A Blessing in Cinnamon
by Zachary Knutson
March 9, 2018
Our car pulled into the parking lot, tired from the heat of the beating sun, with the long length of highway giving the trim almost rusted wrinkles. My sisters needed to go to the ladies room, and my knees begged for me to stretch them as if I was a taffy maker. The sign was illuminated before us in the early dawn light: a yellow and cartoonish ‘M’. Even in the middle of nowhere, be it rolling green hills or rocky mountainside, if there is a town nearby there is bound to be a McDonald’s to welcome your weary bones. And on this particular occasion of a vacation to Colorado, where the trip had been long and arduous, this establishment was indeed a blessed stop.
Waiting in line behind a few local residents who couldn’t help but cast sideways glances towards us city folk, I stood with my neck craned towards the menu for breakfast. Out of the corner of my eye, much like the townspeople, I remembered my favorite item for breakfast. The creamy and spiced decadency of a Cinnamelt filled my mind. During my turn to order, I couldn’t help but get at least two of them.
The fattening goodness of of the dish was palpable, as I finished both before my mother finished her first pancake. The dish was also noticeably artificial, as it was made in a fast food joint, but still felt like nostalgia all the same. So as I sat there contented with my fingers draped over my barrel belly, I reminisced on how I was introduced to such a treat. It was my father, on one of our many weekends at his living arrangement. I say that because after he and my mother separated, he moved into my grandmothers house to get him situated. On those many weekends, each frequented with bittersweet laughter and eating food solely from outside of the kitchen, was a time where we found the best out of little. It was time to see our Dad, and that was enough. It was days like these that we would go to the resident McDonalds since it was cheap and accessible to eat breakfast. It was then that I was introduced to the charming delectable of a dish: the Cinnamelt.
We placed our trash into the receptacle and moved our bodies of loathing to the car. We buckle ourselves up. We reversed, pulled out of the parking lot, and turned back on to the on-ramp towards Colorado. We are back on track heading out on our vacation; A vacation from our bureaucratic current life and our biting past memories.
1 Dozen|15 minutes prep/150 minutes total
- (1 package) (active dry yeast (1/4 ounce))
- (1/2 cup) (warm water (105 to 110°F.))
- (1/2 cup) (granulated sugar)
- (1/2 cup) (whole milk)
- (1/3 cup) (margarine, melted)
- (2) (eggs)
- (1 teaspoon) (salt)
- (4 cups) (all-purpose flour)
- (1 cup) (dark brown sugar)
- (2 tablespoons) (ground cinnamon)
- (2/3 cup) (margarine, melted)
- (1/4 cup) (margarine, softened, 1/2 stick)
- (1/2 cup) (cream cheese, softened, 4 ounces)
- (1 1/2 cups) (powdered sugar)
- (1 tablespoon) (whole milk)
- (1/2 teaspoon) (vanilla extract)
To make the dough, dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a small bowl or measuring cup and let it sit for 5 minutes.
Use an electric mixer to combine the sugar with the milk and melted margarine in a large bowl. Mix in the eggs and salt. Mix in 1 cup of the flour. When the flour is combined, mix in 1 more cup of flour. Mix in the yeast solution, and then stir in the remaining 2 cups of flour with a wooden spoon. Use your hands to form the dough into a ball, and then put the dough back into the bowl, cover it, and store it in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours.
Mix the filling ingredients together in a medium bowl, and then cover it until needed.
Roll the dough out on a floured surface until about 1/2 inch thick. Use a pizza slicer to slice the dough into approximately 1/2-inch wide strips, and then slice those strips into 3/4-inch- to 1-inch-long chunks of dough.
Use softened margarine to grease the cups of two large (Texas-size) 6-cup muffin tins. Drop 6 chunks of dough into the bottom of each cup. Spoon 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon filling over the dough. Drop 7 more pieces of dough onto the filling in each cup, and then spoon 2 teaspoons of filling over the top of the dough. Cover the muffin tin with plastic wrap and let the dough sit in a warm spot for 30 minutes so that it rises a little more.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bake the cinnamon melts for 17 to 20 minutes, or until the dough turns light brown.
As the cinnamon melts cool, make the icing by mixing the margarine and cream cheese together with an electric mixer on high speed. Add the powdered sugar and mix slowly until all of the powdered sugar is incorporated. Add the milk and vanilla, then mix again on high speed until smooth and fluffy.
Spoon about 1 tablespoon of icing over the top of each cinnamon melt. Serve right away, or cool completely, then cover the melts with plastic and freeze. To prepare a frozen melt, remove one from the pan and microwave it on high for 35 to 45 seconds, or until warm.