Sunday, March 27, 2011

Orange Rolls

Wow! I can see the sun! Amazing, since it has rained every day since the middle of February. Yes, it did rain later that day, so the streak is unbroken.

I remember a few weeks ago, in one of the baking communities I belong to, someone asked for an Orange roll recipe. That sounded really, really good! So, I thought I would give it a try as one of my first recipes to make after the first day of Spring!

These rolls are fantastic. The orange taste is just enough, and not overpowering at all. The fresh zest provides just enough orange taste to these rolls.

I based this recipe on my recipe for cinnamon rolls, just adding some zest, and changing the frosting. They are perfect for a nice sunny day.

For the recipe, you can get a .pdf here!

Orange Rolls

1 T. yeast (1 package)
1 cup warm milk
1/2 c. butter
1 t. salt
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
4-5 c. flour

1 T. orange zest


1 cup sugar

2 T. orange zest

1/3 to 1/2 c. butter, softened


¼ cup orange juice

1 cup powdered sugar

1 T. butter

For the rolls

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, egg, butter, yeast, salt, orange zest, and milk. Mix until all ingredients are well combined. Continue adding up to 1/2 c. flour at a time until dough is workable, but still a bit sticky. Knead until smooth and elastic either with a dough hook or on a floured board. Put dough in another bowl, and cover. Let rise until double in volume.

Combine orange zest and 1 cup sugar. Set aside.

After rising, turn onto lightly floured board and gently deflate. Roll into a 20 inch by 16 inch rectangle. Spread softened butter along dough in a thin layer, sprinkle zest/sugar mixture evenly on rolls. If you have any remaining, that’s OK. Starting with the 20" side, roll dough, and gently pinch dough shut. Cut with a sharp knife into 10 equal rolls.

Place parchment paper or generously butter a 13x9x2 baking pan. Place rolls in the pan, not touching one another. Cover and let rise until double. If you have any remaining zest/sugar mixture, sprinkle over the rolls.

Preheat oven to 375. Bake rolls in the middle of the oven for aproximately 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and cool until just warm. Frost with frosting.


In a small bowl, combine the butter and powdered sugar. Slowly add the orange juice until the consistency you like.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Chocolate Cheesecake with Pretzel Crust and Salted Caramel Mousse

Look at that tasty little gem. I almost forgot to make it.

Last year, I tried and tried to get a decent pretzel crust. But, I wasn't happy with the results. I tried adding nuts, cookie crumbs, flour...the key was really simple. Don't crush the pretzels to dust - leave them in smaller pieces. That's the only way it works.

Interestingly enough, I got this idea from a baby shower I attended. There was one of those jello pretzel salads there. It gave me the idea to simplify and rely on crushed pretzels instead of pretzel dust.

And, boy does it work! The pretzels add a little salty crunch, which magically made the chocolate taste better. Of course, I couldn't stop there. I had to add the salted caramel mousse I had been working on as well.

The mousse is dreamy on it's own. It's perfect on this cheesecake. As I stated in the recipe, I didn't make the caramel, although you can make yours. Since I was working on quite a few things caramel, I bought a brick of it. The stuff I bought is fantastic. I'm sure your home made will be as well :). I also sprinkled a little extra sea salt on top.

I do want to talk a little about portions. This cheesecake was made in a 6" pan - not a big one. It's easily doubled and will fit an 8 to 9" pan if doubled. I had leftover mousse, which disappeared from the refrigerator. I suspect it was eaten with a spoon at midnight, but that is a mystery!

For a pdf of this recipe, follow the linky. Enjoy!

Chocolate Cheesecake with pretzel crust and salted caramel mousse

This makes one 6” cheesecake, 2 mini’s, or 24 bite size

For the crust:

2 cups crushed pretzels (this is about ½ of a 16 ounce bag), don’t grind into fine powder.

5 T. butter, melted

1/3 c. sugar

½ t. cinnamon

Combine all ingredients, and press into the bottom of your pan(s). If you are doing bite size cheesecakes, about ½ tablespoon crust is perfect for bite size cheesecake pans, or a lined cupcake tin.

For the cheesecake:

16 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, at room temperature

½ c. cocoa powder

1 t. vanilla

1 t. salt

2 T. corn starch

2 T. coffee, or 1 t. espresso powder

Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, whip cream cheese for a minute or two, just to soften further. Add sugar, and mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl to make sure your batter is consistent. Add remaining ingredients, and mix for 2 minutes to get a smooth, consistent batter. Spoon over crust.

Bake in 350 oven for 40 minutes for 6”, 30 minutes for mini’s, and 15-25 minutes for bite size. Cool to room temperature. Garnish with salted caramel mousse.

Salted Caramel Mousse

8 oz caramel (I bought mine, but you can make yours!)

2 cups heavy cream

½ t. sea salt

In a medium size bowl, microwave caramel until hot, but not boiling. Whisk in 1 cup heavy cream. Continue whisking until no lumps remain. If you struggle with lumps, microwave in 10 second increments, just to get a smooth cream, do NOT boil.

Refrigerate mixture at least 1 hour. Add remaining cream and sea salt, and beat until soft peaks form. Chill until ready to use.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spice Cupcakes with Spice Cream Cheese Frosting

I love cupcakes. It could be the cuteness, or it could be there is a higher frosting to cake ratio, but I love them. It might be all the cute little cupcake liners I have – almost a lifetime supply, really.

So when I’m experiencing a culinary downturn, it’s the cupcake I turn to. Over the past week, I have done poorly with a Daring Cook challenge – I liked the concept of the recipe, but I executed it poorly. I have accidentally dropped a small chocolate cheesecake on the floor while I was trying to get it out of the oven. Those things splatter spectacularly. And, my beloved Kitchenaid is still broken. No, it’s not the worm gear. Either I put it together incorrectly, or there is something wrong with the eletricalness of it. It only has one speed – super fast…which means everything gets splashed around the kitchen.

Ah, just think about the bliss of the cupcake. It makes everything a little bit better. These cupcakes made everything better…at least for a short time.

I’m sure I’m alone on this one, but there are certain spices in foods that just make me feel warm when I eat them. I’m talking cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and sometimes cloves. They take me back to childhood, and the gorgeous smells of carrot cake baking, or the cinnamon rolls I would make my Mom, and the happy looks I would get from her for making her favorite food.

So, I went looking for a spice cupcake recipe. Actually, I went looking for a recipe I could change into my own spices. I found one – in the oddest places – on the food network site, by Paula Deen. Now, I have a love/hate relationship with Paula. I loved her when she just started her show. But, I think she has suffered the same fate that most other food network stars do – a victim of her own fame. It seems like she has become a caricature of herself – like Emeril did before her, like Guy Fieri is becoming now.

But this recipe is sound. I remember a similar one in my Fannie Farmer Baking book…boy, I wish I still had that book…I loved that book.

I decided the perfect frosting for the cupcake would be a spiced cream cheese frosting, and I was right. These cupcakes were great, and the frosting was too! A perfect little sweet on a cold and rainy day.

These cupcakes have quite a bit of rise to them, so be sure to fill your cupcake liners just a little less than you normally would, or your cupcake will be too big. I used my handy ice cream scoop, which is great for portioning things like this. You can get different sized scoops at a Restaurant supply store, so you have one for regular cupcakes, one for mini’s, and one or two for portioning cookies as well. I love mine!

If you want a printable recipe, click here.

Spice Cupcakes

Inspired by Paula Dean

Makes – A lot of cupcakes! About 30

3 cups cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon allspice

½ teaspoon cardamom

½ t. vanilla

2 sticks butter, softened

1 cups sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, whip butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly add eggs, one at a time, followed by all the spices, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and vanilla. Add 1 cup of the flour, followed by ½ cup of the buttermilk. Mix until just combined. Repeat adding flour, then buttermilk, ending with ¼ cup of buttermilk.

Place in lined cupcake tins, filling no more than 2/3 full. Bake 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup butter, softened

16 oz cream cheese, softened

¼ to ½ cup cream

8 cups powdered sugar

2 t. cinnamon

1 t. nutmeg

½ t. cardamom

¼ t. salt

½ t. vanilla

In a large bowl, whip butter and cream cheese for a few minutes until lighter. Slowly add powdered sugar, spices, salt, and vanilla. Add 2 T. cream, and whip frosting until light and fluffy – 3-5 minutes. Add more cream, a little at a time, until the desired consistency.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March 2011 Daring Cooks Challenge - Ceviche and Papas Rellenas

Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenges us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra.

Yummy! Well, that wasn't my first impression, until I scrolled down. There are so many fish and shellfish that I'm allergic to, my initial reaction to any fish is - nope, not me...

But, then I got to the recipe for Papas Rellenas. Wow, did they look good! And, they were!

I'm not going to post a recipe, for the simple reason that I followed the one that was provided - well, pretty much. you can see it here - along with the Ceviche recipe, and some bonus recipes as well.

I thought that substituting sweet potatoes would be great as a crust. was a good idea, but... I seem to be struggling in the kitchen lately. I blame my mixer. It quit working, and is still in many pieces on my floor, waiting for my brother to fix the poor thing. I've been a bit off ever since then.

Anyway, back to Sweet Potatos. They were sticky and tacky. I added corn starch, and that didn't work. So, I ended up almost freezing them, and that seemed to work. They were awesome with the hamburger filling, and definately something I would make again.

Thank you again for such a great challenge. I hope I have my "kitchen mojo" back for the next one!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Peanut Butter Cheesecake...cups!

Don’t you just love cheesecake? I know I do. That picture - that one up there - doesn't look much like peanut butter cheesecake, though, does it? Well, keep reading...

But I was thinking. Sometimes one slice of cheesecake, no matter how thin, is just too much to satisfy a little craving. While I will admit that at times, even a slice of cheesecake is not enough, there are times when I have a beautiful slice of cheesecake in the fridge and take a bite or two out of it every day.

Well, that solution wasn’t really good enough for me. Yes, cheesecake is good when it’s cold. But, it’s better when it’s allowed to warm a bit – about an hour out of the refrigerator. So I had to think of something better. I think I have come up with some creative solutions. Now it’s time to share two of these solutions with you.

Most of you saw my Valentine’s Day entry (check here if you haven’t). Those cheesecake bites were incredibly tasty! But, I wanted something different. I really enjoyed the Peanut Butter Cheesecake I made my nephew’s girlfriend for her birthday 2 years ago (I haven’t published that recipe yet). That got me thinking…..

Yea, you know where I’m headed – Peanut Butter Cheesecake…cups! AND, Peanut Butter Cheesecake filled Chocolate Cupcakes! YUM! Two treats in one! The first time I tried this recipe, I added too much peanut butter to the cheesecake mixture…a mistake I rectified by going back to the original recipe.

The result? Fantastic! These little gems are perfect. Not only do they satisfy any size sweet tooth, they store well in the refrigerator and the freezer. And, they are the perfect size. Well, actually, they come in 3 sizes, perfect for 2 sizes of sweet tooths! The creamy peanut butter cheesecake was perfect enrobed in chocolate. It was even better as a filling to chocolate cupcakes.

I wanted to make a special note here. I didn’t make these in a spring form pan. I know that’s the more traditional way to make cheesecake, but if you don’t have one, you don’t have to go out and buy one to make one cheesecake. But, a springform pan (or a lot of aluminum foil or parchment paper) is the only way you are going to get that baby out of a pan in one piece!

For a snazzy pdf of the recipe, click here.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Filling

1 lb cream cheese, softened to room temperature

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

½ cup peanut butter (I use smooth)

¼ cup flour

½ t. vanilla

½ t. salt

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9” round pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, mix cream cheese with a mixer for 2 minutes. Add sugar and eggs, and beat for 2 minutes, until well incorporated. Add peanut butter, flour, vanilla, and salt. Mix until well combined.

Pour into prepared pan. Place pan in a water bath and place in the oven for 30-45 minutes, until center is only just set.

Cool for 1 hour, then put in refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight.

For the cupcakes:

Your favorite Chocolate cupcake recipe, made and cooled (I used

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Filling

Cut out peanut butter cheesecake filling with a small round cookie cutter. The cookie cutter should allow ¼ to ½” of cupcake around the filling. Use the same cutter to cut out the center of the cupcake. I’ve found the easiest way to do this is to make the cut with the cookie cutter, then use a spoon to get the center out of the cupcake.

Place cheesecake filling in the center of the cupcake, and top with the top cutout, leaving just enough cake to create a nice looking cupcake. Frost with your favorite frosting. For a photo tutorial, I used this , slightly modified to use a cookie cutter instead of a knife.

For the peanut butter cheesecake cups:

1 pound chocolate, chopped into small pieces

Peanut Butter cheesecake, cooled.

Cut cheesecake into circles that will fit into your muffin cups. The cheesecake should be cut to a size that gives a very small edge around the cupcake liner for the chocolate coating. The picture below shows you what size cutter I used, and how it fit into my muffin tin.

Line each muffin tin with a muffin cup.

In a microwave proof bowl, melt chocolate. I use the microwave. I add 2/3 of the chocolate to the bowl, and microwave for 1 minute. Stir and see how hot the chocolate is. If the chocolate is not melted, microwave on 10 second intervals until fully melted. Once it’s fully melted, add the remaining 1/3 of the chocolate, and the chocolate is ready to put into cups.

Once the chocolate is ready, place approximately 2 teaspoons of chocolate in each cupcake liner. The chocolate should be about ¼” thin. Place one cheesecake cutout on top of the chocolate. Place another 2 teaspoons of chocolate on top of the cheesecake, swirling the chocolate with a spoon so it covers the sides and fills the cupcake liner. If you like your chocolate a little thicker, you can use more chocolate.

Refrigerate until hard, and serve at room temperature.