“gourmet” auntie anne’s pretzels

Today I went shopping with my friend Tessa.  Exams are starting on Monday, and after hitting the chemistry book for hours on end, we both deserved a little bit of retail therapy.  A few peplum tops and lululemon sports bras, and my woes of homogenous mixtures were far behind me!  
While we were shopping around, I realized how much I love mall food.  That fruity smell of self-serve fro-yo, the basil and oregano wafting out of Sbarro pizza, freshly popped buttery popcorn filling the air from the cinema — it’s the aroma of retail therapy! The smells and tastes of the mall remind me of that inexplicable joy that comes with finding the perfect pair of shoes for half-price, or finding the perfect jeans, or getting a complimentary hand massage at one of those little kiosks. 
There is not a mall in America that doesn’t have a Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s (I made the infamous Cinnabun a while back).  Today, I tackled Auntie Anne’s big, buttery, twisty mall pretzels.  Except these are better (take that Anne!).  I topped mine with some delicious, gourmet ingredients that elevate these from the standard sprinkle of kosher salt.  I dipped some in truffle oil and sprinkled them with truffle salt, I sprinkled some asagio cheese on some, and even did a maple-butter glaze!  Of course, I had to make a few plain cinnamon-sugar ones. 😉
With love, 
Erica


Ingredients

1 cup milk
1 packet active dry yeast
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoons fine salt

1/4 cup baking soda
1 1/2 cups warm water
Coarse salt
4 tablespoons butter, melted in a shallow dish 



My “gourmet” toppings:

  • Instead of dipping in butter, dip in truffle infused olive oil, and spinkle with truffle salt
  • Mix in some Vermont Maple Syrup with the butter for a maple-glazed version
  • Sprinkle with some grated Parmesan and Asagio 
  • When all else fails, roll ’em in cinnamon sugar

Warm up the milk in the microwave for about 1 minute. It should be about 110º. If it’s too hot it will kill
the yeast.  Stir in the yeast and let it sit for about 3 minutes. Add the butter and
sugar. Add the flour about 1 cup at a time and the add the fine salt.
Kneed for about 10 minutes with a stand mixer, or by hand. Put it in a
greased bowl and cover with greased cling wrap. Let rise for 1 hour in a
moist, warm place until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 450º.
Punch down dough and divide into 8 chunks. Roll them all out as thin as you can. Combine the warm
water and baking soda in a wide bowl. Form the dough into pretzel
shapes, then dip in the baking soda water. Place on a greased baking
sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake for about 7-11 minutes or
until browned. Dip each in the melted butter while hot and roll in desired toppings. 

Adapted from Yammie’s Noshery

cinnamon crumble banana bread

I believe some people are born banana bread lovers, and others aren’t. For better or worse, I was born in the former category. I asked my dad to “taste test” a bit of banana and tell me which one he liked better. He has the ability to simply take a bite out of each slice, and put it back on the plate. When it comes to banana bread, I do not have the ability to simply “take a bite”. After he left, I finished both of his slices. In the past few hours, I have devoured almost half of each loaf. I’m telling you, its not me — its the banana bread.

I also made Orangette’s dark chocolate ginger banana bread — which I devoured quite quickly due to its unique flavor combination. However, of the two banana breads, this one was the winner. I might be a bit biased due to my slightly insane love of cinnamon, but either way, this loaf disappeared the fastest.

It’s a bit like a cross between a banana bread and a coffee cake. With a crisp, cinnamon crumble topping that makes it stand out from the rest. It has sweet honey and cinnamon stirred into the batter and the cinnamon streusel bakes into crunchy, caramelized bliss. Perfection.



With love, 
Erica

Banana Bread with Cinnamon Crumble Topping
Adapted from Bakesale Betty and Bon Appétit, September 2008

For bread:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 3 medium bananas)
2 large eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup honey
¼ cup water

For topping:
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 ½ Tbsp. packed dark brown sugar

Preheat
the oven to 350° F. Butter and flour a 9- x 5-inch metal loaf pan.
(Alternatively, you can spray the pan lightly with cooking spray and
then line it with parchment paper, letting the excess hang over the
sides. That’s what I did, and it made it very easy to remove the
finished bread from the pan; I just grabbed the parchment and lifted.
Also, because I don’t have a 9- x 5-inch pan – and because an 8 ½- x 4
½-inch is a little too small – I used a 10- x 3-inch pan that I found once at a flea market.)

In
a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda,
and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together the banana, eggs, oil, honey,
and water. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and stir
well. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

In a small bowl, mix together the topping ingredients. Sprinkle them evenly over the batter.

Bake
the bread until a tester inserted into its center comes out clean,
about 1 hour, give or take a little. Cool the bread in the pan on a
wire rack for 30 minutes. Then carefully remove the bread from the pan,
taking care not to dislodge the topping. Cool completely before
slicing.

Yield: 1 loaf

snickerdoodles

It’s not too surprising that I love these cinnamon-sugar rolled cookies — perfectly soft and chewy in every bite. This recipe is adapted from Mrs. Sigg’s famous, perfected snickerdoodle recipe, which has been tested and loved by many. It is one of the easiest cookie recipes ever — and I always have the ingredients on hand, so it is perfect for midnight baking when the supermarket is closed.  Why mess with something so simple and perfect?

This cookie has a thin, crunchy cinnamon-sugar exterior and a soft, chewy, melt-in your mouth center — just the way I like them. If you’re a fan of a more firmer cookie, just let
them bake for an extra minute or two. Pop one in the microwave before devouring for a cinnamon-spicy warm treat.

Do you have a special recipe for midnight baking?

With love, 

Erica

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Cream together butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar,
the eggs and the vanilla. Blend in the flour, cream of tartar, soda and
salt. Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls.

Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Roll
balls of dough in mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking
sheets.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until set but not too hard. Remove immediately from baking sheets. 

Adapted from All Recipes

cinnamon sugar croissants

In my opinion, the only thing better than fresh, flaky buttery croissants are cinnamon sugar croissants. You all know about my obsession cinnamon, and these croissants are my favorite pastry in the universe — and that sure is saying something if you know anything about my obsession with pastries! This is a variation on my classic croissant recipe (which you can find here). This recipe produces perfect croissants with a pillowy interior and a crisp, shattering crust. To take these already luxurious pastries to an amazing, cinnamon-sprinkled level, I added a generous sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar before I rolled them into crescents, and another sprinkling on top after the second egg wash, right before popping them in the oven to bake. I know making croissants can be intimidating at first, but the result is so rewarding. My mom commented that the rich, buttery aroma accompanied by the intensified fragrance of cinnamon sugar was the best way to wake up early on the Saturday morning that I made these, and to this day these is one of my family’s all time favorite breakfast treats. I hope you enjoy my favorite breakfast pastry as much as I do!
With love,
Erica

Recipe:
Follow my Step-by-step croissant recipe,

  • Add a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar before rolling into crescents
  • Add another generous sprinkling of cinnamon sugar before popping into the oven after the second egg wash

 

Pillowy interior with cinnamon sugar rolled right into the pastry!