Quick and Dirty Chocolate Espresso Cinnamon Rolls

Whenever there is a short-cut recipe for bread, I am very skeptical. It's like one of those old timey grifter scams. The recipe proclaims amazing results and tantalizes you with tempting photos. An accomplice comments on the wonder of the bread to provoke enthusiasm. Then, just like a grifter, it leaves you with half-baked results and you realize that you have been cheated. I've made "quick and dirty" cinnamon rolls in the past and was burnt. Within the hour, they had turned into hockey pucks that could break a window.

For these reasons, I make it a rule not to use quick yeast breads and unreliable sources. It may be limiting, but I am often reluctant to step away from my go-to books and bloggers (all hail Smitten Kitchen and America's Test Kitchen). That's how I knew that I was in safe hands when I saw these Quick and Dirty Chocolate Espresso Cinnamon Rolls from Joy the Baker. I decided not to live in the past (insert Buddhist "Om") and give these kids another shot.

Oh Joy, you never lead me astray!

What makes them "quick and dirty?" The rising time. Generally speaking, cinnamon rolls need two round of rising, each at least an hour. These are done in half that time with only ten minutes to rise the first round and then an additional 30. By the time you're done cleaning up the kitchen, they're ready to go in the oven. What black magic is this?

Sure. Chocolate and Espresso are an overpowering combination of delicious. You could slather the two on a brick and I would probably still try to eat it... well at least lick of what I could. It goes without saying that the filling of this cinnamon roll is delicious. I used extra dark chocolate chips and added just a touch more espresso. The dry mix alone had the entire kitchen smelling lovely.

The real test was going to be how the rolls stood the test of time.
Would they be soft and luscious?
Or would I be able to skip them over a lake?

These cinnamon buns could be used as a pillow up to three days out of the oven. That's right- THREE whole days (per storage in an air-tight container). They pulled apart smoothly and warmed in the oven beautifully the next day. Served with a cup of a coffee, these chocolate espresso cinnamon buns had the husband and I on cloud 9.

What I really love about this recipe is the quantity. Most rolls make two pans worth of bread - way too much for our simple home and too heavy to serve as a side at brunch with friends. This is makes six large buns in a 8x8 pan - a solid amount for two over the weekend and enough to share with others on a Saturday night.

The glaze is optional - we didn't feel it was necessary! Yes, that's how good they are - they don't need glaze. The filling is sweet enough as it is.

PS. Mike is over here cracking up because I used the word "grifter" in this post. Apparently this makes me a literary nerd. 

The recipe for these awesome Quick and Dirty Chocolate Espresso Cinnamon Rolls can be found on Joy The Baker!

Rum-Kissed Banana Butterscotch Cream Tart in a Cocoa-Buckwheat Crust {Gluten-Free}

This has been one the most frustrating post to put together in terms of pictures. Each one is vastly different than the other with no theme and consistency. This is the struggle of a commoner having a food blog! There's not enough time or resources to create a picture-perfect post. I rarely have the opportunity to share meals because that's exactly what they are - a meal! Hubby is eager to get his grub on after a hard day at work. Could you imagine telling that oncoming train to ease up - just one more picture while your food gets cold? No thanks! 

A lovely pie such as this, however, could not go with it's song unsung. 

I decided to switch it up on 'em this year for the big brother's birthday. In the past, I have stuck with his love for peanut butter with treats like the Chocolate Covered Peanut Icecream Cake and ghetto fabulous Peanut Butter Cake. Recently, he has been testing out a more gluten-free lifestyle which won't fly with the traditional fare. 

There are millions of awesome options these days for the gluten-free masses. I was lucky enough to stumble upon this beautiful recipe from Bonjon Gourmet for a Rum-Kissed Banana Butterscotch Cream Tart in a Cocoa-Buckwheat Crust. The title alone is daunting but no worries, it's surprisingly easy to make.

A quick break down of its composition:

Gluten-Free Cocoa-Buckwheat
Rum Butterscotch Custard
Lots of banana slices
Whipped cream
Dark chocolate shavings

I will say that this pie crust is not for everyone because of the buckwheat.  People commented that they could taste it which was a turn off. It didn't even strike my radar - I thought that it gave a more earthy, dark chocolate flavor.  Then again, I don't like anything super sugary so it was a nice balance for my palette.

If you opt for a different crust, make sure it's not super sweet. Paired with the butterscotch filling, the combination may be overpowering. I see this working a cinnamon-based crust or a traditional butter-based one with chocolate like this Brûléed Bourbon-Maple Pumpkin Pie.

This was the first time that I've ever made butterscotch and I was very pleased with results. The texture is creamy and dreamy while the flavor is humbled by the use of rum. You can switch it out for bourbon or omit it entirely. This recipe called for black rum which sounds tasty for baking but we would never use it otherwise. I went with what we had in-house: a little bottle of Captain Morgan's.

Making the butterscotch takes a degree of patience and persistence because you got to WHISK WHISK WHISK until it thickens. Roll up them sleeves and don't lose heart - it will get there eventually. This is all butter, milk, sugar, and cornstarch.

Lastly, the whip cream topping. Take your liberties as needed. This recipe adds some filler like marscapone, creme fraiche, or sour cream. The use of marscapone is always welcome but again, using what was available, I added sour cream. The result is a heavier topping that doesn't whip quite as high. If you want a super fluffy topping, keep the extras out and use only heavy cream.

A personal touch was the addition of these cute pennants. The hubby took some sticks from an art project and sharpened the tips. I tied on some baker's twine and attached pennants made out of two-sided stationary paper for an alternating pattern. Simply cut a diamond shape and fold in the middle to create simple flags and hang from the twine. Slip in a smidge of tape if you're worried about them falling off.

The birthday boy enjoyed the pie and even the cute pennants! Love you, broseph!

Please enjoy this recipe for Rum-Kissed Banana Butterscotch Cream Tart in a Cocoa-Buckwheat Crust {Gluten-Free} on Bonjon Gourmet's site!

Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies - Glutenfree

You know that feeling all too well - that moment when you look into the cupboard and realize, "uh-oh." Either the shelves are barren or that one key ingredient that ties the entire recipe together is missing. It's an opportunity: either you make the journey to the market... or you get wildly creative in the kitchen. There's always the third option of take out but who delivers cookies? 

Yup. The hubby and I wanted to bake chocolate cookies for his mom. The only issue was we were completely out of butter and flour. For seasoned gluten-free chefs, this would be a walk in the park. For me and Mike? This was a serious, "uh oh" moment. 

I searched for gluten-free chocolate cookies and somehow found this uber decadent recipe from Picklee. We're talking knock your socks off rich chocolate goodness. They are not for the faint of heart! I supervised as Mike mixed ingredients and mystified him whipping egg whites into a meringue consistency. It's the small things! These cookies are like mini-flourless cakes in terms of composition - all chocolate and egg. 

The really cool aspect of these cookies is their texture. They have this thin shell of crispiness on top but when you bite down, the center is fudge. These are similar to White on Rice Couple's, Dark Chocolate Crack cookies, but even richer. Mike found them too rich for his blood but he's more of a milk chocolate person. All the same, you definitely need a tall glass of milk to finish one of these bad boys. It takes a single serving to hit chocolate nirvana. 

For the recipe, check out Picklee's post for Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies!