New Heart

The last few days have been so sastisfying – mentally, spiritually, physically, emotionally. My kids and I spent a few days on the beach at a retreat focused on renewal, a clean state, a new path forward. I think sometimes we get weighed down a bit too much by the negative/bad things, and we get stuck there, becoming sullen or apathetic or cynical. It prevents us from doing anything meaningful, prevents us from moving to a productove place where we can work to improve on the bad. So through reflection and witness talks and prayer and introspection – we encouraged our students to acknowledge the mistakes of the past, and actively and fearlessly work toward a better future. An improved future. A future where one’s heart is no longer a sullen or apethetic or cynical heart of stone, but a new heart of flesh and love and optimism and idealism and a desire to do better.

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Tiramisu Cinnamon Twist Rolls
Adapted from Laura in the Kitchen
Now technically, I already have a favorite cinnamon roll recipe. But I tried these at a potluck and am now in love with the recipe. My friend who shared this with me also shared her tips for improving the recipe – the deviations are noted below. I proofed/rested this over night and rolled the dough the following morning – a perfect brunch treat without having to wake up early.

Ingredients
For the dough:
1 packet of active dry yeast
3/4 c whole milk
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/4 c warm water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1/4 c butter, melted
4 c bread flour
2 tbs cocoa powder
1/4 c butter, melted (to brush over rolls pre-baking)

For the filling:
1/3 c butter, room temp
3/4 c light brown Sugar
1/4 c granulated Sugar
1 tbs ground cinnamon
2 tbs cocoa powder

For the frosting*:
3 tbs butter, room temp
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, room temp (cream cheese is ok too, but trying to keep this in line with the tiramisu theme)
1 c powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
a drizzle of whole milk as needed
*Frosting is optional. These are so delish as is.

Directions
In a small Pyrex measuring cup (the one with a lip), combine the warm water, 1 tsp of granulated sugar, and yeast. Let sit until the yeast activates and foams.

In a bowl of a stand mixer (fitted with a dough hook), mix the egg, milk, salt, sugar and melted butter. Add 2 cups of bread flour, cocoa powder, water, vanilla and the yeast mixture, until all incorporated. Slowly add the remaining bread flour, continuing to mix at slow then medium speed until the dough slaps against the bowl and forms a smooth (not shaggy dough).

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and form into a ball. Place the dough ball into an oiled (or buttered or Pam’ed) bowl, rotating the ball as needed to coat with the non-stick substance (oil, butter or Pam). Cover with plastic and allow to rise at room temp in a warm place for 2-3 hours until dough doubles in size OR allow to rise in the fridge over night. The longer/slower rise time will actually let the dough develop some really great flavor and prevent the dough from rising too quickly, resulting in a much more satisfying and tender pastry.

Once the dough has doubled in size, turn the dough onto a floured surface and puch down. Roll out to an approximately 15″ x 9″ rectangle. Spread the soft butter over the dough. In a small bowl, mix the remaining filling ingredients, then sprinkle over the buttered dough. Fold the dough in half, then slice into 3/4″ width slices. Twist the strip of dough before tying a knot. Of course, you could roll the dough and slice like typical cinnamon rolls, but I am loving this twisted version, where you can see the filling swirled into the pastry. It’s so pretty. You can see step-by-step tutorial here. Either way, place the fold down onto a buttered baking pan. Cover and place in a warm spot and allow to rise for another 1-2 hours.

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Meanwhile preheat oven to 350*F. Brush the top of each bun with melted butter and bake for about 25 minutes until golden brown. While the twisted rolls are cooling, make the optional frosting. Beat the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and vanilla extract. If the consistency is too thick, add a drizzle of milk to think it out as needed. Spread the frosting over the still-warm rolls and enjoy.

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After the beach, we drove to the mountains to go skiing at Squaw Valley. How incredible is it that with just a 4 hour drive, I can go from the beaches of Santa Cruz to the mountains of the Sierras? It really is amazing living here in California. What a fulfilling weekend. A really great start to 2016 so far. Can’t wait to see what else the year holds.

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Thanks for reading,
AnhD

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