Archive for Other Desserts

King Cake

King Cakes are part of a popular tradition that celebrates the 12th day following the birth of Christ, during which the 3 Wise Men or Kings visited the Christ Child.  The celebrations continue sometimes up to Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras, in French), the day before Ash Wednesday when the Lenten Season begins.  The custom of baking these “cakes” is in honor of the Three Kings, hence the name, “A King’s Cake.”

The custom includes baking a tiny porcelain or plastic baby inside the cake.  King Cakes are usually served at parties, and the person who finds the baby in their slice of cake is supposed to host the party the next year.  Instead of having a party, you could bake several smaller King Cakes and give them to your neighbors.  The neighbor who receives the King Cake with the baby gets to bake them for the neighbors the following year.

King Cakes aren’t really cakes, but a rich danish (I’ll keep calling them cakes, though).  Some King Cakes are baked without adding a filling, but I like to make mine with a rich and luscious cream cheese and cinnamon filling.  After the cake is baked, the baby is inserted.  Then the top of the cake is covered with a rich glaze and decorated in the traditional colors of purple, green and gold.

These colors have a special meaning as well.  One explanation is that the official Mardi Gras colors were selected in 1872 to honor the visiting Russian Grand Duke Alexis Alexandrovich Romanoff, whose house colors were purple, green and gold.  Another explanation is that the colors purple, green and gold were used by Catholic Church throughout history, and the colors represent Justice (Purple), Faith (Green), and Power (Gold).

This recipe takes some time to make, but it’s worth it in the end. Give it a try and let me know how you like it.

King Cake

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 Dough Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup white, granulated sugar
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (98-105 degrees)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white, granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

 Cream Cheese Filling Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 cup white, granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 Cinnamon Filling Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

 Glaze Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice or milk

 Decoration Ingredients:

  • Green sugar sprinkles
  • Purple sugar sprinkles
  • Yellow sugar sprinkles
  • One tiny plastic or porcelain baby (about 2 inches long)

 Directions:

Make the dough:

In a small microwave-safe bowl, place the butter and sugar.  Cook for 1-2 minutes in the microwave until the butter melts.  Transfer to a small mixing bowl.  Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves.  Stir in the sour cream. Set aside to cool.

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In another small bowl, mix together the yeast, warm water and 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar. Set aside to allow the yeast to proof. It should be very bubbly after five minutes; if not, then discard the mixture and start over. NOTE: Water that is too hot will kill the yeast. The water should feel as warm as the temperature of your skin.DSC_0011

Place the egg into the bowl of a large stand mixer (such as a KitchenAid).  Use the paddle attachment to slightly beat the egg.

The photo below shows two eggs–I doubled my recipe when I made this so I had enough cakes to give away to friends.

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Mix in the sour cream mixture and proofed yeast.

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Slowly mix in the flour, one cup at a time. NOTE: If you live in a low humidity environment, you may need less flour, about 2 1/2 cups. If you live in humid area, you may need slightly more than 3 cups of flour.

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After the flour has been roughly mixed with the wet ingredients, switch to the dough hook.

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Turn your mixer to medium-high speed and knead for 5 minutes. NOTE: If you are kneading by hand, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. After kneading, place the dough into a greased bowl (clear works best so you can see if the dough has doubled in size); place in a warm place to rise until doubled.

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While the dough is rising, make the cream cheese and cinnamon fillings.

Make the Cream Cheese Filling:

In a small mixing bowl, beat together the egg, sugar and cream cheese. Mix on high until there are no more lumps and the filling is smooth and creamy. Set aside.

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Cinnamon filling: In a small bowl, mix the cinnamon filling ingredients together. Set aside.

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Make the Glaze:

Mix together the sugar, sweetened condensed milk, and just half of the orange juice. Mix until smooth.

You want the glaze to be slightly thin but not runny. Add more orange juice if you need to thin it out more.

Set aside.

Put it all together:

After the dough has doubled in size, punch it down. Place onto a floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle, roughly 18×12 inches.

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Roughly mark lines in the dough to separate it into thirds (do NOT cut through the dough). Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the OUTER sections into diagonal strips about 1 inch wide; these strips are what you will use to create a woven or braided look for the top of the King Cake. NOTE: Make sure you do not cut through the middle third of the rectangle.

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Spread the cream cheese mixture down the middle of the rectangle. Sprinkle the cinnamon mixture on top of the cream cheese mixture.

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Fold the strips of dough over the fillings, alternating sides. Overlap the strips to form a braided or woven look.

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Tuck the ends of the dough underneath the end; use any extra dough to ensure both ends of the King Cake are sealed (to keep the filling in while baking).

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This is how you’d make a round King Cake.

Roll out two pieces of dough about 16 inches in diameter.

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Cut one piece of dough into strips, like you’re cutting a pizza.

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Place the uncut round piece onto a baking sheet.  Place the cut pieces of dough underneath the edge of the uncut piece (pointed part facing out), going all around the side (it will look like a large sun with rays pointing out).  Press along the edges of the cut pieces to the seal them to the uncut circle.

Spread the cream cheese filling around the edge of the uncut circle of dough.  Sprinkle cinnamon sugar filling on top of the cream cheese.  Fold each cut piece inward, pressing down at the pointed tip to seal the dough (you will have a small “well” of dough in the middle).

Into the small well, pour more cream cheese filling.  Top with cinnamon filling.

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Carefully lift the shaped dough and place onto a large baking sheet.  Spray the top of the King Cake (dough) lightly with butter flavored cooking spray, then cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise again until doubled.

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Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until nicely browned.

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Glaze the King Cake and Decorate:

While the King Cake is still warm, spread a thin layer of the glaze on top.

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Decorate with the sugar sprinkles, alternating the colors.

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Slice, Serve and ENJOY!
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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

Do you love to eat raw chocolate chip cookie dough? I must admit that I won’t eat the raw dough–soft, chewy, warm-from-the-oven BAKED cookies, however are another story! If you’re among the many who love eating cookie dough by the spoonful, this recipe is for you.

You can do an internet search for ‘chocolate chip cookie dough dip’ and come up with over 1.7 million hits, with almost all of the ingredients seemingly identical. This one is no different. I don’t know who the original creator of this recipe is, but whomever thought it up…THANK YOU!

In the words of a friend, “This should be illegal, it’s so good!” 🙂

Give this recipe a try. I think you’ll LOVE it.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

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 Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar (a.k.a. powdered sugar)
  • 1 small bag miniature chocolate chips
  • Honey graham crackers

Directions:

 Melt the butter in a small sauce pan.

 Add the brown sugar to the pan.

 Simmer over low heat until the brown sugar melts.

 Add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.  Stir to combine then remove from the heat.

This is what the butter-sugar-vanilla mixture looks like.  It smells divine!

As the butter mixture cools, prepare the cream cheese mixture.

Place the cream cheese and powdered sugar into a small mixing bowl.

 Mix on medium speed until fluffy.

Add the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

 Mix until creamy.

Pour the cooled butter mixture into the bowl.  Mix until creamy.

 Add the chocolate chips to the bowl.

Fold the chips into the cream cheese mixture.

Resist the urge to stick your fingers into the bowl and scoop out some of this yumminess!  Okay, you can use a spoon instead of your fingers, but save some for the graham crackers! 🙂

Serve with graham crackers and ENJOY! 😀

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Caramel Apple Dip

I love caramel apples, don’t you? What I don’t love is having to bite into it, so I usually end up cutting the apple into slices so I don’t make a huge mess.

This recipe makes it so much easier to enjoy this delicious treat.

I used toffee bits in this recipe, but you can also use miniature chocolate chips, chopped nuts, or even crushed jolly rancher candies.  The possibilities are endless to how versatile you can make this.

Give this recipe a try.  I know you love it! 🙂

Caramel Apple Dip

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Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup caramel sauce (you can use ice cream topping), plus more for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup toffee bits
  • Sliced apples (I like Rome apples for this)

Directions:

Place the cream cheese into a small mixing bowl.  Using a hand mixer, mix until creamy.  Add the 1/4 cup of caramel sauce and brown sugar to the bowl; mix until you don’t see any large lumps of brown sugar.  Next, mix in the marshmallow cream.  Add the vanilla extract and mix well.

Place the dip into a serving dish.  Sprinkle toffee bits or your favorite caramel apple topping all over the top.  Drizzle with more caramel sauce (as much as you like).

Serve with sliced apples and ENJOY!

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Chocolate Chip Scones

I love scones.  My favorites are chocolate chip or blueberry scones.  They’re perfect for breakfast, along with a steaming hot cup of coffee.

You can buy really delicious scones at your neighborhood coffee shop, buy why waste your hard-earned money?  These scones take almost no time to make.  You can mix up a batch in just a few minutes and have them out of the oven in no time.

My recipe below turns out very moist and not-too-crumbly scones.

Give my recipe a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

 

Chocolate Chip Scones

 

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
2 tablespoons Saco brand (powdered) cultured buttermilk blend (see note below)
1/2 cup (or 1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup chocolate chips (I use bittersweet chocolate chips, semi-sweet works well too)
1 large egg
1/2 cup water (see note below)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3 tablespoons milk, for brushing the scones before baking

NOTE:

If you can’t find powdered buttermilk, you can use fresh (liquid) buttermilk in place of the buttermilk powder and water in my recipe.  Just add the buttermilk along with the eggs and extracts, as described in the directions below.

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place the flour into a large mixing bowl.

 

 Add the baking powder, baking soda and salt to the mixing bowl.

Add the brown sugar to the bowl.

 

Add the powdered buttermilk.

 

 Stir the mixture to combine all of the ingredients.

 Add the pieces of butter to the flour mixture.  Using a pastry blender (the tool pictured at the top of the photo below), “cut” the butter into the flour.

 This is what the mixture looks like after cutting the butter into the flour.  You want to see small chunks of butter in the mixture.

 Add the chocolate chips to the flour mixture.

 Stir to combine.  Set this aside for now.

 Crack the egg into a small mixing bowl.

 Lightly beat the egg with a fork.

 Mix the water, vanilla and almond extract with the beaten egg.

 Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture.

 Use a spatula to mix the ingredients together.  Gently fold the mixture until it comes together.

Using your impeccably clean hands, form the mixture into a large ball.  Do not knead or over mix.  You still want to see those little chunks of butter (see the photo below).

 Place the dough onto a large cookie sheet (I used a round baking stone).  Gently flatten the dough into a circle, about 10 inches in diameter, and about 1 1/2 inches thick.

 Use a knife or dough cutter to slice the dough into eight wedges.

 Brush the top of the dough with milk.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

 Let the scones cool on the pan for a couple of minutes then remove them to a wire rack to continue cooling.

 See how moist and flaky they look? Yum! 🙂

 Serve for breakfast, as a snack, or alongside your favorite warm beverage and ENJOY!

😀

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Incredibly Soft and Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls

Soft and Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls with sweet, creamy Cream Cheese Frosting…need I say more? 😉

These cinnamon rolls are so easy to make that you’ll never have to buy those rolls popular in shopping malls.

If you’re not too sure about making yeast breads, read my step-by-step instructions (complete with photos for each step) then take a leap of faith in yourself and give yeast-baking a try.  In fact, my two daughters (one is a teen, the other is 11) made the batch you see pictured below.  If they can do it, YOU CAN TOO! :

I promise you this: these are one of the best cinnamon rolls you’re ever going to eat. Well, that’s what I think of them, anyway.

Give my recipe a try. I know you’ll love it! 😀

Incredibly Soft and Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Dough Ingredients:

  • 4 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (or one packet) rapid rise yeast
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons buttermilk powder
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs, beaten lightly
  • 3/4 cup warm water (heated to 105 degrees)

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Dough Directions:

Place all but 1/4 cup of flour into the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Save the extra flour for use later.

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Add the sugar to the mixing bowl.

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Add the rapid rise yeast.

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Add a pinch of salt.

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Add the buttermilk powder.

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This is what the container of buttermillk powder looks like. You can find it in the baking aisle of your grocery store. If you can’t find buttermilk powder, substitute the powder and warm water with regular (liquid) buttermilk (found in the dairy section). Heat the buttermilk as you would the water, adding the warmed buttermilk at the same time you add the melted butter and eggs (see below).

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Using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer, mix on low speed to combine.

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Add the melted butter to the mixing bowl.

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Add the beaten eggs.

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Add the warm water. Make sure the water is 105 degrees; I recommend using a thermometer to ensure you have the right temperature. You can find instant-read thermometers in most grocery stores nowadays. It’s fairly inexpensive, about $5.00. It’s worth the investment.

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Mix until a soft dough forms.

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It doesn’t look like much at this stage, but this sticky dough will soon become 12 super-soft, fluffy, giant cinnamon rolls that rival those over-priced buns you buy in malls.

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As soon as all of the flour and other dry ingredients are mixed in with the wet ingredients, remove the paddle attachment and attach the dough hook.

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Using the dough hook, knead the dough for 5 minutes. If the dough is still sticking to the side of the bowl, add a spoonful of the remaining flour to the bowl and continue kneading for a couple of minutes. The photo below shows a lot of the dough still sticking to the side of the mixing bowl; adding a spoonful more of flour should do the trick.

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Keep adding flour, a spoonful at a time, until the dough leaves the side of the mixing bowl.

I added just one additional spoonful of flour. After adding a bit more flour, the dough is tightening up and leaving the sides of the bowl.

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The dough is still a bit sticky, but once you see the dough begin to ball up around the dough hook with the sides of the bowl clearing off, STOP adding more flour.  You WANT the dough to be a little bit sticky.

It’s okay if the dough sticks to the bottom of the bowl, however. Again, do NOT add more flour once the dough begins to clear the sides of the bowl. Finish kneading the dough at this point; the total kneading time is about 10-12 minutes using your stand mixer. If kneading by hand, knead for about 15 minutes (oil your hands instead of adding flour if the dough is too sticky to handle while kneading).

After the kneading time is complete, spray a large glass bowl with butter flavored cooking spray.

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Place the dough into the glass bowl.

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Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel. Place in a warm place to rise until the dough has doubled in size.

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Depending on how warm or cold your rising place is, this step could take about 2 hours. A trick I learned is to place the glass bowl into a cold oven, then turn the oven on to 400 degrees–keep the oven on for EXACTLY ONE MINUTE then turn the oven off. After 30 minutes, check to see how much the dough has risen. If you need to, reheat the oven (turn it on to 400 degrees for precisely one minute then turn the oven back off). I did this “heating trick” a total of two times — once when I first put the bowl into the oven, and once more after 30 minutes. After one hour, my dough doubled in size quite nicely.

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Oh, I should mention that when my kids made these rolls, it was about 22 degrees outside with a bit of snow coming down. So, don’t let the outside temperature dissuade you from making these delectable rolls.

While you wait for the dough to rise, make the frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar (no need to pre-sift)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

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Frosting Directions:

Place the cream cheese and butter into a small mixing bowl.

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Using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until creamy.

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Add the powdered sugar to the mixing bowl. Mix on low speed until the sugar and cream cheese-butter mixture is combined.

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Add the vanilla extract to the mixing bowl. Mix on medium speed until creamy. Set aside.

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Resist every temptation to eat the frosting with a spoon. Licking the beaters are okay, however. 😀

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Set the frosting aside and prepare the cinnamon-sugar filling.

Cinnamon Sugar Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 5 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

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Filling Directions:

Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Set aside.

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Keep the butter at room temperature to soften.

After the dough has doubled in size, it’s time to roll and fill the dough.

Roll the Dough:

Punch down the middle of the risen dough. You only need to punch it once; the goal is to deflate the dough, not beat it senseless.

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Flour the surface of your countertop then place the dough on top of the floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll out a rectangle, roughly 12×17 inches, give or take an inch or two.

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Now comes the fun part. Take the butter that’s been softening at room temperature and spread it all over the surface of the dough, stopping about an inch from the edges.

Go on…get your impeccably clean hands in that butter….

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Evenly sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar filling over the buttered portion.

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Starting at the long edge, roll the dough, jelly-roll style.

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We’re going to make a dozen cinnamon rolls, so using a dough scraper, sharp knife or unflavored and unwaxed dental floss, cut the rolled dough into 12 pieces.

An easy way to do this is to first the the log in half.

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Cut each half into halves.

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Slice each quarter piece into thirds.

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Continue slicing each piece until you get 12 pieces.

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These rolls will have to double in size again, and believe me when I tell you that they will DOUBLE in size. And this is BEFORE baking–the rolls will “grow” even larger while they bake!

For this reason, a “normal” 9×13-inch pan will be too small to hold these yummy rolls. I use a half-sheet pan to bake these beauties.

Prepare the pan by lining it with aluminum foil. You don’t have to do this; however, it makes clean-up so much easier!

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Place the rolls onto the pan. Space them out quite a bit–like I mentioned above, these beauties will RISE!

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***NOTE***

If you want to have these rolls for breakfast, hot out of the oven, STOP HERE.  Cover the rolls with plastic wrap (I recommend using the Press-N-Seal brand so that it sticks to the metal tray) and place the entire tray of UNRISEN rolls in the refrigerator OVERNIGHT.  Don’t worry–the rising process will slow waaaaayyyy down in your refrigerator’s cold environment.  You can keep the rolls in the ‘fridge for 12-16 hours, no problem.  In the morning (about 90 minutes earlier from the time you want to eat these rolls) — take the tray of rolls out of the refrigerator.  Remove the plastic wrap and let the rolls sit at room temperature for one hour.  After an hour, preheat your oven and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Let the rolls cool before frosting.

The implied task is that you start making these rolls at night, or late afternoon, so that you can refrigerate them for the requisite 12-16 hours prior to baking them in the morning.

***If you DO NOT WANT TO WAIT OVERNIGHT to enjoy these fantabulous rolls, finish the process by following the remaining steps below.*****

Okay, now where were we….  Oh yeah…we need to make those rolls rise.

Using my “heating trick” mentioned above, create a warm place for the tray of rolls to rise by turning the oven on to 400 degrees for EXACTLY one minute, then turn the oven OFF.  Place the tray into the warm oven. Let the rolls rise for about 30-45 minutes.

Look how much these babies GREW! Oh, they grow up so fast, don’t they?! Don’t blink or you’ll miss it! LOL 😀

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Look at the size of each roll, compared to the size of a pomegranate (which was the size of a softball).  And this is the size BEFORE baking.  Wait ’till you see the size these beauties become AFTER baking!

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Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the rolls for 20 minutes. These rolls are meant to be a light golden brown when done.

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Let the rolls cool before frosting. Generously frost each roll then serve and enjoy! The rolls will stay fresh for about 4 days (if they last that long!). Cover any uneaten rolls with aluminum foil or place the rolls in an airtight container.

ENJOY!

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