I love cinnamon buns. I love cinnamon buns with a fiery passion that burns with the heat of a thousand Aga cookstoves. I will eat cinnamon buns anytime, anywhere, and I will groan loudly in ecstasy if they are even passably good.
I cannot, however, make them myself.
I've never actually tried, but seeing as I struggle to even make an edible muffin, I'm not optimistic about my chances of success. I do have ambitions to make the Pioneer Woman's famous cinnamon rolls (said to make even the most ardent cinnamon bun lover's head explode with bliss), but I have to work up to that. Screw my courage to the sticky-bun point, as it were.
In the meantime, I'm surviving on what my daughter has dubbed, appropriately, Cinnamon Bongs, which are basically hacked homemade cinnamon buns, but without all that difficult baking and stuff.
The secret? You use Pillsbury (or any other premade dough) cinnamon roll dough, and then you hack the icing.
1) You take one package of Pillsbury, or whatever. Open it.
(Note: This can be tricky, as any Pillsbury fanatic knows. You take the wrapper off – peeling carefully if you need to preserve the baking instructions, otherwise, hack away at it – and then open the package, which they recommend doing by pressing a spoon against the edge, but I prefer doing via the 'smash against kitchen counter edge' method. Make sure that there are no dogs or small children in the vicinity, so that if any of the rolls fall onto the floor you can just scoop them up.)
(Do NOT eat the cinnamon roll dough. Or do, but know that you will a) have a tummy ache, and b) one or two fewer cinnamon bongs to eat.)
2.) Remove pre-made rolls and arrange, per instructions, on cookie sheet or in pie plates or whatever you have on hand.
(Do NOT just put them directly on the oven rack. TRUST ME.)
3.) Set aside the little tub of icing that come with the package. You can eat this yourself later, or (in all seriousness) do as I do and save it as a Very Special Garnish for toast or peanut butter sandwiches on those days when then kids want something sweet and you've eaten all the cinnamon bongs. (A teeny bit spread on toast – cut with some nut – or soy – butter, if you're, you know, concerned about nutrition and stuff – packs all the yum of sugared French toast with none of the effort.)
4.) Bake the rolls per package instructions.
5.) Make your own icing from your mom's or your grandma's (or, as I did this past weekend, the Pioneer Woman's) recipe book. Icing is easy. It's basically melted sugar and butter and stuff, spiked with whatever strikes your fancy. I spike mine with a bit of maple syrup (the real stuff. I have standards.) When I want a creamier Bong, I mix it with some cream cheese (if you go this route, the quickest thing to do is just use that little tub of icing that you have already, mix a bit of cream cheese in, and presto. NOM.)
(Why do I make my own, when that little tub of icing is sitting right there, shouting SPREAD ME? Because I love melting stuff in pots. I really, really do. Remind me to talk to you about fondues sometime. And it gives me something to do while the Bongs are baking, which is actually kind of important, because if I had to just stand there, the odds of me just grabbing them out before they were cooked and eating the whole hot gooey mess with ice cream would be just too great.)
6.) Remove Bongs from oven. Here's a Very, Very Useful Secret: undercook them. Not too much – otherwise you get the aforementioned hot gooey mess and will be forced to eat them with ice cream…
(a moment for drooling)
(another moment for drooling)
… which you DO NOT WANT – repeat, YOU DO NOT WANT, because then you would not have your Cinnamon Bongs – but just enough to keep them chewy and soft.
7.) Drizzle or spread icing.
8.) Lick spoon.
9.) Do not let cool.
Repeat: do not let cool. The time it takes to cool Cinnamon Bongs is valuable time that could be spent eating Cinnamon Bongs. Also: HOT MELTY ICING.
10.) Eat three, and then hide the rest from your family. They can make their own.