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Coffee Cinnabuns of Steel + Homemade Sprinkles & Clueless

When I think of heading back to school, I remember the leaves changing colors, purchasing new and used books, and the excitement and anticipation of learning new things. After spending years switching modes from summer to back-to-school, I still find myself “switching gears” as the seasons change. Now, though, instead of school, there’s work, but “back-to-school” is a mindset.

As the temperature drops, I gravitate more toward baked goods that will keep me warm and full. And because it’s now darker earlier in the morning and earlier in the evening, coffee is necessary. Lots and lots of coffee. I can’t wait to bake more more during these dark autumn days and nights.

In the spirit of back-to-school, I thought about what movies stand out and Clueless came to mind almost immediately. In Clueless, Cher, the most popular rich girl at her high school in Beverly Hills, attempts to make one of her classmates popular. It’s one of the best movies about teens and remains a beloved coming-of-age story.

Two quotes from the movie inspired this post:

“OK, from now on we’re alternating Cindy Crawford’s ‘Aerobicise’ and ‘Buns of Steel,’ and reading one non-school book a week.”

“Do you drink coffee?” “Not from this cafeteria. But yes, under normal circumstances.”

Okay, so maybe these Coffee and Cinnabuns of Steel aren’t quite what Cher had it mind when it came to fitness. Regardless, they’re delicious and you should make them. The coffee and cinnamon are a match made in culinary heaven, and the frosting is smooth and sweet. And then these homemade sprinkles! First of all, homemade sprinkles are WAY better than sprinkles you buy from the store (the star sprinkles were not homemade, but I’m working my way up to that!).

With homemade sprinkles, you can make any color you want, any shape you desire, and any flavor you’d like. I made mine with almond extract (they really end up just tasting sweet with a slight almond hint and won’t interfere at all with what you put them on). Because it’s Clueless, I had to make pink and yellow sprinkles (pink because it’s Cher, and yellow because of that iconic yellow plaid outfit she rocks). The sprinkles take time (from mixing, color blending, piping, and drying) so I recommend making them ahead of time so you can just sprinkle when ready.

The vanilla frosting required some experimentation, but I found the right ratio of butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla. It’s heavenly, and when the frosted buns are warmed up, it doesn’t melt all over the place (20 seconds in the microwave is plenty).

I’ve made cinnamon buns before, but they always ended up to soggy, uneven, and never rolling properly. These, though, rolled like a dream and were super easy to cut. When it comes to the dough, you want it to be mixed to full gluten development so it’s flexible enough to roll out, but strong enough to hold the coffee and cinnamon filling. I made the buns in one morning because I am not patient when it comes to my sweets, but you can also make the dough ahead of time and let it rise overnight in the refrigerator.

These Coffee Cinnabuns of Steel require some effort and time, but they’re not complicated and they are worth every second. Same with the sprinkles. You may experience moments of frustration with the piping because you should pipe them into a straight line on wax paper, but really you don’t have to pipe them in too straight of a line. They’re going to be cut/broken up anyways! Plus, the various sizes of sprinkles makes it look pretty neat and homemade, which is the point. If you want the sprinkles to look store-bought, save the time and energy and just buy them from the store.

Make these buns and dig out your old VHS of Clueless, get nostalgic for a second, and then find the movie on Netflix or Amazon (it’s been about 23 years since Clueless first came out, and boy have times changed). When people ask if you’ll share, you’ll naturally have to respond, “As if,” even though it’s way harsh. Then, of course, spread the love.

If you like these Coffee Cinnabuns of Steel and homemade sprinkles, you should check out:

Vanilla Angel Cake with Cinnamon Coffee Drizzle inspired by Groundhog Day

Marbled Animal Crackers inspired by We Bought a Zoo

Pink Chocolate Strawberry Breakup Truffles inspired by Legally Blonde

Coffee Cinnabuns of Steel inspired by 'Clueless'

  • Servings: 18 cinnamon buns + 1 cup of sprinkles
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These Coffee Cinnabuns of Steel are inspired by the 90s teen romance film ‘Clueless.’ 


1 cup whole milk, warm (aim for around 110°F)
½ teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup softened unsalted butter

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons coffee grounds
1 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons cinnamon


1. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm milk. Let the mixture sit for five minutes while the yeast froths.

2. In a bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, butter, salt, and eggs.

3. Add the milk and yeast mixture into the flour mixture. Mix until well incorporated and a dough forms.

4. Place the dough in a buttered bowl and allow to rise in a warm spot for one hour. While the dough is rising, heat the oven to 350°F and make the filling by melting the butter and mixing in the coffee rounds. Once the coffee and butter are fully mixed, whisk in the the brown sugar and cinnamon.

5. After one hour, roll the dough out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface. Aim for the dough to be about 12×16 inches, and about ¼ to ½ inches thick.

6. Spread the filling over the rolled out dough, making sure it covers the entire surface area.

7. Starting with the long end closest to you, roll the dough into a long log.

8. Using floss or a knife, cut the log into rolls 1 – 1½ inches thick.

9. Place the rolls into a buttered or nonstick dish, and set aside covered with a damp paper towel for 30-45 minutes so they can rise again.

10. Bake for 25-30 minutes (more importantly, until they are a light golden brown – baking times can really vary depending on your oven) and then let cool. While baking or cooling, make the frosting.

11. Once the buns have cooled, use an off-set spatula to spread the frosting over the tops. Top generously with gorgeous homemade sprinkles!


6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons whipped cream cheese


1. Mix all of the ingredients together until smooth.


4½ cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon meringue powder
6 tablespoons water (+ more if you need)
1 teaspoon almond extract


Wax paper
Pastry bags
Piping tip with a very small hole (I used Wilton #12) (If you can, get a few tips so if you make different colors, you don’t have to rely on just the one tip.)
Food coloring gel


1. Sift the powdered sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the meringue powder, water, and almond extract.

2. Mix everything together on low speed until you have a creamy and smooth mixture.

3. Because I wanted a variety of colors, I poured my sprinkle mix into a few different bowls and then added in food coloring gel until I achieved the color I wanted (for pink, a tiny dab of pink is enough, and for yellow, a tiny dab of yellow is plenty. I love gel food coloring because the colors are strong and mix beautifully).

4. Cut the point of your pastry bags and place the piping tip through the bottom. To make it easy to add your sprinkle mixture, fold over the top of the bag and place it in a cup.

5. Pour the sprinkle mixture into the bag and squeeze until it fills the bottom of the bag.

6. On a wax-paper lined sheet tray, pipe the sprinkle mixture into long as-straight-as-you-can strips. Repeat until the pastry bag is empty and all the sprinkle mixture is used up.

7. Allow the sprinkles to dry for at least 24 hours.

8. Once the sprinkles are dry, you can break them apart. I tried cutting them with a knife, but found that it made the edges uneven. Instead, I broke them apart with my fingers. This gave me control over what size I wanted them to be. For ones that were slightly too long, I just snapped them in half.

9. Sprinkle generously over rolls, cakes, cupcakes…pretty much anything because they are beautiful and you should show them off!

© A Dash of Cinema


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