Yeast Cinnamon Rolls

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Yeast Cinnamon Rolls! Don’t you just love modern kitchen appliances? My husband already owned a countertop Bread Machine when we got married seven years ago, so today I decided to try it out. (First I had to find it. When combining two households, things get shuffled around.) The recipe booklet boasted the best glazed cinnamon rolls and the photo bolstered my confidence enough to put it to the test. I’m glad I did. The house smelled like a family-owned bakery and the warm, gooey cinnamon buns were phenomenal. The challenge came at only eating one.

YEAST CINNAMON ROLLS

Ingredients for Dough:

1 cup water

2 tablespoons butter, softened

3 cups bread flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Ingredients for Filling:

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Ingredients for Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk

Instructions:

Measure all dough ingredients carefully and place in the bread machine in the order they are listed: water, butter, flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Select “Dough” cycle and “Start”. When the timer rings, remove the dough and flatten with a rolling pin into a 9-inch square on a lightly floured surface. Spread with 2 tablespoons of butter. Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon filling over the buttered dough. Roll the dough up tightly; pinch the ends to seal. Cut the dough into 1-inch slices. Place in a 9″x9″ square pan. Cover with a wet tea towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours or until double. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown. Combine Glaze ingredients mixing powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Remove from pan to wire rack. Drizzle glaze over warm rolls. Serve warm.

Bourbon Balls

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Festive Foods: Bourbon Balls! Remember the scene from “The Grinch Stole Christmas” where the adults in Whoville are throwing a key party? Well, I’m convinced they may have been nibbling on holiday Bourbon Balls based on the way they were flirting and having a crazy-fun time. Be forewarned. This recipe does contain chocolate and alcohol. You may want to mention it.

BOURBON BALLS

Ingredients:

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels

3 tablespoons corn syrup

1/2 cup bourbon

2 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 cup pecans, finely chopped

Granulated sugar

Instructions:

Pulse vanilla wafers in a food processor to make crumbs. Set aside. Over hot (not boiling) water, melt chocolate morsels; remove from heat. Blend in corn syrup and bourbon. In a large bowl, combine vanilla wafer crumbs, powdered sugar, and nuts. Add chocolate mixture. Blend well. Chill 30 minutes. Using a melon ball utensil, scoop dough into 1″ balls. Roll in granulated sugar. Store in covered container for several days to season flavor.

Velvet-Filled Pumpkin Roll

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Velvet-Filled Pumpkin Roll! Announcing a festive cake that looks as though you stopped by the bakery. Anyone can feel like a professional pastry chef with this holiday specialty. In a few simple steps, the rich pumpkin flavor is enhanced by the velvety cream filling. Afterwards all you have to do is sit back and bask in the accolades.

VELVET-FILLED PUMPKIN ROLL

Ingredients for Pumpkin Roll:

3 eggs

2/3 cup pumpkin purée

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup flour

1/3 cup chopped pecans

Ingredients for Velvet Filling:

8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease and line a 10″x15″ jelly roll pan with waxed paper. For pumpkin roll combine eggs, pumpkin purée, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and flour. Mix until well blended. Pour into jelly roll pan and spread evenly to edges. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Bake 12-15 minutes. Watch carefully. Remove from oven. Sprinkle powdered sugar on a tea towel, turn cake onto towel, and remove the waxed paper. Starting at one end, roll the cake up, and refrigerate for one hour. Meanwhile, combine Neufchâtel cheese, vanilla, butter, and powdered sugar. Mix together until smooth and velvety. After one hour, unroll cake and spread the filling all the way to the edges. Reroll cake and refrigerate two hours longer. Dust with powdered sugar. Slice and serve.

Sugar-Spun Sponge Candy

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Sugar-Spun Sponge Candy! Take a walk down Memory Lane. Wonderful childhood memories come flooding back with this old-time classic favorite. You will seldom find it in candy stores unless you happen to stumble upon a family-owned place where the bell above the doorjamb jingles as you cross the threshold. Once inside, the glass showcase will feature this honeycomb-type toffee, golden in color, nestled inside a rich chocolate covering. It’s crisp and air-filled with a sponge-like appearance. Once you’ve had it, the memories linger on. Spoil yourself and make up a batch. Just like magic, it can be whipped up in about 15 minutes. Carry on the tradition, or begin your own this year.

SUGAR-SPUN SPONGE CANDY

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

1 cup dark corn syrup

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 tablespoon baking soda

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels

3 teaspoons vegetable oil

Instructions:

Combine sugar, corn syrup, and vinegar in a heavy-bottomed 3-quart pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Continue cooking about 10 minutes until mixture reaches 300° on a candy thermometer, or a drop of syrup becomes brittle in a glass of cold water. Immediately remove pan from heat and sift in baking soda. Mixture will foam up madly. Stir gently but thoroughly. Pour into well-buttered 9″ square pan. Do not spread. Let cool. Remove from pan and break into pieces over a large bowl. Sugary crumbs will appear all over the counter if the bowl is too small.

Instructions for Chocolate Coating:

Pour chocolate morsels into a glass bowl. Add 3 teaspoons of vegetable oil. Stir. Place in microwave for 5 minutes on 30% power. Halfway through, stir to blend smooth. Do not over cook. Keep warm on the stovetop over a double boiler. Dip each piece of sponge candy into chocolate. Coat completely or halfway depending on preference. The honeycomb and chocolate look appealing, in my opinion. Place pieces on waxed paper lined sheet pan. Chill to set.

Glorious Glazed Pecans

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Glorious Glazed Pecans! Go to any big city or farmers market and you’ll find street vendors roasting sweet and savory candied nuts. The bakery aroma practically has you walking on air. Now you can bring this enticing smell and sugary sweetness right into your very own kitchen. I’ve made it a tradition to bake a couple batches for holiday gift-giving. When mixed with an assortment of smoked almonds, wasabi peas, salty cashews, and honey roasted peanuts, these glazed pecans become a gourmet choice for absolutely anyone on your list. In fact, anticipation creates excitement followed by open delight and thanksgiving.

GLORIOUS GLAZED PECANS

Ingredients:

1 pound pecan halves

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 egg white, room temperature

1 tablespoon water

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 300°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. In a small bowl mix sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Stir well and set aside. In a large bowl beat egg white and water until frothy. Add one pound of pecans and coat well to cover. Pour sugar mixture over nuts. Stir completely to form a coating over pecans. Transfer nuts to the baking sheet. Form a single layer. Bake 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes to form a crystallized finish. Remove from oven. Let cool and then store in an airtight container.

Yeast Dinner Rolls

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Yeast Dinner Rolls! There’s nothing better than the smell of freshly-baked bread wafting out the oven door, in my opinion. It seems as the yeast magically leavens with flour, it produces an aroma that is not only warm heartwarming, but nostalgic. Perhaps it brings back childhood memories for you as well. For instance, the Wonder Bread Years were a simpler time where I played outside til after dark, giggled with my girlfriend, dated a boy on the weekend, and took a sack lunch to school. Crisp autumn days with damp earthy leaves and woodsmoke aromas smell nice as well. Maybe it’s time for you to bake some bread, too.

YEAST DINNER ROLLS

Ingredients:

1 cup warm milk

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

2 eggs

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

4 cups bread flour

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

Instructions:

Using a bread machine, layer warm milk, butter, and eggs in the bottom of the pan. Next add sugar, sea salt, and bread flour. Form a slight well in the flour layer. Pour the dry yeast into the well. Close the lid. Select Dough setting and press the Start button. When cycle is complete, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 24 sections. Shape dough into balls. Place in a greased 9”x13” baking pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 40-45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Monkey Cinnamon Bread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Monkey Cinnamon Bread! Cutting corners can be a good thing, especially on a lazy day when I gotta have a breakfast pastry and really don’t want all the fuss. I mean, I know I can make this from scratch and allow time for the dough to rise while scrolling through social media, but honestly…I don’t wanna. I’d rather sip my morning cuppa joe, talk to my husband, and inhale the bakery aromas that drift through the house. Maybe you would, too.

MONKEY CINNAMON BREAD

Ingredients:

3 (8-ounce) tubes of buttermilk biscuit dough

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a Bundt pan with butter. Set aside. In a bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon. Cut each biscuit into four equal pieces. Roll each piece in the cinnamon sugar mixture to coat. Arrange in the prepared Bundt pan. Continue layering until all the dough is used. Transfer the excess cinnamon sugar (about 1/2 cup) to a medium saucepan. Add brown sugar and butter. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Immediately remove from heat. Drizzle the mixture over the dough in the Bundt pan. Bake 30 minutes or until the tops are crisp and turning golden brown. Remove from oven. Rest 5 minutes. Cover the Bundt pan with a large plate. Invert pan. Carefully, left the pan to expose the gooey sweet Monkey Cinnamon Bread.

Juicy Peach Rose Tarts

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Juicy Peach Rose Tarts! With the holidays around the corner, take a moment to consider this star attraction on the dessert table. Talk about the “WOW” factor! Peach Rose Tarts work well for morning coffee, family pitch-ins, office parties, social gatherings, birthday celebrations, Date Night, and more. Since they are made in a muffin tin with a few simple ingredients, it’s practically effortless. Once again, the crust is made with prepared puff pastry. You choose the fruit: apples, peaches, plums, pears, or nectarines. No matter the season, no matter the occasion, you’ll come away feeling like a pastry chef.

JUICY PEACH ROSE TARTS

Ingredients:

1 box puff pastry, thawed and each sheet cut lengthwise into strips, finishing with 6 strips per sheet

1/3 cup apricot jam

5-6 ripe peaches, thinly sliced into half moons with skin on

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick oil. Set aside. Slice the peaches as thin as possible. Transfer to a microwave-safe dish. Sprinkle with a few drops of water. Cover dish with plastic wrap. Microwave on High for 15 seconds. This makes the peaches flexible enough to roll. Take one strip of puffed pastry dough. Spread it with a thin layer of apricot jam. It acts as an adhesive. Layer peaches on left side of each strip, slightly overlapping with the skin edge off the pastry. It will resemble half moons. Fold the other side of the pastry to seal. Beginning at the bottom, tightly roll the stuffed peach pastry into a flower. Transfer to the prepared muffin tin. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool slightly before dusting with powdered sugar.

Zwieback Crust Peach Pie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Zwieback Crust Peach Pie! Icebox dessert pies conjure up sweet memories of dog-day afternoons, sun-burned shoulders, and aluminum tumblers of cherry Kool-Aid that left a bright red mustache stain. Following a stifling afternoon of playing in the yard that made sweaty bangs plaster to my sticky forehead, my brothers and I would run inside, slamming the screen door for what probably seemed like the umpteenth time to Mother who rang the dinner bell. “Wash your hands before you sit down,” she coaxed. “Dessert is something special, if you clean your plate.” Those words alone were enough to turn youthful minds into obedient offspring. Dessert defined those adolescent years. Everyone enjoyed them, guilt-free. Ah, the good old days.

ZWIEBACK CRUST PEACH PIE

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups zwieback cracker crumbs

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup water

3 ounce-package orange gelatin

3 cups ripe peaches, peeled and sliced; stone removed

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine zwieback crumbs, 1/3 cup sugar, and melted butter. Stir well. Reserve one tablespoon for crumb garnish. Press remaining crumbs firmly over the bottom and up the sides of a 9”-inch pie plate. Bake 10 minutes. Cool. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 cup sugar, cornstarch, and water until smooth. Cook until thick and bubbly, 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in flavored gelatin until dissolved. Cool. Arrange sliced peaches in crust. Pour filling over peaches. Sprinkle reserve crumbs on top. Chill for 2 hours, or until set. Serve cold.