Soft and sticky cinnamon rolls incorporate the tastes of cinnamon and whipped cream cheese frosting. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

Soft and sticky cinnamon rolls incorporate the tastes of cinnamon and whipped cream cheese frosting. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

Consolation for a getaway that didn’t happen

Warm, sticky cinnamon rolls take the sting out of holiday disappointment

A few days ago, I was sitting very still in the din of an airport terminal, surrounded by a throng of disappointed travelers, while my son slept on my lap still clutching the remnants of his peanut butter sandwich in his little hands.

We had been in airports for almost two full days, and after many delays and cancellations had finally given up hope for our beach vacation, and now were just desperate for a chance to go home.

The faces surrounding me were painted with tears of grief and frustration, their voices cracked with exhaustion, their heads were held low — nobody would be getting the holiday they planned.

At four in the morning on Christmas Eve I finally carried my sleeping boy to his bed, three days after we had left, missing both a tan and our luggage.

After a nap, we got to work making a holiday for our little family. My husband took our boy out on the tractor to find a tree while I shopped for food and gifts to replace the ones still in our luggage, lost to the airport gods.

Determined parents make fast-working elves, and by bedtime we were prepared with fresh cookies and carrots for our midnight guests, our home was lit with twinkling lights and perfumed by our festive tree, and wrapped gifts were hidden — lying in wait for sparkling eyes.

While not a creature was stirring, I roused myself to take the cinnamon rolls out of the fridge for their final proof on the counter.

Warm cinnamon and whipped vanilla cream cheese frosting are the official scents of Christmas morning in my house, and after the serious business of opening gifts and assembling toys was done, I served the soft and sticky treats to my happy little family — the beach long forgotten.


1 cup warm milk

2 ½ teaspoons yeast

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup melted butter

½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

4 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup half and half

For the filling:

½ cup butter — very soft, almost but not quite melted

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

For the frosting:

6 ounces softened cream cheese

1/3 cup softened butter

2 cups powdered sugar

½ tablespoon vanilla extract


In the bowl of your stand mixer combine the warm milk, sugar, and yeast and let sit 10 minutes.

When the mixture is bubbly, add in the melted butter, eggs, salt and vanilla and beat to combine.

Add your flour in stages until the dough comes together and is tacky but not wet. You might not need to add all the flour so go slow.

Knead vigorously with the dough hook for 5 minutes.

Cover with a clean, damp kitchen towel and let rise until doubled — about one hour.

While the dough is rising, make your filling.

Soften your butter in the microwave — heat until warm and very soft but not melted. Heat for just 10 seconds at a time until you achieve this.

Mix in the cinnamon and brown sugar into a paste and hold at room temperature until ready to assemble.

After the dough has doubled, dust your clean counter with flour and turn out the dough.

Roll out into as close to a perfect 12-inch by 24-inch rectangle as you can.

Smear the filling in an even layer across the entire surface of the dough. Make sure to go all the way to the edges.

Roll the dough up from the long side.

Use a serrated blade to cut into 16 equal pieces.

Arrange in a greased baking dish with a little space in between each one, cover with plastic wrap, and set in the fridge overnight.

Three hours before you plan to eat, take them out and pour the half and half over the rolls, making sure to wet each one, then cover and set in a warm place to proof for two hours.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes.

While the rolls are baking, make your frosting by whipping the softened cream cheese and butter until fluffy, then slowly add the powdered sugar and vanilla at the end.

Wait until the rolls have cooled a bit before frosting or the frosting will liquefy.

Serve with coffee or milk and a smile.

More in Life

A copy of Prince Harry’s “Spare” sits on a desk in the Peninsula Clarion office on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Off the Shelf: Prince Harry gets candid about ‘gilded cage’ in new memoir

“Spare” undoubtedly succeeds in humanizing Harry

The cast of “Tarzan” rides the Triumvirate Theatre float during the Independence Day parade in downtown Kenai, Alaska on Monday, July 4, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Triumvirate swings into the year with ‘Tarzan’, Dr. Seuss and fishy parody

The next local showing of the Triumvirate Theatre is fast approaching with a Feb. 10 premiere of “Seussical”

This vegan kimchi mandu uses crumbled extra-firm tofu as the protein. (Photo by Tressa Dale / Peninsula Clarion)
Meditating on the new year with kimchi mandu

Artfully folding dumplings evokes the peace and thoughtful calm of the Year of the Rabbit

Mashed potatoes are served with chicken breast, green beans and pan sauce. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Mashed potatoes for a chef

They are deceptively hard to get right

Photo 210.029.162, from the Clark Collection, courtesy of Hope and Sunrise Historical and Mining Museum 
Emma Clark feeds the Clark “pet” moose named Spook in 1981. At the urging of state wildlife officials, Carl Clark had agreed to care for this calf at their home in Hope.
Emma Clark: Becoming a Hope pioneer

For 50 years, Emma and Carl had been central to the story of Hope

A copy of “Before the Coffee Gets Cold” stands on a desk in the Peninsula Clarion office on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Off the Shelf: Coffee shop time travelers leave reader cold

“Before the Coffee Gets Cold” is the debut novel of author and playwright Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Josiah Burton and Jaylee Webster rehearse "Something Rotten" on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022, at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
School productions bring SpongeBob SquarePants, Sherlock Holmes to the stage

Nikiski and Soldotna drama programs prepare for April productions

Ultra-fast, protein-packed miso soup is a mild and comforting broth for sick days. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Soothing soup for January ills

It’s probably a novelty to have experienced my child’s infancy without a single sniffle

Adobo Chicken Floutas are topped with queso, sour cream, cilantro, onions and tomatoes. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Deep-fried New Year’s indulgence

Like many people, I used to make New Year’s resolutions every year