coconut-almond sticky buns

I am so excited about this recipe … I honestly did a happy dance the first time I made it.  And then again the second … third … fourth and fifth times I made them.

There’s lots of dancing going on in my little apartment :0)

You might think it’s silly of me to be so excited about sticky bunsBut these aren’t just any sticky buns.  These are THE BEST sticky buns.

No lies.

Why you might ask???

1.  Super easy to make.  I have gotten the “prep” time down to 7 minutes.  Anyone can whip these up first thing in the morning or in a cinch when company unexpectedly arrive.  Or on Christmas morning …

2.  They smell ridiculously delicious while they are baking.  It starts with the smell of toasted coconut & almonds.  And then becomes a sugary sweet spicy doughy loveliness … wanna sell your house?  Bake these!

3.  They taste great.  Who doesn’t love coconut & almond?  Or chocolate & cherry?  Or cranberry & white chocolate?  Yeah … all of those are options … all you need is a little imagination and the perfect sticky bun can be all yours.

4.  You too can have a Martha moment!  I know … I usually shy away from a Martha reference … however in this case … I totally embraced the Martha in me … baking the sticky buns and then placing them in a slightly larger holiday tin.  Holy Martha! 

5.  Holiday hostess gift … check!  Who needs to gift a bottle of wine when you can gift a tin of sticky buns????  I think you want to join in the dancing, lovely smelling, martha madness that these sticky buns can bring to ones life. 

*bakers note: if you don’t have a food processor, this can be done with a handheld mixer or a whisk.  don’t worry about some of the cottage cheese curds – they bake out :0)

*the recipe below is for 1 pan for sticky buns … but I have actually divided the dough in half and made 2 different types at once … just use smaller pans.

coconut – almond sticky buns

ingredients:

1 c. shredded coconut

1/2 c. slivered almonds (or chopped almonds)

* other flavour options: dried cherries & dark chocolate chips, dried cranberries & white chocolate

dough:

3/4 c. cottage cheese (4% is great – but 2% works as well)

1/3 c. buttermilk

1/4 c. sugar

2 oz (4 tbsp) butter, melted

1 tsp vanilla

2 c. flour, extra for rolling

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp b. soda

filling:

1 1/2 tbsp butter, melted

2/3 c. brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp ginger

* you can also swap the nutmeg for cardamon, or use chinese five-spice … just about any spice that catches your fancy

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Spread the coconut and almonds on cookie sheets, and bake until toasted – about 7 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Increase the temperature to your oven to 375 F or 400 F (depending on your oven).  Spray the sides and bottom of a 9 – 10 inch springform pan with non-stick spray.  Set aside.

 In the bowl of your food processor combine the cottage cheese, melted butter, buttermilk, sugar and vanilla.  Pulse until smooth – about 15 seconds.

Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda and pulse until the dough starts to clump together.  It’s pretty sticky.

Done. Scrape the dough out and place it on a very well floured surface.  Knead the dough – about 5 times, you’ll notice how nicely it comes together (and super quickly) … Grab your rolling-pin and roll the dough into a large rectangle. 

Time to use your pastry brush and that second batch of melted butter.

Brush the dough with the melted butter, leaving a 1/2-inch border unbuttered around the edges. 

In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg (or your choice spices): sprinkle the mixture evenly over the buttered surface.  Pat it gently, and then sprinkle the toasted coconut and almond on top.Once filled, roll up the dough.  Start at the long edge, and roll jelly-style.  With a sharp knife, cut the rolled dough into 12 equal pieces (I trim the slight excess dough at each end)Grab your springform pan and gently arrange each piece, cut side up.  Don’t worry if there are small gaps between each sticky bun – you want them to touch slightly. 

Ok … if you’re like me, you might think … both sides are cut sides!  Don’t worry, simply pinch one end and put the pinched end down.  You might notice that some of the almond/coconut mixture falls out … that’s ok, gather it up and then sprinkle the top of the sticky buns prior to baking. Bake until golden and firm to the touch, about 25 – 28 minutes (but there will still have that slightly raw middle … yum).

Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack – about 5 to 10 minutes.  Remove the springform ring, and then transfer the sticky buns – all in one piece – to either a serving plate … or pull a martha and set in a parchment paper lined tin.  

Make a glaze (powdered sugar, lemon juice and a little milk – whisked together) and drizzle it over the buns.  That’ll add that extra hit of sticky to this buns.

Sigh.  I can’t wait to get home and dance my way through another batch :0)

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toffee, coconut oreo squares

MOTHER OF PEARL!

These squares are an absolute delight!

Actually … they are more than simply a delight … These are intensely, wonderfully, richly, decadent, sinfully delicious.

Are you sold on them yet?

How about if I promise that they are super simple to make as well?

Are you excited yet?

You should be. These are dead simple … and a huge bang for their buck.

Think I’m overly confident?

I’m not.

These are GOOD.

I’ve brought these into work twice already … had a request to make a batch for a colleague’s niece; baked them for the Halifax Seaport Market, and then baked another batch for last Friday’s Daytime Ottawa appearance on Roger’s (you can watch it hereskip the first 2 minutes).

Obsessed much? These are worth obsessing about.

Consider these the first of my holiday baking recipes. Swap things in and out as you like – pecans can replace almonds … fudgeos can replace oreos … heck … I bet dolce de leche could replace just regular condensed milk to make these even more intensely amazing.

After playing around with the this recipe a few times I’ve realized that toasting the coconut and nuts is the way to go. It adds another 10 minutes to your baking / prep time … but it’s so well worth the effort. I promise … You won’t regret it … although, I think you just won’t regret making a pan of these.

Nuf said. It’s time for me to share the love and the recipe … and it’s time for you to preheat your oven and gather your ingredients. Lovin’ from the oven awaits!

toffee, coconut oreo squares

ingredients:

1/4 c. butter, melted

2 1/2 rows of oreo cookies, crumbled (use a food processor … it saves loads of time)

1 1/4 c. coconut flakes, toasted

1 c. almonds (or pecans), chopped and toasted

3/4 c. chocolate chips

3/4 c. toffee pieces

300 mL can condensed milk

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Line a square baking pan with parchment paper. You want to ensure that the sides hang over the edges of the pan.

Pour the melted butter directly onto the parchment paper. I know … it seems strange, but it works. Spread it around so that the base of the pan is covered with the melted butter.

Dump the oreo cookie crumbs on-top of the melted butter. Flatten the crumbs evenly over the entire base – I use the bottom of a measuring cup to help flatten the base.

That was the most difficult part of the entire recipe. For realz :0)

Take your toasted coconut and evenly sprinkle it over the oreo cookie crumb base.

Now sprinkle the toasted almonds (or pecans) over the coconut layer.

The chocolate chip layer comes next.

Followed by the toffee pieces.

Time for the second hardest part of the recipe. Combine the condensed milk and vanilla together, and then evenly cover everything. Use a spatula to spread the condensed milk to all 4 corners of the pan.

Bake for 30 – 35 minutes (my oven seems to be a 33 minute bake). You’ll notice that nothing looks very set when you take the pan out of the oven. Don’t worry. It’ll set.

Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes. I find that it’s then best to place the pan in your fridge and allow the squares to cool for another hour. This allows it to firm up enough to be able to cleanly cut into squares.

As usual I lift the entire, uncut lot out of the pan (thank you parchment paper!) … trim off the sides and then cut into equal pieces. You should get at least 16 squares – more if you want to share the love with more people.

Oh .. and those sides … don’t toss them away. Those are your special treat. After all … you need to reward yourself after slaving away in the kitchen :0)

a visit with jenna

Oh what an awesomely fun weekend I had!

I decided to extend my already long weekend and spend 4 days in Halifax / Prospect Village … hanging, laughing and baking with the wonderful, talented and lovely Jenna Durling, aka little red kitsch’n.

After spending 3 weeks together last summer, we decided to do it again.  The only low point … that I had to leave on Sunday morning and couldn’t stay longer.

I have to say … I have a grand ol’ time when I’m cooking & baking with Jenna!  We spend most of the time talking food – ideas … flavours … techniques … what would work … what wouldn’t … what is too “styled” … what we would like to eat … when we would like to eat it …

 And it’s GREAT. 

Plus … Jenna is so inspiring.  She was whipping up her clam chowder while I was chopping up all the vegetables to go into her quinoa salad.  She was enhancing her already insanely delicious wild rice salad (one of the best salads I’ve ever had), while I was making a big batch of lemon curd … and the cupcakes …vanilla, chocolate, carrot and red velvet …

Oh.  Another thing I heart about being in a kitchen with Jenna … we use at least one of my recipes each week at the market.  True.  Over the summer … those peanut butter cookie dough double chocolate brownies … mine.  Those cranberry-lemon-lime-white chocolate mousse squares my idea too. 

This time round I was asked to come up with a cupcake flavour and we made my coconut, toffee oreo cookie bars (recipe to follow … but my co-workers have called them “heaven in a bite”

 Oh yeah … plus I made two hello kitty cakes.  For realz.  One was for Peter from the Fish Shop (he sponsored me for my ride the rideau) … he didn’t ask for anything in particular … but I thought he would find the cake hilarious.  He did.  And he enjoyed eating it as well :0)  And the second ended up being bought by Graham (Gateway Meat Mongers) … he pretty much loved the cake the moment he saw me arrive with it … at 6 am :0)With the pressure of the 5th cupcake flavour on my mind… I decided to go old school.  A classic.  A cupcake that always reminds me of my grandmother (although she never made it as a cupcake).  I actually have her hand-written recipe card on my fridge … a small token to make me smile and remind me of her.

I decided to go ahead with the queen elizabeth cupcake.  Except … with a twist.

You see … usually queen elizabeth cakes are covered with a brown sugar / coconut / cream mixture.  I’ll admit it … it’s delicious.

But not very handy when baking for the market.  We like to pipe the cupcakes on the spot … and spooning the mixture on top of each mini cupcake didn’t really appeal to either Jenna nor I.

So we decided that a sweet cream cheese frosting would still compliment the spicy cake.

And since it’s a queen elizabeth cake … we decided to colour the frosting with a little teal food colouring … more regal looking … don’t you think?

The result … an adorable little cupcake topped with some sprinkles.  And it tasted pretty awesome- a little spicy since I added cinnamon and nutmeg to my grandmother’s original recipe.

It turns out that I still had these cupcakes on my mind when I got home on Sunday afternoon.  Since I already had the dates in my pantry, I figured it’d be nice to make another batch.  Only this time … I figured I could twist the recipe up again: I decided to incorporate the brown sugar and the coconut into the cake batter.

spicy queen elizabeth cupcakes

ingredients:

1 c. dates, chopped

1 tsp baking soda

1 c. water

1/4 c. butter, room temperature

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. white sugar

1 egg

1 tbsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 1/2 c. flour

1 c. flaked coconut, toasted

1 batch teal coloured, cream cheese frosting

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  This batter will make a 9-inch round cake, or 5 dozen mini cupcakes, or 2 dozen regular cupcakes.  Line your cupcake pans with liners.  Set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the water and chopped dates to a boil – you want them to boil down and thicken (and the water to evaporate).  Stir so that they don’t stick to the bottom (lower the heat if you need too).  Then add the baking soda.  It’ll bubble.  Awesome.

Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool (I never let it get to room temperature … but I do let it cool about 10 minutes).

In the bowl of your stand-mixer, beat together the butter and sugar.  You want it to become pretty fluffy … so this should take about 5 minutes.  Add the egg, continue to beat at medium speed.  Then add the vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. 

Add the date mixture to the batter, increase the speed to medium and beat until everything is incorporated.

Reduce the speed of the mixer and slowly add the flour until everything is just barely blended.  Turn off the mixer and fold in the toasted flaked coconut with a spatula.Spoon the mixture into a piping bag – this allows you to fill the mini cupcake liners mush faster and easier than if you have to spoon them into each paper liner individually.  If you are making regular sized cupcakes, use an ice cream scoop, and if a 9-inch pan, simply pour the batter directly into your pan (previously sprayed with non-stick pam).

Baking time will obviously depend on what you are making.  Mini cupcakes should be done in 13 minutes.  Regular in 17 minutes, and a cake can take anywhere from 25 to 32 minutes.  You want the top of the cake to bounce back when you gently press on it.  It’s a pretty moist cake, so don’t worry if it seems a little under-done.  No one likes a dry cupcake (or cake).

If making cupcakes, remove the pans from the oven and immediately take the cupcakes out of the pan and cool on a wire rack.  If you baked a cake, allow it to sit in the pan for 10 minutes and then run a metal spatula around the sides and turn it over onto a wire rack to cool.

Cool completely.Spoon your frosting into a piping bag and pipe a little on each cupcake.  I like the look of the star tip … but it would look good with a large round tip as well! 

The best way to describe these cupcakes … “they taste like a hug from your grandmother feels …” Comfort baking at its best (and yes… you can quote me on that).