Out of This World Cinnamon Rolls

Every once in a while a certain food takes you over. It imprisons you the moment you smell it in the oven, the aroma filling the air, the smile on your face uncontrollable, you become downright giddy in its presence. That is what these cinnamon rolls did to my great friends and me this morning as we embarked on a journey to try the Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Roll recipe. Her blog is fantastic and provides step by step instructions complete with beautiful pictures and she makes every step very interesting. As is true with most of my cooking creations, I like to trick myself into thinking I can “doctor them up” in a way that makes them a little more nutritional. With this recipe, I was very discriminating in that respect though, I didn’t feel the need to doctor the recipe up too much. But what I did find, was that by replacing half of the regular white flour with whole grain flour, and using organic skim milk (you could also use almond milk!) instead of whole for the frosting, the cinnamon rolls still made us feel sinful. They were so downright delicious, ooeey gooeey, and sweet that I almost feel like  I can’t really talk about it on my blog. But here I am. Complete with many pictures displaying the pure joy and excitement that cooking brings to me. Please ignore the lack of makeup and the pajamas. Eventhough I made these from 11am to about 3pm, I did not feel the need to change into normal clothes yet. Next time you have a couple hours with some friends willing to help, try this recipe, you won’t be disappointed and you’ll immediately feel like a kid again, transported on a direct flight to cinnamon sugar paradise.

Out of this World Cinnamon Rolls (Adapted from The Pioneer Woman)

Ingredients

  • 1 quart (4 cups) Whole Milk (I didn’t have milk at the time so I used a mix of heavy and light cream!) 
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 cup Sugar (We ran out of regular white sugar so I used light brown later on in the process!)
  • 2 packages Active Dry Yeast, (2 1/4 teaspoons) 0.25 Ounce Packets
  • 8 cups (Plus 1 Cup Extra, Separated) All-purpose Flour (I used 4 cups Whole Wheat and 5 Cups White Flour)
  • 1 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
  • 1 Tablespoon (heaping) Salt
  • Plenty Of Melted Butter
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • Generous Sprinkling Of Cinnamon
  • _____
  • MAPLE FROSTING: (I just made a regular vanilla because we didn’t have maple flavoring)
  • 1 bag Powdered Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Maple Flavoring (Vanilla extract)
  • 1/2 cup Milk (I used skim… we found some in time to make the frosting!)
  • 1/4 cup Melted Butter
  • 1/4 cup Brewed Coffee
  • 1/8 teaspoon Salt

Preparation Instructions

For the dough, heat the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat to just below a boil. Set aside and cool to warm. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for 1 minute.

Add 8 cups of the flour. Stir until just combined, then cover with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside in a relatively warm place for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the towel and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the remaining 1 cup flour. Stir thoroughly to combine. Use the dough right away, or place in a mixing bowl and refrigerate for up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the bowl. (Note: dough is easier to work with if it’s been chilled for at least an hour or so beforehand.)

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

To assemble the rolls, remove half the dough from the pan/bowl. On a floured baking surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 30 x 10 inches. The dough should be rolled very thin. (The thinner the better! more rolls per bun= more doughy deliciousness!)

To make the filling, pour 3/4 cup to 1 cup of the melted butter over the surface of the dough. Use your fingers to spread the butter evenly. Generously sprinkle half of the ground cinnamon and 1 cup of the sugar over the butter. Don’t be afraid to drizzle on more butter or more sugar! Gooey is the goal.

Now, beginning at the end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly towards you. Use both hands and work slowly, being careful to keep the roll tight. Don’t worry if the filling oozes as you work; that just means the rolls are going to be divine. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together and flip the roll so that the seam is face down. When you’re finished, you’ll wind up with one long buttery, cinnamony, sugary, gooey log.


Slip a cutting board underneath the roll and with a sharp knife, make 1/2-inch slices.

 One “log “will produce 20 to 25 rolls. Pour a couple of teaspoons of melted butter into disposable foil cake pans and swirl to coat. Place the sliced rolls in the pans, being careful not to overcrowd. (Each pan will hold 7 to 9 rolls.)

(Here I am thinking they’re all supposed to be jammed in one pan… then I read the recipe again and it called for 7-9 rolls spread out in each pan! oops…)

Repeat the rolling/sugar/butter process with the other half of the dough and more pans.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cover all the pans with a kitchen towel and set aside to rise on the countertop for at least 20 minutes before baking.

(I used damp paper towels because I was too lazy to do laundry!)

Remove the towel and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown. Don’t allow the rolls to become overly brown.

While the rolls are baking, make the icing.

In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, butter, coffee, and salt. Splash in the [vanilla] flavoring. Whisk until very smooth. Taste and add in more maple, sugar, butter, or other ingredients as needed until the icing reaches the desired consistency. The icing should be somewhat thick but still very pourable.

so close yet so far….!


impossible to resist.

Now for the ultimate taste tester….


And the verdict? Heaven. Sorry for the close up sis…! But not really.

Special thanks to my wonderful friends Jill and Lydia for helping bake them and take pictures, and Kate for her picture taking skills as well!

ENJOY, BON APPETIT ET BONNE SANTE!

xox

Trish

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Italian Holiday Thumbprint Cookies

You’ve probably seen cookies in the grocery store that have jam in the middle and look kind of similar. But trust me, when you make them yourself, you’ll never want to buy them again (as I think is the case with most cooking). These are so simple, are great to make with younger cousins or kids as a fun activity, and make a beautiful presentation for any party. They’re also very versatile and allow you to get creative with different jams and preserves. I hope you like them as much as we do!

Italian Holiday Thumbprint Cookies

Mix and Chill:

1/2 cup butter

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg yolk

1/3 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

Finely chopped walnuts or coconut to roll in

After you’ve mixed the butter, sugar, egg yolk, vanilla, flour, salt mixture, cover and chill in the refrigerator. When the dough is chilled, shape into balls, dip in beaten egg whites, and roll in coconut or ground walnuts. Place on cookie sheet and indent with thumb. Bake at 300 degrees F for 25 minutes.

Fill with preserves (jellies) when serving. In this particular case, I used Low Sugar Blackberry and Strawberry preserves from our local farmers market. I especially like apricot though as well.

 

Bon appetit!

Trish

Christmas English Toffee

‘Tis the season of giving, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite recipes with you. Every year my family goes all out in terms of food, as you might have guessed by my previous post, and cookies are at the forefront of that. We have a family cookbook that certain people outside the family have been lucky enough to get their hands on, and I must say, it’s close to my heart as well.

Here is one of my favorite recipes that we bake annually. It’s incredibly simple and delicious.

Christmas English Toffee

1 stick butter

1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoon water

Chopped pecans

Chocolate Chips

In a 9 inch cake pan take a handful of chopped pecans and sprinkle evenly on bottom of pan. You may add more or less depending on your preference. Set aside. In a frying pan over medium/medium high heat, melt butter, sugar, and water. Stir until smooth and let it bubble. It will start to brown… go dark brown. When it looks a copper brown, and it is bubbling, immediately pour it over the pecans in the cake pan, and using the back of a spoon spread it out so it is even. Immediately take 2-3 handfuls of chocolate chips and sprinkle on top, and after 30-40 seconds, using the back of a different spoon, spread the chocolate over the toffee. Add more for a thicker top coat of chocolate. It should be smooth and shiny. Refrigerate until hardened. After toffee is hardened and chocolate is cooled, remove from refrigerator and remove from pan by hitting bottom. Toffee will be broken in pieces. Keep refrigerated.

xox Trish

 

Chestnuts Roasting and Holiday Gratitude

The day after my brother and I returned home from school, it was already our second favorite day, Christmas Eve Eve. This semester was grueling, stressful, and eventful to say the least. It’s funny, though, how quickly all of the stresses of college dissipate immediately when you walk through the door, only to find your dog dressed up as Santa Claus and chocolates on the kitchen counter!

Sometimes the look on her face, miserable as it looks here as she wears that costume, is just the thing to cheer me up. Most notably though, food is one of my most favorite things, and being away from good food is something that is very difficult for me. Needless to say, my school cafeteria, as hard as the chefs–I mean cooks– try, does not satisfy my food quality quota. Sometimes when I’m away at school I’ll even order myself a carepackage of Lake Champlain Chocolates, (my absolute favorites in the world–handcrafted in small batches in Vermont) just to get a glimpse into the reality that quality still exists somewhere.

Food doesn’t just excite me because of the taste, it is so much more than that. Cooking for me is therapy. The chopping of celery–the way it crunches when the strong steel blade of a good knife cuts into it, the whipping of egg whites– how they transform so beautifully from gloppy and clear to a frothy, fluffy, white foam that forms peaks; the smell of a freshly cut vanilla bean and the thousands of tiny little seeds that scrape out: all of these motions and senses transport me to a peaceful place. Everything about food interests me, from the way it breaks down, bubbles, and changes colors in heat, to the intricate details of how it nourishes the body, and I might suggest, soul. It can cure illness, fight malnutrition, prevent premature aging, make us happy when we’re sad. It can ignite aromas that bring us back to memories of our childhood or simply decorate a picture frame. During the holidays, these emotions, feelings, and sensations are completely elevated and brought to focus.

Food is at the core of Thanksgiving and Christmas, and luckily for me, it’s the one time a year when my mom lets me cover the kitchen in flour and frosting and for me, after the stresses of everyday college life, that’s all that I need.  How fortunate and blessed I am to be able to learn, create, taste, relax, eat, and be surrounded by my most favorite foods, while socializing with loved ones. I guess what I’m grateful for this holiday season, is the art and freedom that food grants me, and I thought I’d share that with you fellow foodies out there. Try a new recipe from scratch, sit back and relax, you won’t be disappointed and it might just transport you too to a place filled with joy.

Happy eating, good food, and good fortune,

xox

Trish

[pictures taken by my sister, Kate, of dedikatedphotography]