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Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

10 Dec

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There is something very special about making homemade sweet rolls from scratch. I love finding a new recipe to prepare every year for Christmas morning. I’ve made a variety of orange sweet rolls, cranberry sweet rolls and the traditional cinnamon rolls over the past years. They don’t compare to the tube you’ll find in the grocery store. I’m not sure exactly why – maybe the butter and sugar content or the labor of love that take to make them.

I love a sweet roll because you can make them the day before. Wake up early for a final rise while enjoying a cup of coffee and then bake off right before guests arrive (or wake up). I made these homemade cinnamon rolls for my Winter Walk friends this past Sunday. They were a huge hit and renamed “homemade cinnibon’ during the party. I baked them in a large casserole dish but you can use two cake pans easily. Save these for Christmas or New Year’s morning – it’s worth the wait.

Our Favorite Cinnamon Rolls, Epicurious  | September 2014

For the dough:

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons bread-machine yeast or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, beaten
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray

For the filling:

  • 1 1/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups chopped, lightly toasted pecans

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch kosher salt

Special equipment:

  • 2 9-inch round cake pans

preparation

Make the dough:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add flour, yeast, and sugar. Mix on low speed until well combined. Add eggs and mix on low to combine. In a small pot, heat milk, butter, and cinnamon over medium-low heat until butter is melted and mixture is between 120 and 130°F (use a thermometer).

Add warm milk mixture and salt to stand mixer. Beat on low speed 2 to 3 minutes, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl with a spatula. Beat on medium speed until smooth and elastic, 2 to 3 minutes. Dough will be very sticky.

Lightly oil a large bowl with cooking spray. Form dough into ball and transfer 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.

While dough rises, cut 2 pieces of parchment to fit 2 9-inch round cake pans. Butter pans, line with parchment, and butter parchment.

Make the filling:
Mix brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in medium bowl.

Make the glaze:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt.

Assemble and bake:
Preheat to 375°F and position rack in center of oven. Punch down dough and transfer to floured work surface. Roll out to 16-by-12-inch rectangle. Spread butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border on the long sides. Sprinkle filling mixture evenly over butter, then add pecans. Starting at a long edge, roll dough toward you into a log, pinching gently to keep it rolled tightly. With seam side down, cut dough crosswise with a thin sharp knife into 16 equal slices.

Divide rolls between baking dishes, arranging cut side up; rolls will be touching. 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.

Bake rolls until tops are golden, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and invert immediately onto rack. Cool 10 minutes. Turn rolls right side up. Drizzle glaze over rolls and serve immediately.

cooks’ note:Rolls can be assembled, arranged in pans, covered with plastic wrap, and refrigerated for several hours or overnight. If refrigerated, allow to come to room temperature for about 2 hours, watch for second rise (rolls should almost double in volume), and then bake.

 
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My Favorite Holiday Desserts

4 Dec

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Sadly, I didn’t have the opportunity to take a photo of my mother’s Chocolate Bonet before it was devoured at the Thanksgiving table. Instead, I’ll share the sweetest photo of my dog, Winston.  The Bonet was something that I had never heard of – a mixture of cookies pulverized and mixed with dairy to make a rich chocolate flan like dessert. It was a huge hit – so much that my mother wants to duplicate it this year in instead of Chocolate Mousse. There will, undoubtably, be a protest.

In honor of the holidays coming, here are several of my favorite holiday desserts. And, the incredible bonet recipe.

 

Grilled Poundcake with Balsamic Peaches and Whipped Cream

19 Sep

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As a child, my mother would allow me to eat toasted pound cake for breakfast as a treat. Nothing beats it. I used the same concept in the mountains and grilled store-bought pound cake from The Fresh Market and topped it with fresh peaches in balsamic and fresh whipped cream. I promise it takes so much better than you would expect and it couldn’t be easier. Use any seasonal fruit you’d like and even consider grilling the fruit!

Honey Glazed Peach Tart

18 Aug

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Growing up, my grandfather made fresh peach ice cream in the garage every summer. It was always the most exciting treat. And we loved watching the churning of cream and peaches while adding more rock salt to the ice. These days, an activity of that nature seems more time consuming than relaxing but the memories are easily consumed by purchasing fresh peaches. This weekend I tested a recipe for a honey-glazed peach tart with sliced almonds. It came out pretty delectable and I happily shared it with some very fit friends at a Saturday night cookout. It was worth the calories and is practically health food as peaches are so perfect this time of year.

I suggest watching the tart carefully. Mine took much longer than the recipe called for but was worth the extra twenty minutes of drooling while the peaches tendered in the oven.

Honey Glazed Peach Tart, Bon Appetit

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons (about) ice water

Filling

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 6 ripe medium peaches, peeled, halved, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices (about 4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons peach preserves or other jelly, melted

Blend flour, sugar, and salt in processor. Using on/off turns, cut in butter until pea-size pieces form. With machine running, add enough ice water by tablespoonfuls to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic; refrigerate 1 hour.

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Trim overhang to 1 inch. Fold overhang in and press to form double-thick sides. Press inside edge of crust to push it 1/8 to 1/4 inch above top edge of pan. Pierce bottom of crust with fork. Refrigerate 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake tart crust until golden, piercing with fork if bubbles form, about 25 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool; wrap in plastic and store at room temperature.)
Mix sugar, flour, and lemon peel in large bowl to blend. Add peaches and toss to coat. Pour into baked crust. Drizzle honey over peach mixture; dot with butter and sprinkle with almonds. Bake until peaches are tender and almonds are toasted, about 35 minutes  or until the fruit is tender (mine took much longer). Brush fruit and almonds with peach preserves. Cool 15 minutes before serving. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Store tart at room temperature.)

Blueberry Hand Pies

21 Jul

 

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It’s berry season and I’m having fun experimenting with new desserts. This recipe is inspired by Bon Appetit. In actually, I made their dough by hand and it wasn’t sweet enough. I recommend saving time and buy store bought pie dough or canned biscuits (a tip from my mother’s friends). Simply stuff with a blueberry mixture, crimp and bake. These are playful and fun to eat by hand at a dinner party.

Blueberry Hand Pies

  • store bought pie crust or canned biscuits
  • 2 cups blueberries (about 10 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, whisked with 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix together the blueberries, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and salt. Roll out the dough into 6ish small circles or squares. Stuff with filling. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake for about 30 minutes or until browned. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

4th of July Flag Cake

7 Jul

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South Carolina rockets flew over every neighborhood in Greensboro this weekend. Small gatherings, water balloon fights, parades full of kids and lots of hot dogs. There’s nothing like celebrating the 4th of July in your hometown. It’s Americana at its best.

In full spirit, I made Ina Garten’s signature flag cake. Almost two pounds of buttery goodness was spread through a large gathering of Greenborians at my friends Jamey and Phil’s party in Sunset Hills. The sloping raspberry stripe was it’s only fault – it was delicious and devoured by kids and children at heart. If you’re looking for a show stopper at your next patriotic party, make sure to shoot for these buttercream stars.

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Blackberry Cheesecake

30 May

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The last couple of weeks, I’ve had some serious challenges with baking. I tend not to have the necessary patience for measuring. I’m always cutting a few corners or rushing the baking process. It works with some things in life but certainly not all! Cheesecakes tend to have a little more room for error, so I chose the Pioneer Woman’s Blackberry Cheesecake for my party dessert this past weekend. It’s berry season, so you could just whatever your favorite is.

This is an easy, carefree recipe and it’s so darn good. Happy weekend!

Berry Pavlova with Lemon Curd

21 Apr

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I hope everyone had a nice sunny and relaxing holiday weekend.  It seems everyone is wearing white pants now (I saw a couple people cheating before Easter) so I’m assuming so!

I spent the weekend with friends eating all sorts of Springtime meals. From a most delicious Harissa Butterflied Chicken, to Beet Salad with Tahini Dressing – and this most splendid Berry Pavlova with Lemon Curd.  This dessert takes several hours to make (which provides a great excuse not to go to the gym after a wild Friday night) but is fairly simple and fun. I love working with egg whites – they look much more complicated and are so silky once whipped to perfection.

This dessert is light, airy and has a nice crunch. It will certainly impress friends. Take the leap and test the meringue!

Berry Pavlova with Lemon Curd, Gourmet Magazine 2009

For meringue:

  • 1 cup superfine granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 large egg whites at room temperature 30 minutes
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

For filling:

  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 cups mixed berries

Preparation

Make meringue:
Preheat oven to 300°F with rack in middle. Trace an approximately 7-inch circle on a sheet of parchment paper. Turn parchment over and put on a baking sheet.

Whisk together superfine sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl.

Beat whites with a pinch of salt using an electric mixer at medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Add water (whites will loosen) and beat until whites again hold soft peaks.

Increase speed to medium-high and beat in sugar mixture 1 tablespoon at a time. After all sugar has been added, beat 1 minute more.

Add vinegar and beat at high speed until meringue is glossy and holds stiff peaks, about 5 minutes (longer if using hand-held mixer).

Gently spread meringue inside circle on parchment, making edge of meringue slightly higher than center (the “crater” is for curd and fruit). Bake until meringue is pale golden and has a crust, about 45 minutes (inside will still be marshmallow-like).

Turn oven off and prop door open slightly with a wooden spoon. Cool meringue in oven 1 hour.

Make Lemon curd while meringue bakes:
Stir together sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, then add lemon juice and butter. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, whisking, then continue to simmer, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Lightly beat yolks in a small bowl and whisk in 1/4 cup lemon mixture, then whisk into remaining lemon mixture in saucepan. Reduce heat to low and cook, whisking constantly, until curd is thickened, about 2 minutes (do not let boil). Transfer to a bowl and stir in zest. Chill, surface covered with parchment, until cool, about 1 1/2 hours.

Assemble Pavlova:
Beat heavy cream until it just holds stiff peaks, then fold 1/4 cup beaten cream into curd to lighten. Spoon lemon curd into meringue and mound berries on top. Serve remaining whipped cream on the side.

 

Profiteroles with Coffee Ice Cream

15 Apr

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I saw this recipe on Epicurious.com’s Facebook page last week and knew that I had to give it a try. There are some recipes that I wonder if I can pull off – this being one of them. Anything with a piping bag seems like a pain in my neck but surprisingly this was pretty simple. And, the rewards are big. You need a big crowd for this recipe. At least a hungry party of 6 to 8. The extra are now hidden in the freezer from me.

Nothing beats good coffee ice cream, except good coffee ice cream in a profiterole with chocolate sauce.

Profiteroles with Coffee Ice Cream, Gourmet Magazine 2008

For profiteroles:

  • 1 quart coffee ice cream
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs

For chocolate sauce:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 7 ounce fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (no more than 60% cacao if marked), finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Cognac or brandy (optional)

Equipment:

  • Equipment: a small (about 1 1/2-inch) ice cream scoop; a large pastry bag fitted with a 3/4-inch plain tip

Make profiteroles:
Chill a small metal baking pan in freezer. Form 18 ice cream balls with scoop and freeze in chilled pan at least 1 hour (this will make serving faster).

Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle. Butter a large baking sheet.

Bring butter, water, and salt to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring until butter is melted. Reduce heat to medium, then add flour all at once and cook, beating with a wooden spoon, until mixture pulls away from side of pan and forms a ball, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to a bowl and cool slightly, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well with an electric mixer after each addition.

Transfer warm mixture to pastry bag and pipe 18 mounds (about 1 1/4 inches wide and 1 inch high) 1 inch apart on baking sheet.

Bake until puffed and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes total. Prick each profiterole once with a skewer, then return to oven to dry, propping oven door slightly ajar, 3 minutes. Cool on sheet on a rack.

Make chocolate sauce:
Heat sugar in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring with a fork to heat sugar evenly, until it starts to melt, then stop stirring and cook, swirling pan occasionally so sugar melts evenly, until it is dark amber.

Remove from heat, then add cream and a pinch of salt (mixture will bubble and steam). Return to heat and cook, stirring, until caramel has dissolved.

Remove from heat and add chocolate, whisking until melted, then whisk in vanilla and Cognac (if using). Keep warm, covered.

Serve profiteroles:
Halve profiteroles horizontally, then fill each with a ball of ice cream. Put 3 profiteroles on each plate and drizzle generously with warm chocolate sauce.

 

Mini Orange Chocolate Chunk Cakes

10 Apr

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No one will ever complain – or turn down – a mini cake. Especially one that is covered in chocolate ganache. Like all Ina recipes, this is over the top and delicious. I couldn’t resist making this recipe and was lucky enough to have folks to gift them to throughout the weekend. And for ladies who don’t love dessert, we each had TWO at Sunday Supper. These are perfect for holidays and special treats for friends and neighbors.

Ina’s Mini Orange Chocolate Chunk Cakes

1/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1/8 cup grated orange zest (2 large oranges)
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus 1 tablespoon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3 ounces buttermilk at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup good semisweet chocolate chunks

For the syrup:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

For the ganache:
4 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 6 individual serving baking molds (approximately 1 to 1½ cups), such as flexible non-stick 100% silicone molds.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the orange zest.
Sift together 1-1/2 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the orange juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately in thirds to the creamed butter, beginning and ending with the flour. Toss the chocolate chunks with 1 tablespoon flour and add to the batter. Fill each mold with batter, smooth the top, and bake for 30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the molds on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the sugar with the orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Remove the cakes from the molds, set on a rack over a tray, and spoon the orange syrup over the cakes. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cakes.

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