4 tablespoons and sugar by ¼ cup and mix until smooth. Cover and set aside until ready to use.
Stir together the cream cheese and butter or beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually and slowly add in the remaining ingredients until desired sweetness and consistency is achieved. When done, the frosting should be thick yet fluid and spreadable.
My Favorite Holiday Songs
The best musical pairing for these cinnamon rolls is a fun, upbeat, playful holiday soundtrack. These were perfect for me and my son to dance around to while the rolls bake!
- Stevie Wonder – What Christmas Means to Me
- Alvin & The Chipmunks – The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)
- Bing Crosby – It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
- The Carpenters – Merry Christmas Darling
- The Jackson 5 – I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
- Chuck Berry – Run, Run Rudolph
- Brenda Lee – Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree
- The Beach Boys – Little Saint Nick
And here are some more of my favorite holiday recipes, with songs of the season to match. Happy baking!
- Sam Smith – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
- U2 – Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
- John Lennon – Happy Christmas
- Paul McCartney – Wonderful Christmastime
- Maroon 5 – Happy Christmas (War Is Over)
- Elton John – Step Into Christmas
- Queen – Thank God It's Christmas
- Band Aid – Do They Know It's Christmas
Hit play and follow Universal's holiday Christmas Playlist for a chance to win a music bundle and Amazon gift card to treat yourself!
This post is sponsored by Universal Music Enterprises.
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