Sunday, April 27, 2014

Eggs Shanghai

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I have been dreaming about this month's Creative Cooking Crew challenge for months and when it was finally presented I knew exactly what I wanted to make.


I have been brainstorming this Asian inspired Eggs Benedict recipe for well over a year now, no joke. I have been racking my brain, going back and forth over ideas for each component to put together what I thought would be the best version of Eggs Benedict inspired by Asian (in this case Chinese) flavors.


My original idea started with miniature scallion pancakes, a mysterious filling which I could never fully decide upon, poached eggs, and then Sriracha Hollandaise. I consider both veggie and meat filling ideas and even starting planning an idea of making an Okinawan purple sweet potato and char siu (Chinese BBQ pork) hash, but then thought having a potato hash on top of a scallion pancake would be too much starch (and my heart was set on the scallion pancake so the hash would have to go--for now).


Then I thought of just sticking to plain char siu, and decided I would make some char siu pork tenderloin because it would cook quickly, be lean and tender, and be perfectly round (sort of), fairly reminiscent of the good old Canadian bacon that is so common for Eggs Benedict. But then Sriracha Hollandaise just didn't make sense with the char siu.


I oped for a Hoisin Hollandaise instead to tie in some of the BBQ flavors from the pork's marinade. This idea actually reminded me a bit of the American-Chinese version of moo shu pork, which actually features pork with hoisin sauce served with moo shu pancakes. This would be my spin on all of these things combined :) All in the name of culinary creativity!


My brainstormed dish turned out just as awesome as I had hoped it would be. Please note, it was a tad difficult to cut because the scallion pancake is crisp and chewy (as it's meant to be!) so use a very sharp knife to make cutting easier. This is not the time or place for a butter knife. Break out the steak knives!


Also, I know 5 servings is a little weird, but to get the perfect size scallion pancakes with the basic recipe I use, making 10 yields the best size. If you don't want 5 servings, simply poach enough eggs for as many servings as you want and distribute the Hollandaise as desired, using a bit more per serving. Eat the extra scallion pancakes along with the leftover pork (oh yeah, you'll have extra of that too, but it's so delicious you will wish you had made even more!).


Between the chewy scallion pancake, the sweet and tender pork, the perfectly yolky poached egg, and the Hoisin infused Hollandaise, this truly is the perfect Asian inspired Eggs Benedict I could have imagined. It's definitely everything I hoped it would be, and more! I'm looking forward to trying some more International Eggs Benedict creations. I'm thinking an Indian version might be next on the list... Eggs Masala has a nice ring to it ;-) I considered calling this current recipe Eggs Hong Kong or Eggs Canton as it is more regionally correct for my use of char siu, but I think Eggs Shanghai just sounds better, don't you?


Please check out the round up of Creative Cooking Crew breakfast recipes at Lazaro Cooks this week!


Eggs Shanghai
Serves 5

Char Siu Pork Tenderloin:
1 (1 to 1 1/4 lb.) pork tenderloin, trimmed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar (light or dark is fine)
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder

Miniature Scallion Pancakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting the board
1/2 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons cold water
4 scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)
2 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
Kosher salt
2 to 4 tablespoons peanut, canola, or vegetable oil

Hoisin Hollandaise Sauce:
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons water, plus more as needed
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and clarified
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
Kosher salt

Assembly:
10 large eggs
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

To make the char siu: Place the trimmed pork tenderloin in a large resealable plastic freezer bag. In a medium bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients to create the marinade. Reserve 6 tablespoons of the marinade in another resealable container and pour the remaining marinade into the bag with the pork. Gently squeeze out the excess air from the bag and seal it and place the sealed bag on a plate or small tray in case anything drips or leaks out. Allow the pork to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to overnight, flipping the bag over occasionally to distribute the marinade.

Remove the pork from the fridge 45 minutes before cooking. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a flat roasting rack on the baking sheet. Lightly grease the rack and then place the pork on top of it. Discard the used marinade. Roast the pork, basting it with fresh marinade every 5 minutes for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until the pork registers an internal temperature of about 140 to 145 degrees F (145 is required by the USDA for food safety, but it can be slightly undercooked as I did for a pinker center).

Remove the pork from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing it into 1/2-inch thick slices for serving. You will have more pork than you need for the Benedicts.

To make the scallion pancakes: Add the flour to a large bowl and make a well. Stir in the boiling water until well blended, then add the cold water and mix. Bring the dough together and knead on a lightly floured surface for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the dough is firm and elastic. Form the dough into a ball, dust with flour, and wrap in plastic wrap or place in a zip-top bag and seal, pressing out excess air. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Cover a baking sheet with several layers of paper towels and set it aside.

Divide the dough into 10 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one piece of dough into a 4 1/2-inch circle. Brush 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil on the dough within 1/4 inch of the edge. Sprinkle with pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of the scallions, then lightly press the salt and scallions into the dough.

Fold the dough in thirds (like a letter, even though the dough is round and not a square) and pinch the ends closed. Roll up the dough loosely from one short end, like a jelly roll, and pinch the edge closed. Turn the coil round side up, dust a little flour on it, flatten it slightly with your fingers and roll it into a 3-inch circle (this can be a little messy, squeezing scallions out of the sides). Repeat with the remaining dough and filling ingredients. Reserve the remaining scallions for garnish.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat and add 1 to 2 tablespoons oil (just enough to coat the bottom evenly). When it is almost smoking, place several pancakes in the skillet and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, turning once, until golden brown. Add more oil to the skillet when you turn the pancake, if needed. Lift an edge occasionally to check for over-browning and adjust the heat if necessary. Cook the remaining pancakes in batches and keep them warm in the preheated oven as needed.

To make the Hoisin Hollandaise: Fill a saucepan with a couple inches of water and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. In a medium stainless steel bowl (that will fit comfortably over the saucepan without touching the water), whisk the egg yolks with the lemon juice and water.

Place the bowl on top of the saucepan and continue to whisk constantly. Use a potholder, if necessary, to hold the bowl with your other hand, as it will heat up from the steam beneath. Lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and steam. You do not want to curdle the eggs. After a couple minutes of whisking, the eggs will start to thicken and become creamy. Remove the bowl occasionally from the heat source to keep the temperature from getting too high. Continue to whisk off the heat and then place the bowl back onto the saucepan (you can keep going back and forth throughout the process to maintain a stable and comfortable heat).

When the eggs have thickened a bit, you can start to add the butter in a thin, steady stream while continuing to whisk. Slowly the butter should emulsify into the egg mixture. Feel free to take short breaks to remove the bowl from the heat and continue whisking. Be gentle with your Hollandaise; too much heat can cause the eggs to curdle or the sauce to break. Continue whisking in the butter until it is completely emulsified and the sauce is thick (fyi: the more butter you add, the thicker the mixture will get). Whisk in the Hoisin sauce and adjust seasoning with salt. Keep the sauce over the double-boiler on low heat, whisking occasionally, until needed. If it thickens too much as it sits, whisk in room temperature water by the tablespoonful until it thins out to your desired consistency (vigorously whisking in water is also a great trick to fix a broken Hollandaise).

To poach the eggs: Fill a medium to large, shallow saucepan (I use a nonstick one in case the eggs sink and want to stick) about halfway with water. Add the vinegar and bring to a simmer over medium heat (you can get the water going while prepping the other components).

Crack 1 egg into a small bowl. If you have several small bowls on hand and don't mind getting them dirty, it saves some time to crack an egg into each bowl and have them all ready in advance. If not, you can do one at a time, reusing the same bowl. When the water is simmering, but not boiling, gently lower 1 egg at a time into the water.

If you feel confident, add more eggs, one at a time, into the simmering water. Just remember the order in which you add the eggs so you can remove them in the same order. Each egg should take about 3 minutes. The whites should be cooked through but the yolks should remain runny. When you remove an egg with a slotted spoon, it should feel fairly firm right where the white meets the yolk, but it should still have some give when you move closer to the yolk. Remove each egg with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel if you'd like to soak up a bit of the water.

To assemble: Place 2 miniature scallion pancakes on each plate and top each with a slice of pork, followed by a poached egg, and then drizzle a spoonful of the Hoisin Hollandaise over the top, followed by some of the leftover sliced scallions to garnish. Serve immediately.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Modern: Revisiting a Culinary Gem

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Last summer I had the privilege of dining at The Modern, the Michelin Starred, Danny Meyer-owned restaurant adjacent to the Museum of Modern Art. It was an unforgettable experience that I was more than happy to share with my readers. The Modern features an ever-changing prix fixe menu in the dining room, and thus returning time and time again is an excellent idea to continue sampling the culinary delights.

The booths are designed to have space all around the back so servers can easily access all diners to present them with their dishes. Modern and useful too!

Just one week ago, I joined a couple friends for lunch and our gastronomic adventure was just as pleasurable as the last. I will note that the prices have increased since one year ago. Currently the prices for a three course meal is $62, while four courses will cost $76. The quality, however, is still on par with the meal I enjoyed last year, and I still feel it it worth the price tag (more than worth it, in fact).

Iced Tea $6

On this particular occasion, our meal began with an amuse bouche in the form of a soup. It was a silky and delicate English sweet pea soup with smoked sturgeon and creme fraiche along with a thin bread crisp which our server suggested we break up into the soup to enjoy. The soup was spectacular and easily could have warranted seconds and thirds if allowed. The smoked sturgeon and creme fraiche were featured as small quenelles off to one side and together with the soup added a smokiness and creaminess, which was offset by the crisp bits of bread. This was a stunning tribute to spring and an excellent way to begin the meal.


The bread service was exactly the same as what we had a year ago, and it was just as lovely. Offerings of miniature olive baguettes, cranberry-pecan baguettes, and French b√Ętards were served alongside goat's milk and cow's milk butters.


The crackly crusts and luscious butters easily make the bread service at The Modern one of my all-time favorites. It is a well-executed bread service in both flavor and appearance. I'll never get over how neat the modern-looking glass serving vessel and marble slabs for the butter accent the super modern theme of this space.


Between the three diners we selected three different starters, all from the hot first course portion of the menu (as opposed to cold first courses). The first was the Sauteed Potato Gnocchi with Green Garlic, Sweet Shrimp, and Horseradish. The gnocchi themselves were perfect little orbs that tasted as light as air. These would be the perfect standard to measure all other gnocchi to. The colorful plate also featured succulent shrimp and bright greens that finished off this perfect spring starter.


The next option we tried was the Roasted Foie Gras and Diver Scallop with Broccoli, Sage, and Passion Fruit. The foie gras itself was meltingly tender and oh so luscious. Along with the tartness of the passion fruit which cut through the richness, it was a perfect pairing. The sweet scallop was another excellent foil to the foie, and the herbaceous notes in the sauce along with the lone broccoli flower add a clean and bright layer to an otherwise potentially rich first course.


We also order the Black Bass Gratinee with Bouchot Mussels and Pimento Glaze. The black bass was featured in three small pieces, one of which was breaded on one side. Each piece was barely undercooked to maintain the tender integrity of this fresh fish. The bright pimento glaze was also paired with a fresh herb puree and melted onions (or were they leeks--I can't remember, but they were in the onion family) which accompanied each perfectly cooked mussel. When I say these mussels were the most tender mussels I've ever eaten in my life, I speak the truth. I will never eat another mussel without finding it disappointing in comparison. I believe that all other mussels were ruined for me by the absolute perfection and euphoria I discovered while eating those included in this dish.


For her main course, one of my dining companions selected the Slow-Roasted Pork with Sopressata, Almond, and Tomato Vierge. The pork itself was present in a couple ways, and I must say from the small taste I had of her dish the skin on the pork was insanely crispy. Like a cracker. I'm not sure I've ever had pork fat so crispy while still being attached to the pork. This wasn't my entree, but the small tastes I tried were delicious, and my friend was very pleased by her choice.


My other dining companion and I both selected the Herb-Roasted Beef with Short Rib Tortellini, Bitter Greens, and Black Truffle. The black truffle sauce was served table side, but the dish also featured a very decadent red wine sauce. The beef itself had a lovely and crispy bread crumb crust which I'm happy to report did not disintegrate when I started to cut into my beef (which by the way was cooked absolutely perfectly).


Both the red wine and truffle sauces were stunning accessories to the piece de resistance--the beef. Two mouthwatering short rib tortellini garnished the plate along with crispy bitter greens, which added a lovely bit of texture and color to the dish. I don't have a single complaint about this dish. It was one of the most thoughtful beef dishes I think I've ever had, so much more than meat and potatoes.


For desserts, a couple of us ordered desserts we had tried on the previous visit--the Caramel Parfait and the Milk Chocolate Dacquoise. I am thus not including photos and reviews of these two because I've already done that in my previous post (PS they are both AMAZING!). The third dessert we tried was the Calvados Baba with Apple Tatin and Vanilla Ice Cream. The baba itself was so insanely moist I think it was made with actual clouds. The apples were lovely and perfectly spiced. An excellent addition to this comforting dessert. I would happily try it again.


As our final farewell, in typical Modern fashion, we were presented with a couple cookies, chocolates, and some fruit gelee.


Once again, I'm blown away by the delicious food and superior service at The Modern. It will continue to be one of few New York City restaurants at the top of my list for infinite returns because of the quality of the food, reliability of the service, attention to detail, and seasonality of the menu. Thanks again for a lovely and unforgettable lunch.

The Modern
9 W 53rd Street
New York, NY 10019
www.themodernnyc.com

Monday, April 21, 2014

Dominique Ansel Bakery: The Cronut Adventure Continues

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Last October I made my first pilgrimage to Dominique Ansel Bakery to try the pastry that has taken the world by storm: the Cronut. There are many imitations available these days, and I haven't tried any of them. Thus far I've only stuck to the real deal, and although they can be difficult to attain, I still believe they are worth it.


On my last visit,  I arrived at 6:45 am and didn't get my hands on a Cronut until about 10 am (2 hours after the bakery opens). This past week, my friend and I arrived at 6 am sharp and were 3rd and 4th in line. It was also much colder than my previous visit, and thus perhaps deterred some people from showing up that early. 


The line still extended far beyond the street corner by the time the bakery opened. Waiting only 2 hours in line is much better than the alternative, even though it was chilly, we got through the door right when they opened, and that's something I would hope to repeat on future visits.


Just as before, previous to opening, we were treated to still-warm freshly baked baked mini madeleines with a light lemon flavor. They are perfection and even tempted me to purchase more from the bakery once inside. 


On this particular occasion, since the temperature was in the 30's during our early morning wait, another staff member also brought out small paper cups of hot chocolate to hold us over. It was another truly thoughtful treat from the staff, a huge thank you to their fans for braving the cold for a taste of the world's most famous pastry. 


Although in my personal opinion the hot chocolate could have been richer (it was a bit runnier than comparable homemade hot chocolates), it was good since it was free. If the hot chocolate they sell is the same as this, I'd probably pass.



Did I mention that Dominique Ansel himself actually held the bakery door open for us when we were allowed inside? I had heard that he is really friendly and down-to-Earth, and now I've seen it with my own eyes.


He happily posed for a photo with me, and later I snapped off several pictures of him piping filling into trays of Cronuts along with other staff members. 



Although April is nearly over, I am happy to share my thoughts on the Cronut flavor for this month: Passion Fruit-Caramelia. Each Cronut is filled with passion fruit puree and caramelia (caramelized milk chocolate), tossed in cocoa nib sugar, topped with a passion fruit glaze and garnished to cocoa nibs. 


April's Cronut flavor was as delicious as I've come to expect based on my previous visit in October (which featured an apple-themed flavor). The Cronut itself is crisp on the outside with buttery layers within, easy to pull apart and eat layer-by-layer if you prefer. The tart passion fruit puree foils the rich and creamy delicately chocolatey caramelia.

Passion Fruit-Caramelia Cronut $5

It's crispy and chewy, sweet and tart. What I love most about Cronuts is their perfectly balanced and complex flavor profiles. From my limited experience I've noted that they tend to have not one by two fillings, a flavored sugar, a glaze, and a garnish. And every month is different! One of the girls ahead of us in line told us that she waits in line once a month to try the Cronut of the month. I envy her. If I could I would too!


As much as I loved the Cronut I tried in October, I perhaps enjoyed April's flavor even more! It really wasn't very chocolatey--the caramelia only features a delicate chocolate note and the cocoa nib in the sugar and as the ganish is also quite minimal. Passion fruit is the main attraction here with chocolate taking a back seat for sure. And yet it is a perfect marriage. 


Like last time, I couldn't resist trying the Perfect Little Egg Sandwich. It is truly perfect as the name states. The bun is buttery, crispy, and flaky, while the souffleed egg is fluffy and light, perfectly seasoned, and simply topped with melted Swiss-style cheese (I think Gruyere?) and some herbs. My friend isn't much a savory breakfast person but agreed that this egg sandwich is worth the hype. I can't imagine a Cronut breakfast not preceded with this delicious sandwich!

The Perfect Little Egg Sandwich $5

We also tried the DKA again, which is Dominique Ansel's version of a Kouign Amann, a buttery and sugary laminated pastry. It can easily hold its own next to a Cronut.

DKA: Dominique's Kouign Amann $5.25

This is another treat I can't imagine indulging in on future visits to Dominique Ansel Bakery. It's crisp and sweet on the outside with caramelized sugar all around, and buttery and delicate on the inside. Perfection. I have a recipe I've been meaning to try... I hope it lives up this precedent. Stay tuned!



Finally, we also decided to try the Chausson aux Pommes, or apple turnover. Super flaky puff pastry is wrapped around a not-too-sweet apple filling and then dusted with powdered sugar. It's light-years ahead of typical apple turnovers from just about any standard bakery.

Chausson aux Pommes $4

The homemade puff pastry dough is the key here, and along with the slightly tart apple filling, this is certainly French and not an overly sweet American adaptation. Very well done.


I have loved both visits to Dominique Ansel Bakery (even with the freezing temperatures this time around) and would gladly return at the crack of dawn for more Cronuts, or really any time of day to try many of the other pastries offered there. Not only has every bite of food been exquisite, but the staff is friendly and warm, and Chef Dominique Ansel himself is down-to-Earth and humble, especially after all his fame and success. I will be back!


Dominique Ansel Bakery
189 Spring Street
(between Thompson St and Sullivan St)
New York, NY 10012
(212) 219-2773
dominiqueansel.com


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Sweet and Vicious: Salvation Cinnamon Rolls

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Once upon a time in 2011 a food blogger received a review copy of The Whole Hog Cookbook by Libbie Summers, and the rest is history. She read the book from cover to cover, interviewed the author over the phone, waxed poetic about her love for the book on her blog (on multiple occasions) and was even invited to the cookbook release party in New York City where she got to meet the fabulous and fashionable Libbie Summers, who was just as awesome (yet super down to Earth) as she appeared to be in her rocking debut cookbook.


Fast forward to 2014 and the release of Summers' sophomore book Sweet and Vicious. This highly anticipated followup focuses on baking, using the same fun and creative outlook as its predecessor. Libbie's hilarious stories are still prevalent throughout the book, as are the outstanding photos by Libbie's partner in crime, Chia Chong. In fact, the two of them created the award-winning food blog Salted and Styled. This is a partnership I hope never ends.


First things first... the book itself... the edges of all of the pages... are tinted PINK! HOT PINK! That's pretty vicious for a cookbook. Way outside of the box. This is not your typical baking book. It marches to the beat of its own drummer... and I LOVE it. The pages within intend to inspire readers and bakers to be fearless and creative.


Chapters range from more traditional-sounding subjects like cakes, pies, and cookies to one devoted to canine goods. Yup, there are even treats in here for your pup! Equal love for all!


Libbie has a true talent not only for creating thoughtful and delicious baked goods but also for coming up with hilarious titles for many of them. I was literally laughing out loud as I read through the book. Napoleon Bread refers to "a shorter baguette." Get it? It's short and it's French... like Napoleon. HA! How about Libbie's take on fortune cookies. She calls them Backhanded Compliment Cookies and even suggests a list of backhanded compliments to use in the cookies.

Making layers for my Pull-Apart Stinky Italian Boy Bread

And instead of typical gingerbread men or women, she offers a stencil and recipe to make Retired Gingerbread Working Girls. Oh snap. She went there. Flat-Chested Flat Bread, Pull-Apart Boy Bread (because boys have many layers... like this bread), and Angry Bird Hand Pies (Buffalo chicken pasties) are just a few more examples of her playful attitude toward baking. And the recipes live up to the standard I've come to expect from Libbie. There really is more substance to them than funny titles; I'm just pointing out the hilarity because, well, they're too funny not to!


She also includes lots of recipes in her Secret Weapons chapter for homemade extracts, infused sugars, and more. Sweet and Vicious is the complete package. It offers an arsenal of recipes for "baking with attitude" with lots of glorious photos and tips. I do wish that since it's a baking book it included weight measurements in addition to volume measurements. Many baking books these days tend to include both, as more people (even non-professionals) are starting to bake this way, but it's still not officially the standard (at least not in the US) and I'm happy with these recipes regardless.


My only real concern when perusing this lovely cookbook is deciding which recipe(s) to attempt first. There are too many to consider, but I've done my best to narrow down my selection. I decided to start with a couple recipes, one from the Sweet Breads and Pastries chapter and one from Savory Breads... Salvation Cinnamon Rolls and Pull-Apart Stinky Italian Boy Bread respectively.


The Pull-Apart Boy Bread has 5 variations for filling options. I made the one called Stinky Italian Boy which consists of mashed garlic confit, Italian herbs (I just used Italian parsley), and Parmesan cheese (I used Pecorino Romano). I also added some crushed chili flakes for heat. The recipe is pretty rich (the dough itself is much like a biscuit dough--very buttery) and layered with lots of incredible flavors. This particular version reminded me of super pimped out garlic bread. It was really easy to make and I look forward to trying some of the other variations in the future. It's also good to know this is not yeast-based so it's a lot faster to prepare than some of the other breads in the book.


Speaking of yeast, the other recipe I tested DID contain yeast and required a bit more of my time and attention. This is the recipe I've actually decided to share with you today, because it yielded some of the best cinnamon rolls I've ever had the pleasure of stuffing into my face. The filling contains a combination of brown sugar, cinnamon and a hit of cayenne to just give a mellow note of heat.

Before proofing

The frosting (mine was more like a glaze, though it would have firmed up if needed after a few minutes in the fridge) is a caramel cream cheese version that really takes these rolls to another world. I've halved the original frosting recipe here and even then, I think it will be more than you actually need to frost/glaze these rolls.

After proofing

I baked half these rolls the day I made them and have frozen the remaining rolls to bake one of these upcoming weekends. Even though they require a bit of extra TLC (just like anything made with yeast), they are really easy to prepare. Please note, you have to roll the dough out into a pretty large rectangle (2 feet long). Even my giant Boos Block cutting board wasn't big enough, so I actually lined up 2 boards flush side by side to roll it out over (although you could use your kitchen counter or table as well).

Fresh out of the oven!

The dough is rich and buttery with a super-cinnamony filling featuring just a touch of background heat every once in a while. You may not even realize the cayenne is there with every bite, but every once in a while you feel a little tingle. If you want these rolls to have more of a kick, add a dash of cayenne to the frosting as well.


This is definitely a special occasion treat, not only by the effort involved, but the sheer amount of butter per square inch on these babies. Libbie calls for 1 1/2 sticks to spread on the dough, but I used a bit less than that (I cheated and used some of it for greasing my bowl/pan instead of using extra butter for that) and even then thought what remained was more than I needed to generously cover the dough. Just something to note!


As expected, I can wholeheartedly recommend this lovely and edgy cookbook. Both recipes I've tried so far (and I guarantee there will be more soon) have hit the mark on all levels. If you love to bake and you're looking for some new and inventive ways to heat up your kitchen, Sweet and Vicious is the book for you.

Angry Bird Hand Pies

Salvation Cinnamon Rolls
Yields 12 large rolls
(Adapted from Sweet and Vicious)

Dough:
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing (I honestly think 1/2 cup would be enough for spreading on the dough instead of the full 3/4 cup in the original recipe)
1 cup warm milk
1/4 cup warm water, or more if needed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon instant active dry yeast (I used regular dry active yeast and just bloomed it in the warm milk/water before mixing into the dough)
2 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
5 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting

Hellfire Filling:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
4 to 5 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cayenne

Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste

To make the dough: Butter the inside of a large mixing bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the milk, water, vanilla, 1/2 cup butter, the yeast (if using dry active yeast instead of instant make sure you bloom it for a few minutes in the warm milk/water until it dissolves), eggs, salt, sugar, and flour and mix for 4 to 5 minutes, until a soft elastic dough forms. The dough should be slightly tacky to the touch. If the dough is too dry, add warm water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue to mix the dough for 5 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in the prepared mixing bowl, turning once to ensure that both sides are buttered, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until it has doubled in size.

Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and set aside (I only baked off 6 of these and froze the other 6 so I used a round 9-inch cake pan instead).

To make the hellfire filling: In a small mixing bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and cayenne and set aside.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out to a 16-by-24-inch rectangle. Use your hands to spread the remaining 3/4 cup butter (I honestly think 1/2 cup should be enough for this step) over the top of the dough, making sure to butter all the way to the edges. Sprinkle the filling evenly over the butter. Starting with the long side, roll the dough into a slightly loose long log (rolling the dough too tightly will make the centers of the rolls pop up with baking). Pinch the seam to seal.

Using a serrated knife, cut the log into twelve equal-width rolls and place them on the prepared baking pan, spacing the rolls so they do not touch. (At this point you can cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight. Allow about 1 1/2 hours for the rolls to double in size once you remove them from the refrigerator). Cover the pan and place it in a warm place for 1 hour, or until the rolls have doubled in size.

To make the caramel cream cheese frosting: In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Stir in the brown sugar and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and stir in the milk. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the cooled caramel mixture and beat until combined. Add the confectioners' sugar 1 cup at a time, beating until each addition is incorporated before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla paste and beat for 1 minute. Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 10 days or frozen for up to 3 months. When you are ready to use, bring to room temperature and beat until creamy, adding a little confectioners' sugar if needed to make it creamy again.

To bake the rolls: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake the rolls for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before topping with the frosting. Serve warm.

*Note* These rolls freeze brilliantly. After you have cut them into twelve equal rolls, lay them flat in a zip-top bag and freeze.

*Disclaimer* I received no compensation to write this review other than a free copy of the book. My opinions are always my own.

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