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Recently a friend asked me where a certain photo was taken.  The answer was Nottoway Plantation, an amazingly beautiful plantation about an hour and a half outside of New Orleans.  I started getting nostalgic for my trip to NOLA with The Boy back in May, so I thought, hey, maybe there will be something good in my Louisiana cookbook to bake!

Sadly, the answer is “no.”  As it turns out, Louisiana cooking (all creme sauces and crawfish, all the time!) doesn’t translate well to baking.  (But wasn’t it fun to see a pretty picture of us at an amazing plantation house?)

So I got to thinking about things I haven’t made in a while.  Two recipes sprang to mind: Triple Chocolate Chubbies (get your mind out of the gutter, folks), and cinnamon rolls.  I couldn’t choose which to make, so…I decided to make both!

This is not to say that making both was not without its challenges.  See, yesterday was the day before I (willingly) ran the Portland Marathon.  So it was supposed to be a Mandatory Lazy Day.  But I do not do lazy well.  Makes me a good lawyer, but a terrible pre-marathon rester.

Anyway, I did the majority of the hard work (making the rolls and making the dough) yesterday.  Thanks to help from The Boy and from my lovely KitchenAid mixer (the praises of which I have already sung here), I was able to have A Baking Double Header and still get (most of) the rest I needed pre-race day.

Triple Chocolate Chubbies

First on the agenda were the Triple Chocolate Chubbies, which come from the Mother’s Best cookbook.  The cookbook is by Lisa Schroeder, owner of one of my favorite restaurants in Portland, Mother’s Bistro & Bar.  Everyone who comes to Portland should eat at Mother’s, and everyone on earth should have the Mother’s Best cookbook.  Seriously, this cookbook is my go-to, for everything from breakfast to dinner to dessert.

Aptly named, the Triple Chocolate Chubbies have a lot of chocolate in them–three types, to be exact.  The recipe calls for twice as much semisweet as dark chocolate, but we love our dark chocolate, so I simply use one bar each of semisweet and dark.  And like always, for the chips I use my trusty giganto bag from Costco.  The two baking chocolates  and some butter are melted in a double boiler on the stove (makeshift with a smaller pot in a larger pot of simmering water, if you must), creating a delicious vat of yumminess.  If it weren’t for being so rich, I’m pretty sure we would have eaten it all, straight from the pot.

Not much more than eggs, sugar, the chocolate, and a smidge of flour go into these tasty treats. But one thing The Boy encouraged me to do was try adding a little cayenne pepper to the chocolate, since we like spicy.  It came out superb.

If you want the recipe–and you know you do–grab a copy of the Mother’s Best cookbook.  You won’t regret it, particularly when you see all the other amazing recipes in there!!

Cinnamon Rolls

I think I made The Boy’s millennium when I said I was making Triple Chocolate Chubbies and cinnamon rolls.  I got hooked on these when an old roommate of mine made them, and of course I’ve since added my own little twists.  We like them for breakfast, The Bestie and my nieces like them for dessert–really, when can you go wrong with a delicious, not-from-a-tube, made-from-scratch cinnamon roll?

Here’s what you’ll need:

Dough:

  • 1 cup evaporated milk (I use lowfat or nonfat)
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted (I use salted, trust me on this!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla (get the real stuff, not imitation.  In fact, never bake with imitation vanilla.  Ever.)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp yeast (get the best you can afford; I recommend either Fleischmann’s or Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 tbsp sugar (food for the yeast)

Filling:

  • 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 4 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened (again, I recommend using salted)

Frosting: (yep, it’s from scratch, too!)

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened (I use lowfat)
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract

To make the dough, microwave the evaporated milk on high for 20-30 seconds until it is just lukewarm.  (You do NOT want it hot, or it will kill your yeast!) I like to use a large, glass measuring cup, but any vessel that gives the yeast room to grow will do.  Add the tbsp sugar to the lukewarm milk, then gently mix in the yeast.

While the yeast activates (which generally takes 10 or so minutes–you want some substantial growth, as seen in the picture to the right), start making the dough.  I always use my KitchenAid, though you can probably do it by hand in a pinch.  Add the two eggs to the mixer and, using the paddle attachment, beat thoroughly on medium-low for a minute or two.  Then add the melted butter and beat on medium till the mixture is thick and creamy (generally another minute or two).  Add the vanilla, salt, and sugar to this mixture and blend thoroughly.  Once the yeast is activated, add the milk and yeast mixture to the liquid mixture and blend gently.  Finally, add the flour a cup at a time.  Once you’ve added the last of the flour, switch to the dough hook and let the machine knead the bread for 3-4 minutes (until all the dough pulls off the sides of the bowl–be careful not to overwork it!).  Cover the mixing bowl with a tea towel and allow to rise for 1 hour.  I generally do this in an oven prewarmed to the lowest setting (turn the oven off after you put the dough in).

Meanwhile, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl for the filling; set aside.

After the dough rises, punch it down and then roll it out to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness, forming a rectangle approximately 15″ by 24″.  Spread the 1/3 cup softened butter across the dough with a spatula, leaving a short edge of about 1″ clean.  Spread the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture evenly over the buttered dough, then press gently to set the mixture in place.  Roll the dough tightly toward the non-buttered end, and seal the roll with the non-buttered end.  Then use a sharp, serrated knife to cut the dough into approximately 12 cinnamon rolls, each around 1″ wide.  Arrange the rolls in a large rectangle glass baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Cover the dish with a tea towel and let the rolls rise for another hour.  Again, I generally do this in an oven preheated to the lowest setting.

Once the rolls rise, bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

While the rolls are baking, prepare the frosting.  (This is something you really need a stand mixer for, or at least a handheld mixer.)  Using the paddle attachment, mix the softened cream cheese and butter at 65 RPM for 6 minutes.  Then, using the whip attachment, whip the cream cheese and butter mixture at 150 RPM for 10 minutes.  Add 1 cup powdered sugar to the mixture, and whip for 1 minute at 65 RPM.  Then add the remaining 3/4 cup powdered sugar to the mixture and whip for another minute.  Finally, add the almond extract, and whip at 150 RPM for an additional 2-6 minutes (the longer you whip, the airer the frosting will be).

Once the rolls are done baking, allow them to cool for about 20 minutes.  Slather the frosting evenly over the rolls while they are still warm but not hot.  Then enjoy!

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