Who doesn’t love cinnamon rolls? I know I do, and I even make them on occasion. I’m not afraid to work with yeast and there’s just something about a warm homemade cinnamon roll that defies description.
But this is real life. Sometimes it’s 10 p.m. and you remember, as you’re about to climb into bed, that you promised a group of students you’d feed them at your 7:30 a.m. meeting. And since cinnamon rolls are certainly not happening, you rack your brain for a simpler solution. Something mouth-watering, yes, but something that comes together quickly.
That’s where these cinnamon roll bars come in. The base is a box cake mix, so it doesn’t take too many more ingredients for them to come together. I love to bake the bars the night before, then whip up the frosting in the morning and frost them right before I walk out the door.
These bars are so easy, yet so moist and rich, that they could easily become a new make-ahead holiday favorite. Or, if you really love the people in your life, make them this weekend.
Cinnamon Roll Bars
adapted from Cookies & Cups
For the bars:
1 box white or yellow cake mix
3/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar (I’ve used light or dark; both work fine)
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons cinnamon
cinnamon sugar for sprinkling (optional)
For the frosting:
1 8 oz. brick of cream cheese, softened
1 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat over to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the bars and mix well, until there are no lumps. Pour batter into a greased 9 x 13 dish and use a spatula to distribute the batter evenly in the pan. Bake for 22-27 minutes, until the bars are golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry (a few crumbs are okay).
To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter together for 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, mixing to make sure each cup is incorporated before adding another. Mix in vanilla and beat until frosting is smooth and creamy.
Spread all of the frosting over the cooled bars and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, if desired. Cut into squares and enjoy!
What’s your favorite indulgent dessert disguised as a regular meal?