Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

I love a good sweet roll, especially one that is cinnamony. Throw in a little cream cheese and I'm in heaven. These cinnamon rolls are just right. They're moist, but not gummy or soggy in the middle. They have a great ratio of bread to filling. And even though the long directions may sound complicated, they're really very easy. You can even do all the work the night before and bake them the next day (perfect for Christmas morning). I already made these again this morning for New Year's Day (no wonder my stomach looks like a cinnamon roll).

Yield: 8 large rolls

1 (¼-oz.) package active dry yeast
½ teaspoon plus ¼ cup sugar
½ cup milk, at room temperature
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 ¾ cups flour, sifted, plus more for kneading
¾ teaspoon fine salt
1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature), plus more for the pan

½ cup sugar
¼ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup finely chopped pecans
¼ cup finely chopped walnuts
¼ cup raisins
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon fine salt
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons maple syrup
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

2 cups confectioners' sugar
¼ cup buttermilk

1.      Make the dough: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a hook, combine yeast, ½ tsp. of the sugar, and ¼ cup water heated to 115° F. Stir to combine and let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add remaining sugar, milk, light brown sugar, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk. Beat on low speed until thoroughly combined, 1 minute. Turn mixer off and add the flour and salt. Mix on medium speed until the dough just comes together. Turn mixer speed to high and knead dough for 4 minutes. Add the butter and continue kneading until dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 6 minutes. Remove bowl from the mixer, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place. Let the dough rise for 1 ½–2 hours, until it has doubled in size.
2.      Meanwhile, make the filling: Combine sugar, dark brown sugar, pecans, walnuts, raisins, cinnamon, salt, and cloves in a large bowl; stir to combine. Stir in maple syrup. Set aside.
3.      Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a heavily floured surface. Gently knead the dough until it's no longer sticky, adding more flour as necessary, about 1 minute. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 10" x 10" square. In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese with a rubber spatula until it's smooth and spreadable. Spread the cream cheese evenly over the dough square; then fold square into thirds as you would fold a letter to fit it into an envelope. Take the open ends of the resulting rectangle and fold into thirds again, to make a smaller dough square. Invert the dough so that the seam is face down and, using the rolling pin, gently roll into a 10" x 20" rectangle.
4.      Turn the dough so that the short sides are parallel to you. Brush the top of the dough with half of the melted butter. Drizzle the reserved filling over the dough, leaving a 1" border at the edge farthest away from you. Lightly press the filling into the dough. Using your hands, lift up the bottom edge of the dough and roll it forward into a tight cylinder. Place dough cylinder, seam side down, on a cutting board and, using a thin, sharp knife, trim off the ends; cut cylinder crosswise into 8 equal-size slices. Nestle the slices, cut sides up and evenly spaced from one another, into a buttered 9" x 13" light-colored metal baking pan. Cover pan with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to let rise for 2 hours. (Alternatively, the rolls may be refrigerated overnight.)
5.      Heat oven to 375° F. Uncover the rolls. (If refrigerated, let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.) Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the rolls comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
6.      Make the icing: While the rolls are baking, whisk together the sugar and buttermilk in a small bowl until smooth.
7.      Transfer the pan of cinnamon rolls to a cooling rack; brush with remaining melted butter. Let cool for 5 minutes. Dip the tines of a fork into the icing and drizzle all over the rolls. Serve immediately.

yeast, sugar and water
yeast foamy; adding remaining sugar,
milk, brown sugar, vanilla and egg
adding flour and salt
adding butter
The dough never really pulled away from the sides
and it looked so soft to me, I was a little worried
I'd done something wrong - but as you can see,
it all worked out. Adding lots of flour as you
knead and roll helps get the right consistency.
all the filling ingredients mixed
(I used golden raisins, so they're hard to spot.)
dough risen
kneading the punched down dough (or more
accurately, trying to knead the dough with my right
hand while I take a photo with my shaky left hand)
dough rolled into a 10" x10" square (roughly);
starting to spread the cream cheese
cream cheese spread
first fold
second fold
third fold
fourth fold
dough rolled into a 10" x 20" rectangle
(again, roughly)
dough brushed with butter
and topped with filling
sliced into 8 pieces
placed in the pan
rolls after rising

I made mine the night before and put them in the fridge
right away because I was going out. And even though
the recipe says to take out and leave at room temperature
for only 15 minutes, it was chilly in the house, so I let
them sit out for about 2 hours so they would rise enough.
baked cinnamon rolls
brushing with butter
drizzling with icing

I didn't use all the icing, it seemed like a little too much.
cream cheese cinnamon rolls
cinnamon roll cross section

In case you're wondering why my kitchen looks so different...I didn't move;
I was at my in-laws' house (these were baked on Christmas morning).

Friday, December 20, 2013

Bouchon Bakery's Hot Chocolate

I was perusing Food & Wine's list of best hot chocolates in the U.S. the other day (because that's the type of thing I do when I should be folding the laundry or answering emails). I couldn't help but be intrigued by the mention of coriander, so I found the recipe on and here we are. I made this recipe, in spite of the fact that I had none of the very specific brands of ingredients listed and I have no idea whether my heavy cream is 40% fat (who does?). And all I can say is that it came out thick and luscious and I now understand the term drinking chocolate (which I've heard before, but until now just thought it was someone's clever way of getting me to pony up twice as much for hot cocoa mix). This is serious hot chocolate that laughs at Swiss Miss (and not just because she's dressed like a Bavarian bar maid).

Side note: You may have noticed (or maybe you haven't), that I haven't been posting much lately. I'm just really busy at work and can't find the time to clean my house, much less cook and post on my blog. I'm not apologizing (mostly because I'm not delusional enough to think anyone cares, especially if I don't). I'm just explaining, in case you were wondering. Now back to the ultra creamy hot chocolate...


8 ½ ounces whole milk
1 ounce 40% heavy cream
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
1 cinnamon stick
½ vanilla bean
1 tablespoon Cacao Rouge-Guittard cocoa powder
1 ½ ounces 38% Soleil d'Or Milk Chocolate-Guittard, chopped
1 ½ ounces 61% Lever du Soleil Dark Chocolate-Guittard, chopped

1.      Bring the milk and cream to a boil.
2.      Smash the coriander seeds and toast them with the cinnamon stick in a hot pan until fragrant. Add these spices to the hot milk to steep.
3.      Scrape vanilla bean and add to the milk mixture. Stir in cocoa powder and combine well.
4.      Strain the milk mixture over the chopped milk and dark chocolate. Mix well until the chocolate is melted. Strain one more time. It's now ready to serve!

from (originally from Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery)
whole coriander seeds
toasting the spices
steeping the coriander & cinnamon in the hot milk mixture

Don't be nervous, the spices are very subtle with all that chocolate!
stirring in the cocoa powder

I didn't have
Cacao Rouge-Guittard cocoa powder,
so I used the best brand in my cabinet (Scharffen Berger).

I also didn't have a vanilla bean, so I used
about 1/2 teaspoon homemade vanilla extract
dark and milk chocolates

I didn't have the brands that Thomas Keller uses,
so I used Callebaut (which is a good quality chocolate).
milk mixture strained into the bowl with the chocolates
stirred and strained into my cup

Since I probably won't be posting again until after the holidays...
Merry Christmas (and possibly Happy New Year too)!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Pumpkin Rugelach

Happy Thanksgivukkah! I couldn't resist making at least one merged Thanksgiving & Hanukkah treat this year. After all, they say these two holidays won't intermingle again for another 79,000 years, so it's now or never (at least for me). I like to think that in 79,000 years people will no longer eat because they'll have evolved to be more like plants and simply photosynthesize. It just seems so much more elegant. So enjoy some rugelach while you still have a mouth.

Yield: 2 dozen

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

Pumpkin Filling:
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup fine maple sugar or dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk (egg wash)
2 tablespoons raw sugar

1.      Dough: Combine cream cheese and butter in a bowl until well blended. Stir in vanilla, sugar and salt. Stir in flour to create a soft dough. Remove dough from bowl, form into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to use, at least 1 hour.
2.      Pumpkin Filling: In a saucepan over medium heat, combine pumpkin, butter, maple sugar, pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon; stir occasionally until mixture begins to bubble. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes, or until mixture thickens and water has evaporated. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and allow to cool completely before using.
3.      Place half the dough on a floured surface and roll out into a 9-inch round. Spoon half of pumpkin mixture onto center of dough. Use an offset spatula or back of a spoon to spread mixture out evenly toward edge. Sprinkle with half the chopped walnuts and about 2 tablespoons maple sugar or brown sugar. Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut the round into 4 wedges, then cut each wedge into 3 wedges to create a total of 12 wedges.
4.      Preheat oven to 350º F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silplat mats.
5.      Starting from wide end, roll each wedge into a crescent. Place "point down" on lined baking sheet. Repeat process with remaining dough and filling. Refrigerate rugelach for 30 minutes.
6.      Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar, if desired.
7.      Bake for 20-22 minutes or until lightly browned, turning halfway though. Cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

slightly adapted from

pumpkin, butter, sugar and spices
pumpkin mixture thickened
pumpkin mixture spread on dough circle
and sprinkled with walnuts and sugar

I forgot to take photos of making the dough, but clearly I did.
dough cut into triangles
rolled into crescents

I didn't do the egg wash or sprinkle with
raw sugar. It looks pretty, but isn't necessary
if you don't have time (which I didn't).

I've been so ridiculously busy lately that I only managed to take one photo of the baked final product (at the top of the page). I made these last week and froze them, so I could go to the basement, get them out of the freezer and do a rugelach photo shoot, but that's just not going to happen.