January 2, 2012

... a sweet link

Hi there!

Here's a fun way to start the new year... Lisa from Sweet as Sugar Cookies is gathering a huge link list of sweet treats that fellow bloggers made around the holidays.  She asked me to post my Cinnamon Brown Butter Breakfast Puffs, which I promptly did.  There are a ton of great looking treats, but I'm anxious to try out Tina's Lavender Butter Cookies and Sarah's Whole Grain Raspberry Pancakes.  Yum!

What will you try?

January 1, 2012

... Cinnamon Brown Butter Breakfast Puffs

Happy New Year (part two)!  I made these delicious little bites of heaven alongside the Spinach and Cheese Strata for brunch this morning.  By the way, Cheers!

If you have yet to travel into the beautiful world of brown butter, I highly suggest you make this recipe the first stamp in your passport.

Do it soon though, or it'll quickly ruin your 2012 diet plan. 

Cinnamon Brown Butter Breakfast Puffs
makes 30-34 mini puffs

2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup (5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing muffin cups
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter 12 standard size or 30 miniature muffin cups, or line cups with paper liners.

Prepare coatings: In a small saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons butter over medium heat and continue to cook it, stirring frequently, until brown bits form on the bottom and it smells nutty and heavenly.  Immediately remove from heat and set aside.  In a small bowl, combine 2/3 cup sugar and cinnamon.  Set aside as well.

Prepare puffs: Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg together in a medium bowl and set aside.  In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined.  Mix in 1/3 of flour mixture, followed by 1/2 of buttermilk, repeating again and finishing with the flour mixture.  Mix only until combined.

Spoon into prepared muffin cups, filling only 3/4 of the way.  Bake standard sized muffins for 20 to 25 minutes and miniature muffins 12 to 14 minutes.  When finished, muffins will feel springy to the touch and  a tester inserted into the center will come out clean.  Transfer them in their pan to a wire rack.

As soon as you fell you're able to pick one up, take your first puff and roll the top and upper edges in the browned butter.  Don't be afraid to pick up the browned butter solids at the bottom of the saucepan; they're the dreamiest part.  Let any excess butter drip off for a second before gently rolling the butter-soaked cake top in cinnamon-sugar.  If you roll too firmly, or have too much wet/not absorbed butter on top, the sugar can clump off, which is heartbreaking.  Transfer puff to wire rack to set and repeat with remaining puffs.  Eat warm.

For an even more indulgent, doughnut-like puff: Make an extra two tablespoons of the browned butter and roll the whole puff in it and the cinnamon sugar.

Do ahead: Puffs are best within hours after they are baked.  They can be made in advance and stored in a freezer bag until needed, too.  Simply spread them out on a baking tray and reheat them until warm in the oven.

Taylor's Notes:
Seriously.  Heaven.  Since it's New Years Day, I figured I should definitely follow Deb's note for a 'more indulgent' puff and made the extra butter.  I'm not sure why you wouldn't always do this (hello... it's browned butter, people), but I'm sure it does help with those few extra calories.  I did have more than enough sugar-cinnamon, but ran short on the butter, even with the extra two tablespoons.  Other than that, the recipe was easy, delicious, and will most certainly be making a repeat appearance.

Enjoy and Happy New Year!

... Spinach and Cheese Strata

Happy New Year!  I hope yours is off to a tremendous start!  I kicked mine off with having my family over for brunch.  What better way to begin 2012 than with good food and family?  

I'm excited to report that my first strata was a success!  Hooray!  I must admit I caught myself channeling Sarah Jessica Parker in The Family Stone while I was baking.  Thank goodness mine didn't end up the way hers did!

Spinach and Cheese Strata
serves 8-10

1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed of all excess liquid, and chopped
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (1 large)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 cups cubed French or Italian bread in 1-inch cubes (1/2 pound)
6 ounces coarsely grated Gruyere (2 cups)
2 ounces finely grated Parmesan (1 cup)
2 3/4 cups milk
9 large eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Saute onion in butter in a large, heavy skillets over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg and continue cooking for one minute.  Stir in spinach, remove from heat and set aside.

Spread one-third of the bread cubes in a well-buttered 3-quart gratin dish or other ceramic baking dish.  Top with one-third of spinach  mixture and one-third of each cheese.  Repeat, layering twice, with remaining bread, spinach, and cheese.

Whisk eggs, milk, mustard, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in a large bowl and pour evenly over strata.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill strata for at least 8 hours or up to a day.

The next day, let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes while preheating the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake strata, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, 45-55 minutes.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Taylor's Notes:
Another easy and delicious recipe from Smitten Kitchen.  I followed the directions to a tee except that my baking dish allowed for only two layers instead of three.  I don't think it made a bit of difference - so work with what you've got.  I baked it for 50 minutes and let it set for about 10 while I was finishing up the rest of breakfast.  It was really great and I'll definitely make it again... love recipes that you can mix up the night before (like this one) and bake the next morning!

Enjoy and Happy New Year!