Pumpkin Bread and Tasty Tufts

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Some of you may already know this, but this semester in addition to posting on Kinsey Cooks I’ll be contributing to the Tufts food blog, Tasty Tufts. It’s a great website full of Boston and Somerville restaurant reviews, recipes, and thoughts on eating in college. My first post (which you can find by clicking here) is the recipe for my favorite pumpkin bread, and more posts will be coming from me this semester. Anytime I have a post on Tasty Tufts, I’ll post the link here on Kinsey Cooks so that you can stay up to date with the Tufts food scene.

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Mujadara


There’s and ongoing joke between me and one of my friends about how often I eat lentils. (“Kinsey, what are you eating for lunch? Lentils? I thought so.”) On any given week I’ve probably had lentils for at least five meals. If that sounds boring, I can promise you it’s not. The many varieties of lentils show up in dishes from all around the world that makes for many permutations of this basic legume. Red and yellow lentils form the base for Indian Dal, Castellucio lentils are excellent with Arborio rice and parmesan from Italy, green lentils with Berbere spices are perfect with injera bread from Ethiopia, French lentils du Puy are fabulous with a lemon-dijon vinaigrette and fines herbes, and nearly every variety of lentil can produce a quality soup with some aromatics and vegetable stock. The list goes on and on.

The latest meal that I’ve made with lentils is called Mujadara—a Persian rice and lentil dish with caramelized onions and few spices. A pan of onions are caramelized while the rice cooks so that by the time the dish is finished, the lentils and rice are combined with what becomes almost a thick onion jam or confit, punctuated by subtle notes of cumin and cinnamon.


A few finishing touches of parsley, lemon, and butter finish off this nutritious dish. Cinnamon in savory dishes is a fairly uncommon thing to see in the states, but I really love how it adds a slight sweetness that prevents the cumin from overpowering the dish. I often serve this with a fresh green salad for a simple lunch or dinner, but for a bigger meal Mujadara can be served alongside labneh (yogurt cheese) and warm pita bread.


Mujadara

Serves 4

1 cup long grain brown rice (basmati or jasmine)

1 ¾ cups water

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 medium onions, diced

½ teaspoon sea salt, plus additional to taste if needed

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch red pepper flakes

4 tablespoons water

2 cups cooked and salted green lentils

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon butter

  1. Cook the rice: If you have a rice cooker, place the brown rice and the 1 ¾ cups water in the rice cooker, then close and press start. If you don’t have a rice cooker, combine the rice and water in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, 40-45 minutes, then take off heat and let sit, covered for 10 minutes.
  2. While the rice cooks, prepare the lentils and onions: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until hot, then add the diced onions. Continue to cook over medium-high heat until softened and reduced in volume, 5-7 minutes. Add the sea salt and reduce the heat to low, and cook slowly for 35-30 minutes, until the onions are a deep golden brown and well caramelized. Increase the heat to medium, Add the cumin, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes and sauté until the spices toast and are fragrant, about 45-60 seconds. Add the 4 tablespoons water and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the caramelized bits of onion stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  3. Reduce the heat to low, add the cooked lentils and stir to combine so that all the ingredients are evenly incorporated. Add the cooked rice and stir thoroughly, but gently to avoid breaking up the lentils.
  4. To finish, add the minced parsley, lemon juice, and butter and stir until the ingredients are well combined and the butter has melted. Adjust salt to taste, then serve.

Note: If you do not have access to pre-cooked, seasoned lentils. Place 1 cup of rinsed, dried green lentils in an oven safe saucepan with 3 cups of water and ½ teaspoon sea salt, then bring to a boil. Cover the pan, then bake at 350F in the oven for 40 minutes, until tender.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Cinnamon Pecan Granola

In elementary school, I read a book called Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath in which a young girl in a whaling town has to adjust living with her uncle after her parents are lost at sea. However, what I remember most distinctly from the novel is one chapter where a woman is in the process of selling her house, and in order to make her home smell more inviting, she bakes large quantities of cinnamon in her oven after reading that toasted spices will make her home smell wonderful. Now, I don’t think that a large pan of thoroughly toasted cinnamon sending an acrid bitterness through an open house would be all that comforting, but a small skillet of hot maple syrup and cinnamon that lightly coats a tray of rolled oats and pecans before being baked into granola? Now that would be a surefire way to get a few offers in just one weekend.

The minute the cinnamon blooms into hot maple syrup, the gentle spices in the mixture perfumes the air with the undeniable smell of comfort. After a quick bake in the oven, the oats crisp up and the pecans are toasted until their slightly bitter edge is tempered by the complex sweetness of maple syrup. Unlike commercial granolas that use evaporated cane juice for moisture and flavor, grade B maple syrup has a robust flavor that can stand up to hearty spices, nuts, and grains and is perfectly primed for healthful breakfasts. This granola couldn’t be easier to put together and is much more enticing than a jar of burnt cinnamon, whether or not you’re trying to sell your home.

Cinnamon Pecan Granola

Makes about 6 cups

4 cups rolled oats

2 cups raw pecans, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup maple syrup

½ cup canola oil

1/8 teaspoon table salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and preheat the oven to 350F. In a large bowl, combine the oats and the pecans.
  2. In a small skillet over medium heat, bring the maple syrup, canola oil, and salt to a boil, then add the cinnamon and stir until well combined. Pour on the oat mixture and toss until every oat and pecan is coated. Pour the granola onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown, stirring the granola at the halfway point. Let cool on the baking sheet before transferring to an airtight container.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Brown Rice Breakfast Porridge with Cinnamon Pecan Milk and Balsamic Reduction


January is the month for hearty, nutritious breakfasts. After a month of rushing around for the holidays, we now have a little more time to spend on making food that’s not a cheese plate or tray of cookies.


This brown rice breakfast porridge is a great variation on hot cereal; the short grain brown rice gives plenty of toothsome texture to the dish and stays suspended in a creamy mixture of freshly blended cinnamon pecan milk.


Brown rice is an excellent grain to eat early in the morning, as its low glycemic index ensures that it releases its energy into your bloodstream slowly, keeping you alert and satisfied until lunch-time. Cinnamon, aside from adding warmth and sweetness to the porridge, has been shown to decrease blood glucose levels, preventing any ten o’clock sugar crashes.


Once the porridge is creamy and soft, it gets portioned into bowls,


drizzled with a quick balsamic reduction,


and sprinkled with toasted pecans before a final drizzle of pecan milk adds a cool finish to this elegant breakfast. The resulting dish is satisfying and filling, and has a hint of acidic sweetness from the balsamic. Whether your New Year’s resolution is to eat breakfast, be healthier, cook more, try new foods, or enjoy your mornings, this recipe fits the bill.


Brown Rice Breakfast Porridge with Cinnamon Pecan Milk and Balsamic Reduction

Serves 4

1 cup short grain brown rice

1 ¾ cups water

1 cinnamon stick

½ teaspoon vanilla

Pinch salt

1 ½ cups Cinnamon Pecan Milk (recipe follows), plus more for serving

½ cup pecan halves

½ cup balsamic vinegar

  1. Combine the rice and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, then simmer for 40-50 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. Alternatively, cook the rice with the water in a rice cooker.
  2. Place the cooked rice in a medium saucepan (if you used a rice cooker, if not the rice doesn’t need to be transferred) and add the cinnamon stick, vanilla, salt, and pecan milk. Bring the mixture to a simmer and simmer on low heat until the rice is creamy and the milk is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick.
  3. While the rice simmers, place the pecan halves in a skillet over medium heat and toast until fragrant, 5-6 minutes. Remove from the pan and coarsely chop, then set aside. Wipe out the pan, then add the balsamic vinegar to the pan and simmer on low until syrupy and reduced, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside. By the time you’re done with this step, the rice should be ready.
  4. To serve: Portion the rice into small bowls and drizzle with the balsamic glaze, then sprinkle with the chopped pecans. Add a splash of the pecan milk to the top of the porridge, then serve.

Notes: The balsamic reduction adds a uniquely acidic sweetness to the dish. If you would prefer, substitute the vinegar for ¼ cup of maple syrup. Do not reduce the syrup, but drizzle 1 tablespoon maple syrup on the top of each porridge bowl before serving. If you happen to have leftover brown rice, use 3 cups of cooked brown rice in place of the rice and water and start the recipe at step 2.

Cinnamon Pecan Milk

Makes 4 cups

1 cup pecan halves

About 3 cups water to soak pecans

4 cups filtered water

Pinch salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  1. Place the pecan halves and the 3 cups of water in a sealable container and let soak in the fridge for 8-12 hours.
  2. Drain the pecans and place them in a blender with the filtered water. Set a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and set aside. Blend the pecans and water together for 2-3 minutes, until smooth. Strain the mixture through the strainer, then return the milk to the blender and add the salt and cinnamon. Reserve the nut pulp for another use. Blend the milk with the cinnamon and salt until smooth, another 1-2 minutes. Strain once again, then pour into an airtight container until ready to use. The pecan milk will keep for up to 4 days in the fridge.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Pumpkin Rugelach

Welcome back to Cookie Monday! Enjoy this week’s installment:


This coming Thursday is a very important day. Not only is it Thanksgiving, it is also the first night of Hanukkah, causing many to refer to it as Thanksgivukkah. Due to the differing patterns of the Gregorian and Jewish calendars, this combination of holidays will not happen for another 80,000 years, so it’s up to all of us to make the most of this special night.

Now, I’m not Jewish, but I have been to enough Hanukkah celebrations to know that Hanukkah food is both incredibly delicious and is very compatible with Thanksgiving flavors. The crescent shaped, rolled cookies known as Rugelach are often filled with spices and walnuts. With the addition of a homemade pumpkin and maple butter, Rugelach are excellent accompaniments to your dessert table, even if you are not celebrating the festival of the lights in addition to Thanksgiving.


These Rugelach are golden brown and flaky, with an irresistible coating of cinnamon-sugar. Rolling out the dough is much easier than rolling out a pie crust, thanks to the cream cheese along with the butter. They do take some time to assemble, but it’s a perfect family activity for the night before the big feast. Between the nutmeg, maple syrup, cinnamon, and toasted walnuts, your kitchen will smell incredible and it will be hard to eat just one of these scrumptious cookies.


Wherever you are this Thursday, and whatever combination of holidays you may be celebrating, I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving, from my kitchen to yours. Here’s to the start of a great holiday season!


Pumpkin Rugelach

Dough adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Makes 48 rugelach

Dough:

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

½ teaspoon table salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

Filling:

¼ cup walnuts

1 cup pumpkin puree

¼ cup maple syrup

½ teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon cinnamon

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon water

  1. For the dough: In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the cream cheese and butter and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the table salt and flour and mix on low speed until the flour is just incorporated. Gather the dough into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap, then let chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours in order to firm up.
  2. While the dough chills, prepare the filling: In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the walnuts for 5-6 minutes, until fragrant. Transfer to a bowl to cool, then finely chop and set aside. Wipe out the skillet, and add the pumpkin, maple syrup, and nutmeg, and cook on medium-low until thickened and fragrant, 12-15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. In another small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and the water until smooth.
  3. Now, set up your work station: Line three baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350F. In terms of tools, you will need a bench scraper, rolling pin, pastry wheel or knife, pastry brush, and a spatula (an offset one is best).
  4. Once the dough has chilled, set it onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into three equal pieces. Place two back into the fridge and roll one of them out into a circle 12 inches in diameter. Evenly spread 1/3 of the pumpkin mixture all over the dough, the sprinkle two heaping tablespoons of the cinnamon-sugar on top of the pumpkin. Distribute 1/3 of the walnuts on top of the cinnamon-sugar and press gently on them to let them stick to the filling. Using a pastry wheel or knife, cut the circle into 16 equal wedges. Take each individual wedge of dough and roll it into a crescent, from the widest part to the point. Transfer the Rugelach, pointy tip face down, to the baking sheets, and brush with the egg wash, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown, then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely. While the first batch bakes, you can prepare the other two dough rounds. The Rugelach will keep for 2 days at room temperature in an airtight container, but they are best within 6-8 hours of baking.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies

Welcome back to Cookie Monday! Enjoy this week’s installment:

This recipe combines three things that I love (pumpkin, breakfast, and cookies), into one delicious treat. Cookies are always good no matter the hour, but having a wholesome cookie that goes well with a cup of tea in the morning is a sure way to start off a great day.

With whole wheat flour, oats, spices, maple syrup, and pumpkin, these hearty cookies are more nutritious than most so-called energy bars and have much less refined sugar than the scores of “chewy” bars that line grocery store shelves. The secret ingredient that gives them a moist, cakey texture is a can of white beans. It sounds pretty, well, disgusting, but navy beans are almost 80% carbohydrates, with a little bit of protein, so they add structure to these vegan cookies. I’ve made these cookies twice now, and I can confidently say that you cannot taste the beans one bit. A final coating of flaxseed and coarse sugar gives the cookies an attractive exterior and a sweet, nutty finish. Serve them for breakfast with a hot cup of tea, or sandwich Greek yogurt between two cookies for a fun twist on an ice cream sandwich. You’ll have a delicious treat that’s perfect for the days leading up to Thanksgiving; they’re just sweet enough to satisfy your sweet tooth while waiting for the onslaught of pies and desserts in less than two weeks.

Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies

Makes 16-20 cookies

Adapted from Oh She Glows

1 tablespoon ground flax

¼ cup water

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

¾ teaspoon dried ginger

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon table salt

1, 15 oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed

¼ cup vegetable oil

¼ cup maple syrup

1/3 cup pumpkin

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup ground flax

1/3 cup coarse sugar (demarra or turbinado)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl combine the ground flax and the water.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, process the oats until a coarse flour forms, about 1 minute. Transfer the oats to a medium bowl and add the flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine.
  3. In the now empty food processor, combine the beans, vegetable oil, and maple syrup, and process for 1 minute, until smooth. Add the pumpkin, flax and water mixture, and sugar, and process until very smooth, 1-2 minutes. Transfer the wet ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients, and fold together to combine.
  4. In a shallow bowl, combine the ground flax and coarse sugar. Take 2 heaping tablespoons of the dough and roll it into a ball (the dough will be sticky, handle it with wet hands or spoons), the gently roll the dough in the flax mixture. Place the cookies 1 ½ inches apart on the baking sheets, then bake for 18-20 minutes, until the center springs back when lightly tapped. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool. Store the cookies in the refrigerator.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Quince Cake

You’re probably asking right now, what is a quince? Well, a quince is a type of fruit, similar to an apple or a pear, that traditionally grows in Western Europe and, increasingly, in California. Quinces are very dense and bitter with resilient and fuzzy skins, which eliminates the possibility of eating them raw. They’re most commonly seen in applications such as membrillo, the popular Spanish quince paste that is often served with Manchego cheese.

After doing some research in a few French cookbooks, I discovered that you can serve quinces after they’ve been cooked gently for a few hours. When simmered with sugar and cinnamon, the quinces become rose-colored and fork-tender. Knowing that apples and walnuts work well together—and hoping that the same was true for quinces and walnuts, I decided to caramelize some walnuts in the quince cooking liquid, then use the quinces and walnuts to top a simple buttermilk cake. What came out of the oven was a golden brown, fragrant cake with a subtle taste of cinnamon and deep pockets of tender fruit. It’s perfect for using up those mysterious quinces, and with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream, is a delicious dessert to share with a crowd. If you don’t have access to quinces, don’t worry, I’ve included a variation to make with either apples or pears.

Quince Cake

Makes 1 substantial, 10-inch cake, which serves about 12

Quinces and Walnuts

2 quinces, peeled, quartered, cored, then sliced into ½ inch thick wedges

2 cups water

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 cinnamon stick

¾ cup walnut halves

Cake

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 ½ cups buttermilk

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon coarse sugar (turbinado or demarra)

  1. Cook the quinces: In a small saucepan, combine the quinces, water, sugar, and cinnamon stick. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook gently for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until the quinces are tender and rosy colored. Remove the quinces from the syrup and set aside to cool slightly, and place ½ cup of the cooking liquid in a small bowl for use in the recipe.
  2. Caramelize the walnuts: Pour the reserved cooking liquid into a small skillet and bring to a boil. Boil the syrup for 8-10 minutes, until its volume is reduced by half. Lower the heat to medium and add the walnut halves, stirring them to coat with the syrup. Cook, stirring frequently, until the syrup coats the walnuts and the walnuts are slightly toasted and fragrant, 5-6 minutes. Transfer the walnuts to a plate and set aside.
  3. To prepare the cake: Grease and flour a 10-inch cast iron skillet, and preheat the oven to 375F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla until well combined. Add the flour mixture and whisk gently until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and evenly distribute with the cooked quince slices. Arrange the walnut halves on the top of the batter in an attractive pattern. Sprinkle the surface of the batter with the coarse sugar, then bake in the preheated oven for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out almost clean, with only a few crumbs attached. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream, if desired.

Variations: If you find yourself without quinces, substitute an equal quantity of apples or pears, cooking them only for 20 or so minutes.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Pumpkin Gingerbread Cake with Dulce de Leche Frosting

It’s finally October, which means that I can bake and cook fall recipes to my heart’s content. First on my list is anything pumpkin related. I always make dozens of pumpkin muffins and many loaves of pumpkin bread, and I wanted to try something new. After a little brainstorming, I came up with the idea for a pumpkin gingerbread, full of spicy ginger and molasses, to pair with a rich Dulce de leche frosting.

The pumpkin complements the traditional gingerbread spices of ginger, cinnamon, and pepper, while contributing to a tender texture. Gingerbread is traditionally a very delicate cake, so in order to provide lift and structure, a lot of chemistry must be utilized in this recipe—among other things, this makes me appreciate my Honors Chemistry class. This cake involves a lot of acidic ingredients—pumpkin, molasses, and brown sugar—which can prevent a cake from rising properly. To avoid this, I neutralized the acidic ingredients with a base, baking soda, early on in the recipe rather than using the typical method of adding the baking soda with the dry ingredients. For a foolproof way to avoid a sunken gingerbread, there must be a significant amount of gluten development to provide structural support to the cake. A simple way to do this is to vigorously beat the cake batter, which sounds counterintuitive to a seasoned baker, but actually works wonders when baking a tall layer cake that must hold its own against buttercream and car transport.

A simple Swiss buttercream full of a deeply caramelized Dulce de leche makes this layer cake the perfect accompaniment to a fall birthday or special event. It was thoroughly enjoyed as a dessert for our homecoming dance dinner. After all, what more do you need once you have dinner, friends, cake, and a dance?

Pumpkin Gingerbread Cake with Dulce de Leche Frosting

Makes 1, 9 inch layer cake, serving 16-20

1, 15 oz. can pumpkin puree

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons dried ginger

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon pepper

¾ cup mild molasses

2/3 cup dark brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 eggs

½ cup vegetable oil

½ cup milk (whole or low-fat, not skim)

Dulce de Leche frosting (recipe follows)

Powdered sugar and a pinch of cinnamon, to serve

  1. In a small skillet over medium heat, cook the pumpkin for 10-12 minutes until thickened and fragrant, stirring frequently. It is done when the color has deepened slightly and the kitchen smells like pumpkin pie. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.
  2. While the pumpkin cooks, preheat the oven to 350F and grease and flour 2, 9 inch cake pans. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and pepper.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine the molasses, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and baking soda together at medium speed. Add the eggs, vegetable oil, milk, and cooled pumpkin and beat at medium speed until well combined, 1-2 minutes. Add half of the flour mixture and beat on medium high for 30-45 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and add the remainder of the flour and beat at medium-high speed for 1 minute, until well combined. Remove bowl from the mixer and stir and few times with a rubber spatula to ensure that all the flour is incorporated.
  4. Divide the batter between the prepared pans. If you have a kitchen scale, each cake pan will have about 1 ½ pounds of batter in it. Bake the cakes side by side on the middle rack of the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cakes spring back with lightly touched, 25-35 minutes. Do not open the oven until at least 25 of baking time has passed. Once the cakes are finished, remove them from the oven and let cool on wire racks for at least 3 hours before frosting. Cake will keep overnight, covered, before frosting.
  5. To frost the cake, line the edges of the serving platter with parchment strips, then place one of the cake layers on the platter. Spread ¾ cup of the frosting into an even layer on top of the bottom layer, then top with the second layer. Spread the remaining frosting on the top and sides of the cake. Combine the powdered sugar and the cinnamon in a sifter and use it to dust the top of the cake. Remove the strips of parchment from the edges of the cake, and serve.

Note: The frosting for the cake should be kept refrigerated, so once the cake has been frosted, store it in the refrigerator until serving time.

Dulce de Leche Frosting

Makes enough to frost 1 layer cake

3 egg whites

¾ cup granulated sugar

Pinch table salt

12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 12 pieces

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup Dulce de leche

  1. Set a saucepan with 3-4 cups of water in it over medium heat and bring to a simmer. In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk together the egg whites, sugar, and salt. Set the bowl over the simmering water and whisk constantly until foamy and voluminous. The mixture should be 150F. This will take about 3 minutes.
  2. Transfer the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed until cooled slightly, 1-2 minutes.
  3. With the mixer on medium, add the butter 1 piece at a time, whisking after every addition.
  4. Turn the mixer off, add the vanilla and Dulce de leche. Turn the speed to medium high and beat until smooth and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Sticky Bun Pancakes


The actual definition of a sticky bun can be somewhat confusing, as most bakeries make it seem like a sticky bun is a cinnamon roll studded with nuts. Actually, a sticky bun is a breakfast roll made with an enriched (butter and sugar filled) dough, baked with a brown sugar glaze, and topped with a gooey pecan garnish. Unlike cinnamon rolls, they are not served with a cream cheese frosting, and the cinnamon levels are much more restrained. When a bakery does sticky buns well, it is well worth it to try them because not unlike like croissants, sticky buns are best made by professionals.


For the home cook, sticky buns are a hefty project to undertake, involving vast amounts of corn syrup, butter, and sugar—not to mention about five hours of kneading rich dough and wielding melted sugar. This doesn’t mean, though, that all hopes of sticky buns at home are gone. Instead, make a batch of whole-wheat pancakes and top them with a brown sugar and pecan garnish for a special weekend breakfast. Even better, these pancakes come together in less than thirty minutes but will impress everyone at the breakfast table.

The pancakes are light and airy, and the pecan topping is identical to the ones on top of bakery-style sticky buns. Tonight, make sure your stashes of pecans, flour, and brown sugar are sufficient, and get excited for a pancake you won’t forget.


Sticky Bun Pancakes

Serves 4

Pancakes

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon table salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups whole or low-fat milk

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 egg

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1-2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Topping

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

¼ cup dark brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

¾ cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped

Powdered sugar to serve, optional

  1. For the pancake batter: Whisk together the flours, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a separate bowl combine the milk, vinegar, egg, and butter and whisk to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Do not over mix. Set the batter aside for 10 minutes to hydrate while you prepare the topping.
  2. For the topping: In a small skillet over medium heat, melt the butter, corn syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt and bring to a boil, whisking until the butter is melted and all the sugar is dissolved, 2-3 minutes. Take the pan off heat, and stir in the vanilla and pecans. Set aside and keep warm while you cook the pancakes.
  3. To cook the pancakes: Heat ½ teaspoon vegetable oil in a 12 inch non-stick skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes. Using a paper towel, wipe the skillet, leaving only a thin film of oil in the bottom. Using a ¼ cup measure per pancake, spoon out the pancake batter into the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the edges are set and bubbles form on the top. Flip the pancakes and cook for another 1-2 minutes until light golden brown on each side. Repeat with the remaining batter.
  4. To serve: Place a stack of pancakes on each individual plate and top with a few spoonfuls of the topping. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if using, and serve immediately.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

If you’re looking for another special weekend breakfast, try my Zucchini Bread Waffles (my most popular post), or make a batch of my Almond Blueberry Breakfast Rolls.

Snickerdoodles

Welcome back to Cookie Monday! Enjoy this week’s installment!


Summer vacation has a lot of amazing things involved, from swim meets, to sleeping in (or so I’ve heard, my internal alarm clock gets me up by six every morning), to having sunlight past dinnertime. My favorite of all the summer indulgences is having the occasional afternoon devoted entirely to reading. I sit in my favorite chair in our living room with a ten pound stack of novels and cookbooks on my lap and spend a few hours or so just relaxing and reading. (By the way, if you’re in the market for a new book, I just finished House Rules by Jodi Picoult and I highly recommend it—it was hard to put down.)

Obviously, the perfect companion to fuel a reading marathon is a plate of cookies. These snickerdoodles are thick and fluffy, with a fragrant coating of ground cinnamon. When the cinnamon toasts while the cookies bake, the house gets filled with incredible smells of butter, sugar, and spice. People of all ages love these cookies, from young toddlers that call them “kickerdoodlies” (true story), to grandparents and swimming teammates.

When you find yourself lucky enough to have an afternoon off where you have no obligations other than to not do anything productive, whip up a batch of these cookies, grab your favorite book, and sit back and relax. After all, it is summer vacation.

Snickerdoodles

Makes 3 dozen cookies

Dough:

2 sticks unsalted butter (16 tablespoons)

2 cups granulated sugar

¼ cup milk

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

½ teaspoon salt

3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

Coating:

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine the coating ingredients in a shallow bowl until fully mixed.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the milk, eggs, and vanilla and beat until well combined. Add the baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and flour, then mix on low until just incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and hand mix with a rubber spatula a few times to make sure that no flour streaks remain on the bottom on the bowl.
  3. Take 2 tablespoons of dough at a time, roll them into balls and then roll the dough balls in the cinnamon-sugar coating. Place cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets, then bake for 13-15 minutes, rotating halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on the baking sheets for 3-4 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.