4ounces(about 1/2 cup) full-fat block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2Tablespoonsunsalted butter, softened to room temperature
Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer
9x13 baking dish
Make the dough: In the microwave or in a small sauce pan, warm the milk until lukewarm— about 100-105°F. Pour the milk into the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl. Whisk in the sugar and yeast. Cover the bowl with a towel and let it sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5-10 minutes. If the yeast doesn't dissolve and foam, start over with fresh yeast.
Using the dough hook attachment, turn the mixer on low speed and beat in the softened butter until it's slightly broken apart. Don't worry if the butter doesn't full mix in, that's okay. Add the eggs, one at time, then the vanilla, and salt. With the mixer still on low speed, gradually add the flour. Once added, increase the speed to medium until a soft dough forms— about 3-5 minutes.
Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the dough is very soft. This can take about 5-6 minutes. If you don't have a stand mixer with a hook attachment, you can knead the dough by hand for this step.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it with your hands for about 1 minute. If you press the dough with your finger and it bounces back, it's just right. Form the dough into a ball and sit it in a lightly greased bowl. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and let it sit in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.* Here's what I do: turn the oven on to 200°F while you're making the dough. Turn the oven off and stick the covered dough inside the oven. This provides the dough a perfect warm environment.
While the dough rises, make the strawberry filling: Add the strawberries in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stir for about 3 minutes until the strawberries start to release their juices. Add the sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla, and stir for 2-3 more minutes. The mixture will start to thicken. Remove from the heat, place in a heatproof bowl, and chill until ready to use. The filling needs to be cool before spreading on the dough.
Grease a 9x13 baking dish generously. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface, and using a rolling pin, roll into a 12x18inch, give or take, rectangle. Make sure the dough is even thickness throughout.
Spread the chilled strawberry filling over the dough. Tightly roll up the dough to form a log, and cut into 12 even rolls (about 1.5 inches.) Arrange them into the baking dish.
Cover the rolls and allow to rise in a warm environment until they are puffy, about 20-25 minutes (or overnight, see instructions below.)
Bake the rolls: Once the rolls have risen, preheat the oven to 375°F and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until they are golden brown. About halfway through I cover the roll loosely with aluminum foil to prevent the tops from browning too much. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
Make the icing: In a bowl using a hand or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla. Beat on low speed for about 1 minute, then increase the speed to high and beat for 2-3 minutes. Using a knife, spread the icing over the warm rolls. Serve immediately. Cover leftover rolls (frosted or unfrosted) tightly at room temperature for up to 2-3 days.
Make ahead tip: Baked unfrosted rolls can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Warm up as desired and spread cream cheese frosting on top. These can also be made the night before. Make the recipe through step 8, cover tightly and let sit overnight in the refrigerator. The next morning, remove from the refrigerator, keep covered, and allow to rise in a warm environment for about an hour then continue with step 9.Milk: I highly recommend using whole milk for this recipe for the richest taste and texture, though 2% can be used when in a pinch.Yeast: If you don't have instant yeast, the rise times will be longer.Don't have a stand mixer? That's okay— the dough can be made without one by adding the ingredients into a large bowl using a rubber spatula to mix the ingredients together. You will be kneading the dough by hand for the time noted in the recipe above.