Sunday, November 24, 2013

Chocolate Orange Sweet Rolls

This is one of those recipes from my huge pile of must make. The rolls are a nice spin off from traditional cinnamon rolls.  After making these, my mind started thinking of all the different flavors and variations you could do with this base recipe. Lemon and white chocolate may be next....

The best thing about these is that they are not real bready like a lot of sweet rolls.  The dough is fairly thin which allows for more flavor to come through.  The orange is the prominent flavor with the chocolate being more subtle. This recipe makes 2 dozen rolls.

Chocolate Orange Sweet Rolls
adapted from Bon Appetit (prior to 2007)

Ingredients/ Rolls
4 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbs orange zest
1 tbs rapid rise yeast
2 eggs
1/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup or 1 1/4 stick of butter (room temp)
2/3 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Ingredients/ Cream Coating
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbs Grand Marnier or orange juice

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 tbs orange juice

Fill a saucepan with 1/4 cup orange juice, milk and 4 tbs of butter.  Place over medium heat and stir until butter is melted and it heats to a temperature of 120 degrees.  Remove from heat.

Using a stand mixer, whip together the eggs and orange zest. Add the 1/4 cup of sugar and continue to mix until blended.  With the mixer running on low speed, pour a steady stream of the warm orange/milk mixture into the batter.  Remove bowl from stand mixer when all has been mixed together.

Sprinkle yeast into the batter and stir.  Then sift together the flour and salt in a separate bowl. Fold sifted ingredients into the batter.  Once it has formed into a dough, prepare a flat work surface by dusting with flour.  Place dough on the work surface, knead for about 5 minutes and form into a ball.  Oil the interior of a medium size bowl and then drop dough in the bowl and turn 1 time.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft free place for about 30 minutes or until doubled in volume.  While the dough is rising, prepare 2 cake pans (9 inches in diameter) by buttering the interior.

Punch down dough and separate into equal halves.  Prepare a flat work surface and a rolling pin by dusting with flour.  Roll 1 piece of dough out into a 12X18 inch rectangle.  Cover surface with 3 tbs of butter, using a spatula or butter knife to spread evenly.  Then sprinkle with 1/3 cup of chocolate chips.  Pat down chips slightly into dough.  Finalize the filling by dusting the surface evenly with 1/4 cup sugar.

Start rolling up the dough into a log, beginning with one of the long sides.  Make sure it is not rolled too tight, for there is another rising time that will help the dough come together more.  At the end of the overlap, pinch the dough together and smooth the seam.  

Slice the log into 12 rolls, each cut 1 1/2 inches apart, taking care that you are not flattening the rolls. The recipe suggests using a serrated knife.  Place the two ends cut side down in the pan and put the other slices in the pan with the cut sides facing up and down.  Make sure the slices are evenly spaced. Cover loosely and let rise again for another 30 minutes. Repeat the whole process with the remaining half of the dough.

During the rising time, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Make the coating by whisking the Grand Marnier (or orange juice) with the heavy cream.  Once the rising time of the rolls is complete, drizzle the coating evenly over the top of all the rolls.  Place pans spaced apart in the oven, and let rolls bake until toasty and golden on top.  This should take about 25 minutes.  Remove and place pans on rack to cool for at least 15 minutes before proceeding with the glaze.

For the glaze, sift the powdered sugar into a bowl.  Stir in 1 tbs of orange juice. Continue to add orange juice until mixture reaches desired consistency.  Spread or drizzle glaze over the top of the rolls.  These can be served warm or at room temperature.
                                  **LAST YEAR: Banana Oatmeal Cookies**

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Peppermint Patty Cake

In thinking back, I do have a number of posts with flavors of mint chocolate.  However, when it comes to all the types of mint chocolate candies, I will have to say that peppermint patties and andes candies are by far my favorite.  Because of that, I definitely made sure that I bought more candies than this recipe calls for.

The cake delivers the exact flavor of a peppermint patty and is very dense and rich.  This particular recipe had several toppings, but I only opted for the cocoa fudge sauce.  In reading the part about the ganache, the recipe stated it would take several hours to thicken so I declined to make it.  The mint syrup topping required 2 cups of packed mint leaves.  That is a lot of mint if you are buying it.  No doubt, if you were trying to use up a lot of leaves from your mint plant, this would be the recipe to go to.

The only real problem issue with making the cake is dealing with dicing the candies.  I tried to dice them after freezing, but they still were soft in the center.  After cutting a few candies I did re-freeze, hoping that the pieces would not melt together.  When putting the candies into the batter, I made sure to sprinkle small pieces all around instead of tossing the big clumps in.  Since the batter is warm when you add the candies,  it does help distribute the diced candy bits more evenly.

Peppermint Patty Cake
adapted from Sweet Dreams

1 cup diced peppermint patties (kept frozen until ready to use)
14 oz of semisweet chocolate (chips or chopped bar)
6 eggs, separated
1 cup butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs cream
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

Ingredients/Cocoa Fudge Sauce
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup of butter
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup brown sugar

Pepare a 9 1/2-10 inch springform pan by buttering the interior.  Also, line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the side facing up. Then dust with flour.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Fill the lower part of a double boiler 1/4 full of water.  Place the other pot on top and fill with butter, chocolate pieces and cream.  Place over medium heat and let contents melt together and stir until smooth.  Remove double boiler from heat and separate the two pots, setting both aside to cool.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add egg yolks and sugar.  Beat on medium speed until mixture reaches a frothy, pale yellow color.  This should take about 5 minutes. Then pour in the melted chocolate mixture and stir until all is blended. Mix in vanilla extract.

In another bowl, sift together flour and salt.  Fold into chocolate batter until no white streaks remain.  Sprinkle in 1/4 of the peppermint patties into the mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until evenly distributed.  Repeat process until all candy pieces are blended in.

Pour the egg whites in a medium bowl and beat.  Once the whites are at the soft peak stage, add 1/3 of them to the chocolate batter.  Take care to fold the whites gently into the batter.  Then empty all the egg whites into the mixture and fold in.

Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and smooth the top.  Place in oven and bake until center is set and hairline cracks form around the edge of cake. This should take about 45-50 minutes. Remove and place pan on cooling rack.  When completely cool, invert onto cake round and remove parchment paper.

To make the cocoa fudge sauce, melt butter in a saucepan.  Add cream, cocoa and sugar and still with a wire whisk until smooth.  Let mixture simmer over medium temperature for about 10 minutes, checking and stirring about every three minutes.  The blend will get thicker as it simmers.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.  Let cool and spoon over cake slices when sauce reaches room temperature.
                                 **LAST YEAR: Chocolate Pumpkin Layer Cake

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Brandy Apple Cake

Like most bloggers, when the season changes, certain flavors and ingredients come to mind. A little cold snap has arrived and with that came the thought of apple brandy.

This particular recipe makes good use of that ingredient.  Even though the recipe calls for regular brandy, I feel that apple brandy is a better way to tie flavors together. The other complimentary and main ingredients that make up this cake are dried as well as fresh apples, toasted pecans and raisins.  I am not really a fan of raisins in baked goods, but I was more agreeable to them after I tasted the cake.

As you can see by the above picture, there is a more fruit to batter ratio than normal.  The batter is just enough to hold all the spices and bind everything together.  Perhaps this should have been referred to as a bar recipe since there is so little batter.  It is not your big fluffy cake, quite the opposite- a chewy cake. Also, even though once piece is quite tasty as is, the brown sugar brandy sauce is something you should not omit.

Brandy Apple Cake
adapted from In the Sweet Kitchen Cookbook

Ingredients/ Cake
3/4 cup chopped pecans
2 medium or 1 1/2 large tart cooking apples (Rome Beauty, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp)
1 cup dried apple slices or half rings
1 cup raisins
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup apple or regular brandy
2 large eggs
1 cup butter (melted and cooled)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar

Ingredients/Brown Sugar Brandy Sauce
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 1/2 tbs brandy
1/3 cup cubed butter

Prepare a 9X13 inch pan by buttering the interior.  Line the bottom and long sides with parchment, leaving a 2 inch overhang. Butter the face up side of the paper as well.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Pour the brandy in a small bowl and stir in the raisins.  Let sit for 45 minutes then stir in the dried apple rings.  Do not drain and set aside.

In another bowl sift together flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and cloves.  Set this bowl aside as well.

Whisk two eggs together in the bowl of a stand mixer.  In another bowl, blend together both sugars.  Stir the melted butter into the eggs. Add the 2 types of sugars and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Batter should be thick and pale when done.

Toast the pecans in the oven until fragrant, about 5-7 minutes.  Remove and let cool.  Then core each apple.  Peel one and leave the other one ( or 1/2 one if using large apples) unpeeled.  Chop apples into 1/2 inch pieces. 

Reserve out 3 tbs of the sifted ingredients.  Add 1/2 of the remaining sifted mixture to the sugar egg batter.  Repeat with the 2nd half making sure there are no dry streaks.  Add the dried fruit and brandy mixture, pecans and apples.  Sprinkle the remaining flour on top.  Fold the ingredients together until no dry streaks remain and pecans and apples are evenly distributed.

Fill prepared pan with the batter and smooth it out evenly.  Bake for about 1 hr and 10 minutes to 1 hr and 20 minutes.  Cake is done when it starts to pull away from pan and springs back when lightly touched. Place pan on cooling rack for cake to cool.

For the sauce, place a saucepan over low heat and add butter.  Stir until butter is melted and add heavy cream.  Add both types of sugars and continue to cook, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Once dissolved, turn the heat up to medium and continue stirring.  Mixture should come to a gentle boil.  Let mixture cook for about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in brandy.

Lift cake out of pan, using parchment paper overhangs. Cut out pieces of cake and place each on a plate and then drizzle the warm brandy sauce over the top then serve.
                          **LAST YEAR: Streusel Topped Babka**