Archive for DESSERTS

Mandarin Delight Pie

I first tried this pie years and years ago, when one of my sisters made it for our family.  It’s since been one of our favorite desserts.  It’s quick and easy to make; in fact, if you’re looking for something delicious to make for dessert, add this to your menu.   It’s a delicious dessert to take to potlucks too!

For a low-calorie / lightened version of this recipe, use a low-fat crust, fat-free cream cheese, low-fat or fat-free sour cream, lite Cool Whip, sugar-free pudding mix, and mandarin oranges packed in juice instead of syrup.

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

Mandarin Delight Pie

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Ingredients:

  • 1 graham cracker pie crust
  • 1 package (8‑oz) cream cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 small tub (8‑oz) of Cool Whip
  • 1 small (3.4 oz) packages of French Vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 2 cans (15‑oz) mandarin oranges (reserve 1/2 cup of the liquid; drain the rest)

Directions:

1.  Heat your oven to 250 degrees. Place the graham cracker crust into the COLD oven, at the same time you turn it on to pre-heat.  (In the time it takes to pre-heat your oven, the crust is toasting.)  Once the oven reaches 250 degrees, take the crust out of the oven.  You should smell the toasting crust by this time– when you start to smell the crust as it bakes, it’s probably ready to take out of the oven. Remove the crust from the oven.  Let the pie crust cool completely before adding the filling.

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2.  In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy.

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3.  Mix in the sour cream.

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4.  Mix in the cool whip.

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5.  Add the instant pudding and 1/2 cup reserved mandarin juice to the cream cheese mixture.  Mix well, or just until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

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5. Spread half of the cream cheese filling into the pie crust.  It should just come halfway up the side of the crust.  Layer one can of mandarin over the filling.

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6.  Gently spread the remaining filling over the mandarin.  Layer the second can of mandarin over the top of the filling.

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7.  Refrigerate the pie for at least 30 minutes to allow the filling to set.  Slice, serve, and ENJOY!

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Try my recipe for Blueberry Cheesecake too! 🙂

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Blueberry Cheesecake

Blueberry Cheesecake is among the many go-to desserts I make because it’s quick and easy to prepare, not to mention DELICIOUS. 🙂

With only 4 ingredients, you can whip this up in minutes.  The only hard part is waiting for the filling to set as it chills in the refrigerator.

This is a great dessert to bring to potlucks too.  Make it the night before and you don’t have to worry about cooking anything the next day (bonus!).

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

 

Blueberry Cheesecake

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Ingredients:

1 ready-made graham cracker pie crust

8 oz. cream cheese, softened at room temperature

12 oz. Cool Whip Whipped Topping

1 can blueberry (extra fruit) pie filling

Directions:

Place the pie crust into a COLD oven.  Pre-heat your oven to 250 degrees.  As the oven heats up, the pie crust is toasting and getting nicely browned.  As soon as the oven reaches 250 degrees, turn it off and take the pie crust out of the oven.  Let the crust cool completely.

This photo shows two crusts — I baked one for Blueberry Cheesecake and the other for my Mandarin Pie (see Desserts for that delicious recipe).

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While the crust is cooling, make the filling.

Place the softened cream cheese into a mixing bowl.

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Using a hand mixer, mix the cream cheese until creamy.

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Add the Cool Whip to the mixing bowl.

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Mix the Cool Whip and cream cheese until creamy.

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Scoop the cream cheese mixture into the cooled pie crust, coming to about 1/2 inch from the top of the crust (you want to leave some room for the blueberry filling).

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Top the cream cheese mixture with the blueberry filling.

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Yum!  Don’t you want to dig right in?  

You can eat this right away, but it’s better if you let the filling set up a bit.  Cover the cheesecake with the plastic lid that comes with the crust.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (an hour or two is even better) then slice, serve, and ENJOY!

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Want a fork? 😀

Be sure to check out my recipe for Mandarin Pie!

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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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Chocolate Cake Donuts

Moist chocolate cake…chocolate chips…chocolate ganache…enough said. 🙂

Seriously, though. If you are like me, you LOVE LOVE LOVE chocolate! Take a moist chocolate cake batter load it with chocolate chips, bake it into a donut, then dredge it in a rich, creamy chocolate ganache and you’ll be in Heaven!!

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

Chocolate Cake Donuts

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INGREDIENTS:

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Dry Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

2/3 cup cocoa powder

1 1/4 cups light brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder, or instant coffee granules

3 tablespoons buttermilk powder

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Wet Ingredients:

2 eggs

3/4 cup water

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Chocolate icing:

2 cups chocolate chips

8 tablespoons heavy cream

 Toppings (Optional):

 Sweetened coconut flakes

Toffee bits

Mini chocolate chips

Chocolate cookie bits

Multi-colored sprinkles

 

 DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your donut maker.  Mine has an orange light and green light.  The green light turns on when the donut maker is heated to the right temperature. 

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In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients:

Place the flour into the bowl.

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Add the cocoa powder.  It isn’t necessary to sift the cocoa powder; just dump it in the bowl.

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Add the brown sugar.

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Add the baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder (or instant coffee granules).  You can omit the espresso powder if you’d like.  However, I find that the coffee enhances the flavor of the cocoa, making the donuts taste so much more rich and decadent. 

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Add the buttermilk powder. 

If you can’t find buttermilk powder in your grocery store, use 3/4 cup of liquid buttermilk INSTEAD OF the buttermilk powder and 3/4 cup water.  Add the buttermilk with the wet ingredients as described below.

Another easy substitution for buttermilk is to place 1 teaspoon of either white vinegar or lemon juce in a cup.  Mix in enough regular milk to make 3/4 cup of total liquid (milk plus vinegar).  Stir to combine, then let the mixture sit for a minute or so (it will thicken a bit).  Again, you’d omit the buttermilk powder and 3/4 cup of water if you did it this way.  Add the milk-vinegar mixture with the wet ingredients as described below.

I personally prefer to use buttermilk powder.  I don’t use buttermilk that often in my cooking (aside from the occasional pancake breakfast, and these delicious donuts, of course), so the powdered buttermilk works well.  Keep in mind that the powdered buttermilk must be refrigerated after you break open the sealed container.

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Add the chocolate chips.  I guess I should have named these Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Donuts, huh? 🙂

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Use a whisk to mix all of the dry ingredients together.  Or, you can use a fork.

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In a separate mixing bowl, mix together the wet ingredients:

Place the eggs, water, vanilla extract, and melted butter into the bowl; stir to combine.  Note: after melting the butter, let it sit for a minute or so to cool slightly.  You don’t want scorching hot butter when you mix it with the eggs or else you’ll end up with scrambled eggs.  That’s no bueno for these yummy donuts.

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Stir in the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients.  Mix only until a batter forms; it’s okay if you have a few lumps.  I used a rubber spatula to stir the batter (so that the chocolate chips didn’t get stick in between the whisk wires).

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Spoon the batter into the wells of your pre-heated donut maker, filling according to manufacturer’s instructions.  I use a small cookie scoop to fill my donut maker with about 2 tablespoons of batter. My donut maker has a non-stick surface; if yours is not non-stick, spray each donut well with butter-flavored cooking spray.

I own a Sunbeam donut maker.  I’m pretty satisfied with this brand.  The only thing I’d like better is one that made more than five donuts at a time.  Otherwise, it’s a great machine.  You can find it (and other brands) at Target, WalMart, K-Mart, or your military Exchange.

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Bake per your donut maker’s instructions, or until the donuts feel slightly firm to the touch. My donut maker has a light that turns green when the donuts are done.

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Remove the donuts from the donut maker. These can get very hot, so be careful when taking the donuts out of the donut maker. I find it very easy to use two chopsticks (stick one chopstick through the donut hole and use the other chopstick to nudge the donut out of the donut well). 

You don’t have chopsticks, you say?  Use the ends of wooden cooking spoons instead, or the handles of forks or spoons.

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Place the donuts on a wire wrack to cool. Ensure the donuts cool completely before icing.

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To make the chocolate icing: Combine the chocolate chips and heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl.

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Heat for 45 seconds then remove from the microwave and stir with a fork (or use a whisk), mixing until the icing is shiny, smooth and creamy.

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If the chocolate chips aren’t melted enough after stirring (you still see chunks of chocolate), heat for another 10-15 seconds then stir again.

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After the donuts are cool, dip the top of each one in the warm icing.

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Place the iced donuts back on the wire wrack to allow the frosting to set (or you can just devour them at this point!). 🙂

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Optional:  Sprinkle your favorite toppings on top of the donuts immediately after dipping in the warm icing.

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This is what the donuts look like in the inside — moist and chocolaty, with the added bonus of chocolate chips.  imageServe with a tall glass of milk or a cup of your favorite coffe 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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