Heart-Shaped Cinnamon Rolls

Heart-Shaped Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

On a whim, I decided to try making heart-shaped cinnamon rolls for a fun Valentine’s Day treat.  I had no idea if it would work, but I was thrilled  with the results.  They turned out so cute, I had to share the technique with you even if it’s a bit late to make them for today’s Valentine’s breakfast.

But who says you can only eat heart-shaped food on Valentine’s Day?

Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

You can make heart-shaped rolls from any regular cinnamon roll recipe, but I happen to really like a dough made with buttermilk.  I improvised the dough for these rolls from the cinnamon bun recipe in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  Enjoy!

Heart-Shaped Cinnamon Rolls

4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick), softened
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
2 cups flour (plus extra as needed)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast (or use rapid rise or bread machine yeast)
1/2 cup warm buttermilk (90 – 110 degrees F)
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1  heaping teaspoon cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar using a stand mixer, or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, until light and fluffy;  beat in egg.  In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and yeast.  Add buttermilk and flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed until all the flour is incorporated.

If using a stand  mixer, switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed for 6 minutes, adding a bit of flour if necessary to form a very soft dough (will most likely be very sticky and that’s fine).  If kneading by hand, scrape dough onto a floured counter top or board and knead, adding only as much flour as necessary to keep dough from sticking, for 8 to 10 minutes.  Place dough in an oiled bowl and turn once to coat both sides of dough with oil.  Cover and let rise in a warm spot for about an hour and a half.

Gently push dough down to deflate and turn out onto a floured counter top or board.  Press dough out into a small rectangle then cover and let rest for ten minutes.  Meanwhile, mix together brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.  After dough rests, roll it out into a 20″ x 7 ” rectangle.  Brush surface of dough with melted butter then sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over the dough.  Gently press the sugar down into the dough with the palm of your hand.

Rolling Cinnamon Roll Dough

Starting on a long side, begin rolling the dough towards the center, stopping before reaching the very center.  Repeat with other side then roll the two sides together until they meet in the middle.  Gently press together.

Rolling Cinnamon Rolls

Slice the rolls into one-inch pieces then transfer to parchment or silpat-lined baking sheets.  Shape the pieces into hearts by pinching the bottom of the roll between two fingers.

Shaping the Rolls

You should end up with 20 -24 cinnamon rolls, divided between two baking sheets.  Cover with greased plastic wrap and let cinnamon rolls rise for 45 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees during last 15 minutes of rising time.

Cut and shaped Cinnamon Rolls

Bake cinnamon rolls at 350 degrees for a total of 15 minutes (or until lightly browned), rotating sheets from top to bottom halfway through baking time if using two oven racks.

Baked Cinnamon Rolls

Cream Cheese Glaze

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 ounces butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar (more to taste, if desired)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
splash of milk to thin, if necessary.

Beat together cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla then gradually beat in powdered sugar.  Spread glaze on warm cinnamon rolls and serve immediately.  You may also thin the glaze with a bit of milk to drizzle over the rolls, or decorate cooled rolls using a piping bag and round tip as shown below.

Heart-Shaped Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

  1. Di

    Those look wonderful, Nicole! I definitely want to try this shaping method–I’m sure my kids will love it. Especially if I add the sprinkles. =)

    11:09 am  Feb 14th, 2010
  2. clotilde

    How clever! And I don’t see why anyone would want to make round cinnamon rolls after seeing these… 🙂

    11:29 am  Feb 14th, 2010
  3. Heather in SF @HeatherHAL

    So happy to see this post! It’s a darling idea and I especially love the colored sprinkles <3

    11:51 am  Feb 14th, 2010
  4. Joanne

    These are truly adorable. Cinnamon rolls never go out of season. And neither do hearts. Therefore, I’m pretty sure these could be served year-round with no adverse side effects.

    I am SO bookmarking them!

    12:17 pm  Feb 14th, 2010
  5. Kalyn

    I love your heart-shaped cinnamon rolls! So festive and creative.

    12:27 pm  Feb 14th, 2010
  6. Phoo-D

    Cute buns! I love the whimsical shape. They turned out beautifully! Once my own buns recover from all the BBA breads I’ll give these a try.

    12:34 pm  Feb 14th, 2010
  7. pam

    Those are so cute! What a great idea!

    12:39 pm  Feb 14th, 2010
  8. sally

    Very cute! Perfect for Valentine’s Day. I ended up making some heart-shaped pancakes this morning.

    12:40 pm  Feb 14th, 2010
  9. Michelle

    Completely charming. Who wouldn’t love to wake up to a heart-shaped cinnamon roll any time?

    1:55 pm  Feb 14th, 2010
  10. dawn

    cute!!! love this.

    2:37 pm  Feb 14th, 2010
  11. Bria @ West of Persia

    Absolutely adorable. Totally agree that heart-shaped food shouldn’t be confined to one day a year!

    3:04 pm  Feb 14th, 2010
  12. Lindsey

    These are fabulously cute. Such a good idea! I definitely will have to use these as inspiration to make some cinnamon rolls again soon.

    4:13 pm  Feb 14th, 2010
  13. Jodi

    Love these! And it works out great since our Valentine’s Day celebrations are delayed due to some untimely illnesses! We might have to whip these up for our belated brunch celebration! Thanks for being so clever!

    4:48 pm  Feb 14th, 2010
  14. Alta

    These are really cute!

    4:50 pm  Feb 14th, 2010
  15. Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday

    Aww so cute! And they look like they’re smiling!

    5:39 pm  Feb 14th, 2010
  16. Mozelle

    I love the cinnamon rolls. I recently ordered the book The Bakers Apprentice because of your site and the wonderful breads that were created. Thank you.

    6:10 pm  Feb 14th, 2010
  17. My Year on the Grill

    HOW CLEVER… saving this idea!

    6:31 pm  Feb 14th, 2010
  18. Simply Luxurious

    They look delicious! I am definitely saving this recipe.

    6:36 pm  Feb 14th, 2010
  19. Valerie

    What a great idea! I’m defiantly trying this one.

    6:57 pm  Feb 14th, 2010
  20. patsy

    A perfect treat for Valentine’s Day!

    7:03 pm  Feb 14th, 2010
  21. Gretchen Noelle

    Really adorable idea! Glad they worked out!

    7:24 pm  Feb 14th, 2010
  22. Brit

    These look fantastic, but I can’t help but seeing the Grinch’s (Who Stole Christmas) face & ears. 🙂

    7:36 pm  Feb 14th, 2010
  23. RuthW.

    I just love these and will definitely make them! Made apple cinnamon muffins this morning and they are almost gone! Hearts are great all year..I agree!

    8:00 pm  Feb 14th, 2010
  24. Su-yin

    Anything cinnamon always works for me! 😉 These are so cute and creative, am glad they turned out so well!

    9:19 pm  Feb 14th, 2010
  25. Katy

    Those are adorable!!!

    9:30 pm  Feb 14th, 2010
  26. Sook @ My Fabulous Recipes

    Oh my gosh! That is about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen! I am definitely going to try this next year!

    10:06 pm  Feb 14th, 2010
  27. Heide M

    Good idea. I bet they taste as good as they look.

    10:14 pm  Feb 14th, 2010
  28. picky cook

    those are just too cute for words. love the idea – very creative.

    1:31 am  Feb 15th, 2010
  29. grace

    i can’t decide if i’m more impressed with, enamored of, or hungered by your phenomenal rolls! very, very excellent work. 🙂

    3:35 am  Feb 15th, 2010
  30. bellini valli

    The not only will bring adoration but they taste good too:D

    8:34 am  Feb 15th, 2010
  31. Erin

    You are so the Queen of adorable edible things!

    8:40 am  Feb 15th, 2010
  32. Angela

    Love this! Your blog is so wonderful. Thanks for the great photos/ideas.

    9:37 am  Feb 15th, 2010
  33. alissa

    How sweet is this.. love the idea.. simple and so effective!!

    1:57 pm  Feb 15th, 2010
  34. Tiffany Rosenberger

    I can’t help but smile when I look at these. So cute!

    3:09 pm  Feb 15th, 2010
  35. cake maker

    What are a really neat idea, I love cinammon swirls, and these look really tasty, it’s a clever idea to make them into hearts, i’m not sure about using non pareils, I think the white icing alone look better – great blog, thank you.

    2:51 am  Feb 16th, 2010
  36. Barbara

    That is a really cute (and delicious) idea!
    Am going to copy it now and make it first chance I get….Valentines Day or not.

    5:37 am  Feb 16th, 2010
  37. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction

    I’m catching up on my RSS reader a bit late this week… Even though I missed Valentine’s day I had to leave you a comment to let you know that these are absolutely adorable! I think I’ll save this recipe and make these for my hubs for his birthday or our anniversary!

    11:28 am  Feb 16th, 2010
  38. Victus Populi

    Cinnamon rolls are the ultimate aphrodisiac for my husband–he would have loved waking up to these on Sunday. Thanks for the idea for next year!

    4:15 pm  Feb 16th, 2010
  39. Gala

    Such a cute idea and impressive….with a simple trick!

    7:50 am  Feb 17th, 2010
  40. Sarah

    I love it. Only… I wish I’d come up with it. But I will for sure be using this idea for Valentine’s to come!

    10:30 am  Feb 17th, 2010
  41. Ally @ Sweet & Savory

    How cute! I’ve never made homemade cinnamon rolls, but have always wanted to try!

    10:47 am  Feb 17th, 2010
  42. Georgia.Pellegrini

    Aw those are precious! And it’s looks so easy to do, I am suprised I haven’t seen more like that. What a special way to start the morning!

    7:22 pm  Feb 17th, 2010
  43. cheffresco

    These are adorable! So perfect for v-day.

    7:15 pm  Feb 19th, 2010
  44. The Teacher Cooks

    I love what you did with the cinnamon rolls! They are so cute!

    8:45 pm  Feb 19th, 2010
  45. Easy Southern Cooking

    Wow, these turned out great. I’m embarrassed to say that I never thought of this. I love shaped foods and own a whole assortment of molds, etc. I make cinnamon rolls fairly regularly and freeze them before baking (now that the kids are all mostly gone). Thanks for a great Idea, and great photos too. BTW, I love your blog. I lurk here often.
    Diane Watkins

    7:46 pm  Feb 20th, 2010
  46. my spatula

    these are just FANTASTIC!! prettiest cinnamon rolls ever.

    9:46 pm  Feb 20th, 2010
  47. travel-play

    I wish I’d come up with it. But I will for sure be using this idea for Valentine’s to come!

    12:30 am  Feb 21st, 2010
  48. Elisabeth

    What a cute idea — they look delicious!

    8:10 pm  Feb 21st, 2010
  49. Caroline

    Double wow. On Twitter, did I see you call yourself a slacker?! Um, slackers don’t take the time to make the cutest heart-shaped cinnamon rolls of all time.

    9:29 am  Feb 22nd, 2010
  50. Megs

    What an adorable idea! Can’t wait to try this!!

    1:23 am  Feb 23rd, 2010
  51. Maytina

    What a super sweet idea!! They’re adorable and I will be making them for my anniversary this year, and add them to my list of Valentine treats! Thanks!

    4:22 pm  Feb 23rd, 2010
  52. Lauren @ Delicateflavors

    What a great idea! I don’t usually bake but you definitely inspired me to try. I LOVE cinnamon rolls and this looks so delish that I will have to look for that old rolling pin and give it a try. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

    8:44 am  Feb 28th, 2010
  53. Shannon

    Mmmm yummy! That looks tasty. Just heard about your blog today and wanted to check it out. I am hungry now. 🙂

    12:47 pm  Mar 1st, 2010
  54. Rex

    I was going through all of the sites that are going to be in the 55knives book and stumbled across yours. Those cinnamon rolls look delicious!!

    12:27 pm  Mar 2nd, 2010
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  56. sucre en poudre

    They look really great and I love the idea of adding buttermilk

    10:31 am  Mar 6th, 2010
  57. enrolled agent course

    I will definitely try this, since I love cinnamon rolls, and this is something that you can do even when the Valentine’s season is over, just play up with other shapes and designs!

    7:23 pm  Mar 13th, 2010
  58. Curt

    Nicole, these immediately made think “Dr. Seuss”! I’m sure they were fantastic!

    9:49 am  Mar 16th, 2010
  59. pita bread

    That’s right, heart-shaped food should not be reserved only for V-day. Something this lovely would be a great treat any day.

    5:35 am  Mar 30th, 2010
  60. pita bread

    I love cinnamon rolls and I often make them but I have never thought I could make such nice hearts! And the decorations are so cute. Next time I am going to try it this way.

    2:22 am  Apr 22nd, 2010
  61. Esther Crumpet

    These buns are delightful; I made them recently, and they were perfect! Thank you for such a great, easy to follow and accessible recipe! Pastries are usually a little temperamental, but there were perfect, and delicious!

    (As indeed was your Red Velvet Cake recipe, which I made last tear. Everyone looked at me like I was mad, but it was a great hit in the end!)

    Esther. xx

    3:54 am  May 6th, 2010
  62. Megan (megabite)

    I absolutely love this! I want to make these for no reason right away!

    3:22 pm  May 12th, 2010
  63. Sweet Harvest

    Brilliant! I am SO making these this weekend! I adore cinnamon rolls but all too often I shy away from making a batch because I know that I’m committed to a full tray of BIG rolls. Often times they feel like a full meal. With these I’d be inclined to pop them in the freezer and pull a few out when we fancy one without worrying about polishing off an entire tray of big rolls. One of the best ideas I’ve seen in a looong time. Thanks so much!

    12:43 pm  Jun 2nd, 2010
  64. behi sibil&jack fruit

    thats great and lovely tastey rollet
    tanks for your education and i get highe like british airways

    3:04 am  Sep 19th, 2010
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  66. Rhonda

    Hi! I suppose I recently found this post from a link on another blog (sorry I don’t remember which one). I really like this recipe, but curious about how on earth they can be made fresh and ready first thing in the morning… short of getting up at 4:00am. Any ideas?


    8:48 pm  Feb 8th, 2011
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  70. Janet

    What an incredibly fun idea! Can’t wait to make them. 🙂 I’ll be featuring them today, thanks for sharing the tutorial!

    8:09 am  Jan 17th, 2012
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  72. anna

    great idea, glad to find it this year even if it was too late in 2010!

    9:18 pm  Jan 27th, 2012
  73. Brittany

    Hey LOVE this idea! It’s going on my blog. Thanks for the inspiration!!

    1:44 pm  Feb 5th, 2012
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  77. AlyssaB

    Hi Nicole,
    Thanks for re-posting this idea this year. I made them for an after-school snack for my kids. FYI, I tried adding pink sanding sugar to the filling. It melted and turned the cinnamon goo pink! It was a fun surprise for Valentines Day 🙂

    11:57 am  Feb 14th, 2012
  78. Sofia

    They look so pretty! I always seem to mess things up with the yeast, but next time I give it a go I’ll try to make these ones.

    11:26 pm  Jan 1st, 2013
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  80. Joan

    it looks very delicious, perfect for valentine’s day.. 🙂

    2:31 am  Feb 11th, 2013
  81. Erin

    I am so disappointed I’ve been up late making these for tomorrow and I have failed! I don’t know what I did wrong but they don’t look a thing like the picture and I want to cry! But very nice idea

    4:02 pm  Feb 13th, 2013
  82. Rhonda

    Oh, Erin, don’t worry! Mine looked absolutely horrid too, but my husband ate them right up. They ended up being pretty tasty though they looked a mess.

    7:26 pm  Feb 13th, 2013
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  84. Erin

    Thank you Rhonda! They were a hit dispite looking a mess, once I iced them they did somewhat resemble hearts lol x x

    9:09 am  Feb 15th, 2013
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  86. Beth

    These look wonderful and I’d love to have some ready for my family before school on Friday. Is it possible to do any of the steps the night before so that you just have to bake them in the morning? I’d love any suggestions—thank you!

    3:10 pm  Feb 4th, 2014
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