Saturday, January 24, 2015

Cinnamon Sugar Soft Pretzel Bites



 It seems I've been all about soft pretzels, muffins, and donuts as of late. Any objections? Good. I made this recipe a few weeks ago for a work potluck, but there wasn't time to photograph the pretzel bites. I had to make the recipe again (Oh, woe is me!).

These taste just like little bite-sized pieces of those delicious cinnamon sugar mall pretzels. I've also included a cream cheese dipping sauce, which is the perfect amount of tanginess to go with these delicious pretzel bites!

Cinnamon Sugar Soft Pretzel Bites

Yields: about 100 small pretzel bites

1 cup warm water
1 tbsp (or 1 packet) dry active yeast
2 tbsp sugar + 1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
2 3/4 to 3 cups flour

3 cups hot water (I microwaved mine in a pyrex for about 4 minutes)
1/3 cup baking soda

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon

1. Combine warm water, yeast, and 1 tsp of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir with your finger, then let it sit for about 10 minutes to activate.

2. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of sugar, the brown sugar, veggie oil, and salt. Stir. Attach the dough hook and add the flour. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Knead in the mixer for about 4 minutes or so, or until elastic and smooth.

3. Put in a greased glass bowl and let rise, covered, in a warm oven (about 140-150 degrees fahrenheit) for about 30 minutes, or until doubled in size. After removing from the oven, preheat the oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit.

4. Combine hot water and baking soda. Divide the dough into 6 equal parts. Take one part and cover the other parts with a kitchen towel so they don't dry out. Roll the section into a snake about 28-30 inches long. Cut it in half, then each in half again. (4 snakes) Divide each into about 1-1/4" sections.

5. Dip each bite into the hot water/baking soda mixture, then place on a silpat-lined (or parchment paper lined) baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining sections of dough.

6. Bake at 425 for 7-10 minutes, or until the tops are golden.

7. Roll in the melted butter, let sit on a plate for about 1 minute to let the butter soak in, and then roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture.


Cream Cheese Dipping Sauce
4 oz cream cheese (1/2 of a regular pack)
1 tbsp butter, softened
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp milk, optional

Combine cream cheese and butter. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat. Add milk, if needed, to attain the desired consistency.







Saturday, January 17, 2015

Boston Cream Pie Donuts


I have a confession to make: I've never actually had Boston Cream Pie. Am I the only one? Where could one even get a Boston Cream Pie? Maybe it's a Northerner thing. Being from Texas, I'm more used to seeing Bluebell and peach cobbler at restaurants.

Does anyone remember the show Arthur? The animated one with the aardvark (A-A-R-D-V-A-R-K)? I remember there was one episode where there was this delicious looking Boston Cream Pie, and ever since then, I've wanted to try it.

Last year, I made Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes. This morning, I decided I wanted Boston Cream Pie, but in donut form.

These are no ordinary donuts. These will leave you wanting another... and another... until you've eaten the whole batch. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Boston Cream Pie Donuts

Yields: 12 donuts (I made 10 + about 12 donut holes)

For the Pastry Cream
1 cup half & half
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla

For the Donuts 
2 tbsp warm water
1 tbsp yeast
3/4 cup warm whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
3 tbsp butter, softened
2 1/2 to 3 cups flour
Vegetable oil (for frying)

For the Glaze
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp butter

Pastry Cream
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the half & half until simmering. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, salt, and flour.

2. Add about 1/4 cup of the simmering milk to the egg yolk mixture and whisk until it's smooth. Then, while stirring constantly, add the egg mixture to the milk on the stove. Cook until it begins to thicken, then turn heat down to low for about 1 minute. Cook until desired consistency is reached (I wanted mine to me about like yogurt).

3. Pour pastry cream into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap (actually touch the plastic wrap to the top of the pastry cream to prevent it from drying out).

Donuts
4. Mix together the warm water and yeast. Let sit for about 5 minutes, or until activated.

5. Pour yeast mixture in the bottom of a stand mixer. Add milk, sugar, salt, egg, butter, and 1 cup of the flour. Mix with a regular paddle attachment for about 2 minutes.

6. Switch to the dough hook and add the remainder of the flour. It should come clean off the sides of the bowl when you've added enough flour.

7. Grease a bowl and put the dough in. Cover with a damp towel. Let it rise until doubled, about 1 hour. (I let mine rise in my oven after turning it on for 3 minutes to warm it up a bit).

8. Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, until it's about 3/4 of an inch thick. Cut into 3" circles. Put on a floured cookie sheet, cover with a damp towel again, and let rise until doubled (about 30 minutes).

9. Heat up your oil until it's 350 degrees fahrenheit. Use a spatula to put 2 donuts at a time in the oil. They take about 45 secs-1 minute on each side. Put on a plate covered with paper towels.

Glaze
10. Combine cream, sugar, and butter and microwave for about 30 seconds. Pour over chocolate chips and stir until smooth. Add more chocolate, sugar, or cream to your taste or desired consistency.

Assembly
Use a chopstick to poke a hole in the side of the donut. Pipe the pastry cream using a piping bag and an open circle tip. Dip the tops in the ganache glaze.