Sunday, April 24, 2016

Hawaiian Breakfast Rolls

This is a great spin off recipe from the original cinnamon rolls.  Instead of cinnamon and pecans or raisins, these rolls have a delicious filling of coconut and ground macadamia nuts rolled up into a sweet dough. The extra zing is the icing on top that can be flavored with coconut or pineapple extract.

The alterations I did on this recipe was to use pineapple coconut juice in the dough instead of milk. Also, I brushed it on the dough prior to layering the filling. The end result was that it added more of a tropical flavor to the filling, but did little to flavor the actual dough. Also, I found that the filling develops more flavor with time, so these rolls were better the day after baked. I used an unsweetened organic juice, so using something like "Coco Lopez" may offer more strength in the flavor category.

These do look like they take a lot of time, but the looks are deceiving. The two "time consumers" are grinding the nuts and the rise time. There is only 1 rise time (1- 1/12 hrs) and no kneading of the dough. I ground my nuts in a blender and they turned fine but not into nut butter (see sprinkled nuts on top of the rolls above). This recipe makes about 1 dz rolls.

Hawaiian Breakfast Rolls
adapted from Fleischmann's Yeast

Ingredients/Dough Roll
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup scalded milk (cooled to lukewarm) or lukewarm coconut/pineapple juice
1 egg
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 package yeast

zest of 1 orange
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup flaked coconut
2/3 cup finely chopped macadamia nuts
2 tbs melted butter
2 tbs coconut pineapple juice (optional)

2 tsp honey
2 tbs softened butter
3 tbs milk or juice
1 tsp coconut or pineapple extract
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup ground macadamia nuts (optional)
pinch of salt

Start on the dough by sprinkling yeast into the bowl of warm water. Then fill the bowl of a stand mixer with the sugar, salt, juice or milk and shortening. Beat on low for about 15 seconds. Stir the bowl of yeast and then pour into the sugar/shortening mixture. Add the egg and 1/2 cup of flour.  Beat on low again until blended. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. Using a wooden spoon, fold in the flour in half cup increments until all is incorporated into the dough.

Grease the interior of a small bowl. Form the dough into a ball and place it in the bowl. Lightly cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. This should take 1-1 1/2 hours if you are using regular yeast (rapid rise would naturally be faster).

While the dough is rising, you will make the filling. Measure out the juice and melt the butter. Set aside. Then whisk together all the other filling ingredients.

After the dough has risen, prepare one 11.5 x 14 inch pan by greasing the interior. Also, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then dust a flat surface lightly with flour. Roll out the dough onto the flat surface into a large rectangle, measuring 11x14 inches.

Brush the surface of the dough with the pineapple coconut juice (optional). Then brush on the melted butter. Sprinkle all of the filling evenly on top of the dough and press down lightly to adhere. Starting from one of the longest sides, roll the dough tightly and evenly in a jelly roll fashion. Pinch seam together and flatten. Fold each end under and pinch/flatten the seams.

Using a serrated knife, cut jelly roll into 12 even slices and place inside prepared baking pan.  Put pan in the oven and bake until golden brown and toasty on top, about 20-30 minutes. Remove and set pan on rack to cool.

While rolls are baking, prepare the icing. Add milk or juice, honey, softened butter and extract to small bowl. Beat until the butter is broken up. Sift in 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and beat again until smooth. Continue with the process until all powdered sugar is incorporated into the icing.

Once rolls cool to lukewarm, spread the icing on top of each, smoothing out. Then sprinkle with ground macadamia nuts.

Tips and Notes:

1. Make sure you give the filling a chance to soak up the juice and butter that was brushed on the dough. You do not want a lot of liquid flowing out when cooking and too much liquid keeps the dough from rolling tightly.

2. Instead of the sprinkle of nuts on the top,try mixing drained pineapple chunks and/or ground nuts into the icing.
                                   **LAST YEAR:Charlevoix Cookies**

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Banana French Toast Muffins

Let's face it, banana-nut anything is always a welcome treat. However, it is very difficult to achieve a cake like quality when using them in baking. That is why I refer to these as muffins instead of cupcakes. They are not as dense as banana bread, but they do not have the lightness of cupcakes either.

Is this just a lighter banana bread in muffin form? In some ways yes and some ways no. Included in the muffin is chunks of candied walnuts. Like French toast, the maple flavor is on top. Swirled with a mixture of maple flavored cream cheese frosting, the flavor pairing of these muffins is quite tasty. Biting into one of these treats is just a great way to start the day or perk you up in the afternoon.

Also, I know that candied nuts can be quite expensive. In this recipe is a very simple and easy way to make them. If you are not into the whole muffin thing, the sweet nuts make a great snack-so read on...

This recipe makes about 2 dz muffins.

Banana French Toast Muffins
adapted from Wilton

1 3/4 cup mashed bananas
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tbs maple syrup
3 eggs
1/2 cup or 1 stick of butter (cut into 1/4 inch cubes)
2 3/4 cup of flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 tsp maple extract
3 cups confectioners sugar
8 oz package of cream cheese (room temp)
4 oz or 1 stick of butter
24 whole walnuts
1/4 cup of maple syrup

To start, you will make 2 batches of the candied nuts. Pour the chopped nuts into a saucepan set over low heat. Let the nuts cook until toasty, stirring at random intervals. After about 5 minutes, the nuts will be done. Pour in the 2 tbs of maple syrup and mix with the nuts. As the syrup cooks it becomes more solid, looking somewhat like praline candy. Once the liquid syrup becomes solid, remove from heat and transfer coated nuts to a bowl. Set bowl aside.

For the whole nuts, lay a piece of parchment paper on a flat surface. Follow the same coating process as noted above, this time using 1/4 cup of maple syrup. Due to the higher amount of syrup, the cook time will take longer. Once coated and solid, remove each walnut from the pan and lay on parchment paper, spacing apart.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and fill the cavities of a muffin tin with paper liners.

Prepare the batter by filling the bowl of a stand mixer with both types of sugar and drop in butter cubes. Cream together with the paddle attachment, beating for about 2 minutes and stopping at intervals to scrape down the sides of the bowl. 

Pour in the vanilla extract and add one egg. Mix together for about 30 seconds, with mixer on medium speed. Add each additional egg, blending after each addition. Then pour in the mashed bananas and mix on medium until just incorporated into batter. Remove bowl from mixer.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Fold in 1/3 of the sifted ingredients into the banana batter, using a wooden spoon. Add 1/2 of the sour cream, then stir to blend.  Repeat the process, ending with the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Then mix in the candied chopped walnuts.

Using a spoon or a scoop, fill the cavities of the prepared muffin tin with the batter. Fill approximately 2/3 full.

Put pans in oven and bake until tester comes out clean. Bake time is about 20-25 minutes, so rotate pans at the halfway point. Remove pans and let rest about 2 minutes. Then transfer to rack to finish cooling.

For the frosting/icing, start by beating the cream cheese with the butter until it is silky and smooth. Then beat in the maple extract until distributed throughout the frosting. Sift in 1 cup of confectioner's sugar and beat into the cream cheese/butter mixture. Repeat the process until all confectioner's sugar is blended in.

Once muffins have cooled, ice with frosting as desired and top with candied walnut.

Tips and Notes:

1. This frosting recipe had an error which I corrected above. It did not have butter listed as an ingredient but listed 2-8 oz packages of cream cheese. I followed the recipe, resulting in a quite tangy frosting. Cream cheese frosting I have seen with an equal ratio of butter to cream cheese and 1/2 the amount of butter to cream cheese. I would chose the ratio of 1/2 to one, but either way you only need one 8 oz package of cream cheese.

2. A note on the cute squares: I used a heavy duty, non stick square cavity baking pan. After researching, I read that the square liners have a tendency to fold into the muffins when baked. However, the round liners expand to fit the square. So, if you use the square cavity pan, skip buying the square liners.

3. The candied nut coating can be as thin or thick as you like. I much preferred the thicker, so you may want to use more maple syrup in the pan when using the chopped nuts. Keep in mind that with more syrup, the nuts have a tendency to clump together.

4. How ripe the bananas you use is personal preference. The more ripe the banana, the stronger the flavor. Also, be sure to use a fork and mash the bananas. This method gives the muffins a more pop of banana flavor than adding pureed bananas.
                                   **TWO YEARS AGO: Black Walnut Madeira Cake 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Citrus Ginger Cookies

At this time, I find myself in a foodie dilemma. I am still drawn to the winter/fall type of recipes. I realize that there is less appeal when things are made out of season, so I should be focusing on the spring and summer recipes.

These particular "S" shaped cookies have helped out the situation. One type of dough is flavored with lemon and orange zest, which equates to tastes of the spring/summer. The other dough is a myriad of spices and some molasses, flavors of fall and winter.

The texture of the cookie reminds me of spritz, except they are not as crisp. The wonderful mix of the complimentary flavors is memorable and unique. As you bite into one of these, the heavy spices strike your taste buds only to have a chaser of citrus to tone it down. This delicious combo rolled together in a cookie makes them perfect for coffee or tea. In addition, they are pleasing to the eye, which makes a lot of people reach for them when served.

This recipe makes about 3-3 1/2 dz cookies.

Citrus Ginger Cookies
adapted from Gold Medal Cookie Contest 

1/3 cup milk
2 egg yolks (beaten together)
1/4 cup molasses
2 tsp vanilla extract 
1 cup or 2 sticks of butter, room temp
1 tsp orange zest
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
2 pinches of nutmeg
2 pinches of cayenne
1 cup sugar
3 cups flour and 2 tbs flour (reserved separate)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Place butter inside the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and beat again another 2 minutes or until mixture is light and fluffy. Add egg yolks and milk. Beat until mixture is thoroughly combined, it will result in a curdled-looking batter.

Take out another bowl and sift together 3 cups of flour, baking powder and salt. Add the sifted mixture in 1/2 cup increments to the butter/sugar batter, beating on low after each addition. Once the sifted ingredients are incorporated into the batter, divide batter in half. Each half should be about 2 cups each.

Remove one half of the dough from the mixing bowl and set aside. Add both types of zest and vanilla extract to the remaining dough in the mixing bowl. Blend on medium speed for about 1 minute to distribute the additions throughout the dough. Shape into 2 even sized balls and cover dough with plastic wrap and set aside.

Clean the mixing bowl and then place the other half of the plain dough inside. Add remaining ingredients (spices, molasses and 2 tbs flour) and mix on low until the add-ins are evenly distributed into the dough. Shape the dough into 2 balls of the same size (like the other) and cover with plastic wrap. Place all 4 of the wrapped dough balls on a plate and put in refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.

Prepare a flat surface by covering with parchment paper. After chilling time is complete, remove one ball of the citrus dough. Place it on the parchment paper and cover with another piece of parchment. Roll dough out to form a a 9x6 rectangle. Do the same with one ball of the spice dough. Lift top piece of parchment off of both rectangles and stack one on top of the other, so all edges of the dough are flush with each other. Press or roll lightly to adhere the layers together.

Place the dough so the narrow ends are at the top and bottom and long edges left to right on the flat surface. Then, form part of a roll by using the parchment paper to help. Roll from the narrow edge over the top of the rest of the dough, stopping at the halfway point. Carefully flip the dough over, with the unrolled narrow edge at the bottom. Again, roll from the narrow edge over the top of the dough and stop, meeting at the same point as the rolled under portion of the dough (just on the backside). The end result will be a spiral log that is "S" shaped. Cover with parchment and place in refrigerator.  Repeat the same process with the remaining 2 rounds of dough.

Let both logs of dough chill for a minimum of 1 hour. 15 minutes prior to completing the dough chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

At the time the dough has chilled for 1 hour and the oven is preheated, remove one batch/ one log from the refrigerator. Slice the log into 1/4 inch-thick pieces and place each piece on prepared baking sheet. There are about 16-18 slices per log and each piece should be spaced about 1-1/2 inches apart on the baking sheet.

Place in oven and bake 8-12 minutes or until the bottom of the cookies have a light, golden hue. Transfer to rack to cool. Repeat the same process of slicing and baking with the remaining dough log.

Tips and Notes:

1. The spices were distributed evenly in the dough. However, the citrus zest may distribute better if the mixture is divided prior to adding the sifted ingredients. It is more liquid at that time and it keeps you from over-working the dough. Also, fresh zest has a tendency to cling together.

2. You may use a little flour in order to roll out the dough, but dampen the surface of the dough before you stack the other layer on top. A damp surface will keep the layers of dough from splitting when baking.
                                   **LAST YEAR: Chocolate Banana Muffins**

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Sawdust Pie

I have to admit, the name of this pie is not very appealing. I guess it got its name from the graham cracker crumbs used as an ingredient. The other theory is that someone wanted to keep the pie for themselves, hoping that the name would keep people from eating it!

This pie is very simple to make and has only basic ingredients, so I am surprised that it is unfamiliar to most people. The filling is held together with a blend of graham cracker crumbs and egg whites. For flavor, the recipe includes sweetened coconut and toasted pecans. It actually belongs in its own pie category because of the unique chewy texture.

Unlike most pies, the thick filling enables the pie to be shipped without falling apart. To ship, bake the pie in a disposable aluminum pan. After it has baked and cooled, slice the pie the night before and wrap in foil. Freeze until next day and then pack in a box, making sure it is well cushioned. Then you can ship to any college student or your favorite someone with a sweet tooth.

Sawdust Pie
adapted from Pie, 300 Tried and True Recipes

1 refrigerated pie crust (your preferred single crust recipe)
1 1/2 cups sweetened, flaked coconut
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
7 egg whites
1 1/2 cups toasted,chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

After you have made the pie dough, shape into a flat disc. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of an hour and up to overnight.

Once the chilling time is complete, prepare a flat surface by dusting with flour. Remove the dough disc from the fridge and unwrap. Roll out on the prepared surface, forming a 12 inch inch circle. Then curl the flattened dough loosely around a rolling pin and unroll over a 9 inch standard pie pan. Press and shape the dough so it is even and flush with the interior of the pan. Tuck top edges under and form the edge as desired (scalloped, fork pressed..etc). Then place in freezer for about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Fill a large bowl with egg whites and both sugars and stir, making sure all is evenly combined. Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix until batter comes together, with a good distribution of pecans and coconut.

Empty the bowl of pie filling in the chilled crust. Smooth with a spatula until even. Place pie in oven and bake for 25 minutes. Rotate the pie, moving front to back. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until crust is golden.

Let cool on a wire rack. It is good served warm or at room temperature. Now you get the real meaning of "easy as pie!"

Tips and Notes:

1. For an extra zing of flavor, there are many ways to top this pie prior to serving. Some of the suggestions are: drizzled melted dark chocolate, whipped cream and sliced bananas, ice cream and caramel...and the list goes on..

2. Take caution when blending the filling. The more you mix, the stiffer it becomes. The intention is to have a spreadable filling.

3. There is a recipe variation that uses no brown sugar and straight white sugar. I feel that the use of brown sugar creates a more golden hue to the filling when baked. Also, brown sugar is a standard flavor pairing with pecans.
                                   **LAST YEAR: Honey Bunny Crunch Frozen Custard**