Archive for DESSERTS

Chamorro Potu (Sweet Rice Cake)

Chamorro rice cakes, or Potu, are rice cakes that are made by soaking grains of rice in tuba, or a sweet fermented coconut sap.  The soaked rice is then ground and sweetened then steamed into a light and fluffy cake.

Living in the mainland U.S., I’ve had to learn to make substitutions for those ingredients not commonly found or sold here.  A key ingredient for potu as I mentioned above is tuba.  Since coconut trees don’t grow where I live, I’ve had to figure out a substitute for this potent potable.

I use a combination of palm or coconut vinegar and coconut water when I make my potu.  I also use non-glutinous rice flour for ease in preparation.  I’ll post my easy-peasy shortcut potu recipe soon, but until then, this post features my good friend, Rose Camacho’s recipe.

Rose doesn’t use rice flour when she makes her potu.  Instead, she soaks grains of jasmine rice then grinds it.  She also uses palm vinegar in her recipe.

Rose’s recipe is “tried and true” and loved by many.

Her original post is below.  Give it a try.  I know you’ll like it. 🙂

 

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Rose’s original post and recipe for Chamorro Potu (Sweet Rice Cake):

Hmmm? How does one describe these pure white puff pillows of steamed ground rice?  Light, soft, sweet, and sticky!  Growing up, this has been many a childhood’s favorite.  Although the ingredients are simple, this recipe is pretty prized amongst the native Chamorro women and no one would share theirs.  It was a guarded secret recipe, and some have literally taken it to their grave!!

In my quest to find a GOOD recipe, because it is one of my husband’s favorite desserts, I’ve tweaked and wasted, and tweaked and wasted countless ingredients trying to perfect this recipe. I remember my sister-in-law, Mona and I, and mind you, she’s an EXCELLENT cook, I remember us mixing, beating, steaming and without any close results, have failed trying to perfect it.  I gave up! I just prayed that a passer by relative who’s flying in, stops and delivers some of these cakes, made all the way from the islands, to us.  I’d freeze them, steam them as we needed, and then one day our stash of sweet rice potu was G-O-N-E, gone!

With this recipe, I believe I’ve come close to, as close to can get, especially since one of the “main” ingredients is TUBA, which is not available in my area.  Because I have no access to this sweet “drink”,  I’ve had to improvise and use store bought jarred “Coconut vinegar OR Palm vinegar”.  Their flavor “ALMOST” mimics the taste of sweet Tuba, but of course, if you can get sweet Tuba, please use it.  This is how “I” make Chamorro Potu.  Please Please, pass on your comments and POSITIVE critiques, I would love to hear from you.  Until then, HAPPY COOKING, BAKING, and STEAMING! 😉

Ingredients:

1 cup Jasmine rice  (pictured below)
1 cup water
3 to 4  tablespoons Palm Vinegar (pictured below)
1/4 to 1/3 cup Sugar (I prefer less sweet)
2 teaspoons baking powder

Directions:

Because the rice kernels HAVE TO soak,  you need to start the night before you’re planning on serving it.  The brand of rice I use is pictured below.  If you decide to use another brand or type of rice, I will not be held responsible if you fail with this recipe.   I’ve only used this brand whenever I make my recipe.  The palm vinegar I used is also pictured below.  I’m sure other brands can be used.  I’ve also tried using coconut vinegar and it works fine.

  

Measure out 1 cup of the dry rice.  Wash the rice in water until the water runs clear!  Drain well.  Place into a container, add the  1 cup of water and cover.  Set this aside and allow to soak for a minimum of 8 hours but preferably overnight.

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When you’re ready to prepare the recipe, start heating up the water in your steamer.  In the container that your rice is in, there may still be some water left from the soaking.  DO NOT drain this water.  Place the rice into a heavy duty blender container (I use my Vitamix Professional 750) for this process since it’s pretty heavy duty.  Add the sugar and palm vinegar to the rice and water.  NOTE:  If you do not have a heavy duty mixer, you may have to do this step in smaller increments.  Just process the rice in batches, rather than one whole time.  Although, I’ve never done it this way, if you have a heavy duty food processor, such as a KitchenAid,  I’m sure you could also use that.  The key is to grind the rice FINE!

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Process this in your blender, until the rice kernels are finely ground.  Shut the blender off and add the baking powder.  Now process again for a minute or 2 being careful that the mixture doesn’t heat up.

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While the mixture is still processing, line up your silicon cups in the steamer basket.   For easier handling, pour the batter into a smaller container and pour  3/4 of the way into each baking cup.  This mixture makes about 12 potu cakes OR more if you use smaller silicon cups.

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Place the steamer basket into the steamer pot, which should already be producing heavy steam.  Place a CLEAN kitchen towel over the top of the steamer basket to catch any condensation that will occur during the steaming process.  Place the lid onto the pot.  The lid will also hold the towel taught so that it doesn’t fall onto the potu.  Steam this for a minimum of 20 minutes and up to 30 minutes, depending on the heat that’s produced.

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After about 20 minutes, CAREFULLY lift the lid and towel away, to see how the process is going.  I get excited when I see that little “crack” in the center of my potu.  It tells me it’s gonna be PERFECT!  When done, the potu should spring back a bit, with a slight stickiness to the tops.

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Remove from the steamer pot and allow them to cool before removing them from the basket.  Set them aside to cool completely before removing them from the silicon cups.

SERVE!  Place the leftovers in a plastic bag to keep them fresh.

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Thank you, Rose Camacho (aka Chamorita Momma) for allowing me to repost and share your Tried and True Potu recipe!

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Baklava Truffles

Baklava is one of my favorite desserts.  I’ve seen many variations of this rich, sweet dessert, from chocolate drizzled to baklava cheesecake, and believe me, they all taste incredible!

I’m usually pressed for time, and lately I’ve been creating healthier meals for my family. When it comes to healthy eating, I will admit that Baklava doesn’t immediately come to mind.  Why would it?  Traditional baklava is made with a syrup or honey, and lots and lots of butter.  This recipe, while not right up there in the health-food category, does cut back on a lot of the calories from butter, phyllo dough, and sugar.  It’s a good energy snack, and the thing I love best about it is that it’s a no-bake (aka quick and easy) recipe.

If you look at my list of ingredients below, you’ll notice an ingredient not common in traditional baklava recipes…almond butter.  I use almond butter partially to add another type of nut to this recipe, but it also serves as a way to bind everything together without using too much honey.

If you’re not familiar with almond butter, all it is are almonds ground until creamy, like peanut butter.  You can make your own almond butter — it’s really quite easy, if you have some patience and a good food processor, that is.  It’s more economical to make it yourself, as a small jar of almond butter sells for about $12.00!  I like adding pure maple syrup or honey to my almond butter to sweeten it up a bit.  To make your own almond butter, all you need are 3 cups of raw almonds and 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey (that’s if you want it sweet — the maple syrup and honey are completely optional).  Process only the almonds in your food processor — here’s where your patience comes into play as it takes a good 30 minutes of processing before the almonds turn into a creamy consistency.  Add the maple syrup or honey at the end, just so you can blend it with the almond butter.  Place in a resealable container (I use a mason jar or an empty peanut butter jar).

gheeSince you’ve just perused my list of ingredients, you’ll also notice I use ghee in my recipe.  Ghee is clarified butter — butter that’s been melted so that the milk solids separate from the butter fat, then cooked to boil out the moisture (butter has 15% to 20% moisture content while ghee has nearly 100% butter fat). Several traditional baklava recipes use ghee, lots and lots of it. You can find ghee in the international aisle of your grocery store, or you can make it yourself.

To make ghee, melt 1 pound (or 4 sticks) of butter in a medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat.  When the butter starts frothing, turn down the heat to low.  Keep cooking the butter until it starts to turn a dark golden color; the curds on the bottom of the pan will start to brown.  Use a clean, dry spoon to scoop away the frothy stuff on top.  When the melted butter looks clear, it’s done.  Remove it from the heat.  Strain the liquid through a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer.  Place in a clean container.  You can store ghee at room temperature (no refrigeration needed).

Make up a batch of these delicious truffles to take along with you for road trip snacks, snacks at work, or when you’re planning an outdoor trek and need some snacks for a quick energy boost.

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

No-Bake Baklava Truffles

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Ingredients:

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  • 1 cup pistachios
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup good quality honey
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Directions:

1.  Place the pistachios, walnuts, cinnamon and salt into a food processor.  Pulse it on high speed until the nuts are chopped into small pieces.

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2.  In a separate microwave-safe mixing bowl, place the honey and ghee (you can use regular butter instead of ghee).  Heat for about 30-60 seconds or until the ghee melts.  Add the almond butter and vanilla extract to the bowl.  Stir to combine.

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3.  Add the chopped nut mixture to the almond butter mixture.  Use a spatula to mix it all together.

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4.  Use a small cookie scoop to form small balls.  Place on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the truffles to set.

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Optional:  Roll the truffles in chopped nuts before refrigerating.

ENJOY!

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Berry-licious Blueberry Muffins

I love blueberry muffins, but I absolutely hate the packaged blueberry muffin mix which turns the batter a bluish-purple after you add canned (and tiny) blueberries.

Blueberries are my favorite when it comes to fruit muffins, but you can easily make this into a loaded berry muffin by mixing you favorite berries — a combination of raspberries, cranberries, and of course, blueberries are delicious too.

I use frozen berries for this recipe. While fresh berries are delicious, frozen sweet berries are always available and “in season.”

I also top these muffins with a sweet mixture of lemon zest and sugar. The perfumy, aromatic oils in the lemon zest gives these muffins a hint of lemon flavor that compliments the berries so well.

This recipe makes a little more than a dozen muffins. You’ll have just a bit of batter leftover after filing the muffin tin. Make mini loaves or use a second muffin tin to use up the extra batter.

Berry-licious Blueberry Muffins

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Ingredients for the Muffins:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons dry Buttermilk Powder (you can find this in the baking section of your grocery store)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons white, granulated sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups frozen blueberries

Ingredients for the Topping:

  • 1 cup frozen blueberries plus 1 teaspoon white, granulated sugar
  • The zest of one large lemon plus 1/2 cup white, granulated sugar

Directions:

Make the toppings:

1. Make a blueberry sauce by placing 1 cup of frozen blueberries with 1 teaspoon sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the berries to a simmer. As the berries begin to soften, use the back of a cooking spoon to slightly mash the berries. Cook the mixture for about 5-8 minutes, or until the sauce reduces and thickens. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

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2. In a small bowl, mix the lemon zest and 1/2 cup sugar together. Set aside.

When you zest the lemon, make sure to get only the yellow lemon rind, not the white pith. After zesting the lemon, chop the zest into smaller pieces then mix with the sugar.

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Mix the batter:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with baking spray or non-stick (butter flavored) cooking spray. Or, line each cup with a muffin liner.

2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, buttermilk powder).

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3. In another mixing bowl, place the eggs and sugar. Using a hand mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs and sugar until creamy. Mix in the butter, oil, water and vanilla extract.

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4. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, mixing only until the batter is moistened (a few lumps are okay). Do not overmix.

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5. Fold in the blueberries.

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6. Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full. These muffins really rise high, so don’t overfill each muffin cup.

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7. Place a heaping teaspoonful of the blueberry sauce on top of the batter in each muffin cup.

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8. Using the handle of a spoon (a chopstick works really well here), swirl the blueberry sauce into the batter.

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9. Evenly sprinkle the lemon-sugar mixture over each muffin.

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10. Bake at 425 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean (a few crumbs sticking to the toothpick is okay). Let the muffins cool in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

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If you have a mini loaf pan, you can make mini loaves with the extra muffin batter. You should have enough batter left (after filling the muffin tin) to make 3 mini loaves. I doubled this recipe so I made 6 mini loaves with the extra batter (after filling 2 muffin tins).

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Serve and ENJOY!

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Loaded Carrot Cake with a Kick

Carrot cake is one of my favorite cakes. I like it plain with no frosting–this cake is that good–but it’s really delicious with a rich cream cheese frosting, or, try it Chamorro-style and top it with Latiya (find my recipe here).

I call this “loaded carrot cake” because it’s chock full of raisins, walnuts and crushed pineapples (which makes it so moist). The raisins and walnuts are optional, but this cake tastes so delicious if you add them, especially if you add that “kick.” I’ll tell you about that later. 😉

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

Loaded Carrot Cake with a Kick

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Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup finely grated carrots (about 4 medium or 3 large carrots)
  • 1/2 cup canned crushed pineapple in juice, drained
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins plus 1/2 cup water (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Latiya:

  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 12 ounces water
  • 4 tablespoons corn starch
  • Cinnamon, for dusting

Directions:

1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

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2. Place the raisins into a small bowl and cover it with water. Soak the raisins in the water while you make the batter. To give this cake a “kick,” soak the raisins in rum instead of water. 😉

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3. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

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4. In a separate and larger mixing bowl, mix together the brown sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract.

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5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, a half cup at a time. Using a large mixing spoon or spatula, gently stir the mixture until the dry and wet ingredients combine (do not over mix; a few lumps are okay).

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6. Stir in the crushed pineapple and grated carrots.

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7. Drain out any liquid remaining in the bowl of raisins, then fold the raisins into the batter.

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8. Fold the walnuts into the batter.

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9. Pour the batter into the baking pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes then run a butter knife around the sides to loosen it. Invert the cake onto a serving dish or cooling rack to let it finish cooling completely.

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Cream Cheese Frosting:

1. Using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract until fluffy.

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2. Add the cinnamon and half of the powdered sugar to the mixing bowl. Mix until smooth and creamy. Add the remaining powdered sugar; mix until creamy.

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3. After the cake is completely cooled, top with cream cheese frosting (or latiya).

Serve and ENJOY!

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Latiya:

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1. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, place the milk, butter, vanilla extract and sugar.  Whisk the ingredients together until the butter melts.

2. Mix the water and corn starch together.  Once the butter melts, pour the corn starch mixture into the pan.  Continuously whisk the mixture until it comes to a boil.

3. Cook the mixture for another minute after it comes to a boil, whisking constantly to prevent lumps.

4.  Pour the hot mixture over slices of carrot cake.  Sprinkle the top of the latiya with cinnamon.  Let the mixture cool at room temperature to allow the latiya to set.

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Serve and ENJOY!

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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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