Let's Eat Sticky Buns All Day Every Day

Here's an idea: let's eat sticky buns, all day every day. Starting right here, right now.

I mean, what would the world be like if we really did eat sticky buns all day everyday? Please, take a moment to dream.

I'm sure that in real life, if you ate sticky buns all day every day, you'd quickly tire of their lightly sweet, yeasty, baked-to-golden perfection, soaked-in-caramel flavor. I'm sure you would. 

But part of me secretly thinks I'd never get tired of sticky buns, even if I ate them for every meal for the rest of my life. 

One of my favorite things about sticky buns is the element of magic in making them. First, you spread the fillings on top of dough then roll it up, jelly-roll style. When you slice the roll, you magically have little cinnamon roll-looking things.

Then, there's the actual baking, which is what defines sticky buns from cinnamon rolls.

Sticky buns are actually baked upside down, sitting pretty in a pool of caramel and nuts or whatever you want. When they're baked, you invert the pan and let the sticky goodness drip over the buns. When you eventually lift the inverted pan, not only are you greeted with an aroma that will make you feel the pure essence of sweet joy, but you find that magically, the goo at the bottom of the pan has been transformed into a decadent topping. 

I hope that you can tell that I really, really love sticky buns. And you know what, I think you will too. I know that there are a lot of recipes out there on the great wide internet, but this one really is worth your time.  A cinnamon-sugar and buttery filling helps round out the flavor, giving the buns a rich, moist texture. But it’s the topping that truly makes them crave-worthy: a thick, homemade salted caramel sauce. I also added chocolate to mine, because WHY NOT.

When you start the morning by baking up a batch of sticky buns like these, you know it’s going to be a great day.

Caramel Sticky Buns 

Prep time: 30 minutes, plus 2 ½ hours rising times Cook time: 30 minutes / Yield: 16 buns / Printable version here

BUNS:

  • 1 ½ cups warm milk
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 packet (0.25 ounces) active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled 
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Filling

  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 

Topping

  • About 1 ½ cups caramel sauce (recipe follows)
  • 1 cup toasted chopped pecans (optional)
  1. Combine the milk, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Let sit until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Mix in the melted butter, egg, and vanilla. Stir until combined.
  3. Add 2 cups of the flour and the salt, and mix until combined.
  4. Continue adding the flour, ½ cup at a time, mixing after each new addition. Keep on adding the flour until the dough becomes thick and while sticky, easy to handle with oiled hands.
  5. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes by hand, slightly less using a dough hook.
  6. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap or a cloth; set in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
  7. Near the end of the cooling period, make the caramel sauce (recipe below). Generously butter two round cake pans. Divide the caramel sauce between the two buttered cake pans. If desired, sprinkle pecans on top of the caramel.
  8. Divide the dough in half, and roll out each portion into a long, skinny rectangle, about 14 by 6 inches.
  9. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl.
  10. Brush the entire surfaces of the rolled-out dough with the remaining melted butter, and then sprinkle each portion evenly with the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Starting with the long side, roll up each rectangle into a roll. Cut each long roll into 8 equal parts. Place one roll in the center of the caramel-lined pan, and place the remaining rolls in a circle around it. Let the rolls rise again until roughly doubled (they will fill out the pan nicely), about 30 minutes.
  11. Position a rack in the middle position of the oven, and one in the lower position. Place a baking sheet on the lower rack, to catch any drips when you bake (I've never had it happen but the caramel can bubble and threaten to make a mess sometimes). Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  12. Bake the pans of buns side by side for 25-30 minutes, rotating at the 15 minute mark, or until golden and cooked through. Once you remove them from the oven, immediately invert the pans onto serving platters, and leave inverted for a few minutes so all of the caramel can drip down on the buns.

Serve, topping with additional nuts or some chocolate if you wanna. 

 

Caramel sauce

Prep time: 10 minutes / Cook time: 30 minutes / Yield: a little over 1 cup

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp salt
  1. Pour the sugar into a large, heavy-bottomed pot with tall sides. Shift the pot side to side to distribute the sugar evenly.
  2. Put the pot over medium-low heat. Stay nearby, but don't stir or shift the sugar. This is a slow, gentle heating, and nothing visual will really happen for a few minutes. Concurrently, you can combine the milk and the vanilla in a heatproof measuring cup, and heat the mixture in the microwave for about 1 minute (this will help lessen the reaction when the liquid hits the hot sugar in a bit).
  3. After several minutes (5-8) you'll see the sugar beginning to liquefy. At this point, use a heatproof rubber spatula to turn the mixture over on itself, moistening the still-dry portions of sugar.
  4. Continue heating. As the sugar warms, it will begin to darken in color, first to a sort of beige and then to a light caramel color. When the sugar has reached a rich, coppery caramel tone, medium-brown but not dark, remove from heat. Now, be ready for some hissing and bubbling as you pour about 1/3 to 1/2 of the milk mixture into the caramel mixture. It will hiss, it may bubble, hardened bits may form, but it shouldn't bubble over the sides of the pot. Once the bubbling has subsided, add the rest of the milk mixture, and return the pot to the burner, and put it on medium-low heat. It is very likely that hardened little boulders of sugar have formed when you added the milk; don’t worry, this is very normal. As you cook the mixture, they will dissolve.
  5. Stir constantly as the mixture cooks. You'll see that the hardened bits begin to shrink and then dissolve. Once the hardened bits have mostly dissolved, stir in the salt.
  6. Cook for about 10 minutes for a thinner caramel sauce, 15-20 minutes for a thicker sauce. Remove from heat when the mixture is about 20% short of how thick you'd like it, because it will thicken more as it cools.  

Do you like sticky buns?

Eat This, Complete Your Life: Baci Cheesecake.

Well, hello. I'd like to introduce you to the new love of your life: Baci-crusted cheesecake. Holy yum. HOLY EVERYTHING. 

A classic cheesecake gets a dandy candy upgrade when paired with melted Baci to create a cheesecake crust unlike any other. Why stop there when you could have some more yum, though? There's homemade whipped cream, chocolate ganache, and (why not) MORE Baci candies on top. 

Now, I take enough yoga classes to know that you shouldn't be looking outside of yourself for joy and happiness, but gosh-darn, this is an object that I promise will bring you joy.

RECIPE HERE.

Giveaway: Win a Copy of CakeSpy's First Book

UPDATE: WINNER! We have a winner. I chose BONNIE's name at random! Here's what she had to say: 
"My favorite go to cookbook is a 1956 edition of Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book Revised and Enlarged Second Editon first printing..I love to collect cook books with pictures and old recipes. I picked up this cook book at a yard sale about 10 years back for 2 dollars. Its a 472 page hard back that i dearly love and use all the time and worth every penny ;) "

Congratulations!

Recently, I got the news that my brilliant little first book, CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life, is going out of print. I wasn't really too sad about it. This book had a good little life: published in 2011, it was featured on the Today Show, was held in Jay & Bob's hands, and someone even requested a copy signed to Natalie Portman and family as a film shoot gift. It even made me some royalties. 

To celebrate my brilliant first book, I'd love to give away a copy, right here on the blog. And let me say right away that while I love Canadian and foreign readers, I don't enjoy paying your shipping rates (respectful sorry!) so this giveaway is for US readers only this time. I'll choose a winner one week from today (so, next Thursday, the...23rd?) at 5pm EST.

To enter to win a copy of my brilliant first book, leave a comment on this post answering this important question:

What is your all-time favorite cookbook and why? 

I'm really curious about what volumes you consider your go-to references for cooking and baking! It's totally fine if it's a savory-focused book, too. 

Let's Make Peanut Butter Fudge in the Microwave

You heard me. Let's get this going in five minutes or less (including prep), shall we? 

Peanut butter fudge in the microwave. It's so easy. It's so decadent, so sweet, so downright naughty. You've got to have it. 

As a side note, I should probably tell you that I really, really love my microwave. It's my go-to kitchen gadget when I feel like experimenting with food. From exploding marshmallows to melting candy, I've had a lot of good times with my microwave. 

But I digress. 

This recipe began in my kitchen when I discovered a similar one on Kirbie's Cravings. I was looking for creative fudge inspiration for an article I was writing, and I loved the idea of peanut butter fudge in the microwave. I've already tackled white chocolate and chocolate varieties in the microwave, so peanut butter seemed like a natural next step.

I made some alterations to the recipe: adjusting the amount of sugar and making it a little flexible because I think that different types of peanut butter will require more or less. I also added a little salt and vanilla, because I like to get fancy like that sometimes.

Recipe note: creamy peanut butter is far easier to mix, but I really don't see why you COULDN'T use crunchy--it would just require a significant amount of added elbow grease. 

If you want a piece of fudge that will remind you of the inside of a peanut butter cup, make this fudge. It really can be yours in less than five minutes, by harnessing the power of microwave science. 

Peanut butter microwave fudge 

Printable version here

1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 sticks unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Line an 8 inch square inch pan with tinfoil, leaving little "arms" extending over the sides of the pan (for easy removal). Generously grease the foil and the sides of the pan. 

In a large, microwave-appropriate bowl, combine the pb and butter (cut into pieces). Cook on HIGH in the microwave for one minute; remove, and stir. Keep cooking in 20 second blasts until the pb and butter are totally melted together.  

Stir in the salt and vanilla and mix to combine. Working with 1 cup at a time (you may no need all the sugar), add the powdered sugar, whisking vigorously to incorporate each addition. Work it into a smooth batter.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and flatten it with the top of a rubber spatula. Let the fudge chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before slicing into squares to serve. 

Ever made something cool in the microwave?

Not As Healthy As You'd Think: Brownies Made With Banana.

These brownies contain banana, but please do not confuse them with health food.

Listen. When you think "banana", you probably think "health food". Or "monkey". One or the other.

What you probably don't think right away is "decadent chocolate dessert". But I am here to tell you that you should think of bananas in such a way moving forward, and here's why: BROWNIES MADE WITH BANANA. 

If you think that last sentence made no sense, you are correct, but this is the way America's youth speaks now, so I am just trying to write in a way that is accessible and cool. Also, unrelated to just about everything, whenever I talk about bananas I think back to this custom piece of artwork I did once:

OK, so back to the brownies. The idea came to me to make these when my sweetheart bought bananas, never ate them, and they turned way too brown to be appetizing. I was totally bored by the idea of banana bread, so I decided I would try some brownies.

I started out with this recipe but departed quite a ways from it, so I would say it was more like a template. 

The way I did it was easy: I basically mashed the bananas, added the wet ingredients, then incorporated a bunch of melted chocolate, the dry ingredients, and folded in some nuts to finish.

When the brownies were baked, they looked about like this. (I added some ganache and more nuts on top).

They were actually pretty crumbly at first, but after chillin' in the fridge for a while they set up fudge-like and dense. 

If you taste these brownies expecting a normal brownie, you will be surprised, because they taste different.

The banana imparts an unusual flavor here: sweet and mellow and rich. The banana seems bright against the dark chocolate, but somehow it works. 

I see the nuts as being key here. Walnuts or pecans are the perfect flavor to bridge the gap between chocolate and banana, acting as a rich complement to both and bringing together the brightness of the banana and the deepness of the chocolate. 

Give these babies a try. Since I put in a bunch of butter, eggs, sugar, and chocolate, there's no way you could call these brownies healthy. But is that the point of a brownie? I think not. Have a treat that happens to contain banana! 

Banana-filled brownies (not health food)

Makes one 9-inch pan of brownies - printable version here

  • 3 ripe bananas (large)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 10 ounces good quality chocolate, melted
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 cup toasted nuts of your choosing 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a 9-inch square pan, then insert a strip of parchment paper with "arms" reaching out the sides for easy removal later.

Mash the bananas in a large bowl. Try to get them nice and smooth.

Add the sugar, melted and cooled butter, eggs, and vanilla. Stir vigorously until combined. The mixture will be thick.

Add the chocolate, and stir vigorously again, until everything is combined. 

Add the flour and salt, and mix GENTLY, only until moistened. Fold in the nuts. 

Turn the mixture out into your prepared pan. 

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the brownies are mostly "set" with the slightest jiggle in the center. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. These brownies actually benefit from some fridge time before slicing for best texture. 

I topped my brownies with a little chocolate ganache and some extra pecans. This is optional. 

Have you ever made a non-banana bread or Hummingbird cake dessert with bananas?

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links

Anyhow, listen to me on an awesome podcast! (The Dinner Special)

Four ingredient homemade Mounds hack. Awesome! (Back for Seconds)

Cake batter fudge recipe showdown. Love it. (Clockwork Lemon)

Mini cheesecake bites featuring hazelnut and chocolate. (Peanut Butter & Co)

OOH! Homemade Lemon Drops. (Southern Fatty)

First donut in space! (Youtube)

This sounds good: avocado ice cream! (Avocado Central

Like brownie meets fudge. (Confessions of a Baking Queen)

How to assemble and fill a piping bag. (Crafty Baking)

Chocolate-banana snack cake. YUM! (Betty Crocker)

Homemade TWINKIES! (CakeSpy for Craftsy)

Speaking of Twinkies....homemade Funfetti Twinkies! (Studio DIY)

Strawberry banana bread. INTO IT. (Warm Vanilla Sugar)

Book of the week: No-Bake Treats: Incredible Unbaked Cheesecakes, Icebox Cakes, Pies, and More. Written by Julianne of Beyond Frosting (OMG go there now), this book is the perfect investment for the summer, and for easy-bake (er, no-bake) desserts. 

CakeSpy for Peanut Butter and Co: Mini Chocmeister Cheesecake Bites

Guess what? My beloved Peanut Butter and Company has debuted a product that is NOT peanut butter. 

It's a chocolate hazelnut spread, and I think that is the perfect product extension for them, don't you? It's called Chocmeister, and it comes in dark and milk chocolate varieties.

I made my love official with a fantastic recipe for mini cheesecakes -- you've got to try this out! The cheesecakes are creamy and rich and have a nice crunchy base. You will enjoy stuffing them in your face, I promise.

Recipe here!

How To Deal With a Cracked Cheesecake

Oh holy crap! You baked up a cheesecake and it has a big fat crack in the middle. How are you ever going to make this treat pin-worthy? Forget breaking the internet, this ugly cheesecake is literally breaking your life.

Source: Flickr

Source: Flickr

Well, guess what. I am here to tell you that all hope is not lost. You do not fail as a food blogger, and you can still make this baby go viral. Here's what you do.

How to Repair a Cracked Cheesecake

Step 1: This is the very most important step. PLEASE READ THIS CAREFULLY. The first thing you need to do to fix a cracked cheesecake is this: CALM THE EFF DOWN. 

Step 2: Are you still panicking? Repeat step 1. 

Step 3: Now that you are calm, run a knife under hot water for about 20 seconds. Make sure it gets nice and warm.

Step 4: Dry off the knife, and use it to manipulate the cheesecake back into a non-cracked form.

Step 5: You may be panicking here because your cheesecake doesn't look beautiful, dammit! DO NOT PANIC. PERFORM STEP ONE AGAIN IF NEEDED. Then proceed.

Step 6: Put something on top of the mangly cheesecake. I suggest chocolate, but if you insist on health food, fruit is fine. Seriously! How boring is cheesecake without a topping? They not only beautify but increase the deliciousness of your cheesecake. Everybody wins. Nobody loses. Nobody who tastes it will sneer at you and call you anything less than Martha Stewart when they have this in their mouth.

Look at that! Your cheesecake is beautiful and delicious. Nobody is going to look at this thing and say "that looks like a cracked and imperfect cheesecake." No sir. They are going to stuff their mouths with the cheesecake that only you in your heart know is a pinterest lie. 

 

Enjoy something sweet today, and without crazy worry or anxiety!

Love, 

CakeSpy 

Like Whoa: Sorghum Marshmallows

What happens when you make marshmallows with sorghum?

Very good things, as I learned in the brand-new book The Southern Cookie Book. This totally awesome book comes at you from the editors of Southern Living, and it is full of not only cookies but all sorts of interesting confections, too--including sorghum marshmallows.

Sorghum syrup is a unique thing--somewhat similar in texture to molasses, but definitely not molasses flavor-wise. It is derived from sorghum grass, a type of cereal grain.

Sorghum itself is pretty fascinating - you can learn more about it here.

The book's description only adds to their appeal: "Pillowy and sweetened with flavorful sorghum syrup, these marshmallows can float atop a mug of cocoa or be wrapped up for holiday giving."

Sorghum Marshmallows

Hands-on 40 min. Total 8 hours, 50 min. / Makes 8 to 9 dozen

ingredients

  • 3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 1⁄2 cup cold water
  • 11⁄2 cups granulated sugar
  • 11⁄4 cups sorghum syrup*
  • 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1⁄4 cup cornstarch
  • 1⁄4 cup powdered sugar
  • Butter
  • Vegetable cooking spray

1. Sprinkle gelatin over 1⁄2 cup cold water in bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer. Stir together granulated sugar, next 2 ingredients, and 1⁄2 cup water in a 41⁄2-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; cover and cook 3 minutes, bringing to a boil. Uncover and boil, stirring often, until syrup thickens and a candy thermometer registers 240°F (about 8 to 12 minutes; lower heat as necessary to prevent mixture from boiling over).

2. Gradually add hot sugar mixture to gelatin mixture, beating mixture at low speed, using whisk attachment, 30 seconds or until blended. Increase speed to high (cover bowl with a towel to prevent splattering); beat 10 to 12 minutes or until mixture cools to room temperature and is thick but still pourable.

3. Whisk together cornstarch and powdered sugar. Dust a buttered 13- x 9-inch baking dish with 1 Tbsp. cornstarch mixture. Pour gelatin mixture into prepared dish; smooth with a lightly greased (with cooking spray) spatula. Dust with 11⁄2 Tbsp. cornstarch mixture. Cover remaining cornstarch mixture tightly, and reserve. Let marshmallow mixture stand, uncovered, in a cool, dry place 8 to 14 hours or until dry enough to release from baking dish and no longer sticky.

4. Invert marshmallow slab onto cutting board; cut into squares (about 1 inch each). Toss squares in reserved cornstarch mixture to coat. Store marshmallows in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 weeks.

*Cane syrup may be substituted for sorghum syrup.

Have you ever made creative marshmallows? 

May 15: National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

It's National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. Hooray! Here's what I suggest you do today.

1: Educate yourself on the chocolate chip cookie.

This timeline really breaks it down in a detailed way.

2. Make some morsels.

Fancy up any chocolate chip cookie with DIY chocolate morsels. You can flavor or tint them as you wish! Plus, bragging rights. 

3. Make some cookies (duh).

I like this recipe, courtesy of BAKED in Brooklyn, but you choose your own adventure, I won't judge.

Happy National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!