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Sweet rolls, sticky buns drenched in warm caramel, cinnamon swirls with cream cheese frosting — call them what you want and top them to your liking. Just don't delay in placing your order. These pastries are quick to sell out at bakeries and cafes across the Twin Cities, especially this time of year, when cooler weather brings cravings for comfort.

"It's the archetypal comfort food," said Jeff Veigel, owner of Minneapolis' Isles Bun & Coffee, which has been baking its cinnamon-scented sweet rolls for almost 30 years.

Though delicious year-round, sweet rolls are linked, at least psychologically, to fall and winter, when people load up on carbs as the chill sets in. "We just need comfort," said Elizabeth Tinucci, co-owner of St. Paul's Colossal Cafe. "We just add some butter and bread and feel better about ourselves."

But it's not just the weather that makes them taste so good. For many, it comes down to nostalgia.

"I think with our cinnamon rolls, we have become a part of people's families. I have people call in to order them who get them every Thanksgiving," said Jean Hunn, owner of Keys Cafe & Bakery. "We are tradition."

Here are 10 sweet rolls we loved. Don't see your favorite? Tell us about it in the comments. (We'll leave the naked, croissant-like morning buns — also a delight — for another story.)

Puppy Dog Tails from Isles Bun & Coffee
Puppy Dog Tails from Isles Bun & Coffee

Sharyn Jackson, Star Tribune

Go big or small

The allure of Isles Bun & Coffee is unmistakable. "We get comments on the smell just outside the building," said co-owner Jeff Veigel. Their fragrant and freshly baked cinnamon/caramel/pecan buns are the size of small loaves of bread. Smaller appetites go for the signature Puppy Dog Tails, little twists made from scraps of dough. "They're far and away our most popular item because you don't need a knife and fork to eat them," Veigel said. "And I think people feel psychologically healthier because they're not eating so much. I'm just having one, two, three ... or maybe four."

Puppy Dog Tails $1.75 each, $20 a dozen; buns $4.75 each or $27 for six. Isles Bun & Coffee, 1424 W. 28th St., Mpls., 612-870-4466, islesbun.com.

Cinnamon roll from Hot Hands Pie & Biscuit
Cinnamon roll from Hot Hands Pie & Biscuit

Sharyn Jackson, Star Tribune

Tangy on top

Tara Coleman's Hot Hands Pie & Biscuit takes the classic cinnamon roll in an original direction. Inspired by a flaky sausage roll her mother would make, Coleman adapted the recipe but kept some of the more savory aspects. The dough has no sugar in it; instead, cinnamon and brown sugar sweeten the interior layers, and the finished swirls are rolled in sugar crystals after baking. Rolls come out crisp on the outside yet gooey in the middle. The ultra-tangy vanilla bean-flecked topping isn't sweet, either; it's cream cheese, whipped cream and lemon juice. The result "may come as a surprise to people who are expecting your typical fluffy, extra sweet cinnamon roll," Coleman said.

$3.95 each. Hot Hands Pie & Biscuit, 272 S. Snelling Av., St. Paul, 651-300-1503, hothandspie.com.

Caramel pecan roll from Hell’s Kitchen
Caramel pecan roll from Hell’s Kitchen

Sharyn Jackson, Star Tribune

30 years till perfection

With a half-pound of dough, pools of caramel running down the sides and a sprinkling of extra-toasty pecans, this roll is so hefty it's served with a steak knife. The recipe took Hell's Kitchen co-founder Mitch Omer's father, Dana, decades to perfect. "In the '70s and '80s, he spent years tweaking, and he scribbled little notes all over, and say 'Man, that's not good enough,' and he'd put it away for a while," said Cynthia Gerdes, co-founder and spouse of Omer, who died in 2015. When Hell's Kitchen was set to open in 2002, Omer asked his dad for the recipe. "He looked through all these pieces of paper and couldn't make heads or tails out of it," Gerdes said. It took another year of recipe development before it landed on the menu — and it's been one of Hell's Kitchen's signature items ever since.

$7.95 each. Hell's Kitchen, 80 S. 9th St., Mpls., 612-332-4700, hellskitcheninc.com.

Cinnamon roll from Colossal Cafe
Cinnamon roll from Colossal Cafe

Sharyn Jackson, Star Tribune

When size matters

Just one Colossal Cafe cinnamon roll lives up to the name of the place. "It does feed a family of four," said co-owner Elizabeth Tinucci. The massive rolls — about the size of a slice of Sicilian pizza — double as a creative solution to food waste: The dough is made from leftover yeast-based pancake batter. The cycle keeps going if there happens to be any unbought cinnamon rolls. Day-olds are half-price, and anything left after that is steeped in milk for 24 hours and used in the off-menu cinnamon roll latte that comes drizzled with icing (only at the Grand Avenue location).

$4 each. Colossal Cafe, 1340 Grand Av., St. Paul, 651-414-0543; 2315 Como Av., St. Paul, 651-797-4027, colossalcafe.com.

Caramel roll from Milda’s Cafe
Caramel roll from Milda’s Cafe

Sharyn Jackson, Star Tribune

A diner's longtime specialty

Opened in 1965, Milda's Cafe has always made cinnamon/caramel rolls fresh every day. And thanks to longtime baker Jeff Nelson, they're still at it. "I really don't know how he does it," said owner Ayman Samie. "He doesn't share these things with us. He comes in at 2 in the morning and is done before even the staff comes in." (Nelson has also brought this north Minneapolis diner worldwide acclaim for his pasties.) What Samie does know is that the decades-old recipe has its fans. "People come early in the morning with their coffee, they want it a certain way — heated up and butter next to it, and that's how they start their day," he said. "It's always consistent."

$2.99 each. Milda's Cafe, 1720 Glenwood Av., Mpls., 612-377-9460.

Cinnamon roll from Swede Hollow Cafe
Cinnamon roll from Swede Hollow Cafe

Sharyn Jackson, Star Tribune

Slathered in butter

Since this sweet gem of a cafe in St. Paul's Swede Hollow Park opened in 1997, there's been a fresh-baked cinnamon roll on the menu. The recipe has evolved ever so slightly with each new ownership, said co-owner Shirley Yang. But one thing that has made this version distinct is a thick swipe of sunshine-yellow, butter-based frosting on top — a boon for those who aren't fans of cream cheese. Give it a little warm-up and the butter drizzles down deep into the cinnamon-spiced center. "They are light and sweet and buttery and bring a smile to so many of us, something which we could use more of after the difficulties of this past year," Yang said.

Cinnamon roll, $3.75; caramel roll, $4.25. Swede Hollow Cafe, 725 E. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-776-8810, swedehollowcafe.com

Cinnamon roll from Sift Gluten-Free
Cinnamon roll from Sift Gluten-Free

Sharyn Jackson, Star Tribune

Gluten-free goodness

"Cinnamon rolls play such a prominent role in so many people's food memories that, if you're gluten-free, you're going to miss them," said Sift owner Molly Miller. So, her gluten-free bakery is filling the void, achieving classic doughy-ness with a mix of ground chia seeds and psyllium husk. They're smaller than a traditional roll, but the density hits the spot. And they have the added bonus of being vegan, too. "When you enjoy ours fresh from the oven, glaze dripping as youpeel away the layers — no one's missing the gluten," Miller said.

$4 each. Sift Gluten Free, 4557 Bloomington Av., Mpls., 612-503-5300, siftglutenfree.com.

Caramel roll from Keys Cafe & Bakery
Caramel roll from Keys Cafe & Bakery

Sharyn Jackson, Star Tribune

The gooiest middle

A frequent sellout at all nine Keys Cafes since its founding in 1973 are the sticky buns, which start with frozen bread dough but get the Keys treatment with a housemade "schmear" of cinnamon-sugar, caramel or pecan filling. Owner Jean Hunn, whose mother founded the business, said that all together, the stores go through more than 800 rolls a week. "It just became a signature item," Hunn said. "Ours are more bready than a flaky pastry, yet they're still very airy. I forget how good they are and then I have a piece — I'll just peel off a section of it, and they're just so good." It might sound excessive, but don't ignore the salty butter pats that come alongside the warm bun — they melt right in for the ultimate gooey bite.

Prices vary by location. Cinnamon or caramel $3-$5; pecan $3.45-$6. Keys Cafe & Bakery, multiple metro locations, keyscafe.com.

Cinnamon biscuit from Butter Bakery Cafe
Cinnamon biscuit from Butter Bakery Cafe

Sharyn Jackson, Star Tribune

Small but mighty

When Dan Swenson-Klatt bought a south Minneapolis bakery in 2006, one of his priorities was putting cinnamon rolls — a pastry he's had a lifelong love for — on the menu. Unfortunately, the kitchen wasn't right for proofing yeast-based doughs. Instead, Butter's first baker, Amy Kovacs, developed a cinnamon roll made out of biscuit dough, with a touch of clove and cardamom in the swirl, making for a petite yet deeply filling treat. "Once we had explained to customers that the biscuits weren't under-proofed yeast rolls, we found we had landed on an item that would join the case daily and often be the first to sell out," Swenson-Klatt said.

$4 each. Butter Bakery Cafe, 3700 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., 612-521-7401, butterbakerycafe.com.

Cinnamon roll from the Buttered Tin
Cinnamon roll from the Buttered Tin

Sharyn Jackson, Star Tribune

All about the butter

For Buttered Tin pastry chef and founder Alicia Hinze, the popularity of her cinnamon rolls comes down to two elements: dough and butter. "I think if the dough starts sweet, then the overall product becomes overwhelming, and no one wants that," she said. She uses a milk bread dough for light fluffiness, then tops the dough with Hope Creamery butter before adding the sugar and cinnamon. A piping of barely sweetened cream cheese gradually melts into the roll if ordered warm at either cafe location (or bake from frozen at home). It's "definitely a frosting, not an icing," she said. "Really, it's amazing."

$4 each. The Buttered Tin, 237 E. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-224-2300; 2445 NE. Marshall St., Mpls., 612-234-4224, thebutteredtin.com.