Thursday, October 4, 2012

Grandma's Naughty Cinnamon Balls

Every Friday afternoon, my mom used to come over.

She'd have a load of groceries for us (mostly toilet paper), jokes she'd clipped out of the newspaper for the kids*, and leftovers for the dog.  She'd take over the couch, pretend to be mystified by the Tivo remote, then unerringly find Oprah and crank the volume up.  She'd set packages of whatever junk food was on special that week out on the counter, with neat block letters in colored pens labeling which grandkid got the gummy worms, and who got the Oreos.  She'd frown as I sat glued to my laptop, occasionally nodding and saying "um hm", frustrated that I was not nearly as concerned as I should be about Celine Dion, then dispense advice to my husband when he got in from work. We'd escape to the movies, come home and find her with Nick at Nite blaring, the dog curled up on the rug by her feet, and the cat staring balefully at us from his perch by her head.

Every Saturday morning, she'd make these.

My son would practically run to the breakfast table, my daughter would immediately put a pile of them on her plate, and my husband would sit down, pour a big glass of OJ, and shake his head.  "Grandma," he'd say, "you made the naughty cinnamon balls again! What are you trying to do to me?"

Then he'd take two.

Almost Grandma's Naughty Cinnamon Balls
Like the Barnaby Day Cookies, these evoke my mother so strongly now that it's hard for me to make them very often, despite the pure elation their appearance at the table brings the rest of the family.  But you'll have no such emotional baggage, so go right ahead and have them every Saturday morning if you like. They are supremely easy, and supremely tasty. FYI, Mom's version involved drizzling the biscuits with a little melted vanilla ice cream before baking.  She also served them with a side of bacon**.

1/3 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. sugar
3 generous Tbs. cinnamon
1 can refrigerated buttermilk biscuit dough, with eight large biscuits
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375, and butter a square or round baking pan.  Set aside.

Combine brown sugar, sugar and cinnamon in large ziplock bag or a small mixing bowl.  Place melted butter into a shallow bowl.

Working in batches, cut biscuit dough rounds in quarters, to get 32 pieces total. Dip pieces first into the melted butter (I find tongs are helpful here, so your fingers don't get greasy), then toss in the cinnamon sugar until completely coated.

Transfer to prepared baking pan, trying to keep the pieces in a single layer.  It is OK if they touch, and they don't have to be in neat rows, unless you are nutty like that.  When you are done, drizzle any remaining butter over the top, and sprinkle with a bit of the leftover cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.

Cool for 5-10 minutes, then serve.

Click to print this recipe!

* Sample joke:  What do you call somebody else's cheddar?  Nacho cheese.
** Mom money saving tip:  Cut strips of bacon in half before frying.  You'll get twice as many pieces out of a package, so you can either feed more people, or save half the for next time.  My sister, by the way, has never gotten this memo.  Her bacon tip involves frying up twice the amount of bacon any reasonable person should eat, and just buying five more pounds for next time.

Another "Saturday morning with Grandma" fan, waiting for a piece of bacon to fall from the breakfast table, like the old days.


  1. Holy crow, these look amazing!! Do you think I could make them with any sort of buttermilk biscuit dough? I need to plan my week accordingly...

    1. I think absolutely a thousand times yes, you can! Let me know if you make them!