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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cinnamon Bun Bread Pudding

I still haven't figured out if there is a difference between cinnamon buns and cinnamon rolls.  After looking a little bit, many people claim there is no difference - Toe-mate-oh, Toe-maht-oh.  Others say a cinnamon roll is a spiral and its bun counterpart may not be.  Yet others say the difference is in the icing; that a cinnamon bun has icing while a cinnamon roll does not.  So, in conclusion, I have no idea what the difference is.  I'm going to continue using the terms interchangeably and eating as many of both of them as I possibly can.  Because no matter what you call it, it's absolutely delicious.  

You may remember I made Mini Buttermilk Cinnamon Bun Pops for father's day brunch, and I told you the recipe made far more cinni buns that I needed.  I found myself with a 5.5 cup container filled with mini cinnamon buns, and heavy cream and buttermilk in the refrigerator... can you hear the gears in my head turning?  How could you NOT make Cinnamon Bun Bread Pudding?!?  The only other thing I could have done would be to make Cinnamon Bun Cake Pops... crumble up cinnamon buns, mix it with the vanilla icing, and dip it in candy coating.  Oooh, maybe next time.  But for now, I leave you with possibly the most indulgent thing I've made in quite some time, and that is saying a lot... What possessed me to make a custard-soaked cinnamon bun bread pudding during bathing suit season?! 

cinnamon buns waiting for their custard bath

Cinnamon Bun Bread Pudding
5 1/2 cups of stale mini cinnamon buns (either make them from scratch or from store-bought cinnamon buns and let them sit out and get a little stale)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup 2% milk
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoons cinnamon

Butter a 1.5 quart baking dish or casserole dish.  Arrange the mini cinnamon buns in the dish.  
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, buttermilk, heavy cream, vanilla, sugar and cinnamon.  Pour over the cinnamon buns slowly and press the buns down into the liquid.
Let cinnamon buns soak in the baking dish while you preheat your oven to 325.  Place the baking dish on a baking sheet and bake in the middle of the oven for 35 - 45 minutes.  When the edges of the cinnamon buns on top are light golden brown and a toothpick test comes out with no runny custard, you can remove to a cooling rack.  
Serve warm (reheat in microwave if necessary) and store in the refrigerator.  

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cookie Dough Ice Cream

Do you keep your ice cream maker bowl in the freezer?  It takes up a lot of room, but for whatever reason ice cream is one of those things I don't think about making long before I get started.  So if I don't keep a bowl in the freezer, I'll probably lose interest by the time the recommend 24 hour freezing period is over.  As soon as Spring comes around and Winter is over, I need to make room in the freezer for my ice cream maker bowl so it can always be ready for me.
Luckily when I came across Handle the Heat's Easy Vanilla Ice Cream, I had a bowl in the freezer just waiting to be put to use.  With only 4 ingredients, it really is quite simple to throw together, and if you happen to have a bowl in the freezer at all times for whenever a homemade ice cream craving strikes, you can be eating your frosty creation in under an hour.  If you have just a little bit more patience, you can throw together a quick Eggless Cookie Dough to add into the ice cream.  I'm glad I was able to muster up the patience because the cookie dough really made this ice cream special.  I used only half of the prepared Eggless Cookie Dough in the ice cream, so I'm excited to put the rest to use in other recipes! 
If it's hot where you are right now (I feel like it couldn't get any hotter in Florida!) then make up a batch of this Cookie Dough Ice Cream for your family, they will surely thank you.  And they won't believe it's made from scratch!  

1/2 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 generous tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Using a handmixer set to low speed, combine the milk and the sugar.  Stir in heavy cream and vanilla.  If you're making plain vanilla ice cream, pour the mixture into the bowl of your ice cream maker and follow the directions on your ice cream maker.  If you are making the Eggless Cookie Dough, put the ice cream mixture in the refrigerator to chill.

Eggless Cookie Dough, adapted from Cupcake Project
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 generous tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 - 4 Tablespoons milk

Combine butter, vanilla and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Add in flour and salt and mix on low to combine.  Add in milk by the tablespoons as needed to achieve a cookie dough consistency.  Put in the refrigerator until chilled.  When firm enough to handle, form several thin sheets (about 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick).  Put in the freezer for about a half an hour.  While Ice Cream is churning, take out the chilled cookie dough sheets and cut into small cookie dough chunk pieces.  After ice cream is finished churning, remove from the ice cream maker and stir in the cookie dough chunks.  Freeze for 2 hours before serving.

Recipe Card! Click to enlarge

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mini Buttermilk Cinnamon Bun Pops

As I was typing the title of this post, I wondered - should I write "Cinnamon Buns" or "Cinnamon Rolls"?  Does anyone know what the difference is?  I sure don't.  Are they interchangeable?  

Friday, June 17, 2011

Furbaby Fridays

It's Friday, so that means a Furbaby Spotlight.  
This is Sadie sitting on the clothes we were about to pack for the honeymoon we were about to go on.  That's why I haven't blogged in a little while - we've been on a long overdue honeymoon.  First we went to Paradise Island, Bahamas and then Miami for two days.  But we're back!  I've been baking and you'll be seeing posts very soon.  

But for now, I wanted to share with you a recent visit to a customer of ours, Ali's Sweet Treats.  She makes some absolutely gorgeous decorated cookies, custom cookies, photo cookies and logo cookies... but I couldn't resist her array of cupcakes!  We bought a dozen mini ones and sampled them all.  We tasted (if memory serves me correctly): Triple Chocolate, Triple Vanilla, Cookies and Cream, Glazed Donut, Red Velvet, Vanilla Chocolate, Chocolate Vanilla, Lavender, Strawberry Lemon, Strawberry with Chocolate Cake, and Lemon Ginger. 
While they were all delicious (really, they were all delicious, that's how Daniel and I were able to eat 12 mini cupcakes between the two of us) I think my favorites were Glazed Donut and Cookies and Cream.  Lavender was very interesting - I've often seen lavender flavored desserts but hadn't tried one until our visits to Ali's.  It was subtle and fragrant.  And while I'm not generally a huge fan of cream cheese frosting, the red velvet at Ali's may have won me over - what a delicious cream cheese frosting she makes!  If you're in or around Miami, make sure you stop in to Ali's Sweet Treats for some cupcakes.  Or keep her in mind for custom cookies if you want a unique party favor or gift.  I think she ships nationwide, too!
7094 S.W. 117th Avenue
Miami, FL 33183

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Grilled Pound Cake

I needed to share this because I thought it was just an absolutely divine idea.  As fancy as some desserts can get, sometimes you just need a piece of pound cake.  Dense, moist, plain vanilla pound cake.

But when I saw this idea for buttered grilled pound cake on The Kitchn, I thought I might need to try this to take that plain old vanilla pound cake to the next level. 

Definitely on my To-Do list!

Square Cake Pop Stand and Cake Pop Accessory for Cupcake Tower

Recently I posted about our new Round Three-Tier Cake Pop Display and our Round Cake Pop Rings - an add-on accessory for our 5-Tier Cupcake and Treat Tower.  Well, now we have the Square versions of both of those items.  It looks like the square versions quickly became the favorites and are currently outselling the round ones.  Check them out!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Furbaby Friday


This is a special edition of Furbaby Fridays dedicated to Molly, my first dog ever.  Growing up we never had pets, not even fish, so when my Mom showed up after work one night with a tiny little shih-tzu puppy, my sister and I were equally shocked and delighted.

We got Molly when I was in ninth grade, and we quickly became a family of dog lovers.  Yup, the crazy kind that are obsessed with their pups.  When Molly was 6 months old, we got Maggie and the two of them were always together.  

Molly and Maggie

When my own dog Sadie was a baby, with Molly in the background (Molly and Maggie weren't too fond of my baby Sadie at first)

At the end of last week, Molly got sick and was taken to the vet immediately.  My mom found out she had an auto immune disease and within 5 days, my first pup Molly had passed away despite my family doing everything possible to save her.  We'll miss you and love you always, Molly, and I know you're in-heaven barking at passersby and eating greenies every night.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Need a better way to display Cake Pops?

I do love Cake Pops.  Cake is good, and cake with frosting is good, too, but there is something absolutely magical about mixing the two together.  Don't get me wrong, I love a good cupcake. But when you bite into a chocolate or candy coated cake and frosting ball, it is like a little bite-sized dream.  
The first time I made cake pops, it took me such a long time.  I was still getting used to the process.  My melting wafers kept hardening, things got clumpy and those little cake balls kept falling off the stick.  When I was finally done, they looked OK...a little on the lumpy side.  Now, I've done them a few more times and I've gotten a little better at it.  I learned to use a little chocolate tempering pot to avoid clumping, I learned to coat the cake pops in sanding sugar (it hides those lumps perfectly and adds a delicious crunch!).  But it still takes time, it is definitely not a 1-2-3-DONE preparation.  
So, when I'm all done making cake pops and I'm ready to show them off and serve them to friends, the LAST THING I want is to serve them on an ugly or unreliable display.  I've seen tissue paper wrapped styrofoam blocks used to hold the cake pops' sticks, which can look half decent, but something scares me about putting those precious little pops in styrofoam.  Will they stay standing?!?
We came up with these two new products to solve this problem.  

First, we made a 3-Tier Cake Pop Stand.  It is kind of like the mini-version of our Cupcake and Treat Towers, made specifically for Cake Pops (or Lollipops if you are so inclined).  Just like our Towers it is size adjustable, so it can hold 16, 32, or 40 cake pops.  It is the same great PVC material that can be easily wiped down and taken apart for storing flat.

For more information on the Cake Pop Stand click HERE to visit The Smart Baker.

Second, we made a set of Cake Pop Rings - a Cake Pop accessory for our 5-Tier Round Cupcake and Treat Tower.  It is a set of 5 rings - each ring is made to fit on a tier on the Cupcake and Treat Tower and  has holes to hold Cake Pop Sticks.  This item I am really excited about - Now your cupcake tower can double as a cake pop tower!  Plus, it allows you to be really creative with your Cupcake and Treat Tower.  Use all of the rings to hold up to 124 Cake Pops, or use a few rings - alternate a tier of cupcakes, then a tier of cake pops.  You can pick and choose which rings you'd like to use and which tiers you'd like to use for standard cupcakes.  
For more on Cake Pop Rings accessory for the 5-Tier Round Cupcake and Treat Tower, click HERE to visit The Smart Baker. 
ps - we'll be adding square Cake Pop Rings for our Square Cupcake and Treat Tower soon.

Lemon Squares

Here in Florida, summer has definitely arrived.  For a little while now it has been in the high 80's, sometimes breaking past the 90 mark.  So on top of new homemade ice cream recipes (at least one of which is coming soon) and other frozen treats to keep us cool, I have a feeling a bunch of citrus and lemony recipes will be on the way.  When it's hot out, there is something very refreshing about biting into a tangy, tart lemon dessert.  This is the first lemon recipe of the season, and it was a good one.  These bars were my first attempt at lemon squares and it was largely a success.  My only complaint is that it was a bit thin.  While we enjoyed it very very much, next time I might double the filling and 1.5x the crust... or just bake it in a smaller pan for a little extra height.  

Lemon Squares, adapted from Epicurious
Shortbread base:
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp fine sea salt

4 large eggs, room temp
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (strained, to eliminate seeds/pulp)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 recipe pre-baked shortbread base

Line a 9 x 13 inch pan (or smaller for thicker bars) with parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 350.
Cut butter into 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick slices.  Combine all ingredients in a food process with the dough blade, and process until mixture begins to form small lumps.  Use a spatula to wipe down sides of bowl when necessary.  
Break up the mixture into the prepared pan and press down evenly.  Bake in the middle of the oven until golden, about 20 minutes.
While shortbread is in the oven, prepare the lemon filling.
In a bowl, whisk the room temperature eggs and granulated sugar together until combined.  Then, stir in the lemon juice and flour.  Pour the lemon mixture over the hot shortbread.  Reduce oven to 300 and bake until set, approximately 30 minutes.
Cool completely in the pan and then chill.  When chilled, cut into squares.  Lemon squares keep, covered and chilled, about 3 days.  Serve topped with homemade whipped cream.


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