Growing up I was a huge fan of the Little Debbie Swiss Rolls. Admittedly, I still am. Cake and cream is a pretty unbeatable combination if you ask me. The chocolate version is heavenly but so is this homemade fruit adaption. With this cake, you get wonderful flavor combinations such as strawberries, cream, vanilla, and lemon. The cake is very spongy, moist, and light. The filling contains real strawberries and cream and adds a wonderful sweetness and tang to the mix. This recipe takes just a bit of prep work, but it’s well worth it as this cake roll is an absolute stunner for the summer.
When it comes to pumpkin pie, you’re either a fan or a hater. I used to think pumpkin pie was disgusting. But, in all honesty, I thought that prior to even trying it. Then, one magical day in culinary school, we made pumpkin pie and got to eat our assignment at the end. It was then and there I was dead wrong about pumpkin pie all this time. It’s filled with the flavor of warm holiday spices and the creamy texture is perfect. This pumpkin pie is not traditional in the sense that it’s lighter in texture than a traditional pie. We use both egg whites and whipped heavy cream to lighten this pie up. It’s light, creamy and so tasty.
Everyone’s grandma has a specialty cake. Like many out there, my grandma’s specialty cake came from a box. Her specialty cake was the Betty Crocker marble cake. Yes, it’s true. It came straight up from a box. There was no doctored version, it was just the regular recipe made with love. We loved it, of course. Give us a piece of that cake with some ice cold milk and we were happy and quiet for a while. We’ve spent many Saturdays eating that cake, so when I think of marble cake today, it’s really nostalgic for me.
As amazing as that cake was when I was a kid, I think we can do better now. I’m not a huge boxed cake mix fan to be honest. I mean, I’m all for boxed cake in a pinch. I’m no snob here. But, when I have the time and the ingredients, I’d much rather have a made from scratch cake. The challenge is making a good homemade marble cake. Many have tried, but it presents more challenges than you’d think.
There is currently six inches of snow outside. We still have a couple of months of this. I need something bright to remind me of the light of at the end of the tunnel, Spring. That’s where these lemon bars come in. Lemon bars are a staple of your local bake sales for good reason. They’re incredibly easy to make, tangy, creamy, and chewy. Great flavor and texture, which is what we all really want. Bakery-style bars right from your own home. It doesn’t get much better than that!
It’s Summer and it’s hot out. I really don’t do well in this weather. I’m more an Autumn girl. However, since I can’t press a fast forward button to the Fall, I’m going to have to tough this heat and humidity out. During the Summer, I want something cool and refreshing daily. These mousse cups check all the boxes. They look impressive. They are easy and quick to make. And man oh man are they good. I’m pretty much a sucker for any raspberry and chocolate combination. Lastly, the best thing is the differing textures. We have the cool creamy mousse, with the dense fudgy chocolate cake and cookie crumbs sprinkled throughout. It really doesn’t get much better.
Last week, I promised you another easy recipe using leftover and/or stale bread. Well, here it is!
Bread pudding is a staple comfort dish. It’s incredibly easy to make. It’s versatile. You can easily transform the basic recipe into chocolate bread puddings or berry bread puddings and much more. They look beautiful and you have so many choices of toppings. If you serve these at your next brunch, your guests will be so impressed. I guarantee it. This is one of my absolute favorite ways to use leftover and stale bread.
For the bread, the key is using stale bread. As long as it’s slightly stale, you’ll be able to use it. If your bread isn’t stale yet, you can freeze it for a few days or bake it at 100°F for a few minutes. Both are great ways to slightly dry out the bread. I love using brioche buns that are typically leftover after using them for burgers. I’d definitely suggest using leftover brioche or croissants. They are great in bread puddings, because they’re already sweet and buttery. However, you can use any type of stale bread. I cut two sets of buns into medium sized cubes and set them in a bowl to the side. It comes out to a bit more than a cup and a half. The more the better. You can always freeze any leftovers for next time.
In a separate bowl, pour in the milk, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and whisk until well combined.
Butter the inside of the ramekins really well. Make sure to get the corners.
Place a large handful of the bread cubes into the ramekin. It should flow over the top of the ramekin. Once you feel satisfied with the amount, you can pour half the custard over the bread. Be careful…it’s a messy job! As you pour, make sure to get all the cubes some moisture. Also, as you pour, the cubes will sink, which will allow you to add the extra cubes on hand. Repeat with the second ramekin.
Place the ramekins on a sheet tray to prevent a mess with possible dripping. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350°F for 35-40 minutes. If you poke the custard with a pairing knife or bamboo skewer and it comes out with only a few moist crumbs, you know the custard is cooked perfectly. Not overcooked and dry, but not undercooked.
Let the bread puddings cool for about ten minutes. Serve warm with the topping of your choice! You can serve with ice cream, whipped cream made with Cream chargers at discount prices, cinnamon, powdered sugar or maple syrup. I do a combination of things, because…why not? In just under an hour, you have a delectable brunch dish that was beyond easy to make. Stale bread never tasted so good. Except when they’re croutons.
See how I do it:
- 1 1/2 cups stale bread, preferably brioche, but any stale bread will do
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- small pinch of salt
- unsalted butter for buttering the ramekins
Dice the bread into medium cubes, set aside in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Whisk until well combined. The custard is now done. Pour this mixture into a measuring cup. Place a handful of bread cubes into a well buttered ramekin. It should come up over the top of the ramekin. Pour half the custard mixture over the bread cubes. You should make sure each cube has a bit of moisture. It will sink slightly and as it does, you can add a few more bread cubes to the top. Pour more custard over those few. Do the same to the second ramekin. Place both ramekins on top of a sheet tray in a preheated 350°F oven, cover with aluminium foil and bake for 35-40 minutes. Another way to test doneness is to poke the custard with a bamboo skewer or pairing knife, if it comes out with a few moist crumbs, it's baked perfectly. Remove from the oven, place on a wire rack. Let them cool for about ten minutes. Serve warm with the topping you'd like. (maple syrup, ice cream, whipped cream, powdered sugar, cinnamon, etc. all good options)
Brioche and croissants are great options for bread pudding, but you can use any type of bread, if it's stale. You can dry out bread in a low heat oven for a few minutes or in a freezer for a couple of days. Serve warm. You can freeze the baked mini bread puddings for about a month, wrapped well. Reheat in the oven.
We all love cinnamon, right? If you don’t, then I truly pity you. I mean, cinnamon is great on pretty much anything sweet. But, if you’ve yet to try a cinnamon sugar donut, you have not yet lived. More specifically, if you haven’t had a cinnamon sugar brioche donut, then you really need to get going on fixing that. These donuts are out of this world. Out of this universe when eaten fresh out of the fryer. The dough is flavorful. The coating is wonderful. These are just great all the way around. These donuts are a bit denser than traditional donuts since they are brioche donuts. But the texture is still wonderful. The outside is crisp, the inside is fluffy. Being that no one really eats sweets in my house, I had to eat these donuts all myself. Let me tell you, I have absolutely no regrets. Donuts ARE my kryptonite, after all.
Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature. Sift the flour into a bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Add in the yeast and mix for about 15 seconds. I just used my hands to give them a quick mix to combine.
Next, add in the salt, sugar, vanilla, eggs, warm whole milk, nutmeg, cinnamon and dry milk powder.
Mix on low for five minutes.
Add in the butter piece by piece while mixing on low. Mix on low for five minutes after adding butter or until dough ball forms onto hook and butter is absorbed.
Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and fold either side to the middle, like a letter. Then, turn and do it from top to bottom. Place the dough into a bowl and cover in plastic wrap. Leave out at room temperature for an hour.
Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and fold either side to the middle, like a letter. Then, turn and do it from top to bottom. Place back in the bowl and place in the fridge, covered, overnight.
The next day, dump out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out until about 1/2″ thickness.
Cut out with a floured 3″ cutter and a pastry tube. I try not to twist as I cut. Biscuits have me paranoid. Use a spatula to move the dough onto a parchment lined, greased and floured baking sheet. Once all the donuts and donut holes are cut and placed onto the baking sheet, place the baking sheet into the oven or next to any warm area. Our oven is off, we’re just placing them in there to proof for an hour.
At about the 30-minute mark, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a shallow dish and set to the side. Also, prep your baking sheet covered with paper towels for draining. Prep your pot with oil. Preheat the oil to 375°F. Your donuts should be noticeably bigger after the hour proofing.
Move one donut into the oil with a spatula. Cook for a few minutes or until it’s golden brown. Then, use a chopstick or skewer to flip the donut. Cook for a few more minutes or until golden brown. It’s always best to test timing with the first donut. It will truly differ because your oil has to be exactly 375°F (use a thermometer) and the dough should be no thicker than a 1/2″ or it will take longer to fry. Anyway, test with the first donut.
Right out of the fryer, quickly drain onto the paper towels for a few seconds, then move to the cinnamon sugar mixture. Toss the donut into the cinnamon sugar mixture and move it back to the paper towel covered baking sheet.
Enjoy immediately fresh and warm. The exterior should be crisp and the inside fluffy with a slightly dense texture. This is brioche after all.
See how I do it:
- 518 grams Pastry Flour (3 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons)
- 10 grams Instant yeast (dry active yeast) (1 tablespoon)
- 74 grams Granulated sugar (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
- 9 grams Salt (1 tablespoon)
- 1.5 grams Nutmeg (1/4 teaspoon nutmeg)
- 5.6 grams Cinnamon (1 teaspoon)
- 212 grams Warm whole milk (3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons; at about 75°F)
- 111 grams Eggs (1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons; about 2 large eggs)
- 9 grams Vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste (1 1/2 teaspoons)
- 10 grams Nonfat dry milk powder (1 tablespoon)
- 55 grams Unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into cubes (2 ounces)
- Canola oil or peanut oil, for frying (enough to fill your Dutch oven or pot 3 inches deep)
- 300 grams granulated sugar or vanilla sugar (1 1/2 cups; sugar massaged with leftover vanilla bean pod)
- 10 grams cinnamon (1 tablespoon)
- Spray a medium bowl with non-stick spray and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix together the flour and yeast for 10 seconds on low. Add the sugar, salt, warmed whole milk, eggs, dry milk powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla and mix on low speed until incorporated about 5 minutes.
- With the mixer running on low, gradually add the butter, a cube at a time, incorporating each cube completely before adding the next. Continue until you’ve added all the butter, scraping down the bowl periodically. Mix for 5 more minutes.
- Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a rectangular shape, using only enough flour so it doesn’t stick to the surface. Stretch and fold the left side of the dough to over 2/3 of the dough, and then stretch the right side and folder over the left (Like you would fold a letter). Repeat again, this time folding the top down and then the bottom up. Place in prepared bowl seam-side down. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean dishtowel and let sit at room temperature for an hour.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently pat the dough down pressing large air bubbles to the edge to release. Repeat the stretching and folding process and then return the dough to the bowl, seam-side down, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, spray with non-stick spray, lightly flour and set nearby. Turn the chilled dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out to about 11-inches wide and about 1-inch thick. Working quickly using your doughnut cutter or round cookies cutters, cut rounds from the dough. Dust off excess flour and place onto prepared pan. Place the baking sheet full of donuts and donut holes in an oven that is turned OFF. Allow to proof for about an hour to an hour and a half. If you press into the dough and the imprint is still there, it's ready.
- Fill a Dutch oven or heavy stockpot with 3 inches of peanut or canola oil. Fit with your candy thermometer and heat oil to 375°F/177°C. Prepare a baking sheet covered with paper towels for draining. Gently lower 2 to 4 doughnuts (depending on how large your pot is—the doughnuts should be able to float freely) into the oil and fry for 30 seconds, without moving them. Flip doughnuts over with a skewer or chopsticks and fry for 45 seconds. Flip back over once more and fry another 45 seconds, or until they are golden brown. Adjust the heat as needed throughout frying to maintain the temperature. Transfer the doughnuts to the prepared baking sheet with paper towels to drain. Instantly move the donut to the cinnamon sugar and toss together. Continue this process.
- The doughnuts are best enjoyed the day they are fried. Especially, fresh out of the fryer and into the sugar. While warm, they are heavenly. They do last another day or two in a covered container but their texture will be much denser and some of the coating will be absorbed.
I strongly urge you to use pastry flour. I use nothing but pastry flour for pastries like donuts. Makes a huge difference in texture. Also, I strongly urge for ease and accuracy, use a digital scale and scale out the ingredients. In the video, I only fry one at a time, because the pot is small. You can use a bigger pot and fry more at a time. Eat fresh/warm, use the right ingredients, don't overwork the dough and you'll have some great textured, delicious donuts.
Where does my love of chocolate trace back to? Maybe it was all those years of devouring many pounds of chocolate in the form of Halloween candy. Maybe it was my early indoctrination of watching the “Cooking with Randy and Mandy” segment on All That. Who knows? One can’t really trace back the roots of my love for chocolate. But, make no mistake about it. My obsession for the stuff only continues to grow. So, when I need my chocolate fix, this is one of my go-to recipes. It’s easy, quick and very chocolatey, which hits all the important marks on my checklist. Because the sooner I make it, obviously, the sooner I can enjoy it. If you’re obsessed with chocolate like me, then trust me, you’ll want to put this recipe in your repertoire.
Combine the room temperature unsalted butter into the bowl of your stand mixer with the brown and white sugar.
Mix with the paddle attachment for about five minutes until light and fluffy.
Add in the egg and vanilla and mix until combined.
Sift together the dry ingredients and dump into the bowl.
Add in the chocolate chips. Remove the bowl from the stand and begin folding in the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula. Mix until just combined. Don’t overmix!
Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate or freeze for 24 hours or you can freeze for two hours and refrigerate for an hour with the dough balls formed on the sheet tray to shorten the wait.
Once the dough is properly refrigerated or frozen, let it thaw and come back to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Use a mini or large ice cream scoop to scoop out dough balls. I used a mini scoop and scooped out three dough balls to form one portion. Scoop out and roll the dough between your palms to form one dough ball portion. Set onto a pre-greased cookie sheet. Place about 1″ apart. The cookies will spread a bit. I only baked off six, but it will yield you a few more. I just froze the rest.
Flatten with your palm slightly. Bake off at 350°F for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven. Leave the cookies on the sheet for a minute or two.
After a couple of minutes out of the oven, remove the cookies from the baking sheet and move to a wire rack.
Cool slightly. These cookies are phenomenal when eaten warm with some milk. The chocolate is melted and the cookies are super soft. But, they can be eaten at room temp as well.
See how I do it:
- 1 cup (145 grams) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup (75 grams) Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 10 tablespoons (141 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) light or dark brown sugar
- 2/3 cup (133 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon light instant coffee granules
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups (305 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate discs or chocolate chips
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until very light, about 5 minutes.
Add egg and vanilla and beat until well combined.
Take the bowl off the stand mixer and add the dry ingredients.
Fold in the dry ingredients and the chocolate discs or chips and until just combined. Don't overmix!
Press plastic wrap against the dough and chill it for at least 24 hours and up to 36.
As a shortcut, you can also freeze for two hours or refrigerate portioned out for an hour.
Out of the fridge or freezer, let it thaw and come to room temperature.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking sheet and optionally, line with parchment or a silicone mat. Portion the dough out into balls slightly larger than golf balls, about 3 1/2 ounces each, and transfer six balls to the baking sheet. (They will spread significantly.) Flatten slightly with the palm of your hands.
Bake the cookies until set, being careful to remove cookies from the oven when still soft in the center, about 10 minutes. Leave the cookies to continue baking out of the oven on the sheet for about one or two minutes.
After a couple of minutes, move the cookies to a wire rack to cool slightly.
You can use semisweet or bittersweet chips or discs. Best served warm but still very good at room temp. You can freeze for a couple hours and refrigerate for an hour to shorten the chilling time required or if you're patient, you can refrigerate or freeze for 24 hours or up to 36 hours.
Everyone needs this recipe in their repertoire. Here’s why. It’s delicious…well, duh. That’s kind of important. Second, it’s versatile. I mean it. This dough is very versatile. I’ve used it for mini tarts, sugar cookies, pies, etc. This stuff is multi-faceted like crazy. Third, it’s easy to make. I know I say this about most of my recipes, but trust me, I’m not BSing you. This dough is really easy to make. I usually whip it up in under ten minutes when the ingredients are at room temperature, which should be a given. There is absolutely no reason to not try this. You will love it. You will be using it a lot and you will be eating the raw dough like nobody’s business. That’s just how it goes. So better to try it now so you can impress your neighbors with your cool Halloween and Christmas cookies when the time comes.
Place the room temperature butter into the bowl of your stand mixer or into a large bowl. Use some decent quality butter, please.
Mix on medium-low speed until light and fluffy for about five to seven minutes.
Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Pour in the granulated sugar in a steady stream and mix on medium speed until sugar dissolves and the mixture is fluffy. Should take about four to five minutes.
On medium speed, add in one egg at a time, allowing the egg to absorb before adding the second one. Stop the mixer and scrape.
Add in the zest, vanilla and lemon juice and mix for a minute until combined.
Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and pour into the dough all at once.
Begin to pulse the dough a few times with the stand mixture until big clumps of dough forms and some of the flour is absorbed. Stop at this point and remove the bowl from the stand mixer.
Use a rubber spatula to mix in the dry ingredients into the dough. This will take time. I use a stabbing motion to mix in the flour. Don’t overmix. Some flour will be visible, but the dough will look smoother in texture and slightly darker in color.
Move into a plastic container or form into a round shape and cover in saran wrap. I typically chill in the freezer overnight, which is ideal. You can also chill in the fridge or freezer for a few hours. This allows the dough to relax and absorb the rest of the flour.
When you are ready to use the dough, let it thaw for at least a half hour from the freezer or fridge. It should be somewhat pliable, but still cold. If the dough isn’t cold, your shapes won’t cut out as nice and the cookies will spread once in the oven. So, it’s important that the dough is cold but workable. It will be crumbly, to begin with. Work it and it will become easier to work with, smoother and slightly darker in color.
You can wrap up the unused dough and freeze for later use. Here are some examples of decorated sugar cookies I made with this delicious dough.
See how I do it:
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons sour cream, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- zest and juice from one large lemon or two medium lemons
In the bowl of your Kitchen Aid mixer with the paddle attachment or with a bowl and hand mixer, cream the room temperature slightly softened butter at medium-low speed until light and fluffy, about five minutes.
Pour in the sugar and mix for about four to five minutes. Scrape.
Add in the sour cream all at once and mix.
Add in one egg at a time on medium-low speed. Let the egg absorb before adding the next egg. Stop the mixer and scrape.
Add in the lemon zest, juice and vanilla extract. Mix for about a minute on medium speed until combined.
Next sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and add it all at once to the creamed mixture. Pulse until big clumps of dough form. Take the bowl off the mixer at this point.
Use your rubber spatula and "stab" in the dry ingredients. It will take a few minutes, so take your time. Don't overmix! Flour will still be visible.
Wrap in plastic container or form into a round and cover with saran wrap.
Chill for at least a couple hours or overnight before using.
Knead in portions until it comes together. It will be crumbly at first. That's normal. Keep working it.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a 1/2" thickness and cut shapes as desired and bake at 350°F for about 9-11 minutes or until the bottom edge is very lightly golden brown. Note: smaller shapes will bake faster, so if you're baking a variety of shapes, make sure to take the small shapes out of the oven first.
Once the cookies are baked off, leave them on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes. Move to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store them in a plastic container covered for about a week.
You can store the dough in the refrigerator for up to one week and freeze wrapped well for up to three months.