French Breakfast Muffins, à la Chickadoodle

So, Betty Crocker has a recipe for some incredibly tasty muffins.

I have made these particular muffins many times. Only once did I fail, omitting the leavening completely and turning out dense disks of nutmeg-y goodness. I still call them my fail muffins in a somewhat affectionate way. (I think it was the time after that when I was making Betty Crocker coffee cake that I managed to triple the baking powder when doubling the recipe. That was the day I learned how to clean an oven. Also, all the new recipes use Bisquik. Much as I love the stuff, it does not belong in coffee cake.)

But, per the usual, I make them… a little differently.

Muffin ingredients:
1/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1.5 cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (or 3/4 or a full teaspoon. I like ’em nutmeg-y.)
1/2 cup milk

Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or 1.5 or 2 teaspoons. I like ’em cinnamon-y.)
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted (1/4 cup is usually plenty, I find)

Directions
Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease 15 medium muffin cups, 2 1/2×1 1/4 inches.
Mix shortening, 1/2 cup sugar and the egg throughly in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg alternately with milk. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Mix 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon. brush tops of hot muffins immediately with melted butter, then dunk thoroughly in sugar-cinnamon mixture. Serve hot.

My dad, however, is the champion of eating these muffins. He will cut off the top and eat it, then put the left over cinnamon and sugar on it. This is a good idea.

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Supposedly easy cinnamon rolls

Okay, I really shouldn’t slam these so hard–they were pretty easy (the only non-easy bit was entirely my own fault), and they do taste pretty good. They’re no-yeast, so use them only if you want dense, cake-y cinnamon rolls.

The original recipe I used for all the non-icing bits can be found here, though the directions are a little hard to read, as they combine the ingredients for filling and the dough itself. I’m simplifying them here:

To make the filling:

In a small-ish bowl, mix

1/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. light brown sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg

Combine with 1 Tbsp. melted butter (this recipe uses 1/2 c. total) and mix until butter is evenly distributed. (Original recipe says until all parts are “equally moistened”–basically, mix it good.)

To make the dough:

Mix the following in a large-ish bowl

1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (you’ll need more for rolling out the dough)
1/8 c. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder

In a > 1 c. measuring cup, mix

1 1/4 c. butter milk (original recipe explains how to clabber milk if you have no butter milk and don’t know what to do about it)
2 Tbsp. melted butter

Pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl with the solid ingredients and mix until a “shaggy” dough forms. Knead with hands until smooth–approximately 30 sec. The recipe says that the dough will be sticky. It’s wrong; it will try to eat your hands. You have been warned.

Put it all together…

Clean your hands. Spread some (read: a LOT of) flour on a surface large enough that the dough can be patted into a 9″ x 12″ rectangle.

Butter a pan large enough to hold 8 or 12 rolls (this recipe makes 8 large, or 12 medium, which I found out rather by accident after I cut it into 12 rolls instead of 8). To give you an idea, a 9″ x 13″ is way too large, but a 9″ cake round works for 8 rolls.

Heat your oven to 425 degrees.

Pat out the dough into a 9″ x 12″ rectangle, making sure that the dough is of even thickness everywhere. (I didn’t take quite the precautions I should have. This resulted in much cursing, and in a very Victorian novel way. Guess what I’ve been reading lately?) Brush it with 2 Tbsp. melted butter. Pat the filling firmly on the dough–it shouldn’t absorb it, but the layer should be even and should stay somewhat when you roll the dough. Make sure you leave a 1/2″ border around the edge of the dough.

Roll the dough from one long side to the other. (i.e. If you were folding, you’d be folding “hot dog” style vs. “hamburger” style.) Pinch the seam to seal the roll. Cut the log into 8 or 12 rolls; whichever amount you want to make. Brush the tops with 2 Tbsp. melted butter, and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until the tops are golden-brown.

Now, for the fun part: the icing.

I used this recipe for sour cream icing, as I had a spare 1/2 cup of sour cream lying around. As I learned, though, unless you want to absolutely smother 12 rolls in a thick enough layer of icing to make the most placid and lethargic of children bounce off the walls, halve the recipe. (I wound up using about 2 1/2 c. powdered sugar for a full batch that was rather more thick and frosting-y than viscous, by the way.)

Spread it on the just-done rolls and serve.

Never-Fail Kahlua Cake, Chickadoodle-style

A few years ago, one of my aunts made an AMAZING cake for a family party. It was death (and then probably resurrection) by chocolate. I asked for the recipe, and since then, I’ve made it several times, and everyone loves it. Well, except for the people who don’t like chocolate, but I digress.

It’s not a secret recipe or anything–a quick google search can find several versions of this, but here’s mine:

Never Fail Kahlua Cake

1 pkg. Triple chocolate cake mix (originally Swiss or German chocolate)
1 pkg. instant chocolate fudge pudding (6 oz)  (originally just chocolate pudding)
1/3 cup Kahlua liqueur
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 pint lite sour cream
2 6-oz pkg. chocolate chips (This was a modification my aunt made–original calls for 1 package)

Preheat oven to 350. In a mixer bowl, place all ingredients except the chocolate chips. Mix according to cake package instructions. (WARNING: this cake will attempt to murder your electric hand mixer. Use a stand mixer. You have been warned.) Fold in chocolate chips by hand. Pour batter into a well greased floured bundt pan and bake for 50 minutes at 350. Test for doneness with toothpick. remove from oven. Cool on rack until bundt pan is room temperature, then flip onto serving platter. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

This cake is best enjoyed when warm. We have found that 10-15 seconds per 1.5-ish-inch-outside-arc-length slice on high power in a microwave is sufficient to make the cake gooey and the chocolate melt-y. If you want to keep it this way, make sure you store it in an air-tight cake taker or some-such, as this cake will dry out and become slightly less delicious over time.

You can also bake this cake in a 9×13 brownie pan for however long the instructions on the cake mix box say to bake. It’s just as delicious, and if you make them into brownie-size pieces, you can spread them out over time. It’s a trick because they are so delicious, but they’re so worth it!