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Pecan Sticky Buns

Do you have breakfast plans this weekend? Or are you looking for something sweet to add to your Easter brunch next weekend? If so, you’re in luck, because I have the recipe for the best-ever sticky buns.

These are one of my favorite breakfast treats. My mom made them on occasion when I was a kid, and I was always excited when they made an appearance on the breakfast menu.  I’ve tried a number of other sticky buns since then, and I have yet to find any that are as good as these. They are full of caramel and pecans, with a hint of cinnamon. And they are perfectly gooey and sticky.

Sticky buns may seem intimidating, but they are really pretty simple to make. If you can make a cinnamon roll, you can definitely make these. It starts with a rich yeast dough which is filled with chopped pecans, butter, brown sugar, and a little cinnamon. The topping is just brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, a little more cinnamon, and a ton of pecans.

As always, you can leave the pecans out of both the topping and the filling, or substitute another nut of your choice. Most of the sticky bun recipes I see do not include cinnamon, especially in the topping. I really like it in there, but you can definitely leave it out as well. And you could put whatever you like in the filling – add a handful of raisins or other dried fruit if you’re so inclined, or even some mini chocolate chips if you want to really take it over the top.

 

These are so good, and you probably have everything you need already in your pantry. Make these this weekend or for Easter brunch (or both!). I promise you will love them!

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Pecan Sticky Buns
Servings
Ingredients
Rolls
Topping
Filling
Servings
Ingredients
Rolls
Topping
Filling
Instructions
Dough
  1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.
  2. Scald the milk (bring it just to a simmer) and add the butter. Let cool to warm room temperature while the butter softens and partially melts.
  3. Transfer milk mixture and yeast to stand mixer. Add sugar and eggs and mix well with the paddle attachment. (You can also do this by hand with a large spoon).
  4. Add salt and 4 cups flour and mix well with the dough hook attachment (or a spoon).
  5. Continue to knead dough, adding up to 1/2 cup additional flour, until dough is only slightly sticky, about 5 minutes with the mixer.
  6. Place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Topping
  1. Combine all ingredients except pecans in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Boil for 1 minute.
  3. Pour into a greased 9"x13" baking pan and sprinkle with pecan halves. Set aside.
Filling and Assembly
  1. Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans in a small bowl.
  2. Roll dough, once doubled, into a 12"x 22" rectangle.
  3. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with filling.
  4. Roll up, jelly-roll style, starting on the short end. (You should end up with a roll 12" long.)
  5. Cut into 1" slices and place, cut side up, onto topping in prepared pan.
  6. Cover and let rise again until doubled. See note to prepare the night before and bake in the morning.
  7. Bake at 350-degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes (no longer!) for the topping to harden slightly.
  9. Invert onto serving platter, scraping any pecans and topping left in the pan onto the top of the rolls.
  10. Enjoy warm! Rolls will keep up to 3 days covered at room temperature, but do yourself a favor and microwave them for a few seconds to rewarm before eating. 🙂
Recipe Notes

Note: To make these the night before, follow instructions until the second rise (in the pan). When rolls are not quite doubled in size, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The next morning, remove from refrigerator and preheat oven. Once oven is preheated, bake rolls for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

  • Substitute pecans for your favorite nut, or leave out completely.
  • Leave out cinnamon in the topping and/or filling if you prefer. If leaving the cinnamon out of the topping, consider adding a pinch to 1/4 teaspoon of salt for that salted caramel flavor.
  • Add fillings of your choice - raisins, dried fruit, mini chocolate chips, etc.
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Mud Pie for Grandpa

I am a long-time collector of recipes. Cookbooks, magazines, recipe cards – I love them all. For years I copied or clipped recipes from all of the above, and I keep them in a set of binders. More recipes than I’ll ever get around to making. As I was looking through those binders looking for inspiration, I came across an old recipe for Mud Pie. It came out of a children’s cookbook, Alpha Bakery by Gold Medal Flour.

Sometime in roughly the mid-90’s, I made this recipe for a family dinner. I don’t remember the exact occasion, but my grandparents, and maybe others, had come to dinner. Anyway, I made the mud pie and we all thought it was delicious. Several months or maybe even a year later, my grandfather asked about the dessert. He wanted me to make it again. He described it as a brownie or cake with whipped cream on it. Well, neither my mom nor I, or anyone else, could remember such a recipe. (I know – that really makes you want to try a recipe we couldn’t remember a relatively short time later.) He continued to talk about it on occasion, and how much he liked it. But we just could not figure out what that recipe was.

My grandpa passed away in 2006, and I still hadn’t figured out what dessert he was remembering. Fast forward several years, when my parents were moving into their current house and I was helping them to pack up. I was looking through all of my mom’s cookbooks while packing them when I came across the Alpha Bakery cookbook. I flipped through it to see if there were any recipes worth saving, and as soon as I saw the Mud Pie recipe I knew that was recipe Grandpa kept asking about. I copied it then and put it into my binder, to be forgotten again until this past weekend. Since his 95th birthday would have been later this week, I knew it was time to make it again.

The base is a rich brownie with chopped nuts. I used slivered almonds because I had some on hand. But you can of course use the nuts of your choice, or leave them out. Replace them with chocolate chips (any flavor) if you’d like. You top the brownie with hot fudge sauce. I used a homemade sauce, but you can definitely use a jarred sauce – fudge sauce, not chocolate syrup. I also think this would be delicious with a caramel sauce instead. Then top it all with whipped cream. I used a stabilized whipped cream, since I knew we wouldn’t eat it all at once. You could use regular whipped cream if you have enough people to serve that there won’t be leftovers. Or Cool Whip works too. But if you are making your own whipped cream, consider playing around with the flavors. Personally, I think a little almond extract in it would be perfect. But strawberry or cherry extract and a little red or pink food coloring would be delicious. Or peppermint extract and green food color for a grasshopper type of pie. The possibilities are endless.

Happy Birthday Grandpa!

Print Recipe
Mud Pie
A dense, fudgy brownie topped with hot fudge sauce and whipped cream. Lightly adapted from Gold Medal Flour's Alpha Bakery
Course Dessert
Servings
Ingredients
Brownie Base
Whipped Cream
Course Dessert
Servings
Ingredients
Brownie Base
Whipped Cream
Instructions
Brownie Base
  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees F and grease an 8-inch cake pan or pie plate.
  2. Mix butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Stir in flour, cocoa powder, and nuts.
  4. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted halfway between the center and the edge comes out clean. Time will depend partly on the size of your pan.
  5. As soon as the brownie comes out of the oven, poke it all over with a skewer or fork. Spread the fudge sauce over the brownie and let cool completely.
Whipped Cream
  1. For stabilized whipped cream, combine gelatin and water in a small saucepan and let sit until thick.
  2. Melt gelatin over low heat, stirring constantly. Once melted, remove from heat and cool slightly.
  3. While gelatin cools, whip cream and powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Add vanilla. (At this point, for regular whipped cream, whip a little longer until stiff peaks and use immediately.)
  4. Beating slowly, gradually add the cooled gelatin mixture to the whipped cream. It will start to look a little curdled, but beat at low to medium speed just until combine and peaks are stiff.
  5. Spread or pipe onto cooled brownie base.
  6. Serve with shaved chocolate or additional hot fudge sauce.
  7. Store in refrigerator.
Recipe Notes
  • Use any nuts you like, or substitute with any flavor of chocolate chips.
  • Jarred or homemade hot fudge sauce works great. Experiment with flavors. Try caramel sauce, or chocolate-mint fudge sauce instead.
  • Use Cool Whip in place of whipped cream.
  • Or flavor your whipped cream with any extract you like. Enhance with food color if desired. Think mint, strawberry, etc.
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Zucchini Bread – Made with Spaghetti Squash!

Hi Everyone! I know I’ve been pretty absent here this summer, but I promise I am getting back to baking and will be bringing you lots of new recipes soon! I am so ready for fall – fall weather, fall flavors, fall color. It’s my favorite time of year. 🙂

But for those of you still clinging on to summer, and the bounty of your vegetable garden, I have one more summer recipe for you. Actually, with the cinnamon, it tastes like the start of fall, but it’s a great way to use up your squash.

This was originally my mom’s zucchini bread recipe, and people LOVE this bread. It’s got a nice strong cinnamon flavor and is super moist because of the zucchini. I was gifted a spaghetti  squash from a co-worker, and of course I was immediately challenged to bake something with it. I wondered if I could use it in place of zucchini in baked goods. So I did a little research, crossed my fingers, and went for it. 

This is the second recipe I’ve tried using that substitution, and I can’t tell the difference between the original and the spaghetti squash version. Yes – it works! The only difference is that you have to cook, and shred, the spaghetti squash first, whereas the zucchini is shredded and added to the batter raw. Also, you need to measure the squash by weight, since it is much more dense than shredded zucchini. 

Yes, you can absolutely use zucchini as originally intended. And while I used walnuts in mine, as always, the nuts are optional or changeable. Pecans are always delicious in sweet breads. Hazelnuts or macadamia nuts would be really interesting too.  This recipe uses only cinnamon, but you could change that up too. Add in a little bit of nutmeg or cloves for more of a fall flavor. And you can absolutely bake this in standard 8″x4″ loaf pans. I couldn’t resist trying out this beautiful new swirl pan I just got. And I have to say that I am loving it.

Serve this warm or at room temperature. Or toast it and spread on a little butter. Or cream cheese. Or, if you want to go all out, drizzle on some cream cheese icing for a decadent treat. I think I need to go make another batch of this and do just that….


Print Recipe
Zucchini Bread - with Spaghetti Squash!
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Servings
Loaves
Ingredients
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Servings
Loaves
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Whisk eggs and sugar together until thick and very light yellow in color.
  2. Whisk in oil and vanilla until combined.
  3. Stir in shredded zucchini or squash.
  4. Combine dry ingredients and stir into batter along with nuts, if using, just until combined.
  5. Pour into two 8"x4" greased loaf pans.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees F for 60-70 minutes. (See notes).
  7. Cool 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling. Serve warm or room temperature.
  8. Store in an airtight container for 2-3 days at room temperature or a week refrigerated.
Recipe Notes
  • Zucchini should be grated raw, with or without the peel.
  • Spaghetti squash should be cooked (steamed or baked) and shredded before adding to batter.
  • If you are using larger loaf pans (like the pan I used, or a 9"x5" pan) the bread will cook faster. Start checking after 35 minutes.
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Unicorn Pizzelles Three Ways: Cookies, Sandwiches, and Stroopwafels

Hi everyone! Is it too late to jump on the unicorn bandwagon? 

What a busy spring it has been. I was out of town for work most of the last month, and when I finally got back I had this small matter of my wedding to attend to. 🙂 It turned out to be a beautiful day, at least for the few hours we needed it to be. It stormed the night before and then again that afternoon, but in the late morning it dried up and the sun actually peeked out a little bit. It was a small ceremony, with only the two of us and the pastor (and photographer), but it was perfect, and everything we wanted it to be. I made my own wedding cake – I know, everyone says not to do it – but it turned out great. I made one of the geode cakes that has become so popular lately. Do you want to see a picture?

So, as you can see, I have been busy, and I have been baking. I just haven’t had time to do much for this blog. But I got a pizzelle maker from my parents for the wedding, and I knew I had to do something fun with it. Since I hadn’t made any unicorn treats yet, and they seem to be so popular, I decided it was time. And because I just can’t leave something well enough alone, I made a couple of variations.

Of course the “plain” cookie is delicious, but I also used a circle cutter to cut smaller circles and filled those with white chocolate buttercream. Then I rolled them in sprinkles. Because unicorn cookies need sprinkles. And for the larger cookies, I filled some with a caramel stroopwafel filling. Stroopwafels are a pizzelle-like cookie from the Netherlands filled with a cinnamon caramel. I had never had one, but they sounded delicious – and they are. Apparently you can place it over a steamy mug of coffee or tea, and that will warm the cookie and filling slightly, making it even better.

Pizzelles are so easy to make. Yes, you need a pizzelle iron, but they are totally worth it. They are a really simple batter, and they cook up so fast you can make a ton of cookies pretty quickly. And, they work perfectly with a 1:1 gluten-free flour blend if you are GF.  You can flavor them with any extract you want. And you can fill them with almost anything. They make great ice cream sandwiches. Or curl them into an ice cream cone while they are still warm. Or spread on some peanut butter, or Nutella, or cookie butter….

If you aren’t into unicorns, go with darker colors and make galaxy-inspired cookies. Or, with graduation season upon us, color these with your school colors. They would be great for a graduation party! However you make them, you should make them soon!


Print Recipe
Unicorn Pizzelles Three Ways
Basic pizzelles, with two optional fillings.
Servings
Ingredients
Pizzelles
White Chocolate Buttercream
Stroopwafel Filling
Servings
Ingredients
Pizzelles
White Chocolate Buttercream
Stroopwafel Filling
Instructions
Pizzelles
  1. Beat eggs and sugar with the whisk attachment of an electric mixer until light yellow in color, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add vanilla and cooled, melted butter and mix until combined.
  3. Sift together flour and baking powder, and gently stir into egg mixture.
  4. If desired, divide into three equal portions and color each portion a different color.
  5. Place each color into a small disposable piping bag, cut off the ends, and place all three into a larger piping bag.
  6. Or, using a long spatula, place the three colors side-by-side in the large piping bag.
  7. Preheat and grease a pizzelle iron according to manufacturers directions.
  8. Pipe about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of batter onto each circle and bake 25-35 seconds.
  9. Remove from iron with a spatula and place flat onto a wire rack to cool.
  10. For smaller cookies, use about 1/2 tablespoon batter and cook for 15-20 seconds.
  11. As soon as cookies come off of the iron (you have about 15 seconds tops), use a 2 to 3 inch round metal cookie cutter to cut a circle out of the middle of the cookie. Cool on wire rack as above.
White Chocolate Buttercream
  1. Combine chocolate chips and cream in a microwavable bowl.
  2. Microwave for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until chips are melted. (You are making a white chocolate ganache.)
  3. Cool ganache to room temperature, either on the counter or in the refrigerator.
  4. Place buttercream into a bowl, and beat in cooled ganache.
  5. Sandwich two small pizzelles together with the white chocolate buttercream, and roll edges in sprinkles if desired.
Stroopwafel Filling
  1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until mixture reaches the soft ball stage, 234 to 240 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Remove from heat and cool slightly, no more than 5 minutes.
  3. Working quickly, and CAREFULLY (it's hot sugar!), spread about 1/2 tablespoon of the mixture on one full-size pizzelle and top with another cookie.
  4. If the mixture gets too thick before you finish filling cookies, place the pan back on the burner on low until the mixture starts to thin back out.
Recipe Notes
  • Use any extract you like. Anise is a traditional flavor for pizzelles.
  • Use any colors you like, or leave it uncolored and drop by spoonfuls instead of piping the batter.
  • Fill the cookies (or not) with any filling you like. Ice cream, buttercream, Nutella, etc.
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Chocolate Covered Strawberry Ladybug Cookies

I promised you more spring treats, so here you go! As some of you may know, and many of you probably don’t, I have adored ladybugs my whole life. I have collected ladybugs in any form for as long as I can remember. And I have to tell you, most of the year there aren’t many ladybugs to be found in the stores. My sister collected pandas, and you could find those almost anywhere. I’ve known people who collect pigs or roosters – also pretty easy to find. Ladybugs – not so much. Around Valentine’s Day and Easter you see a few more around, but even then they are pretty scarce. Even so, I have amassed a pretty impressive collection, if I do say so myself. Towels, jewelry, wall art, soap dishes (that one in the picture above – I use it for a spoon rest on my stove!), toys, figurines, etc., etc. But I’m pretty sure it all started with this lovely lady right here.

These cookies are an adaptation of a cookie we started making when I was pretty young. My mom had saved a pull-out section of a Good Housekeeping magazine from the 1980s. It was a special Christmas cookie section for “Christmas Toy Cookies”. One of the recipes was for a ladybug cookie. What that has to do with Christmas or toys, I don’t really know. But I do know I loved making and eating those cookies. The original recipe was for a vanilla cookie with maraschino cherry, or red hots, spots. I decided to go more true-to-life, and make a red body with chocolate chip spots. And if I was going to add color, I figured I might as well add flavor!

The recipe as I have written it adds strawberry flavoring, which I’m sure many of you will enjoy. I, on the other hand, do not like strawberries. I know, I know. I told you I was a picky eater. I did have a bottle of pomegranate flavoring in my cabinet, begging to be used, though, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. You can use either of those flavors, or go with cherry or raspberry. Ooohh, or cinnamon….that would be fantastic, too. You could even leave the flavoring, and the color, out if you wanted to. This is a soft, slightly cakey cookie full of flavor. And they are pretty darn cute, too. 🙂


Print Recipe
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Ladybug Cookies
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in eggs.
  2. Add salt, baking soda, and flour; mix well.
  3. Remove 1/4 cup of the dough, and stir the melted chocolate into that portion.
  4. Add the extract and food color to the plain dough. I used enough food color to make a bright red, but adjust to your tastes.
  5. Divide the red dough into 36 pieces, each approximately 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons. Shape each piece into an oval and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  6. Divide the chocolate dough into 36 pieces, about 1/2 teaspoon each, and push into one end of each oval.
  7. Use the back of a butter knife to make a deep line down the center of each cookie, to define the "wings".
  8. Push mini chocolate chips into each wing. I use 2 or 3 per side, but use as many as you'd like.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes, or until cookies are set. If you don't use the food coloring, there will be very light browning, but you cannot see this on the red cookies.
  10. Cool completely on wire racks and store in an airtight container up to a week.
Recipe Notes

Use any flavor extract, and food coloring, you like. Raspberry, cherry, pomegranate (like I did), even cinnamon would be good if you want to keep them red. Or leave out the extract (use some vanilla),  and food coloring if you prefer.

I used flavoring oil, from LorAnn, which is much more concentrated. If you use those, start with 1/4 teaspoon and slowly add from there. I used about 1/2 teaspoon of the pomegranate flavor.

For an extra hit of chocolate, dip the bottom of cooled cookies into melted dark or milk chocolate and set on waxed paper until chocolate sets.

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