A mom's journal of the sweet things in her life...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Easy and Fast Cinnamon Roll Muffins

I know it's still October, Halloween day in fact, but my mind is getting ahead of me. I'm already thinking about Christmas morning and what I can make for breakfast. Truth be told, my sister, my mom and I start talking about Christmas back in August. I have no idea why we bother, since no body else is even thinking about it and it's damn hard to coordinate your Christmas game plan when you have no idea who the players are.

I've always wanted to make cinnamon buns for Christmas morning. Something about the smell of them baking filling the house while the kids tear into their presents appeals to me. I also like the idea of having something to snack on while we drink our Bailey's lattes. The problem is that they take too long. Christmas Eve is busy enough without having to prep cinnamon buns and once we finally get the kids settled in bed it's the last thing I want to do.
Then I found this recipe. Originally from the Baking Bites blog, and the adapted by Joy the Baker, it's a recipe that literally takes 10 minutes to throw together, 15 minutes of resting time and then 20 minutes to bake. It sounded too good to be true so a test run was required.

You make a very simple yeast dough in a medium bowl - the dough is very loose and easy to divide amongst your muffin tins.
Lest rest 15 minutes, during which time you mix your brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and butter mixture
and divide the sugar mixture amongst your muffin tins
then incorporate the sugar mixture into the dough by swirling it with a knife or your finger.
Then throw the muffin tins into a cold oven. Set the temperature to 350 degrees and leave it in there for 20 minutes. Yes, you read that right. NO preheating the oven. 
Use a small paring knife to cut around the edges and loosen the rolls, and then cool on a wire rack for about 20 to 30 minutes before drizzling with glaze.
They are delicious, super easy and incredibly fast. Definitely a good choice for Christmas morning or really any Sunday morning when you're craving something sweet but don't feel like working for it.
Recipe for Easy and Fast Cinnamon Roll Muffins
(Source: adapted from Joy the Baker)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 tsp active dry or rapid rise yeast
2/3 cup warm milk (100-110F; low fat is fine)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 tbsp butter, room temperature
2/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground cardamom
1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tbsp milk or cream

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Dissolve the yeast in a measuring cup filled with the warmed milk, then stir milk mixture, vegetable oil, vanilla extract and egg into the flour mixture. Mix well, until very smooth. Pour into greased muffin tin pan and let rest for 15 minutes.
While the dough rests, mix together butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and cardamom in a small bowl until all the butter has been incorporated into the sugar and mixture is resembles wet sand. Sprinkle evenly on top of rested dough and press the mixture down into the dough with your fingertips (or swirl in with a spatula.)
Place pan into a cold oven, then set the oven temperature to 350F.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until bread is lightly browned at the edges and the center of the bread springs back when lightly pressed. Some of the sugar mixture on top may still be bubbling.
Cool for about 20-30 minutes before whisking the powdered sugar and milk together to form an icing and drizzling it onto the bread.
Serve warm. Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Doughnuts

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

When I read that October's challenge was doughnuts, I was intrigued. I've never been a huge fan of doughnuts mind you, but I've had the odd one that was well worth the caloric intake. Those were the ones that were so fresh, they were still warm when I bit into them. And I figured homemade doughnuts could only be better...so why not?

I made my doughnuts on a day when my sister's family was coming over for the afternoon. Thank God I did. The kids devoured them, which made it all worth the effort. The adults enjoyed them too - but in a more mature, restrained way.

The dough was super easy to make and came together easily although it was quite soft and therefore, easy to make mis-shaped doughnuts. I just used cookie cutters to form mine. 
The recipe said to let them cool before glazing them, however, I found that it was much easier to just dip them in the glaze while they were still hot.
You could really get creative with the glazes if you were so inclined, but I kept mine simple and kid-friendly.
I made a chocolate glaze and a simple sugar glaze, the latter being my favorite. Our guests arrived just as they were going into the fryer and so, needless to say, I didn't have any time to get creative with my camera before they were eaten.
The best part was the doughnut holes. You could pop one in your mouth without any real thought, and therefore guilt, and skip the sticky fingers. I rolled some of the "holes" in a sugar cinnamon mixture which was also good.
My 10 year old nephew declared that my doughnuts were as good as Tim Horton's. When he received 'the look' from both me and my sister simultaneously, he quickly retracted his statement and declared that they were 'better than Tim Horton's'. He's a good kid.

I'd read that they didn't keep well and had to be enjoyed the same day. There were 4 doughnuts leftover and, just out of curiosity, I put them in a rubbermaid to see what they'd be like the next day. Disgusting. They were slightly shriveled and soggy. I threw them out.

The moral of the story is that you don't want to make these when there's only a few people around to enjoy them. They aren't hard to make, but they do take some time. And no matter how big a lover of doughnuts you may be, no one person could possible eat enough to warrant making these for anything less than a small crowd.

To see what the other Daring Bakers came up with this month, head on over to the Daring Kitchen.

Recipe for Doughnuts
(Source: Alton Brown)
1 1/2 cups milk
2 1/2 ounces vegetable shortening, approximately 1/3 cup
2 packages instant yeast
1/3 cup warm water (95 to 105 degrees F)
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
23 ounces all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surface
Peanut or vegetable oil, for frying (1 to 1/2 gallons, depending on fryer)

Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm. Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment, combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined. Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well. Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch thick. Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch doughnut cutter or pastry ring and using a 7/8-inch ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 degrees F. Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side. Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired. (I found them easier to glaze while hot.)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Maple Pots de Crème

Pot de Creme: basically Creme Brulee minus the Brulee. I found this recipe on the blog 17 and Baking about a week ago and have been dying to try it ever since.
There is no sugar in this recipe, the custard is sweetened by the maple syrup alone. In a word: Ridiculous. These are sinful, rich, silky and pure deliciousness on a spoon. I will definitely be making them again for a dinner party as I know they will impress even a picky non-dessert-eating palette. 
They take about 10 minutes to assemble, are baked for 50 minutes in a water bath and then need to set in your fridge for at least an hour. They could easily be transformed into creme brulees if you think you'll miss the crunch. Personally, I find them sweet, but in a good way, and wouldn't want to tinker with them at all.
To take it over the top though, I think they should be served with a small crunchy cookie, perhaps a biscotti but certainly not a sugar cookie, which would be too sweet and not crunchy enough. But that's just me. I like to balance sweet with salty, creamy with crunch. In fact, I'm thinking that my Oatmeal Lace cookies would be the perfect accompaniment. And I may just add a few tiny crystals of Fleur de Sel to the cookies prior to baking them to give them that hint of saltiness that would surely compliment the sweet maple flavor. Yep, that's exactly what I'm going to do. You should too. You'll thank me later and I'll smile all sweet-like and say, "Told ya so."

Maple Pots de Crème
17 and Baking
Makes 4 servings
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. and arrange four ramekins in a rimmed baking dish.

Combine the cream, maple syrup, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat until it comes to a simmer. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and vanilla extract. Using a small ladle, add some hot cream to the egg yolks a few tablespoons at a time. Whisk the egg yolks into the cream in the saucepan until combined. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve.

Pour the mixture into the four ramekins. Carefully pour enough hot water into the rimmed baking dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the edges are set but the center gently jiggles when shook, about 50 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate at least one hour to chill.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

I am thankful that my sister came over yesterday and spent 6 hours with me while we completely re-organized my cluttered kitchen.

I am thankful that A&E had a "Hoarders" marathon on today, which always makes me feel better about my house-keeping skills. 

I am thankful that my housecleaner comes tomorrow.

I am thankful that my kids were not in the midst of their usual bedtime tantrums when the police knocked on my door tonight because my husband somehow managed to accidentally dial 911 with his cell phone in his pocket. 

I am thankful that when said policemen came to the door, I had already changed out of my dirty tank-top.

I am thankful that they believed me when I told them that we were good-upstanding citizens and that there was nothing sordid going on.

I am thankful that I found yet another amazing chocolate cake recipe that I can share with you.  

I am thankful that everyone will remain open-minded and not turn their noses up at this recipe just because it contains mayonnaise. I promise, you can't taste it.

This recipe rivals the Hershey's Perfect Chocolate Chocolate Cake recipe that everyone loves (including me). It might even be better. Yes, I'm aware. That's a big claim. Just try it. It's super moist and delicious. 

It might also interest you to know that this recipe was in Bon Appetit magazine and the contributors are also the authors of "Baked: New Frontiers in Baking". 

Happy Thanksgiving fellow Canadians!

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
(Source: Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito via Bon Appetit)
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups boiling water
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 1/3 cups mayonnaise (do not use reduced fat or fat free)
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 3 eight inch diameter cake pans with 1 1/2 inch high sides. Combine chopped chocolate and cocoa powder in medium metal bowl. Add 1 3/4 cups boiling water and whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Sift flour, baking soda and baking powder into another medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat both sugars and mayo in large bowl until well-blended (about 2 to 3 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, beating until well-blended after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture in four additions alternately with chocolate mixture in 3 additions, beating until well-blended after each addition and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Divide batter among prepared cake pans (about 2 1/3 cups for each.)

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 30 to 32 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks for 20 minutes. Run small knife around sides of cake to loosen. Carefully invert cakes onto racks and let cool completely. 

*I chose to make small cupcakes, and I baked for approximately 16 minutes.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hershey's Best Fudgey Brownies

I have a problem. Her name is Daisy. She has four legs and she's a bloodhound. I've given this is a great deal of consideration and I can say with a reasonable degree of certainty that 70% of my stress and frustration can be attributed to her. My kids are responsible for a large portion of the other 30%, but there's two of them. 

Daisy is a very, very bad dog. She's also very, very cute, and therein lies the dilemma. How do you stay mad at face like that?
I made brownies the other day from my newly acquired Hershey's cookbook. I love the Hershey's recipe for chocolate cake so it stands to reason that they might know a thing or two about brownies. Typically, I prefer a brownie naked. If it is as decadent and fudgey as my taste demands, then it shouldn't need a frosting. However, this particular recipe had a chocolate glaze that is poured onto the brownies while they are still hot from the oven. Knowing that it would take some time for the brownies to cool enough to be sliced, and that I could not be trusted to wait the alloted time, I made the brownies right before I had to leave the house to drive my kids to school. 

I'm not a complete idiot, I do know that Daisy is not to be trusted. I don't let her run free in the house while I'm out, there's simply no telling what she'd get into. However, after I got home, I let her out of her kennel and then left the kitchen for about 30 seconds. When I returned, I found Daisy standing on her two hind legs, eating my brownies off the counter. This is what was left of them.
I managed to salvage the last row. All that work and I'm left with four lousy pieces from the entire batch. But all four of them were good. Very, very good.  I know this because I ate them all. It was my consolation prize. Besides, it was the prudent thing to do, not knowing how much of her saliva had contaminated the batch. Right? Well, that's what I told myself anyways. I did have some explaining to do  when my kids came home from school and there were no brownies for them. I told them that Daisy ate them all. They totally believed me. Foolish kids. 
"Best Fudgey Brownies"
(Source: Adapted from Hershey's Chocolate Cookbook)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup Hershey's cocoa
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 8 or 9 inch square baking pan. Beat butter, sugar and vanilla with spoon in large bowl. Add eggs, beat well. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually add to egg mixture, beating until well-blended. Spread in prepared pan.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from the sides of pan. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting. Spread the warm frosting over the warm brownies. Cool completely, cut into squares.
Chocolate Frosting
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. Hershey's cocoa
3 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla
Place the powdered sugar and cocoa in a medium bowl. Heat butter and milk in small saucepan over low heat until butter is melted. Gradually beat in cocoa mixture, beating until smooth. Stir in vanilla.
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