Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pecan Honey Sticky Buns

I must say that this week's recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie was my favorite so far. I love sticky buns!!! I repeat, I LOVE STICKY BUNS!!!

So, this week Madame Chow of Madame Chow's Kitchen chose the Pecan Honey Sticky Buns. They are fabulous. I made the first batch Sunday night for my husband's family and forgot to take pictures before we scarfed them down. So tonight I made another small batch to have some to take pictures of . (Oh darn!) I let them cook a few minutes too long so they got a little browner than I would have liked. They were still good though!

Pecan Honey Sticky Buns
Makes 15 buns
For the Glaze:
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup honey1-1/2 cups pecans (whole or pieces)
For the Filling:
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the Buns:
1/2 recipe dough for Golden Brioche loaves (see below), chilled and ready to shape (make the full recipe and cut the dough in half after refrigerating it overnight)
Generously butter a 9-x-13-inch baking pan (a Pyrex pan is perfect for this).
To make the glaze: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter, and honey to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to
dissolve the sugar. Pour the glaze into the buttered pan, evening it out as best you can by tilting the pan or spreading the glaze with a heatproof spatula. Sprinkle over the pecans.
To make the filling: Mix the sugars and cinnamon together in a bowl. If necessary, in another bowl, work the butter with a spatula until it is soft, smooth and spreadable.
To shape the buns: On a flour-dusted work surface, roll the chilled dough into a 16-inch square. Using your fingers or a pastry brush, spread the softened butter over the dough. Sprinkle the do
ugh with the cinnamon sugar, leaving a 1-inch strip bare on the side farthest from you. Starting with the side nearest you, roll the dough into a cylinder, keeping the roll as tight as you can. (At this point, you can wrap the dough airtight and freeze it for up to 2 months . . . . Or, if you want to make just part of the recipe now, you can use as much of the dough as you'd like and freeze the remainder. Reduce the glaze recipe accordingly).
With a chef's knife, using a gentle sawing motion, trim just a tiny bit from the ends of the roll if they're very ragged or not well filled, then cut the log into 1-inch thick buns. (Because you trim the ragged ends of the dough, and you may have lost a little length in the rolling, you will get 15 buns, not 16.) Fit the buns into the pan cut side down, leaving some space between them.
Lightly cover the pan with a piece of wax paper and set the pan in a warm place until the buns have doubled in volume, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. The buns are properly risen when they are puffy, soft, doubled and, in all likelihood, touching one another.
Getting ready to bake: When the buns have almost fully risen , center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Remove the sheet of wax paper and put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Bake the sticky buns for about 30 minutes, or until they are puffed and gorgeously golden; the glaze will be bubbling away merrily. Pull the pan from the oven.
The sticky buns must be unmolded minutes after they come out of the oven. If you do not have a rimmed platter large enough to hold them, use a baking sheet lined with a silicone mate or buttered foil. Be careful - the glaze is super-hot and super-sticky.
What You'll Need for the Golden Brioche Dough (this recipe makes enough for two brioche loaves. If you divide the dough in half, you would use half for the sticky buns, and you can freeze the other half for a later date, or make a brioche loaf out of it!):
2 packets active dry yeast (each packet of yeast contains approx. 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch water
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature1/4 cup sugar
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm
What You'll Need for the Glaze (you would brush this on brioche loaves, but not on the sticky buns):
1 large egg1 tablespoon water
To Make The Brioche: Put the yeast, water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt, and fit into the mixer with the dough hook, if you have one. Toss a kitchen towel over the mixer, covering the bowl as completely as you can-- this will help keep you, the counter and your kitchen floor from being showered in flour. Turn the mixer on and off a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour (yes, you can peek to see how you're doing), then remove the towel, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and mix for a minute or two, just until the flour is moistened. At this point, you'll have a fairly dry, shaggy mess.
Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, until the dough forms a ball. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in 2-tablespoon-size chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next. You'll have a dough that is very soft, almost like batter. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl (or wash out the mixer bowl and use it), cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes, depending upon the warmth of your room.
Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap to the bowl. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours, then leave the uncovered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight. (After this, you can proceed with the recipe to make the brioche loaves, or make the sticky buns instead, or freeze all or part of the dough for later use.)
The next day, butter and flour two 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch pans.Pull the dough from the fridge and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cut each piece of the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece into a log about 3 1/2 inches long. Arran
ge 4 logs crosswise in the bottom of each pan. Put the pans on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat,
cover the pans lightly with wax paper and leave the loaves at room temperature until the dough almost fills the pans, 1 to 2 hours. (Again, rising time with depend on how warm the room is.)
Getting Ready To Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
To Make the Glaze: Beat the egg with the water. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the loaves with the glaze.
Bake the loaves until they are well risen and deeply golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pans and turn the loaves out onto the racks. Invert again and cool for at least 1 hour.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A New Installment...

There are so many wonderful recipes that I find in the many blogs I try to keep up with. I thought a fun thing to do to help me keep track of them and also to share them with the very few people who actually read my blog would be to post a few every week or so.

So here is my first attempt at sharing with you what looks good to me:

Cheesecake Pops by Tartelette

Chipotle Black Bean & Rice Stew at 28 Cooks

Rosemary Balsamic Chicken Salad at Cafe Johnsonia

Tomato Orzo at Small Time Cooks

TWD: Madeleines

So, apparently I did not follow directions very well for this weeks Tuesdays with Dorie task. Tara of Smells Like Home chose Traditional Madeleines. I'm not sure why when I read I assumed we could choose from all the Madeleines but I did. So I suppose that when we get around to making the Fluff-Filled Chocolate Madeleines I will make traditional Madeleines. My apologies- so sorry!

I had a bit of a hard time finding my madeleine pan. I know I've made madeleines before. I remember that shortly after I got married I found a madeleine pan at World Market and just had to have it. Sometime in the last five years it has disappeared. I have moved since then and our stuff was in storage for a while. Somehow I always end up missing a couple things after moving. But it has taken me three years to realize that it was missing. So, I trekked down to Bed, Bath and Beyond and picked up a new one. Hopefully, I can keep track of this one!

My husband said the Fluff-filled Madeleines were tasty. I don't care to much for cake- especially chocolate cake. They were very similar to a Hostess cupcake as Dorie said they would be. My husband came home from work and ate three before dinner!

Fluff-Filled Chocolate Madeleines
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours- makes 12 cookies -


For the madeleines:

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Fluff, for filling and frosting (I used this recipe for fluff)

For the dip:

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

To make the
madeleines: Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt together.
Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together until they are pale and slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract, switch to a large rubber spatula and gently fold in the sifted dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter. Put a piece of plastic wrap directly against the surface of the batter and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours or for up to 2 days. Chilling the batter gives you a better chance of getting the characteristic bump on the back of the cookies.

Getting ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Generously butter 12 full-size madeleine molds, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Butter and flour the pan even if it is nonstick; you can skip this step if you are using silicone pans. Place the pan on a baking sheet.
Spoon the batter into the molds.
Place the pan in the oven and immediately lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake the cookies for 13 to 15 minutes, or until they feel springy to the touch. Remove the pan from the oven and rap one side of the
madeleine pan against the counter – the plump little cakes should come tumbling out. Gently pry any reluctant cookies out with your fingers or a butter knife. Cool to room temperature on a rack.
To fill the
madeleines: Fit a small pastry bag with a small plain tip and spoon Fluff into the bag. Use the point of the tip to poke a hole in the rounded (plain) side of each madeleine, and pipe enough Fluff into each cookie to fill it—stop when the Fluff reaches the top of the cake. (You'll use only a bit of Fluff.)

To make the dip: Put the chocolate in a small deep heatproof bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a full boil, then pour it over the chocolate. Wait 1 minute, then gently whisk the cream into the chocolate. Start at the center and slowly work your way out in concentric circles until you have a smooth, shiny mixture. Gently whisk in the butter.

Line a small baking sheet with wax paper. One by one, hold a madeleine at its narrow end and dip it into the chocolate, then lift it up, let the excess chocolate drip back into the bowl and place the cookie, plain side down, on the wax paper. Slide the baking sheet into the refrigerator to set the glaze, about 15 minutes. (You'll have more ganache than you need, but making a larger quantity produces a better ganache. Leftover dip can be covered and refrigerated for 1 week or frozen for up to 2 months.)

If you'd like, pipe a little squiggle of Fluff on the top of each Madeleine once the chocolate is set.

Serving: Coffee of every variety, milk and hot chocolate are all good companions.
Storing: Although the batter can be kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days, the
madeleines should be eaten soon after they are made. However, wrapped airtight, they can be frozen—even after they've been filled and frosted—for up to 2 months. And stale madeleines, as Proust would be the first to tell you, are good for dunking.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Peanut Butter Torte

Well, I did last weeks Tuesdays With Dorie recipe on time. Elizabeth of Ugg Smell Food chose the Peanut Butter Torte. But I was sick last week and I just didn't feel like typing this up. So here it is almost a week late. I made four mini tortes. They were extremely rich and after one bite I didn't really want another. Now my husband on the other hand ate an entire mini torte in one sitting.

Peanut Butter Torte

1 ¼ c. finely chopped salted peanuts (for the filling, crunch and topping)

2 teaspoons sugar

½ teaspoon instant espresso powder (or finely ground instant coffee)

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

½ c. mini chocolate chips (or finely chopped semi sweet chocolate)

24 Oreo cookies, finely crumbed or ground in a food processor or blender

½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and co


Small pinch of salt

2 ½ c. heavy cream

1 ¼ c confectioners’ sugar, sifted

12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 ½ c salted peanut butter – crunchy or smooth (not natural; I use Skippy)

2 tablespoons whole milk

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped

Getting ready: center a rack in the oven and preheat th

e oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch Springform pan and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Toss ½ cup of the chopped peanuts, the sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate chops together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Put the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in another

small bowl and stir with a fork just until crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the spring form pan (they should go up about 2 inches on the sides). Freeze the crust for 10 minutes.

Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a rack and let it cool completely before filling.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, whip 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in ¼ cup of the confectioners’ sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Crape the cream into a bowl and refrigerate until needed.

Wipe out (do not wash) the bowl, fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment if you have one, or continue with the hand mixer, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, ¼ cup of the chopped peanuts and the milk.

Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about one quarter of the whipped cream, just to lighten the mousse. Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream.

Scrape the mouse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight; cover with plastic wrap as soon as the mousse firms.

To Finish The Torte: put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and

set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave the bowl over the water just until the chocolate softens and starts to melt, about 3 minutes; remove the bowl from the saucepan.

Bring the remaining ½ cup cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and , working with a a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and glossy.

Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing it with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the remaining ½ cup peanuts over the top and chill to set the topping, about 20 minutes.

When the ganache is firm, remove the sides of the Springform pan; it’s easiest to warm the pan with a hairdryer, and then remove the sides, but you can also wrap a kitchen towel damped with hot water around the pan and leave it there for 10 seconds. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

An Attempt at Gardening


When I was growing up my mom had gardens. I mean she had beautiful, big gardens. We grew tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, corn, grapes, peppers, onions and so much more. We tried melons and strawberries. These are such good memories for me. My brother and I helped (or thought we were helping I'm not sure if we really were!). We weeded and she'd send us out to pick the fruits of her labor before dinner. She enjoyed gardening so much and I wish I had a yard that was capable of growing such a garden. However, we have true Georgia red clay for dirt and that requires A LOT more work than I am willing to do in order to have a spectacular garden like hers.

So last year I decided I would attempt a (very small) garden. I had six tomato plants, jalapenos and bell peppers. The bell peppers did not do well at all. The tomatoes grew fabulously and put out a lot of tomatoes. However, the dang deer loved my tomatoes! They would get them just before I was ready to pick them. But I'm glad that the deer liked them. That has to serve as some sort of compliment to the gardener, right? The jalapenos were perfect. The deer did not like them and I did- a perfect combination!
This year my garden is even smaller and its on my back deck. This is to try and keep the deer out of my plants. So, I have one tomato plant, one jalapeno and one poblano. In addition I've decided to try and grow some herbs. I planted basil, chives, rosemary, thyme, oregano and cilantro. I planted twice as many as I needed and gave my mother-in-law an herb garden for mother's day. I also planted a Roma tomato and a grape tomato for my mom and a banana pepper for her as well. (She doesn't have a garden of her own any more).
So without further ado- here is my tiny little back deck garden that I love and hope does well:

My Herbs