Category Archives: Desserts

Cinnamonamonamonamon buns

Gooey, delicious, and guaranteed to be horrible for you, these cinnamon buns are amazing.

I can’t in any way take credit for this recipe. My future bro-in-law makes these buns and they are to DIE for. He uses the recipe off King Arthur Flour’s web site. And since that just so happens to be the flour we use, of course we had to try this recipe. He did offer some alterations and some tips for us that is different than the actual recipe, which I’ll talk allllll about here.

Warning: Butter WILL be your best friend in this recipe. So if you’re on a diet, I suggest turning away now. …But I hope you don’t, because it’s so delicious! Also, this recipe will make you lethargic. True story.

OK, so now that I’ve done my part and given you the warnings, we can go ahead and talk about how to make these rolls of heaven.

Cinnamonamaonamonamon buns starring:
The Dough:
•4 1/2 cups King Arthur All-Purpose Flour (or all-purpose flour if you don’t use this brand)
•1/2 cup of granulated sugar
•1 3/4 teaspoon salt
•1/3 cup unsalted butter, cut up
•2 large eggs, room temperature
•2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast (we just used Red Star-brand active dry yeast)
•1 cup milk (lukewarm – just stick it into the microwave for 20-30 seconds. This is to help the yeast react properly)

The Filling:
•1 cup packed brown sugar (we used dark – more depth of flavor)
•1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened (just leave it out for 1-2 hours)
•3 tablespoons ground cinnamon

The Icing:
•3 oz. plain cream cheese (we used the 1/3 less fat neufchatel cheese, which isn’t as bad for you and has a lot more flavor)
•1 1/2 cup powdered (or confectioners) sugar
•1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
•1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (that’s 1/2 a stick)

Start to make your dough by adding the milk, a little bit of the sugar (like 1/8 teaspoon) and the yeast to your mixer bowl. With the paddle attachment, start mixing the ingredients.

If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use a hand mixer, or a wooden spoon.

Next, add the flour, rest of the sugar and the salt. Let the entire thing combine until it’s “cohesive” as the site would suggest. Then you can take it out and knead on a well oiled surface for 5-8 minutes. Or, you can attach the dough hook to your KitchenAid and knead it that way for 4-7 minutes on low-to-medium speed.

This is how the dough will look when it’s all nice and combined

Put the dough into a separate bowl, so you can clean out the metal mixer bowl and oil it. Then put the dough back into it and turn it around to oil it well. Next, turn on your oven to the lowest temperature (100 or 150ºF for maybe 1-2 minutes and then turn it off). Instead of just covering the dough with a towel or something, we put ours in the oven to rise. Just cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the oven for 60 minutes so it can rise.

Go do your laundry, or play a video game or something for the hour while you wait for the dough to rise. It’ll go by quick, though!

When the dough is ready, oil a surface (or a few cutting boards in our case) and dump the dough ball onto it. Roll it out to 16 x 21 inches.

With your softened butter for the filling, spread it all over the dough. I know how horrible this looks, but believe me, you want it to look like this. It was a bit overwhelming, not going to lie. Now, I guess you could melt the butter first and then pour it onto the dough. Our butter was soft enough, so this worked just as well.

Then you want to sprinkle the entire thing with the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Get it all on there, too!

From the shortest end, start rolling the dough up into a tight log.

Cut the roll log into 12 pieces and place into a lightly greased 9 x 13 baking dish. It’s easiest to the cut the log into half, and then each half into six pieces.

Once you get all the pieces in your dish, you have to let them rise again. Cover the dish with plastic wrap, proof your oven again (set it to the lowest temperature for 1-2 minutes) and then turn the oven off, place the dish in there, and let them rise for 30 minutes.

It may not look like they’ve risen a ton, but they have.

Next, set your oven to 400ºF, and bake the rolls for 15 minutes. They won’t take long! So once the rolls are baking away, you can make your icing. You want to make the icing while they’re baking so that you can spread it on each bun as soon as they come out of the oven.

Mix the cream cheese (softened), butter (softened), powdered sugar and vanilla extract. You just use a fork and mix it well and you’ll end up with the most amazing cream cheese icing. Zomg. It took a lot not to eat the lovely forkful REB held up for me…

Moving on…

Spread the icing on the buns as soon as they come out of the oven. They’ll be all golden brown when they’re finished. The icing will instantly melt on top of each of the rolls. Must…contain…self.

If you notice one is missing, it’s because I snagged to take a photo of it. …or eat it. Ahem.

It’s OK to be jealous. Enjoy!

Love and Chocolate

Continuing from the last post about the romagical French Toast brunch, I concluded the evening by making chocolate covered strawberries for REB.

I love chocolate. I’m not a huge sweets person, but chocolate and fruit are an amazing combination (much like chocolate and peanut butter). I’ve used a lot of different chocolates when baking and making these chocolate covered strawberries. However, I’ve learned my lesson: you can’t skimp when it comes to chocolate. Use the best ingredients you can find! It makes a world of difference.

I used Ghiardelli milk and bittersweet chocolate to dip the strawberries.

These were freshly dipped in the bittersweet dark chocolate. The ones you see in the back there are the milk chocolate dipped ones. Both are delicious.

…But I didn’t stop there…oh no! Not me!

I went back and melted some white chocolate and drizzled them on some of the chocolate-dipped strawberries.

Did I mention I’m a chocolatier now? Because I can add that onto my already being a baker extraordinaire.

Now, I bought some Ghiaradelli white chocolate chips, but it clumped way too much and way too quickly. Blech! So I ended up buying a premium white chocolate bar, used some shortening and got the consistency I wanted in order to drizzle the berries.

We ended up adding shortening to the chips that had clumped up and they melted down pretty well. Well…well enough that we added some nuts to it and made white chocolate bark! Nom!

The end result! Aren’t they cute?? They turned out so well and I think the plate is just adorable! My friend B and I went into Urban Outfitters (a store I would normally never set foot in, except they were having an awesome sale) yesterday, and got some cute little plates for next to nothing!

I don’t make chocolate covered strawberries that often, if at all. But I thought today was a quasi-”important holiday” and I love my REB so much, so I pampered him with sweet treats all day long.

It worked.

Incidentally, the above picture was my 5/365  Project 365 picture for today. On Wednesday, at the close of week 1 for this project, I’ll post all 7 pictures I’ve taken this week and break it down.

Happy Valentines Day!

Holla!!! Use Challah!

Happy Hallmark Holiday…day! Ah, it’s that time of year again when people run out and waste money on chocolates and cards and flowers to show how much they love their significant other.

REB and I don’t really do the whole “Valentines Day” thing. But, one of the ways I show him how much I love him is to cook for him. And today was no different.

I made French Toast for brunch. But instead of using boring old Texas toast or thinly sliced bread, I used Challah (holla!!). It is beautiful bread and incredibly heavy on the stomach, so you don’t need a lot to get full!

What you’ll need:
•1 loaf Challah bread (can be found at any grocery story bakery or specialty bakery…or make it yourself if you’re bold!)
•3 eggs, beaten
•1/2 cup Skim milk
•1/2 teaspoon “really good” vanilla extract (as Ina would say)
•1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
•1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (the thing that makes them go “hmm…what IS that?” as goat woman would say)
•1/2 tablespoon honey

First I made the whipped cream.

Have I mentioned how much I love my KitchenAid Mixer? …Because I do. A lot.

Next, I prepared some strawberries to top REB’s toast. I didn’t use them all, because I’m using the rest for chocolate covered strawberries for later (^_^) Have I also mentioned how much I love REB? Ugh. I’m full of love and smiles today.

Beautiful. Luscious. I love strawberries. I thinly sliced 2-3 strawberries and added a sprinkle of granulated sugar so they’d macerate a little.

Onto the challah. Holla!! (Let me know when you’re sick of that, by the way. …not that I’ll stop). Isn’t it pretty and golden? Mmm!

Cut the Challah into about 1/2-to-1-inch thick slices. If you buy the bread a day in advance, it’ll be a little more hard than the day you buy it. I prefer it this way because the bread is SUPER moist…and can make for mushy French Toast. Blech!

The French toast batter is just the beaten eggs, milk, cinnamon, honey, nutmeg and vanilla. Stir well and then add two pieces to it like so. Let them soak for a few minutes, then turn them so the other side can soak.

While they soak it up in the pool, add about one tablespoon of butter to a skillet or deep frying pan. Let the pan get nice and hot before you add the toast pieces

I was going to cut each of the bread pieces into heart shapes to be super romagical in light of V-Day, but it was a little too hard for me to do since the bread isn’t as wide.  I’m glad I didn’t. I didn’t want to waste a whole piece of bread by cutting out little heart shapes and leaving the rest.

Goooolden and delicious!

Now that’s what I call French Toast! Have I mentioned I’m amazing? Just putting it out there now…

Ta-da! Love love love. Can you feel it?

I did add the macerated strawberries…and then it got kind of messy since the cream was melting! Oh well.

This was mine. I like it a bit more simple. I do kind of regret not putting strawberries on it though…next time!

Clearly REB was upset that he didn’t get heart shapes, huh? Glad he liked it.

Next up: Chocolate covered strawberries!

Baking extravaganza – Part II

Cake balls (hehehe)

Hilarious to say, but so yummy to eat. It’s also incredibly idiot-proof to make, but requires some patience.

[we made two batches]
• 2 boxes of cake mix (we used Classic White and Red Velvet)
• 2 cans of frosting (we used Lemon [for the white cake] and Cream Cheese [for the Red Velvet because that’s what you’re supposed to use. No, really. You are. It told me)
• 2 pounds of white chocolate bark (bakers chocolate)
• 2 pounds of semi-sweet bakers chocolate

To prepare:

Bake the cakes according to the package.

Mmmmm….looking good!

As soon as they come out of the oven, dump each into two separate bowls.

Add a can of frosting to each (here you see the lemon with the white cake) and mix it all around

May not look like much, but it smells so good! Once you’ve done this, it’s best to freeze the mixture for up to 24 hours.

The next day, or much later the same day, take out the bowls and make little balls with the cake/frosting mixture.

See? Kinda like that. They’re all happy and ready to be dunked into chocolatey-goodness. Oh, and I know I’m just showing you the white chocolate/lemon frosting batch, but that’s because my sister was mostly dealing with the chocolate and red velvet.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.

And now here’s the white chocolate all melted. Yum!

Isn’t it pretty? Double boiling and using really good quality bark is the key. We tried just using semi-sweet chips, but it isn’t tempered and we didn’t know how to temper it. So we decided just to buy the bark to melt. Nothing was added either. We just dumped them into the bowl and let it melt; no oil, nothing.

Drop one cake ball into the chocolate. We put the red velvet into the chocolate and the lemon into the white chocolate. Using a fork and spoon, work the cake ball around to cover it in chocolate. Remove it and put on a piece of parchment paper and allow to cool completely and harden.

Aren’t they beautiful? Sigh. It’s such a sight, I could cry.

Perfection – this is what it looks like

Oh, here are the white-cake-with-lemon-frosting-and-white-chocolate cake balls. Even though red velvet cake is probably my favorite kind of cake, I prefer the lemon cake balls. How weird is that?

Anyway, something fun you could do is take any leftover white chocolate you have, mix in some food coloring and then drizzle some color onto the cake balls. Then you’d be super-duper fancy. I, however, was lazy and didn’t get around to doing that.

So there you have it. Cake balls (hehehehe). You can try it with any kind of cake you like and any frosting! The possibilities are endless. Just a fair warning though: you’ll end up with 60+ cake balls like we did. Not that I mind, of course.

Baking extravaganza Part I

I love to bake. I don’t do it that often. I should remedy that.

My sister and I are on a baking extravaganza that will complete over the course of three days. Yes, three. Why give presents when you can give baked goodies to your closest family and friends…? Exactly, that’s what I thought.

I’ve talked about my and V’s famous chocolate mint cookies before, and I’ve posted many photos of their perfection on my Flickr, but now I shall share the recipe with all you out there. You should feel special. No, really, you should. DO IT.

Cast of stars:
• 3/4 cup of butter
• 1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I used light but you can use dark…whatever you have)
• 2 tablespoons water
• 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
• 2 1/2 cups flour
• 2 eggs
• 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 36 Andes mints (I just ended up using two packs of them – 24 come in one package)

Start with the butter. Yeah, I know it’s a lot but you can’t skimp when it comes to these cookies. Besides, it’s the holidays. Isn’t the gym for the resolutioners any way…?

In a large saucepan, cook the butter, brown sugar and water together until melted. Add in the chocolate chips and stir to partially melt. Remove from heat and continue stirring to completely melt the chocolate. Pour this mixture into your mixer bowl, or into a larger bowl.

Beat the eggs at high speed, one at a time, into your chocolate mixture and mix until blended. Reduce the speed to low and add in your dry ingredients and mix until blended and a dough forms.

Chill the cookie dough, uncovered, in your fridge for up to 1 hour.

When the dough has set and hardened (I pulled the bowl out after about 45 minutes), take a little bit, roll into a ball and place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Don’t they look magical? I thought so too.

Bake at 350ºF for 8-10 minutes. You’ll know they’re done because the cookies will spread and be kind of cracked on top.

While the cookies bake away, unwrap the Andes mints. Try to contain yourself and not eat them as you unwrap. But that’s why you buy three packages…mwahahaha.

When the cookies come out, this is when the magic really happens.

Immediately after the cookies come out, place one mint on top of each cookie and let them melt into ooey-gooey-melty-amazingness (yes, thats is a word).

Then be patient and let them melt for up to 5 minutes. Once they’re kind of melted, you can use the back of a spoon to spread the chocolate all over.

Patience is a virtue, isn’t it? This is what you end up, and it’s amazing and wonderful and delicious.

Go ahead. Tell V and me that we’re awesome bakers. Actually, thank her sister-in-law. I think it was her who gave us this recipe. She’s basically my hero. Srsly. My hero. This is a staple made every Christmas now. Even if I can’t make it with V, they get made. And they’re delicious. Happy Holidays!