Monday, October 21, 2013

Pumpkin Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

Pumpkin Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

Fall is in the air and that means cinnamon rolls are in my mouth. But not just regular cinnamon rolls, but these pumpkin pecan cinnamon rolls frosted two ways. Half with maple and the other half with good ‘ole cream cheese frosting… because I’m really indecisive.

Or maybe because I’m just really smart.

Dough ingredients

Who’s ready to whip up some pumpkin yumminess?

Active Dry Yeast
Red Star Yeast

You’re gonna need some yeast … and then you’re gonna want to keep some extra packets on hand so you can make cinnamon rolls to your heart’s desire.

I’ve made 5 batches this fall already. Hmmm. Maybe I shouldn’t keep packets so handy. My hips might thank me.

Making the dough

The steps are pretty simple to get this party started. Sift your dry ingredients. Add yeast to melted butter and milk. Add to sifted ingredients. Mix in egg and pumpkin.

Dough rising

Shape into a dough ball and place in a coated bowl to rise in a warm place until it doubles in size.

I found using my oven with the lights on inside keeps it warm enough. I’ve also turned the temperature to the lowest setting for a few minutes and then turned the heat off so I could place the bowl inside. Leaving the oven door open will keep it from getting too hot.

Dough simple.

Filling ingredients

Ahhhh… the good stuff. The filling.

Brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter and cinnamon.

And what about the pecans. Let’s roast them. Yes, lets.

Toasted Pecans

Pecans… coated with a little melted butter and toasted in the oven. They’ll totally make you glad you toasted them.

Chop them finely and the dough will be easier to roll.

Doubled dough

Oh look. Doubled in size dough. It’s like magic… or sweet science.

When it doubles in size, punch it down and turn it out onto a floured work surface so you can roll it out.

Making Cinnamon Rolls

Layer on the goodness. My favorite part.

Butter. Cinnamon. Sugar. Pecans. Perfect.

And then roll it up and cut into equal sections.

Cinnamon rolls

Here we go now.

Rising Rolls

Let the swirls of cut dough rise again before baking.

See how they are touching each other now. Nice.

Pumpkin pecan cinnamon rolls

Then bake away. You may notice I did half with pecans and half without. You know, I couldn’t commit to one way or the other.

Pumpkin Pecan Cinnamon Rolls with Brown Butter Maple Icing

Servings: 15-18 cinnamon rolls


  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup pecans (toasted and then finely chopped), if desired
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon maple flavoring
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk


  1. To make the dough: Sift flour, sugar, salt and spices with a wire whisk in a medium bowl. Transfer three cups of the flour mixture to the bowl of your stand mixer and set the remaining one cup aside.
  2. Heat butter and milk in the microwave and set aside until warm. You can use a thermometer to measure the temperature needed according to the directions for the yeast you are using.
  3. Sprinkle yeast on the surface and let rest for about 5 minutes. Then gently stir together and add to the flour mixture. Mix on low using the paddle attachment until combined. Add egg and mix until combined and then add pumpkin and mix until combined.
  4. Change to the dough hook and add the remaining one cup flour until the dough separates from the side of the mixing bowl and forms into a ball.
  5. Spray a medium bowl with non-stick spray. Then remove dough from mixing bowl. Knead a couple of times, shape into a ball and place in coated bowl. Turn over to coat both sides. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot for 2 hours or until the dough doubles in size. If it reaches the top of bowl, punch down.
  6. Add the filling: Prepare a buttered 9 X 13 dish or two 8-inch round baking dishes. Disposable aluminum pans are perfect.
  7. Turn out dough onto a well floured work surface and roll into a roughly 12 X 18 inch rectangle until it's about 1/4 inch thick.
  8. Spread melted butter on the dough. Then sprinkle cinnamon, sugar, brown sugar and chopped pecans until the dough is covered. Note: if you want to use toasted pecans, lightly coat pecans in melted butter and place on a parchment covered baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle a pinch of salt on top and toast them for about 15-20 minutes in a 300 degree oven. Gently stir and turn pecans about halfway through baking time. Watch closely so they don't burn.
  9. Start from the long side farthest from you and start rolling the dough toward you to form a log. Roll tightly and shape as you go if necessary. Then turn the dough log seam side down and cut into 15-18 equal sections using a serrated knife.
  10. Place on prepared baking dish and let rise again in a warm spot for about 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven and bake at 375 degrees for 15-17 minutes.
  11. To make the Brown Butter Maple Icing: Sift powdered sugar. Melt butter over medium heat until it turns golden brown. Watch closely so it does not burn. Be careful because it can change quickly. Whisk butter into sugar until combined. Whisk in maple. Add milk and whisk until completely smooth.
  12. For cream cheese icing: Beat 4 oz softened cream cheese and 2 tablespoons softened butter until smooth. Add 2 cups powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Then add 3-4 tablespoons milk until smooth.
  13. Remove rolls and spread icing over cinnamon rolls while still warm.

Maple icing

Cover them with Brown Butter Maple Icing…

Cinnamon Rolls

Or Cream Cheese Icing if you’re indecisive like me and then…

ENJOY them warm!

Monday, October 14, 2013


October baking is on! Who has already made some super cute treats or perfectly pumpkiny desserts? Do you like fall baking as much as I do? I hope so because I pulled together some fun baking projects in case you want any ideas or inspiration. It’s time to break out the butter.

Mini Pumpkin Pies

Pumpkin Pie Bites >
Aaaah! These little pie bites are one of my favorite projects. They make me smile every time. I love how easy they are to make, too. They happened when I thought about reusing a pumpkin cutter to make mini pumpkin pie shapes by stuffing the dough in a mini cupcake tray. Too cute.


Spider Bites

Spider Bites >
These are not so cute. Creepy comes to mind. And fun. Creepy is fun. I can’t help but squirm when I see these little guys with brownies inside.



Pecan Pumpkin Butter Squares >
Oh my gosh I forgot about these sweet squares. I had them over and over during October 2010 on my Williams-Sonoma Book tour. I totally need to go out and get some pumpkin butter right now. Or maybe I’ll just head to the mall and hope for some free samples at the store.


Candy Corn Cake Pops

Candy Corn Cake Pops >
These are the happiest Candy Corns I ever did see. At least until I bite their cute little cheeks off.



Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake >
I originally made this deliciousness around Thanksgiving time, but it’s calling out to be made in October.


Dangling Spider Cake Pops

Dangling Spider Cake Pops >
I’m so in love with these happy little spiders. Use a longer lollipop stick to really pull off this adorable dangling look.



Hi Hat Cupcakes >
If you’ve never made these cupcakes before, do it right now. There’s something super satisfying about successfully dipping swirly marshmallowy tops in chocolate. Plus they are crazy good. Okay, these don’t really have anything to do with October other than this cupcake looks so good on orange.


Frankenweenie Cake Pops

Frankenweenie >
Zombie Doggies. Enough said.


Pumpkin Pecan Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Pumpkin Pecan Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Maple Brown Butter Frosting >
These cookies are all about comfort. Please don’t skip out on the frosting. It’s Aaaahmazing!!



Creepy Crawly Cake Pops >
As much as I dislike spiders, I sure do like decorating with them. These creepy crawlers are cute as can be.


Itty-Bitty Bat Cupcakes

Itty-Bitty Bat Cupcakes >
Sink your teeth into these bite-size bats.



Spooky Spider Cake Pops >
More spiders. You know… those big bodied, pudgy, don’t you dare get near me kind of spooky spiders. Well, these totally taste better.


Trix Cereal Spider Cookies

Spider Cookies >
I love how graphic these are with chocolate frosting and piped white spider webs. Super easy doesn’t hurt either.


Ghost Cake Pops

Trick-or-Treating Ghost Cake Pops >
Look at those tiny candy buckets. I can’t stand the cuteness. Oh yeah, there’s also Trick or Treat tags you can download.


Kitty Cookies

Kitty Cat Oreos >
Meow. Meow. Me…yum…yum! Homemade oreos get in my tum!


Halloween Cupcakes >
There’s not really a recipe for these, but there are a few more pics if you want to see… or if you want a chuckle. These were the very first sweets I made and posted on this website. I realized right away how much I enjoyed baking and creating and I haven’t been able to stop since.



Eye Ball Cake Pops >

So… Do you see anything you like?

I hope so and I hope you have fun baking this Halloween.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Time to get in the baking spirit

It’s October and one of the most fun months of the year to bake and share sweet treats.

Cute. Spooky. Scary. Ooey. October is all about having fun in the kitchen and treating people to a smile.

Want to get your bake on and get in the baking spirit? Want to trick out your treats?

Well, how about a brand new KitchenAid stand mixer to get you started?

Sounds ghoulishly good to me.

Enter for a chance to win a KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer in one of the Spooktacular colors above.

  • To enter, just leave a comment on this post and tell me which mixer color you’d like to win … oh and if you know what treat you’d like to make this Halloween, I’d love to hear that too.
  • Deadline to enter is Wednesday, October 9th, 2013 at 7:00 pm ET. Sorry, Time’s Up! Winner announced below.
  • One winner will be chosen at random and announced sometime Wednesday evening.

Good luck guys!


Okay, here we go… drumroll please…  And the winner of a brand new KitchenAid mixer is … Debi!!!!

YAY Debi – Boysenberry IS a fun color! Happy baking this Halloween!

 This giveaway is sponsored by me.

Friday, October 4, 2013

It’s Chocolate Adventure Time

Who’s up for a baking adventure? One that’s centered around what else, but CHOCOLATE!

Oh my… I’m so excited about this.

Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker and TuttiFoodie are hosting another amazing Chocolate Adventure Contest and this year the theme is all about BARS.

That’s right. Chocolate and Bars. That’s any kind of bar as long as it uses Scharffen Berger Chocolate and at least one adventure ingredient from this year’s list.

You guys can so do this.

You’ll want to do this.

I hope you do this.

Why, you ask? Well how about a $25,000 winning prize. That’s pretty sweet! … Plus ten Culinary Honorees will also be chosen to win an iPad mini and more. Awesome!

Want to make brownies? Blondies? Ice Cream Bars?

What about layered bars, cookie bars or even chocolate bark?

How about candy bars or get in my face bars? We’re talking any kind of bar.

Are you in? Good. I’m glad.

It’s time to set the bar!

Just create an original bar recipe using Scharffen Berger chocolate and one of the following 12 adventure ingredients.

Adventure Ingredients
Turbinado Sugar
Fresh Pomegranate
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Peppercorns (Any Type – Black, Red, Green)
Pandan Leaf or Pandan Leaf Extract
Coconut Milk, Cream, Butter or Oil
Oat Flour
Sesame Seeds (Black or White)
Fresh Croutons or Crostini

I’m helping judge the contest again this year with John Scharffenberger, Alice Medrich, and Matt Armendariz and we can’t wait to taste your creations. Entries will be judged on creativity, taste, ease of preparation and whether the recipe reflects a spirit of adventure. So get your creative juices flowing.

The contest began October 1, 2013 and goes through January 2, 2014. So you have plenty of time to come up with a recipe. Or ten. Yep. You can enter up to ten recipes. That’s more chances to win.

Check out for official rules and how to enter.


So… which ingredient sounds adventurous to you?

Photography by Matt Armendariz. Food styling by Adam Pearson.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Carefree Caramel Cake

Carefree Caramel Cake

Cake. Caramel. Get Carried away!


Gather your ingredients. Butter, flour, sugar, milk, eggs, baking powder, salt and vanilla.

Vanilla Cake

Then start the cake making and get to mixing.

Broke Cake

Then get really bummed when you take your cake out of the pans too soon before they’ve cooled… and just before your going to take it to a friend’s house for dinner … in just over an hour. Have you been there, too? Ugh. So disappointing.

So that’s when the caramel layer cake I’d been dying to make became carefree.

And that’s perfectly okay, because this was one of the best tasting yellow cakes. It was so so good. Oh my gosh I could hardly stop eating pieces of it.

Crumbled Cake

But thankfully I stopped in time to save enough cake and turn them into personal desserts that I could easily carry.

Little jars. Big save. Score.

Now to make the caramel icing so I can layer it on.

Caramel Icing

Brown sugar, butter, evaporated milk and vanilla makes one thick glorious icing. You have to spread it quickly while it’s still warm because it will harden when it cools … that is if you’re icing a cake.

Caramel Cake

But in jars, and in a hurry… spooning it in worked just fine. My friends certainly didn’t mind.

Spoon. Crumble. Carry. On.

Caramel Cake

This caramel cake recipe came from a cute little book I have called Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott.

GiGi's Caramel Cake … in Jars

Servings: one 9-inch two layer cake or four 16 oz. jars


  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • - - - - - - - -
  • 1 lb box light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 7 tablespoons evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees fahrenheit. Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans.
  2. Combine butter and milk in a small saucepan and heat on low until the butter melts. Stir and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Meanwhile, combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl using a wire whisk.
  4. In your mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar on high, scraping down the bowl often. Beat until light yellow, smooth and thick.
  5. Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Mix just until the flour disappears. Add the cooled milk and butter mixture and then the vanilla. Stir well and pour into prepared pans.
  6. Bake at 325 for 25 - 30 minutes until cakes are pale golden brown and begin to pull away from the sides of the pans. Cool for 10 minutes on wire racks and then turn cakes out onto wire racks to cool completely.
  7. To make the icing… In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, evaporated milk, and vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Stir well and adjust heat so that the frosting boils and bubbles gently. Cook for 7 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes. Beat warm icing with a wooden spoon for 2-3 minutes until it thickens. Ice cake quickly or simply spoon into jars for easy carrying. Enjoy!
Source: Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott, 2007

Caramel Cake In Jars

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