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Archive for the ‘Sweets’ Category

Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns

I am not pregnant.  This may not come as a surprise because I am not 1) trying to get pregnant 2) married or 3) 100% sure I want kids someday.  However, after a year of reading food blogs I have realized that we really like the “bun in the oven” metaphor.  See here and, more recently, here.  Now, whenever I see a recipe for cinnamon buns on a blog, I wait in anticipation for the good news and cute baby pictures to come.

But, like I said, none of that here today.  Today, I have really, really stellar cinnamon buns with a pumpkin spice filling.  These are great for brunch the morning before Thanksgiving.  They say, “I know that traveling on the day before Thanksgiving sucks and I really appreciate that you got up at 4 in the morning so that you could be here in time for brunch.”  Serve with a Kaluhua and Bailey’s spiked coffee to ensure a happy start to the Thanksgiving festivities.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns

Dough and Glaze adapted from The Smitten Kitchen’s adaptation of Molly Wizenberg’s recipe in Bon Appetit, March 2008

Makes 18 buns.

Dough

1 cup whole milk

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 1/2 cups (or more) unbleached all purpose flour, divided

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg

2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise or instant yeast (1 package yeast)

1 teaspoon salt

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

Filling

Glaze

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For dough: Combine milk and butter in glass measuring cup. Microwave on high until butter melts and mixture is just warmed. Pour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat on low speed 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add additional 2 1/2 cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky, scraping down sides of bowl. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form ball and pulls away from sides of bowl. Use a KitchenAid’s dough hook for this process to knead for 8 minutes.  Add more flour if dough is too sticky.   Form into ball.   Lightly oil large bowl with nonstick spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375

Press down dough. Transfer to floured work surface. Roll out to 15×11-inch rectangle. Spread filling mixture over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border. Starting at the longer side, roll dough into log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. Cut dough crosswise with thin sharp knife into 18 equal slices (each about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide).   Spray two 9-inch square glass baking dishes with nonstick spray. Divide rolls between baking dishes, arranging cut side up (there will be almost no space between rolls). Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes.  Don’t skimp on the double-rising time.  Exchange plastic wrap and towel for alumninum foil covering the baking pans.  Bake rolls until cooked through, 20-25 minutes.  Check the center of the pan before removing from the oven.  The pumpkin filling can make it easy to miss a not fully cooked bun.  Let sit for 10 minutes and then glaze

For glaze: Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Spread glaze on rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The Smitten Kitchen note: These buns were best the day they were baked. However, I would have no idea because although I have made them twice in two weeks, they have never made it to the second day.

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Seriously. .  . look at these pictures.  I didn’t take these, Brett took these.  Darn good cookies, yes?

I really like these cookies.  They are nutty with a perfect chewy texture.  The recipe is here.  I didn’t do much to change it so I would recommend going directly to the source.  For as much as I liked the cookies, they struck Brett as good but not great

Having found myself  such an adorable man, I would like to keep him.  I’m told that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.  So, I am searching for the perfect almond dessert.  It should feature nuts and not be too sweet.  Any thoughts?

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Movie Night

Caramel Bacon Popcorn is awesome.  It is sweet and salty and proof that bacon does, in fact, make everything better.  I recommend this popcorn paired with Princess Bride or Spanglish.

Ingredients

1 bag microwaveable popcorn

1 and 1/2 Tbs butter

1 and 1/2 brown sugar

6 Tbs water

1/2 pound bacon

1. Cook bacon.  Mince into very small pieces(smaller than pictured).

2. Stir butter, sugar and water until sugar dissolves.

3. Bring to a boil.

4. Cover and cook for 3 minutes.

5.  Pop popcorn.

6. Uncover caramel mixture and cook without stirring to soft ball stage, 238.

7. Spread popcorn over cookie sheets to make a single layer sprinkle bacon throughout.

8.  Drizzle caramel mixture over popcorn.

9.  Allow popcorn to dry, 12 – 24 hours.

Adapted from “Candied Popcorn”  in the Joy of Cooking.

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Its cold, its grey, and the holidays are over.  In California, I would be fine.  Here  in Portland, I am . . . adjusting.  I carry a space heater and a blanket with me as a migrate from room to room.  I arm myself with hot tea, lip balm, and plenty of layers before venturing out into the cold and grey. But some days, none of these precautions are enough.  I need more to combat Portland dreary.

On days like today, I turn to Chipotle Brownies.  The oven warms up my house, the spice warms my belly, and the chocolate warms my heart.  These Chipotle Brownies are moist, chocolate-y with a slow burning heat at the end.  They are perfect if you like chocolate and spice.

Very slightly adapted this recipe from Jerry Russell at Cooking by the Seat of my Pants

Ingredients:

Spray oil to coat the pan

8 ounces chopped semi-sweet chocolate

1 cup butter

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp. ground chipotle powder

6 eggs

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

To Do:

1.  325 degrees.

2.  Spray square pans.

3.   Combine chocolate and butter in a double boiler or in a bowl placed over a small saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth.

4.  Combine cocoa powder and flour.

5.  In an electric mixer or large bowl, combine sugar,  cinnamon and chipotle powder.

6. Add melted chocolate.

7. Beat with an electric mixer or the whisk attachment of a stand mixer on medium speed for 1 minute, scraping bowl occasionally.

8.  Add eggs one at a time, beating on low speed after each egg is added until just combined.  Beat in vanilla until just combined.

9.  Add flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time, beating at low speed until just combined.  Beat on medium speed for an additional minute.

10.  Spread batter evenly into baking pans and bake in preheated oven  for 35 to 40 minutes.

11.  Remove from pan and cut into bars or wedges.

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Santa’s Favorite Cookies

Santa’s mostest favoritest cookies are Molasses Crinkles.  No, I do not have a direct line to Santa.  But I do have science.  Every year, my sister and I put out Molasses Crinkles for Santa and some carrots for his reindeer.  Every year, the Molasses Crinkles had bites taken out of them, the carrots were gone, and we got great presents.  See?  Science.  Santa likes Molasses Crinkles cookies bestest.

Very slighty adapted from Ina Garten.   The recipe that I used is below.  Follow the link for the original recipe.  I quadrupled the powdered ginger and omitted the cloves because I wanted ginger cookies.  I used less crystalized ginger because ginger comes in 4 oz packs rather than 6 oz packs at my local Whole Foods.  I used one egg and one egg yolk because I forgot to buy extra-large eggs.  See, Cookiepalooza 2011 was a well-organized affair.

Cookiepalooza 2011 Aftermath

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1 large egg and 1 egg yolk
  • 4 ounces chopped crystallized ginger
  • Granulated sugar, for rolling the cookies

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt and then combine the mixture with your hands. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the brown sugar, oil, and molasses on medium speed for 5 minutes. Turn the mixer to low speed, add the egg, and beat for 1 minute. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat for 1 more minute. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the crystallized ginger and mix until combined.

Scoop the dough with 2 spoons or a small ice cream scoop. With your hands, roll each cookie into a 1 3/4-inch ball and then flatten them lightly with your fingers. Press both sides of each cookie in granulated sugar and place them on the sheet pans. Bake for exactly 13 minutes. The cookies will be crackled on the top and soft inside. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

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Make Peppermint Bark.  Every Christmas season, when the crowds start to get to me, I make Peppermint Bark.  Its easy, its delicious, and it is a stress reliever.  I let my friends and family believe that the reason for the Peppermint Bark is to give as a gift.  The real reason, of course, is because I get to beat peppermint sticks with a wooden spoon.

Mid process on this year’s batch, Brett suggested that a food processor would be a more reasonable solution.  I thought about it. . . and promptly disregarded the suggestion.  If a use a food processor, I don’t get to beat things with wooden spoons, do I? 

12 Candy Canes

4 White Chocolate Bars

Wax Paper

Prepare1.  Crush candy canes using whichever method suits your mood.

2.  Melt white chocolate.  I have never had a problem putting white chocolate in the microwave for short intervals, stirring between each one.

3.  Spread melted chocolate along the wax paper to create a layer that is about 1/4 inch.

4.  Sprinkle the crushed peppermint evenly across the white chocolate.  I recommend putting down a layer of the most finely crushed peppermint covering down first and then sprinkling the larger pieces evenly across the white chocolate for a more even look and flavor.  I also recommend pressing the larger pieces into the chocolate so they won’t fall off when the chocolate hardens.

5.  Leave overnight to firm.

6.  Slice into pieces.

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Pine+Chocolate=Christmas

 

My house smells fabulous!  Brett very sweetly took me to buy my very own fresh-cut tree which I decorated with homemade chocolate ornaments. Every time I step into the living room, it smells like pine and chocolate; Christmas.  Even better, the ornaments are super easy to make.

How To

Supplies:

Candy Melts or White Chocolate

Candy Mold

Ornament hooks

To Do:

Melt the candy in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring between each interval.

Pour candy into the mold.  If using hollow molds, fill about half full.

Refrigerate the mold untill chill and then pop the candy out.  If the candy breaks coming out, it can be reattached with some melted candy or melted again.

If working with a hollow, two piece mold like I did, use more melted candy to fuse the two pieces together.  position the ornament hook between the two pieces.

Things I Learned

Candy melts and mold can be found at a craft store.

Test the first batch for weight on the tree.  My biggest ornaments are a bit too heavy for my tree.

A single piece mold is easier than a two piece mold (seriously? why don’t these things occur to me until I am half way done with a project.)

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