Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Cranberry Sweet Rolls and Cinnamon Rolls

My family loves cinnamon rolls but there is one sweet roll out there that they are even more crazy about and that is Cranberry Sweet Rolls! They strike just the right balance between sweet and tart and between soft pillow-y buns and fruity goodness. These are the perfect holiday sweet bun....I serve them every Thanksgiving morning (and the cinnamon rolls every Christmas Eve morning).

Cranberry Sweet Rolls and Cinnamon Rolls

2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
6 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup butter, very very soft (I use 1/2 cup for each section of dough, 1 cup total)
4 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Icing (make double this recipe)

1/2 cup butter, melted
3 cups confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk

Filling for Cranberry Sweet Rolls:

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 cups cranberries
1 teaspoon grated orange peel (optional, I usually leave this out)


In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water, and let stand for 3 minutes. Add cake mix, 1 cup flour, eggs, oil, and salt; beat well. Stir in remaining flour until a soft dough forms.
Knead on well floured surface for about 5 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, and turn to coat the dough surface. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

To make the filling for the cranberry sweet rolls, combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, add cranberries and boil for 14 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add zest if using, transfer to container, cover and chill.

Punch down, and divide into two equal parts. At this point you can make all cinnamon rolls or all cranberry sweet rolls. I usually make one of each. Here are instructions for cinnamon rolls:

Roll out each section on a lightly floured surface. Spread each with softened butter and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
Roll up like jelly rolls and cut buns 1 1/2 inches thick with a piece of dental floss or a dull knife. Place in greased baking pans, and allow to rise until doubled.
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

To make the cranberry sweet rolls:

Roll out each section on a lightly floured surface. Spread each with softened butter and spread with cranberry filling.
Roll up like jelly rolls and cut buns 1 1/2 inches thick with a piece of dental floss or a dull knife. Place in greased baking pans, and allow to rise until doubled.
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, combine sifted confectioners sugar, 1/2 cup melted butter, vanilla, and milk. Remove baked buns from oven and spread with frosting while hot. Allow to cool in pan. I like to individually wrap each bun with plastic wrap, makes it very easy to toss them all in a big ziploc to freeze and it makes them really easy to hand out as gifts.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Best Cookies Ever!

I'm not even sure I can accurately describe how much my family loves these cookies. I'll just say that I made 3 dozen cookies on Monday and by Wednesday they were gone! These lovely little treats are made up of a soft lemon-scented sugar cookie coated with the best strawberry icing you've ever tasted! My sister passed this recipe on to me a few months ago from the The All-American Dessert Book and I have made them about 10 times since and they get better and better every time I make them.

Big Soft Sugar Cookies With Strawberry Icing

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2/3 (10 2/3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, slightly softened
2/3 cup solid white shortening
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
1/4 cup sour cream

To Make the Cookies:

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, salt and baking powder and set aside. In a large bowl,
combine the sugar, butter and shortening. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat until well blended and fluffy, about 1 1/2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the eggs, then the corn syrup, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon extract until smoothly incorporated. Beat in half of dry ingredients, scraping down the sides as needed. On low speed, beat in the sour cream, then beat or stir in the remaining dry ingredients just until the mixture is well blended and smooth. Cover bowl tightly and refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 2 days.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. On a ungreased cookie sheet, use a cookie scoop to form balls of dough. This dough can be very sticky even after it's been chilled, so if you use your hand, work quickly. The recipe says it makes about 2 dozen, but with a cookie scoop, I get a little more than 3 dozen. Lightly dust your palm or a juice glass with flour and flatten each ball of dough to about 1/2 inch thick. Remember, you're going to be icing these so you need the top to be relatively flat. Bake for 10-14 minutes until the edges are just barely browned and the tops just spring back when lightly pressed. Be careful not to overbrown the cookies, the tops should still be fairly pale. Let cookies stand on sheet one minute to firm up and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before icing. Set the cooling racks over parchment or wax paper to ice the cookies.

Strawberry Icing

1 1/4 cups strawberries, fresh or frozen, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter, so soft it's almost melted
1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup (do not omit or substitute)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Water, if needed

This is easiest done in a food processor but you can also coarsely chop the berries by hand and also mash them by hand. In a food processor combine the berries, lemon zest and 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Process until berries are completely pureed. (Or you can mash them by hand with a fork, let them sit for 5 minutes and then mash again) Using a wooden spoon or stiff spatula, press as much of the strawberry puree mixture through a fine sieve into a large bowl, discard the seeds. Whisk in the butter, corn syrup and vanilla into the berry mixture. Stir in 3 3/4 cups more powdered sugar until well blended and smooth (if you're smarter than I am, you'll sieve the sugar first to avoid lumps) . Ice the cookies with a small spatula or table knife (I had more luck with a small spoon), and for the best looks, swirl the icing in the middle and let the icing flow outward toward the edges. Thin the icing with water if it stiffens as you work. Let the cookies stand until the icing sets, at least 2 hours.

Monday, July 27, 2009


This has to be my family's favorite cookie, a whole batch never lasts more than 2-3 days around here. These are the original Betty Crocker recipe, not a thing changed....why mess with a good thing?

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose or unbleached flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1. Heat oven to 400ºF.
2. Mix 1 1/2 cups sugar, the butter, shortening and eggs in large bowl. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.
3. Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Mix 1/4 cup sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Fudgy Cream Cheese Surprise Brownies

The Recipe:

2 sticks unsalted butter, each cut into thirds
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 c. sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

One 13x9x2-inch pan, buttered

Set the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

Combine cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla in a medium bowl, beat until smooth and set aside.

Combine the butter and chocolate in a heat proof bowl and microwave in intervals of 30 seconds or so, until melted (stir in between heatings).

Whisk eggs together in a large bowl, then whisk in the salt, sugars, and vanilla. Stir in the chocolate and butter mixture, then fold in the flour.

Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly, dollop large spoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture on top of the batter, draw a thin knife through the batter to swirl. Bake for about 45 minutes, until top has formed a shiny crust. Cool in pan, or enjoy hot from the oven.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Favorite Blueberry Muffins

My Favorite Bluberry Muffins

3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
Pinch table salt
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour (3 1/2 ounces)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and warm

2 cups fresh blueberries (about 10 ounces), picked over
1 1/8 cups sugar (8 ounces) plus 1 teaspoon
2 teaspoons lemon juice (fresh)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, finely grated
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly (1/2 stick)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. THE TOPPING: Stir together sugar, brown sugar, salt, and flour in small bowl until combined. Drizzle with warm butter and toss with fork until evenly moistened and mixture forms large chunks with some pea-sized pieces throughout. Set aside.

2. THE MUFFINS: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Bring 1 cup blueberries, 1 teaspoon sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries with spoon several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to ¼ cup, about 6 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk remaining 11/8 cups sugar and eggs together in medium bowl until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla until combined. Using rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and remaining cup blueberries into flour mixture until just moistened. (Batter will be very lumpy with few spots of dry flour; do not overmix.)

4. Following photos below, use ice cream scoop or large spoon to divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups (batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly). Spoon teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter. Using chopstick or skewer, gently swirl berry filling into batter using figure-eight motion. Sprinkle streusel topping evenly over muffins.

5. Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17 to 19 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.

I've taken a bit of a break, as you can see, but I am back and ready to bake again. I had to have a few months off to deal with a string of disasters in our home, including a 2 week power outage and the long, painful, infuriating breakdown of our 2 refrigerators! Refrigerator repairmen are NOT our favorite people right and the Best Buy service department is on our list too. But things are looking up and I have 4 pounds of butter burning a hole in my fridge so I've got lots of goodies planned!

These delicious muffins were the first things I decided to make after the kitchen was in working order again and we just loved them. The filling, I think, is what pushes these muffins over the top and they wrap very well, so we will be taking them to work all this week for breakfast! Hope you all are having a cooler summer than we are!