Caramel Pecan Pull-apart Rolls

For once, I’m almost at a loss for words. I have no lengthy description for this post, no stories to tell about how Grandma made these rolls way back when. The recipe speaks for itself: yeast rolls filled with a butter and brown sugar mixture, then covered with a warm caramel/pecan topping. What makes these rolls a bit different is you layer them into a Bundt cake pan, then pull them apart directly from the pan to eat. Don’t worry about manners, just dig right in!

To make these rolls, the yeast dough is first rolled out then spread with the filling. You then roll the dough into a tight cylinder and then slice into circles.

Each spiral cylinder is then brushed with the warm caramel/pecan topping, then layered into the Bundt cake pan; let rise for about one hour.

Let bake until golden brown:

Then dig right in and Pull-apart the rolls!

Caramel Pecan Pull-apart rolls
Serves 6
Yeast rolls topped with a warm caramel pecan sauce- pull them apart and eat directly from the Bundt pan.
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Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
2 hr
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
2 hr
Dough
  1. ¾ cup warm milk
  2. 2 packets dry yeast
  3. 1/3 cup sugar
  4. 1/2 cup butter, softened
  5. 2 eggs
  6. ½ tsp vanilla flavoring
  7. 1 tsp salt
  8. 4 cups all-purpose flour
Filling
  1. ½ cup pecans, chopped
  2. ¼ cup brown sugar
  3. 1 tsp cinnamon
  4. 2-3 tbsp soft butter
Caramel Topping
  1. 1 cup brown sugar
  2. ½ cup butter, softened
  3. ¼ cup light corn syrup or liquid glucose
  4. ½ cup pecans, chopped
Instructions
  1. Combine the packets of dry yeast with the warm milk, let set a few minutes until the yeast dissolves.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and softened butter using electric beaters. Add the eggs, vanilla, salt and yeast mixture. With the electric beaters still running, add 2 cups of the flour to the mixture and beat until smooth. Gradually stir in the remaining flour using a wooden spoon or working in the flour with your hands. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead for several minutes until the dough forms a firm ball. Wrap the ball in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, make the filling. Combine the chopped pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon (but do not use the butter yet); set aside. To make the camel topping, heat the brown sugar, butter and corn syrup (or liquid glucose) for several minutes until the mixture thickens. Stir in the chopped pecans.
  4. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out into a rectangle measuring 15 x 10 inches, with the long side facing you. Spread the 2-3 tbsps. softened butter onto the dough, then spread the remaining filling mixture. Roll up the dough into a tight cylinder, ending with the seam facing downwards. Cut off the very ends of the dough, then slice the dough into 1 inch pieces using a serrated bread knife. Brush each side of the dough pieces with the caramel pecan sauce then place them inside a buttered Bundt pan, forming at least two layers. Brush the top of the dough mixture with any leftover caramel topping. Bake at 350 F (160 C) for 30 minutes or until the dough turns golden brown and is cooked through. To serve, pull-apart the pieces of dough directly from the Bundt pan.
Notes
  1. You can also bake these rolls in a flat baking pan, if desired,
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/
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Brookies- where Brownies meet Chocolate Chip Cookies

Have you ever heard of a Brookie? I’m sure it’s the newest craze- a moist brownie topped with a chocolate chip cookie- two of the most delicious things on earth stacked together.

I first heard of a Brookie on last year’s Master Chef TV show. After looking through several recipes, I became embroiled in a philosophical quandry: should I put the cookie on top of the brownie or the brownie on top of the cookie? This became an important question because after all, you don’t want to display any favoritism towards our two most favorite desserts!

After experimenting, it turns out that this dessert looks best with the chocolate cookie on top. Some people cut their Brookies into squares, but I wound up baking mine in a cupcake pan since I didn’t have a square baking pan.

Whatever shape you decide to use, you’ll love these Brookies!

Brookies
Serves 8
A moist brownie topped with a chocolate chip cookie
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
35 min
For the Brownie Layer
  1. 1 cup white sugar
  2. 1/ cup butter, melted
  3. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  4. 2 eggs
  5. 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  6. 1/3 cup dark chocolate, melted
  7. ½ cup all-purpose flour
  8. ¼ tsp baking powder
  9. Pinch salt
For the Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer
  1. ½ cup butter, softened
  2. ½ cup light brown sugar
  3. ¼ cup white sugar
  4. ½ tsp vanilla extract
  5. 1 egg
  6. 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  7. ½ tsp salt
  8. ½ tsp baking soda
  9. 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 F (175 C). Grease 8 wells in a cupcake tin with melted butter.
  2. Prepare the brownie mixture. Combine the white sugar, melted butter, vanilla and 2 eggs and melted chocolate. Mix well with electric beaters. In a separate bowl, mix the cocoa powder, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Fold the dry flour mixture into the melted chocolate mixture until well-combined. Pour the brownie mixture into the cupcake pan, filling each well ½ full.
  3. Prepare the Chocolate Chip cookie dough. Beat the softened butter, light brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla extract and egg together until creamy.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Gradually combine the butter mixture into the flour mixture until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. Take about one heaping tablespoon of the chocolate chip cookie mixture and smooth it onto the top of each brownie, making sure the mixture comes to slightly below the rim of the cupcake pan to allow for some rising of the dough during the baking. Bake for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the ‘Brookie’ comes out clean. Let cool for several minutes. Run a knife around the edge of each Brookie and remove from the pan.
Adapted from All Recipes
Adapted from All Recipes
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/
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Chile Relleno Soup

Have you ever tried Chile Relleno? This Mexican dish is one of my faves- a poblano chile pepper stuffed with a white cheese, dipped in a fluffy egg batter then lightly fried.

While recently surfing the net, I came across a variation of this dish- Chile Relleno Soup. Gotta try this!, I said to myself. This is a creamy soup with roasted chopped poblano peppers and topped with a layer of melted cheese. And don’t think I’ve forgotten the batter-fried chile pepper in the recipe- you’ll find it resting under the layer of cheese, ready to be eaten. Yum, this looks like a luscious French Onion Soup with a Mexican twist. I wonder what Julia Child would think?

P.S. I’d really love it if you’d like my Facebook page! Any likes and shares are always appreciated!

The Method

First, the poblano peppers are roasted in the oven until the skins blister and turn black (careful not to burn them).

The blistered skin is then peeled and the chiles are chopped up and placed in the creamy soup mixture. One chile is coated in the fluffy egg mixture and then lightly fried in oil.

This fried chile is then placed on top of the creamy soup, ready for the melted cheese to be placed on top.

And here it is- Chile Relleno Soup.

Chile Relleno Soup
Serves 4
A creamy, cheesy soup topped with a golden-fried poblano chile.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 5 poblano chiles
  2. 2 tbsps olive oil
  3. 1 onion, chopped
  4. 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  5. ¼ cup coriander (cilantro) chopped
  6. ¼ cup flour
  7. 2 cups chicken stock
  8. 1 cup heavy cream
  9. 1 cup milk
  10. Salt to taste
  11. ½ cup shredded Jack cheese
Chile Relleno Topping
  1. 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  2. 2 eggs, separated
  3. 1 tbsp flour
  4. 1 tbsp baking soda
  5. 1/2 cup shredded jack cheese
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven broiler to 400 F. Brush the poblano chile peppers with a little olive oil, place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and place under the broiler for 3-4 minutes. Turn the chiles and broil the other side for the same amount of time. The skin should blister and turn black, however be careful to not burn. Remove from the oven and place the chiles in a sealable plastic bag for about 15 minutes to soften the skin.
  2. Over medium heat, fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft; add the chopped coriander and flour and continue to heat for several more minutes. Add the chicken stock, heavy cream, milk and salt to taste.
  3. Remove the chiles from the bag and carefully peel off the blistered skin, cut off the top and remove the seeds. Chop up four of the chiles and set the fifth one aside for the chile relleno topping. Add the chopped chiles to the sauce and let simmer for about 15 minutes until the sauce thickens. Add the ½ cup shredded jack cheese and stir until fully melted.
  4. While the sauce simmers, prepare the chile relleno topping. Cut the remaining chile in half; this will give you two larger pieces of chile that will later be placed on top of the soup.
  5. Separate the egg whites and yolks from the two eggs. Whip the egg whites with electric beaters until stiff peaks form. Add the flour and continue to beat for another minute. In a separate bowl, add the egg yolks to the baking powder and whip together slightly using a fork. Now fold the beaten egg whites into the egg yolks; the mixture should be light and airy.
  6. Heat the ½ cup oil in a fry pan over high heat. Dust each of the remaining chile halves with flour, then dip them into the egg mixture, fully coating them. Add to the cooking oil and fry about 1-2 minutes on each side until golden.
  7. Serve the soup into individual bowls, top with a piece of the fried chile relleno and extra shredded cheese. Place the bowls under the broiler for several minutes until the cheese turns golden, then serve.
Notes
  1. You could also substitute an Anaheim chile for the poblano chile.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/
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Chicken Mole Poblano

 

Mole 10

Living in San Diego part of the year, I have been spoiled with the variety of fresh and dried chili peppers that are sold in supermarkets, including the sweet and smoky ancho chile and the red fruity guajillo, both used in making the tasty Mexican dish, Chicken Mole Poblano.

This dish produces a rich reddish-brown sauce filled with spices, chilies, nuts and a hint of chocolate. Legend has it that the dish was invented at the convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla, Mexico. When the nuns heard that the archbishop was going to visit the convent, they panicked and ‘threw together’ bits and pieces of whatever they could find: chili peppers, bread, spices, nuts and even chocolate. This sounds like it could be called an ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ sort of dish.

This is not an everyday sort of dish, but is usually reserved for special occasions such as birthdays. Some cooks use up to 30 ingredients for their Mole Poblano and spend all day making it. Some have added plantains, tomatillos and even toasted pumpkin seeds to their Poblano dish.  But that sounds a bit over the top for me: I use about 15 ingredients and it takes me about 45 minutes to make the sauce and another 1 hour for the cooking.

To be honest, some people are turned off by the thick brown color of the sauce, but I can’t help licking the spoon as I make this dish. And sshhh, (don’t tell anyone) I use a little peanut butter in my recipe instead of ground peanuts. I learned this recipe tip from a Mexican restaurant in Borrego Springs, California.

To make the mole sauce, the tomatoes are first roasted in the oven for about 15 – 20 minutes, then the white cores are removed. Next, the ancho and guajillo dried chilies are toasted for a few minutes on the stove top, then soaked in a cup of hot water for 15 minutes to re-hydrate. You could also used chili powders for this dish but the taste would not be the same.

These ingredients are then added to a blender along with onions, garlic, jalapeno pepper, raisins and piece of stale bread. The seasonings, Mexican chocolate and peanut butter are then added and the sauce and chicken pieces are finally baked together in the oven.

Be sure and adjust the seasoning as you go; if you like your food spicy, add a few more chilies to the dish. If you find the Mexican chocolate a bit bitter, then add a dash of sugar. And you don’t need to wait for a visit from the archbishop to serve this dish- your family and friends should love it too!

Chicken pieces covered with mole sauce, ready for baking in the oven.

 

5.0 from 4 reviews
Chicken Mole Polblano
Author: 
Recipe type: Lunch or dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
A classic Mexican dish- chicken pieces covered in a rich brown sauce made with chilies, spices, Mexican chocolate and peanut butter.
Ingredients
  • Main Ingredients:
  • 4 -5 pieces of chicken thighs, bone in
  • 2 Tbsps. olive oil
  • Sauce:
  • 2 Ancho Chiles, dried
  • 2 Guajillo Chiles, dried
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 3 large tomatoes, roasted
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • ¼ cup raisins, heated and ‘plumped up’
  • 1 piece of stale bread or baguette
  • 1 tbsp dried coriander
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of cloves
  • 40 grams Mexican chocolate
  • 2 Tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • Salt to taste
  • Chicken stock (enough to cover the chicken pieces)
  • Garnish:
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds
  • Parsley sprigs
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat broiler oven to 400 F. Slice tomatoes in half, place on baking tray lined with parchment paper, sprinkle pieces with olive oil and salt. Place on top oven rack and roast for about 15 minutes until the tomatoes soften and some juices start to appear in the tray. Be careful not to burn the tomatoes. Remove from oven and set aside. (Note: you could also add a few tomatillos to the roasting pan if you wish).
  2. To prepare the Ancho and Guajillo dried chilies: place them on a dry fry pan over medium-high heat and press down with a spatula for one minute until they soften and start to change color, turn the chilies over and press down for one more minute. Remove from heat, cut the chilies open and remove the seeds. Chop roughly into pieces.
  3. Place the chilies in 1 cup of very hot water to soften, let soak for 10 – 15 minutes.
  4. Chop the onion, garlic pieces, and jalapeno pepper. Heat some olive oil in a fry pan over medium high heat, place the ingredients in the fry pan and heat for several minutes until soft. Remove from pan; heat the raisins in the pan for several minutes until they ‘plump up.’
  5. In a blender, add the roasted tomatoes, the chilies along with the soaking liquid, onions, garlic, jalapeno pepper , raisins and bread. Blend for several minutes until the sauce is smooth.
  6. Transfer the sauce to a sauce pan. Add the dried coriander, cinnamon, cloves, peanut butter and Mexican chocolate. Stir over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the sauce thickens a bit. Add salt to taste. Add a pinch of sugar if you prefer the sauce a little sweeter. Set aside.
  7. Brown the chicken pieces: first remove any excess skin from the chicken thighs and sprinkle salt on both sides of the chicken. Place several tablespoons of oil in a fry pan; over medium high heat, brown the chicken pieces on both sides for several minutes. Let drain on some kitchen paper.
  8. Place the chicken pieces in a casserole dish or Dutch oven, cover the pieces with the Mole sauce. Add a splash of chicken stock to ‘moisten’ the mixture.
  9. Bake for about one hour until the chicken becomes tender.
  10. Place on individual serving plates. Top with some toasted sesame seeds and a few parsley sprigs.

 

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Lobster Ravioli with Creamy Sauce, Cherry Tomatoes

I haven’t posted for awhile since I have been traveling with my husband and son, who is visiting with us from Australia. One of the places we visited was Death Valley, a huge national park that is the size of Connecticut and touches on the borders of both California and Nevada.

We were amazed at the starkness of the landscape, which seemed to be void of any plant life and loved the strange geologic formations that loomed from the desert floor. One of my favorite walks was through Golden Canyon, a 4-mile trek that led us around Manly Beacon; the trail was fairly steep at some points and I tried not to look down!

Manly Beacon, Death Valley

Manly Beacon

On the trail, we had the option of branching off to Zabriskie Point, one mile further, but decided to drive there later instead. This place had amazing views and reminded me of the 1970 counter-culture movie Zabriskie Point (by director Antonioni).

Zabriskie Point

Zabriskie Point

While passing through the Palm Springs area, we ate at an Italian restaurant where I ordered a delicious Lobster Ravioli dish with a parmesan sauce. It was so good that I decided to replicate the recipe myself.

My dish features fresh ravioli that is filled with lobster tail meat and ricotta cheese and is topped with a creamy parmesan sauce and cherry tomatoes. With Valentine’s Day coming up, you just might want to  impress your ‘significant other’ with this dish!

To make the stuffed ravioli, I bought some fresh lasagna sheets from a local Italian pasta shop, although you could make you own. I then cut out at least 12 circles (3 inches each) using a pastry cutter- you could also make square or triangle shapes:

I then placed a small amount of filling in the middle, wet the outer edges of the ravioli with water and crimped the edges together. Be sure to press the filling into the center of the dough so that you make a nice dome shape.

I then cooked the ravioli in boiling salted water for about 3 minutes, then baked the pasta with the parmesan sauce, onions and cherry tomatoes in the oven for several minutes. I wonder what wonderful things I’ll find next time in the desert!

Note: this recipe makes enough to serve three people, with each person receiving at least 4 ravioli each on their plate = total of 12 ravioli. To make the 12 ravioli, I used three lasagna sheets (14 inches by 5 inches each).

Lobster Ravioli with creamy sauce and cherry tomatoes
Serves 3
Lobster-filled ravioli, served with a creamy parmesan sauce and cherry tomatoes
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Filling
  1. 3 lobster tails
  2. 2 Tbsp. diced shallots
  3. 2 Tbsp. ricotta cheese
  4. 1 Tbsp. parmesan cheese
  5. Salt/pepper to taste
Creamy Parmesan Sauce
  1. ¼ cup butter
  2. 1 clove garlic, minced
  3. 1 cup thickened cream
  4. ¼ cup dry white wine
  5. 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  6. Salt/white pepper to taste
For the garnish
  1. ½ onion, sliced
  2. 2-3 tbsps oil
  3. Parsley, chopped
  4. 8-10 cherry tomatoes
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F (180 C).
  2. Prepare the filling: remove the meat from the lobster tails and chop finely. Add the ricotta cheese, diced shallots, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  3. Roll-out the lasagna pasta sheets, cut out 3-inch circles using a pastry cutter or knife (or you could make other shapes, such as triangles or rectangles). Place a small amount of lobster filling in the middle of each ravioli shape, wet the outer edges of the dough with water and place the other shape on top. Crimp the edges together and push the filling into the center of the ravioli to make a nice dome shape. Place the ravioli in boiling salted water and cook for about three minutes; remove the pasta using a slotted spoon and set aside.
  4. For the sauce, melt the butter over low heat on the stove top, add the diced garlic and cream and stir over medium heat until the sauce thickens slightly. Add the wine and parmesan cheese and stir until sauce continues to thicken. Add salt and white pepper and adjust seasoning accordingly.
  5. Slice the onion into lengths of 2-3 inches and saute’ in a little oil on the stove top for several minutes until softened.
  6. To assemble the dish, place the onions and cooked ravioli in the bottom of a casserole dish, add the sauce and cherry tomatoes on top and bake in the oven for 5-7 minutes. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/
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Chili and Cheese Nachos Platter

After the marathon effort of my last Famous Chocolate Nutella Babka post, I thought I would do something simpler this time- hence my recipe for Chili and Cheese Nacho Platter. I was able to use some leftover chili con carne for this recipe, plus some other ingredients that I already had on hand. The only thing I had to buy was the tortilla chips!

This makes a great appetizer for guests that drop by or could even be turned into a main meal. My husband asked me to add a fried egg on top of his serving and he considered that to be his dinner!

The amount of ingredients you use for this recipe depends on the size of your serving dish, hence I have left some of the measurements ‘open.’ This dish requires layering the tortilla chips with the chili and cheese, then finishing off with the salsa, avocado, cilantro and sour cream on top. Feel free to add your other favorite ingredients to this dish as well.

Note: To cook and serve my Nachos dish, I used a Comal, a flat griddle used in Mexico to cook tortillas and prepare food.

Chili and Cheese Nacho Platter
Serves 4
Tortilla chips layered with chili and cheese and topped with salsa and other goodies!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
2 min
Total Time
17 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
2 min
Total Time
17 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 13-oz bag of tortilla chips
  2. 1 ½ - 2 cups chili
  3. 4 cups coarsely shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  4. Fresh salsa mixture (diced tomatoes, red onion, coriander, lime juice)
  5. Spring onion
  6. 1 avocado, sliced
  7. 1 fire-roasted red pepper, sliced
  8. Pickled sweet peppers (optional)
  9. Hot sauce and sour cream
  10. Chopped cilantro (coriander) for garnish
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 F (200 C). Lightly oil a round baking sheet (I used a Comal). Spread ½ of the tortilla chips on the baking sheet, then top with ½ each of the chili and shredded cheese. Repeat the layering with the remaining tortilla chips, chili and cheese. Bake for several minutes until the cheese melts.
  2. Remove from oven and top with some of the fresh salsa, diced spring onion, pickled peppers and fire-roasted red pepper and sliced avocado. Sprinkle some hot sauce and chopped cilantro around the platter, and then place a dab of sour cream in the middle.
  3. To make a main meal of it, fry several eggs in a fry pan, then place on top of the Nacho Platter.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

 

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Famous Chocolate Nutella Babka

This post was inspired by Uri Scheft’s ‘Famous Chocolate Babka’ recipe, which he illustrates in his new Breaking Breads cookbook. This Danish-Israeli baker perfected his baking skills in Israel and later transported himself to New York City, where he now operates his Breads Bakery in Union Square. Why does he call his Babka ‘famous’? For no other reason than being named “the best Babka in New York City” for 2013 by New York Magazine!

With such an illustrious award behind his name, I felt compelled to find out why his Babka was named the best in New York City. After all, there must be hundreds of bakeries in New York, with many churning out Babkas (even the Seinfeld show featured one episode of Jerry Seinfeld lusting after a Babka)!

It turns out that Uri uses laminated dough in his Babka recipe, a butter-encasing technique normally used for puff pastry and croissants, which makes for light, flaky layers. For this process, butter is folded into the dough multiple times to create very thin alternating layers of butter and dough. The more the dough is folded and ‘turned’, the more layers of delicate flaky pastry are produced. This process, plus the fact that the dough is filled with a ‘scandalous mix’ of rich Nutella and dark chocolate chips, makes these Babkas a delicacy made in heaven.

I practiced making this recipe three times in order to get the hang of making the laminated dough.  I wound up using slightly less flour than Uri’s recipe and found that my recipe yielded two loaves each time, instead of Uri’s three loaves.

Was it worth the extra effort of making the laminated dough? You bet! And I’m not the only one who thought so- just ask New York Magazine!

Since this is a rather long post, I will now wish you all a Happy New Year and thank you so much for stopping by my blog!

The full printable recipe is located at the end of this post. Here is the illustrated process for laminating, filling and shaping the dough into the Famous Chocolate Babka.

(Note: you will need two bread loaf pans for this recipe: I feel that 8 x 4 inch pans work best but you could also use 9 x 5 inch pans). 

Laminating the Dough

After kneading the dough, let it rest for 30 minutes, then press it into a 1- inch thick rectangle, cover in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least one hour. Prepare the 200 grams of butter by placing it on a piece of parchment paper and using a rolling pin to ‘pound’ and mold it into a rectangular shape measuring 7 x 8 inches. Set aside.

On a lightly-floured surface, roll the dough out into a 7 x 16 inch rectangle with the shorter side facing you. Place the butter on the lower half of the rectangle and use a knife or spatula to smooth it onto the dough, then fold the top half of the dough over the bottom half. (The butter should be cool but pliable so it can be molded and spread across the dough).

Rotate the dough a quarter turn so that the edges that were on the bottom are now facing the right side of the dough. Roll the dough out into a rectangle measuring 9 x 16 inches.

Rotate dough 1/4 turn, then roll out into 9 x 16 inch rectangle

Fold the dough into thirds like a ‘business letter‘: first fold the bottom part upwards then fold the top part down so that the edges are even at the bottom- this is called a simple fold.

Now rotate the dough a quarter turn again so that the bottom edges are now facing the right side of the dough. After the turn, you should be able to open the dough up ‘like a book.’ Mark this second turn of the dough by making two indentations with your thumb. This will help you to remember the number of turns you have completed.

Marking the dough with your thumb to keep track of the number of ‘turns’ you have made

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes (this helps to firm up the dough and prevent the butter from melting into the dough).

Remove the dough from the fridge and repeat the simple fold process two more times; first rolling the dough out, folding it, turning it, then refrigerating the dough each time. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.

View of the folded dough from the side

After the dough has been chilled, remove from the fridge and roll out into a rectangle measuring 18 inches by 10 inches, with the long side facing you. The dough should be just shy of 1/4 inch thick. Spread a layer of Nutella over the dough, then sprinkle the semi sweet chocolate chips evenly.

Starting from the bottom of the dough, roll it up into a tight cylinder with the seam facing downwards. When finished rolling, stretch the cylinder out a little with your hands. Slice the dough in half lengthwise and then open up the dough so that the Nutella/chocolate side faces upward.

Cut the lengths of dough horizontally in half, so you now have four equal strips of dough. Form two pieces of dough into a Twist shape: join the two pieces together at the top, then overlap them in an alternating sequence. Place the dough in the loaf pans and let rise until the dough reaches the top of the pan (1 – 2 hours). Bake for around 40 minutes or until the loaves turn golden brown. Remove from oven and baste with the sugar syrup. The bread is best when served warm.

Famous Chocolate Nutella Babka
Yields 2
A laminated flaky bread filled with Nutella and chocolate (bet you can't eat just once slice)!
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Ingredients
  1. ½ cup warm milk
  2. 1 packet dry yeast (6 grams)
  3. 6 tbsps. softened butter
  4. 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  5. 2 large eggs
  6. 1/s tsp vanilla extract
  7. Pinch salt
  8. 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  9. 1 ½ cups pastry or cake flour
For the laminated dough and chocolate filling
  1. 200 g butter (1 stick plus 5 tablespoons) at cool room temperature
  2. 1 ½ cups Nutella
  3. 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
For the simple syrup
  1. ¾ cup sugar
  2. ½ cup water
Instructions
  1. Add the dry yeast to the warmed milk and let set for a few minutes until dissolved. In a separate bowl, mix together the softened butter and sugar until smooth, then add the eggs, vanilla extract, salt and yeast mixture. Beat with electric beaters until combined. With the electric beaters still running, gradually add the first 2 1/2 cups of flour until the mixture is smooth. After this, it will be more difficult to use the electric beaters, so gradually add the remaining 1 ½ cups of cake flour using a large wooden spoon or by working the flour in with your hands.
  2. Alternatively, you can mix the flour into the dough using a stand mixer with a dough hook, mixing for about 4 minutes until the dough is smooth and has good elasticity.
  3. Knead the dough: turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and form into a rough ball. Take the top part of the dough and stretch and tear it away from you along the work surface, using the heel of your hand. Re-gather the dough into a ball shape, rotate a quarter turn and repeat for about 3 minutes. Set the ball into a floured-bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  4. Chill the dough. Place the dough on a piece of plastic wrap and press it into a rectangular shape about 1 inch thick. Cover with the plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or longer, if possible).
  5. Note: to simplify this recipe, you can skip the step of laminating the dough (below) and proceed to the step of preparing the chocolate filling and forming the dough into a twist shape.
To prepare the laminated (flaky) dough
  1. Prepare the butter. Place the 200 g butter on a piece of parchment paper and beat and mold it into a 7 x 8 inch rectangle using a rolling pin; set aside. Remove the dough from the fridge and on a lightly-floured surface, roll it out into a rectangle measuring 7 x 16 inches, with the short side facing you. Place the butter on the bottom half of the rolled-out dough and use a knife or spatula to spread the butter, leaving a margin of ¼ inch at the bottom. Fold the top half of the dough over the bottom half, pulling the corners so they align perfectly. Turn the dough ¼ turn so that the edges (seams) that were facing the bottom are now facing the right side.
  2. Roll out the dough into a rectangle measuring 9 x 16 inches. Fold the dough into thirds like a 'business letter'- fold the bottom of the dough upwards then fold the top over the bottom so that the edges align perfectly.This is called a ‘Simple Fold.' Turn the dough ¼ turn again so that the edges that were facing the bottom are now facing the right side. Mark this second turn of the dough by making two indentations on the dough with your thumb.This will help you to keep track of the amount of turns you have made. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for 20 minutes. Remove the dough from the fridge and repeat the simple fold process two more times: rolling, folding, turning and refrigerating the dough each time. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for at least 5 hours or overnight.
To prepare the chocolate filling and form into a twist shape
  1. After chilling the dough, roll the dough out into a rectangle about 18 x 10 inches, with the long side facing you. The dough should be slightly less than ¼ inch thick. Spread the Nutella over the dough all the way to the edges, then sprinkle the chocolate chip pieces evenly over the dough. Starting from the bottom edge, roll the dough into a tight cylinder with the seam ending face down. Hold the ends of the dough with both hands and stretch the dough out even a little longer.
  2. Slice the dough in half lengthwise using a serrated bread knife, then slice each part in half cross-wise, leaving you with four pieces of dough about 9 inches long each. To form the twist shapes, join the top ends of two pieces of dough, then alternatively overlap the pieces over each other, forming the twist shape. Place the two Babka twists into the loaf pans, tucking the ends under a little if necessary to make them fit into the pans. Let the loaves rise until the tops rise to the top of the pan (1 – 2 hours). Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 F about 40 minutes, or until the loaves turn a dark brown. If the loves brown too quickly , ‘tent’ them in foil for the remaining cooking time to prevent over-browning them.
  3. While the loaves are baking, prepare the Simple Syrup. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Over medium heat, stir until the mixture boils; reduce the heat and stir for several minutes until the mixture thickens; let cool.
  4. Remove the bread from the oven and brush with the simple syrup while still warm. Use a paring knife to separate the Babkas from the pan edges and turn them out from the pan. Slice and serve either warm or at room temperature.
Notes
  1. Uri Scheft uses loaf pans measuring 9 x 2 3/4 x 2 inches to make Babkas for his bakery. These are pans that normally need to be specially ordered. Instead, I used pans measuring 8 x 4 inches, which worked well.
Adapted from Breaking Breads by Uri Scheft
Adapted from Breaking Breads by Uri Scheft
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Mini Raspberry Cheesecakes

Several years ago, I posted a Mini Cheesecake recipe in honor of my sister, Donna, who passed away on April 3, 2013. That recipe was quite simple, using a vanilla wafer for the bottom ‘crust’ with the mini cheesecakes baked in cupcake wrappers.

When I recently saw this recipe for Mini Raspberry Cheesecakes in Cooking Light magazine, I was inspired to take my cheesecake skills to the next level. This recipe uses a Mini Cheesecake pan (by Chicago Metallic) which yields 12 stunningly cute cheesecakes- and they are easy to lift out too! If you don’t have one of these specialty pans, you could also use a cupcake or muffin pan.

Mini cheesecakes

I decided to use my own simple recipe for the crust, which combines graham cracker crumbs, crushed ginger snaps and melted butter. The cheesecake is baked and then topped with a raspberry purée and several fresh raspberries. You could also use blueberries or strawberries as a substitute.

With Christmas less than two weeks away, these mini cheesecakes would certainly liven up your holiday table!

mini-cheesecake

Mini Raspberry Cheesecakes
Serves 12
Adorable mini cheesecakes topped with fresh raspberries
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Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
1 hr 5 min
Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
1 hr 5 min
Crust
  1. 1 cup Graham Cracker crumbs
  2. 1 cup Ginger Snap cookies, crushed
  3. ½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
Filling
  1. 16 oz. cream cheese (2 packages), softened
  2. ½ cup sugar
  3. ½ cup sour cream
  4. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  5. 1 tsp lemon juice
  6. 2 large eggs
  7. 1 tbsp. white flour
Topping
  1. 3 cups fresh raspberries, divided
  2. 2 tbsps. water
  3. ¼ cup sugar
  4. 1 tbsp. corn starch (mixed with a little water)
  5. Mint leaves (optional)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 325 F (160 C). Coat the inside of the mini cheesecake pan (or muffin pan) with cooking spray.
  2. Combine the Graham Cracker crumbs, crushed Ginger Snap cookies and melted butter in a bowl. Press about 1 tablespoon of the packed ‘dough’ into the bottom of each well, filling it 1/3 of the way up the sides of the well. Set the pan aside while you prepare the filling.
  3. Soften the cream cheese by placing it in the microwave for about 15 seconds (should be softened but not runny). Combine the cream cheese with the sugar, sour cream, vanilla extract, lemon juice, eggs and flower; beat with electric beaters until smooth. Spoon the mixture over the crust, filling to just below the top of each well. Bake for about 20 minutes or until set and slightly puffed (the filling will deflate slightly after you remove the pan from the oven).
  4. To prepare the topping, heat 2 cups of fresh raspberries and 2 tbsps. of water together on the stovetop. Heat for several minutes until the fruit becomes soft and liquidy. Strain the mixture through a fine strainer to remove the raspberry seeds. Make a paste by mixing the corn starch with a little water; add this to the strained raspberries along with the sugar. Heat until the mixture thickens and becomes like a syrup, then let cool.
  5. Remove the mini cheesecakes from the pan onto a serving dish. Top each cheesecake with 1 ½ tablespoons berry syrup and 2-3 fresh raspberries; add a mint leaf, if desired.
Notes
  1. If you don;t have a 12-well Mini Cheesecake pan, you could also use a regular muffin pan. Line the individual wells with baking paper to help lift out the cheesecakes after baking.
Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine
Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Delicious Breakfast Pizza

Is it Pizza or Focaccia?

This Breakfast Pizza is thick and chewy and truly a meal in itself- served with an egg, sausage pieces and a tomato sauce flavored with fire-roasted red bell peppers and a jalapeño chile.

I was inspired by this recipe after thumbing through Uri Scheft’s cookbook Breaking Breads. His recipe for focaccia shows the dough being shaped into a small round circle, instead of a large dimpled rectangle. “Hmm, this looks like pizza to me,” I said to myself. This got me thinking, “What is the difference between focaccia and pizza?”

It turns out that the ingredients for focaccia and pizza are basically the same: flour, water, yeast and a bit of olive oil. However, while pizza is usually rolled out into a thin crust, focaccia is pressed into a thick rectangular shape and allowed to rise before baked in the oven. Also, the ingredients for a pizza (pepperoni, etc) are usually placed on top of the crust while ingredients are usually pressed into the dough for focaccia.

For my recipe, I’ve decided to combine the best of both worlds: a pizza that has a thick and chewy dough like focaccia bread, served with a jalapeño- infused tomato sauce on top.  Whatever you call it- focaccia or pizza- you’ll be starting your day off with a delicious breakfast!

Ingredients

For the Pizza Dough:

  • 7 g dry yeast (1 packet)
  • 325 ml (1 1/3 cups) tepid water
  • 500 g (4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 20 g (3 tbsp) semolina
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 30 ml (3 tbsps.) olive oil
  • Black sesame seeds or poppy seeds for garnish

Directions:

Dissolve the packet of dry yeast in the tepid water. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, semolina, salt and olive oil. Mix with a large spoon until the dough starts to come together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured work surface and knead through a stretch and fold technique. First, grab a hold of 1/3 of the dough and stretch it away from you:

Then fold it back towards you so that the ends meet together. Do a quarter turn of the dough and then repeat for several more minutes.

Place the kneaded dough in a lightly-oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rest until the dough doubles in size. While the dough is rising, prepare the sauce (below):

Ingredients

For the sauce:

  • 1 can (14 oz) canned tomatoes
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • ½ jalapeno or red chilli pepper, diced
  • 1 fire-roasted red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • Salt to taste
  • Garnish: 1 egg + sausage slices for each mini pizza

Directions

Finely chop the onion, garlic cloves and jalapeño pepper. Add some olive oil to a fry pan and cook over medium heat for several minutes until the veggies become soft. Add the tomatoes and roasted bell pepper strips and salt; cook for around 10 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken.

While the sauce is thickening, place a pizza stone on the bottom of a cold oven and pre-heat at 425 F (210 C).

To assemble the pizza:

After the dough has risen, turn it back onto the floured work surface and cut into 6 equal pieces. Stretch one piece of dough into a circle about 5-6 inches in diameter.

Spoon some of the sauce onto the dough, leaving a margin of one inch around the edges of the dough. Arrange 5-6 pieces of the sliced sausage in a circle, then crack an egg in the center. Sprinkle some black sesame seeds or poppy seeds around the edge of the mini pizza. Drizzle with olive oil and some coarse salt. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

Place one mini pizza onto a floured ‘pizza peel’ and slide onto the pre-heated pizza stone (or you could cook two pizzas at a time). Cook for 10-15 minutes until the dough turns crisp and brown. Remove from oven and drizzle with a little more olive oil and course salt.

Note: If you don’t have a pizza stone, place the pizzas on a pizza or baking tray and cook in a pre-heated oven at 425 F.

Thick and Chewy Breakfast Pizza

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Delicious Breakfast Pizza
Serves 6
A thick and chewy breakfast pizza topped with an egg and sausage
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For the Pizza Crust
  1. 7 g dry yeast (1 packet)
  2. 325 ml (1 1/3 cups) tepid water
  3. 500 g (4 cups) all-purpose flour
  4. 20 g (3 tbsps) semolina
  5. 1 tsp salt
  6. 30 ml (3 tbsps.) olive oil
  7. Black sesame seeds or poppy seeds for garnish
For the sauce
  1. 1 can (14 oz) canned tomatoes
  2. ½ onion, chopped
  3. 3 garlic cloves, diced
  4. ½ jalapeno or red chilli pepper, diced
  5. 1 roasted red bell pepper, cut into strips
  6. Salt to taste
For the garnish
  1. 1 egg (for each mini pizza)
  2. 5-6 slices of sausage
To make the dough
  1. Dissolve the packet of dry yeast in the tepid water. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, semolina, salt and olive oil. Mix with a large spoon until the dough starts to come together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured work surface. Knead the dough for several minutes: first grab a hold of 1/3 of the dough and stretch it away from you, then fold it back over towards you so that the ends meet together. Do a quarter turn of the dough and then repeat for several more minutes.
  2. Place the kneaded dough in a lightly-oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rest until the dough doubles in size.
To make the Sauce
  1. Finely chop the onion, garlic cloves and jalapeno pepper. Cook in a fry pan over medium heat for several minutes until the veggies become soft. Add the tomatoes and roasted bell pepper strips and salt; cook for around 10 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken.
  2. While the sauce is thickening, place a pizza stone on the bottom of a cold oven and pre-heat at 425 F (210 C).
To assemble the pizza
  1. After the dough has risen, turn it back onto the floured work surface and cut into 6 equal pieces. Stretch one piece of dough into a circle about 5-6 inches in diameter.
  2. Spoon some of the sauce onto the dough, leaving a margin of one inch around the edges of the dough. Arrange 5-6 pieces of the sliced sausage in a circle, then crack an egg in the center. Sprinkle some black sesame seeds or poppy seeds around the edge of the mini pizza. Drizzle with olive oil and some coarse salt. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
  3. Place one mini pizza onto a floured ‘pizza peel’ and slide onto the pre-heated pizza stone (or you could cook two pizzas at a time). Cook for 10-15 minutes until the dough turns crisp and brown. Remove from oven and drizzle with a little more olive oil and course salt.
Notes
  1. You can also add or substitute other toppings, such as sliced mushrooms or bacon strips
Adapted from 'Breaking Breads' by Uri Scheft
Adapted from 'Breaking Breads' by Uri Scheft
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Cranberry Nut Bread with Crumb Topping

It’s that time of year when fresh cranberries grace the aisles of American supermarkets.  The growing season for cranberries ends in mid-November, so I thought I’d better grab a few bags for myself before they are all gone. After all, I wouldn’t want to miss out on making my annual fresh cranberry recipe (not to mention all the healthy vitamins that cranberries provide)!

To honor the brief fresh cranberry season, I decided to make Cranberry Nut Bread with chopped pecans. This no-yeast bread is easy to make and is flavored with orange zest and orange juice. But to go that one step further, I made a crunchy topping made of finely diced cranberries, orange peel, pecans and butter/brown sugar mixture- a perfect recipe for Fall!

Cranberry Nut Bread with a crunchy topping
Serves 8
Cranberry nut bread flavored with an undercurrent of orange juice and orange peel- with a crumb topping to give an added crunch.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. ¾ cup sugar
  2. 6 tbsp softened butter
  3. 2 cups flour
  4. 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  5. ½ tsp baking soda
  6. 1 tbsp grated orange zest
  7. ½ tsp salt
  8. 1 egg
  9. ¾ cup orange juice
  10. 1 cup coarsely chopped cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  11. ½ cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts preferred)
For the crunchy topping
  1. 3 tbsp pecans or walnuts, finely chopped
  2. 3 tbsps cranberries, finely chopped
  3. Peel from ½ orange, diced
  4. 2 tbsp flour
  5. 2 tbsp brown sugar
  6. 2 tbsp cold butter, cut into pebble-sized cubes
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F (180 C). Cream together the sugar and softened butter using electric beaters. Add the baking powder, baking soda, orange zest, salt, egg and orange juice. Combine until smooth. Coarsely chop the cranberries and nuts either by hand or by food processor (be careful not to over-process), then fold into the mixture. Transfer mixture to a lightly oiled rectangular bread pan.
For the crunchy topping
  1. Finely chop the nuts and cranberries using a food processor. Remove the peel from ½ orange, being careful to avoid the white pithy part, then finely dice. Combine the chopped nuts, cranberries and diced orange peel. Add the flour, brown sugar and cold butter cubes. Using your fingers, work the butter into the mixture. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the cranberry bread dough and bake for around 30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the bread comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/