Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

 

Are you a pumpkin spice lover or hater? I’m a lover. You haters must have a wee bit of a hard time this year as pumpkinpalooza explodes over everything-showering us with “punkin” delights. Ohhh…me- I love everything spice. Spice is the fruit of life; it’s what makes everything better. Have you ever had a cinnamon roll that just fell flat and didn’t have enough goo or cinnamon between the layers? yeah. I know. It’s a crime. Sooo calorie not worthy. There’s nothing worse than blowing your diet for a non calorie worthy bite. Of anything. This pumpkin roll will not disappoint. This is the roll where you eat salad all week-saving up your calories for just the right moment on a Sunday morning with a cup of Joe for. Promise. I can guarantee you it’s worth every calorie. Truth be told I think I had one roll on the tray that the very inner middle was a wee bit underdone. It was extra gooey and saturated with cinnamon goodness and extra pillowy soft. The Husband exclaimed “Honey, I think it’s a bit underdone” and I retorted; “Yeah, well some people would pay for that inner bite of goo”. He left it on the plate and I’m telling you….I went for that bite and it was pure nirvana. NIRVANA! He was born in Asia; so he didn’t grow up with cinnamon rolls where you know the most coveted bite is that inner piece of cinnamon jackpot bliss. His loss, my gain. Ok, enough of me waxing poetic, and onto the recipe…..

p.s. I cannot tell you how soft and luscious this dough is to work with and roll out. Shout out to Melskitchencafe for her recipe. I doesn’t fight you back when rolling; truth be told I pressed it out almost 80 percent and then just finished by rolling it even. It is that easy to work with. Something to do with that added moistness of the pumpkin makes it a divine dough.

 

Pumpkin Dough

( dough recipe from Mels Kitchen cafe)

3/4 Cup buttermilk, warmed to ~ 110 degrees F

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

1 large egg

2/3 Cup pumpkin puree (I swear by Libby’s it’s the only one I use)

1/4 C granulated sugar

1 Tbsp. instant (rapid rise yeast)

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp. ground ginger

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

4-5 Cups all purpose flour (I use unbleached)

In the stand mixer bowl add the warmed buttermilk and butter and mix together. With the mixter running add in the pumpkin, egg, spices and 1 cup of flour. Switch to the dough hook and add in the flour and add a cup of the flour at a time until the dough collects on the hook and beat/kneed until the dough becomes tacky but not sticky. When you touch the dough it should not stick to your finger when you pull it away from the dough; it will feel tacky but no residue of dough will stay; that’s when you know the dough is ready.

Remove dough and shape into a ball and place into a large lightly greased bowl. (The paper from the butter wrapper is perfect to grease the bowl with). Place in a warm spot and over with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled. You can speed up the rise if you place in a lightly warmed oven. I turned on my oven to 150 ° F then immediately turned it off; waited 5 mins then parked the bowl in the turned off oven. My dough rose in one hour this way.

When the dough is ready turn it out onto a lightly greased counter and press into a rectangular shape. Roll out gently until it is 16 x 12 inches. Spread the softened butter onto the dough leaving about a centimeter of space on all sides and sprinkle over all the cinnamon filling. It will seem like a lot of filling; but make sure to use it all. Press gently with the hands to allow the filling to adhere to the butter. With the long side in front of you roll up the dough as tightly as possible and pinch the dough together to seal. Cut into 12 equal pieces and place in lightly greased 9×13 inch pan or line the pan with parchment paper.

Cover the pan of rolls and allow to rise one more time in a warm place. (used the oven trick again for this and mine took only 40 mins to rise).

Preheat the oven to 350° F and bake for 22-25 mins or until lightly golden and cooked through. Mine took exactly 22 mins. Check at the 20 min mark though because you don’t want to over bake them. You want them still pillowy soft.

Let the rolls rest for about 6 mins, then pour over the glaze while they are still warm.

 

Cinnamon Filling

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

3/4 C brown sugar ( I used 2/4 and 1/4 dark)

2 tsp. cinnamon ( I use Saigon cinnamon) (use what you have)

 

Cream Cheese Icing  (my recipe)

4 oz. Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

1 tsp. vanilla

3 Cups confectioners sugar

2 Tbsp. whole milk as needed to adjust consistency (depending on how runny you like your icing)

Cream the cream cheese and butter together until combined. Add in the sugar a cup at a time and beat until smooth; (I just do this in a bowl; no need for the mixer). Stir in the vanilla and milk. Adjust the consistency with the milk as needed. Let the rolls rest about 6 mins then pour over the warm rolls.

 

 

 


Mojito Macarons

 

Rum. Mint. Lime. Did I mention rum? Three of my favorite flavors is probably why I love a good mojito, so no surprise why a mojito macaron was something I had to try. I made these family friendly though and used rum emulsion flavoring. My first filling try I actually used a little rum but it wasn’t “rummy” enough on flavor. I’ll be honest-I toyed around with this filling for three tries until I got it just right. I got a little angry with it until I found the right balance. Mint is one of those subjective things too; either you like it real minty or subtle. The beauty though is it’s all up to you.

 

Macaron Shells

124 g confectioners sugar

140 g almond flour

108 g fresh egg whites (I don’t age mine)

110 g granulated sugar

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

assorted green gel food colors (I used a swirl of mint green, electric green, avocado green, and mojito green)

  1. In a food processor place the almond flour and confectioners sugar and run for 30 seconds. Stop and scrape down the sides so the mixture settles into the processor bowl. Repeat this 2 more times, then sift mixture through a strainer (it doesn’t have to be fine) over a large bowl (I use a 5 quart size stainless steel bowl). Preheat the oven to 300° F convection, 325° F for non convection setting. Prepare two baking sheets with Silpat mats. I use these mats by Velesco (you can get 2 for 13 dollars on Amazon).
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer place the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar and whisk by hand to combine. Place over a ban marie and stir gently for about 5 minutes until the mixture reaches about 130° F or when you touch the mixture with your index and thumb fingers you don’t feel any sugar crystals. Remove from the heat and place on the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and start the meringue by running mixer on  power level 4 (Kitchen Aide) and run for about 3 minutes.  Stop once to scrape the sides of the bowl to push down the mixture that appears on the sides.
  3. Increase mixer then to power level 6-8 and run until the meringue is stiff peaks and it has started leaving tracks in the meringue and a good portion has collected inside the whisk . A sign that meringue is ready is there will be a good amount collected within the whisk and if you turn the bowl upside down the meringue will not slip or move. If you stop the mixer and tap the whisk gently on the side of the mixer bowl it will look like a bird beak; the meringue is stiff but it has a slight hooked curve when holding the whisk horizontally. If the color does not appear to be mixer to your liking at this point I add in any color and mix gently by; being careful not to overmix.
  4. Add one half of almond flour/sugar mix and start folding with a rubber spatula until mixture starts to look cohesive. Add in the remaining half and continue to gently fold, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. The batter is perfect when you lift up the spatula and tip the pointed end of the spatula down and ribbons of batter fall smoothly back into the bowl. I like to gauge its ready when I can count 6-7 continuous ribbons falling without breaking and I can “draw” a figure 8 with the batter when lifting the spatula and letting it fall into the bowl. Fill your pastry bag by using a heavy tall cup or mason jar to hold your pastry bag with the top folded over the glass. When preparing your bag after you drop in your round tip (I use Ateco 804), twist the bag right above the larger end of the tip and push it down into tip. Fold the top 4 inches of the bag over the jar or glass.
  5. Let the batter fall right into the bottom of the bag and continue filling to ensure you don’t get air bubbles. When ready to pipe and all of the batter is in the bag, twist the top of the bag and when ready to pipe, push down with your dominant hand to force the bottom of the tip to open.
  6. Pipe the batter onto prepared baking sheet with 30 macarons per sheet. Six across the long side, and five rows perpendicular. Take the sheet pan and let it drop onto the counter about 5-7 times, then look for any visible air bubbles and pop with a toothpick or bamboo skewer. Bake the first tray right away (no resting), in a preheated (convection oven if you have at 300° F , 325° F for NON convection oven*) for about 16-18 minutes or until the cookie does not wiggle when attempting to check by carefully grabbing both sides of a cookie and gently testing. Let the tray rest on a wire rack and then bake the second tray.  After the cookies have cooled about 8-10 minutes turn them upside down and let the cool on the tray until completely cooled. (I find this helps prevent hollow shells)
  7. Cool the cookies completely and pipe a ring of mojito buttercream. In the middle of the ring pipe a small amount of the lime burst flavored filling. Top with a macaron shell and sandwich together.
  8. Chill the macarons in an airtight container for 24-48 hours to impart flavor and help soften the macarons to desired chewiness. Bring to room temp to enjoy.

Fillings

Mojito Ganache: Mint, Lime and Rum Ganache

6 oz. white chocolate chopped fine

1 1/2 oz. heavy cream

1 dropper full of lime oil

zest of 2 limes

4-5 stalks of fresh mint leaves removed, washed and chopped fine

1/4 tsp. rum bakery emulsion flavoring (I used Lorann brand)

In a microwave proof bowl place the chopped chocolate and the cream and microwave in 30 second intervals; stopping to stir until mixture is cohesive and chocolate is melted; which no small bits showing. Stir in the lime oil, zest, fresh mint, and rum flavoring. Cover with plastic wrap.

Chill or keep at room temperature until the mixture has firmed up.

 

Lime “Burst” Center Filling 

7 oz. sweetened condensed milk

2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

zest of two limes

In a small bowl stir together the ingredients until combined. Chill until mixture becomes more firm.

 


Sweet Cherry Jam and Cream Cheese~Cherry Jam Crepes

Dark sweet cherries make the most amazing jam. It doesn’t even compare to store bought jam. I just buy fresh fruit a lot of times before I even know what I’m going to make with it. My mind starts swirling with all the possibilities. Last week I made a coffee cake thing with cherry jam filling that I had whipped up. The jam had oozed out a bit and so I didn’t exactly lend itself to a pretty photo, but the cake was still delicious and the Hubs ate it all up for me; which I was glad because I was trying to avoid indulging in more of it. Usually if I park something wrapped in plastic wrap next to the coffee pot it’s fair game. Now the filling or jam I guess you could call it; ended up being amazing. I was dreaming of crepes this morning so decided to whip up this little breakfast treat and boy they are amazing.

The filling consists of taking cream cheese and sweetening it JUST a bit so it’s not too sweet but sweet enough that it pairs beautifully with the dark cherry jam. I love love love crepes. I don’t make them enough. They are so easy to whip up and I find making them one by one in the pan is strangely for me-methodically relaxing in an odd way.

Black Cherry Jam 

2 lbs. fresh dark sweet cherries, washed, pitted and halved

1/2 Cup sugar

pinch of salt

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch

1/4 Cup water

1/3 Cup dried tart cherries (optional)

In a saucepan combine the cherries, sugar, salt, and lemon juice. Heat the cherries over medium heat until they start to soften and break down a bit and the mixture comes to a boil. In a small bowl combine the cornstarch with the water and add to the pan and stir constantly until it becomes thickened. Remove from the heat using an immersion blender until mostly smooth but a little chunky still.  Add in the optional dried sour cherries and allow the jam to cool.

Cinnamon sugar (for sprinkling over crepes)

1/4 C sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

pinch of salt

stir together in a small bowl until combined.

 

Sweet Crepe Batter (makes about 10-12,  8 inch crepes)

3/4 Cup milk (2 % is fine) (room temperature)

1/2 Cup water (lukewarm)

2 eggs (room temperature)

3 Tbsp. melted butter (+ more for prepping pan)

2 tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla

pinch of salt

1 Cup all-purpose flour

1. In a blender pulse to combine all the ingredients except the flour. Add the flour then combine for about 20-30 seconds. Cover the batter and let rest in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight.

2. Heat a small (6-8 inch) non-stick pan over medium low heat and add a little smear of butter. Tip: I like to use the cut end of a stick of butter and quickly swipe over the surface of the pan. You’ll want to do this for each crepe.

3. Pour about 3 Tbsp. of batter over surface of your pan, pick up the pan off the heat and immediately swirl the batter (using a circular motion and tilting your wrist) in the pan 3-4 times until pan is coated with your batter. Set the pan back on the heat and heat until lightly browned; about 2 minutes. Use a bamboo skewer or toothpick to pick up the edge of the crepe and flip it over to the other side and heat until browned as well. Move your crepe to a large plate and stack your crepes between pieces of wax paper while you continue making the rest of the crepes.

Sweetened Cream Cheese

6 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 Tbps. + 1/2 tsp. confectioners sugar

In a small bowl smear together with a small spatula or spoon until combined.

 

Assembling the crepes:

Smear a thin layer of the sweetened cream cheese onto a crepe and then spread about a Tablespoon of cherry jam over the cream cheese. Roll or fold over the crepes as desired. I folder mine in quarters. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the crepes right before serving.

*Store any leftover prepared/assembled crepes on a plate wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge.


Summer Cocktail Series: #4: Rhubarb Cherry Hibiscus Gin Fizz

Rhubarb. What do you do with it besides pairing it with the obvious; Strawberry. Pick anything sweet basically since it is tart. This quick and easy rhubarb syrup was a cinch to whip together. I just love the color as soon as it starts to leech out into the sugar water. I was going to use a cherry flavored seltzer when I came across the Hibiscus flavor instead. Both are subtle so you could go either way. I love pairing gin with summer flavors, but you could easily use vodka as well. Cheers to Summer!

 

Rhubarb Syrup

(yield ~ 12 oz. )

1 Cup filtered water

1 Cup granulated sugar

2 Cups washed and chopped fresh rhubarb

 

In a small saucepan place the water, sugar and rhubarb. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and let stand until slightly warm. Once cool strain into a jar and keep stored in the fridge.

 

For Rhubarb curls:

Take a vegetable peeler and quickly run down the length of a rhubarb stalk. Dip the strip into the warm rhubarb syrup and then twirl around a plastic straw. Let the ribbons dry on a parchment lined sheet pan. Remove/gently slide off the twirls from the straws when dry. Use inside the drink or drape over the side of the drink.

 

Rhubarb Cherry Hibiscus Cocktail 

(one drink)

2 oz. Rhubarb syrup (cold)

1- 1.5  oz. gin (depending on how strong you like it)

crushed ice

3-4 fresh dark sweet cherries, pitted and sliced in half

Hibiscus flavored seltzer (such as La Croix brand)

 

Fill a Collins glass with the syrup, followed by the gin, 1/2 glass of crushed ice, cherries, and top with seltzer.

Garnish with rhubarb curls as desired.

 

 

 

 


Strawberry Cheesecake Pie

 

Crust

Line a 9 inch deep dish pie plate with your favorite crust. Blind bake the pie crust. If you like; see my all-butter pie crust recipe: Fearless pie crust.

If you prefer, you can also used  a purchased graham cracker crust or make a quick graham cracker crust instead of using a traditional pie crust.

Filling

Cheesecake layer:

8 oz. Cream cheese, softened

6 Tbsp. confectioners sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste

2 1/2 Tbsp. sour cream, room temp

3/4 tsp. plain unflavored gelatin powder

1 Tbsp. cold water

6 Tbsp. cold heavy cream

In a large bowl or stand mixer;  beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form but don’t overbeat or you’ll get butter. Place back in the fridge until ready to use. In the same bowl; no need to clean- beat the cream cheese until smooth and lump free. Add the sugar, vanilla bean paste, and sour cream and mix until just combined. In a small microwave safe bowl place 1 Tbsp. of cold water and sprinkle the gelatin over; let bloom for 5 minutes, then microwave on high for about 20 seconds until the gelatin is dissolved, whisk, then let mixture stand for about 2 minutes. Add the cooled mixture to the cream cheese mixture and blend gently. Fold in the whipped cream by hand until combined. Spread evenly over the cooled pie crust and chill while you make the strawberry layer topping.

 

Strawberry layer

Fresh strawberries ~ one pound (washed, hulled and dried)

1 Cup water

2 Tbsp. cornstartch

scant 3/4 Cup sugar

3.0-3.5 oz box Jello: strawberry gelatin

Top your cream cheese filled crust with using half of the berries sliced thin, then the rest of the bigger berries on top left whole. In a small saucepan place the water, sugar, and cornstarch and bring to a boil over medium heat stirring continuously until it appears thick. Boil two more minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the strawberry gelatin until it is dissolved. Pour over the top of the pie; note you will have some leftover; don’t be like me and pour over too much or it will run off the sides. But if you do- don’t fret it’s still delicious and amazing. Chill for at least 3 hours or overnight until set. Serve cold.