Tuesday, August 23, 2016

New Apartment and Turkey Meatballs Barley and Garlic Sauce Dish

I just moved from my parents' place to an apartment closer to work and I am so happy! I've been commuting since January and the commute can be anywhere from 1-2 hours, depending on traffic. It's about 60 miles each way. My dad has been doing this commute for over 10 years now. It's very taxing and you lose 3-4 hours of your day every weekday. I gained weight because I did not exercise as much, plus I would typically get sucked into my work and end up sitting for several hours. I try to walk periodically, and take a 15-20 minute walk after lunch, but it's not enough to combat a 9-10 hour sitting session. Finally, I got a place that is steps from the beach! It is such a great deal. Pretty good price for LA, though the room is small, but can't beat being close to the beach and in this nice area. Plus, my commute is only 30 minutes each way! It's only been 1 week since moving in but I am so much happier. :)

Another reason I wanted to move out and closer to work was to get back into cooking! My mom cooks a lot at home, and she is a FANTASTIC cook, but at times I really enjoy the process of cooking and getting the chance to experiment. Now that I'm in my own place and with more time (come home at 7 instead of 9!), I can get back to cooking!

Tonight I made a turkey meatball and veggie dish over barley. We had a pint of this great garlic sauce leftover from a work lunch, and I knew it would be great on nearly anything. I finished cooking around 9:30 and was very pleased. I did not take a picture of this because I still need to figure out how to plate it best, but the dish was very delicious despite its simplicity. I am proud because the turkey meatballs turned out very juicy! Earlier in the year, I had attempted to make Swedish meatballs, followed a recipe, and it came out very dry. I brought it to work too and feel like I forever shamed myself "-_-

The garlic sauce is this delicious thick creamy white sauce from Chicken Maison, which is famous for this sauce. It's delicious. It's probably based on this Lebanese garlic sauce ("toum") recipe, but is thicker and creamier, maybe closer to this garlic recipe here. Here's what I did:

Turkey meatballs:
1/2 lb of ground lean turkey (95% lean)
1/2 large yellow onion, minced
1/2 tsp of Texas barbecue seasoning (salt, black pepper, dried garlic, dried onion, paprika, oregano)
1 large egg
4-6 crumbled Saltine crackers

Mix together and let sit 15 minutes while you prepare the vegetables. I used mushrooms and broccoli here, cooked with caramelized minced onion in avocado oil. Once cooked to a crisp tender and caramelized state, remove contents to a bowl.

Meanwhile, cook pearled barley according to packet directions. I used 1 3/4 cup of water to 1/2 cup of barley, and probably cooked it for 45-60 minutes, but it was too much water and I had to drain the excess.

Using a mini cookie scoop, shape meat mixture into tight little balls. I got 11 out of the 1/2 lb meat mix.

In the same pan that the vegetables cooked in, heat another tsp of oil. Place the meatballs gently in the pan and cook over medium until browned. Turn meatballs and cook until browned on all sides. Make sure to cover the pan at some point to allow the meatballs to cook through without losing moisture. Once browned on all sides, turn off heat and remove pan from heat.

To serve:
Scoop barley into a wide bowl. Top with meatballs and vegetables, then drizzle garlic sauce over. You can garnish with paprika and parsley, a squeeze of lemon. Enjoy!

Here's another Mediterranean garlic sauce (copied from this link)
- 4 cloves garlic minced with
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 egg white

In a food processor add garlic minced with salt, begin processor and slowly add oil and lemon juice alternating them until gone, scape down sides intermittently. Add one to two egg whites while the processor is blending until you reach mayonnaise consistency. Serve with chicken or meat and cover and refrigerate remainder. Lasts about a week refrigerated"
Till next time!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Cranberry Orange Cream Scones (revisited)

I made another batch of the cranberry orange cream scones because it was so well liked by everyone in my family and at work. This time, I think I perfected the recipe. I made a double batch and made slightly smaller scones, a bit bigger than bite size but not as large as original. These were the perfect size I think.

Cranberry Orange Cream Scones
makes 12 scones
based on this Epicurious recipe
2 cups all-purpose flour
Just under 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Just under 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup dried cranberries
About 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 Tbs freshly grated orange peel
1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 Tbs melted butter
1-2 tsp coarse sugar

1. Combine the dried cranberries and fresh orange juice in a cup, making sure to cover the cranberries. Allow to rehydrate for at least 15 minutes and then drain well.
2. Mix flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Mix in the cranberries and grated orange peel.
2. Pour in the whipping cream and stir just till combined. Form into a ball and lightly flour the surface.
3. Lightly flour a clean surface and your hands. Pull the dough out onto the surface and shape into a rectangle about 8-9" by 4-5". Cut in half lengthwise, then cut each strip into 3 squares. Cut each square diagonally to create triangles. (You can change the size and shape as desired. These are great made into bite sized scones too!)
4. Preheat oven to 420-425 deg Fahrenheit.
5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush the parchment paper with oil. Place the triangles of dough evenly across the baking sheet. Brush the top of each triangle with melted butter and sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar.
6. Bake for 10-12 minutes. You may turn it around 8 minutes to promote even browning. (Reduce time and check frequently if making smaller scones). Let cool on the rack for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool further.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Tiramisu Cheesecake

Cheesecake is an American favorite, but the New York style and Cheesecake Factory ones are usually too thick and too sweet for me. The American palate tends to turn their desserts into sugar and fat bombs that are quite bad for your health, but are sure addicting! Being health-conscious and familiar with Asian-style sweets, I lean toward less sweet or sweet and salty desserts. I like combining sweets with something slightly salty or savory and bitter, such as adding nuts. Red bean and sesame desserts are delicious to me, too, because the flavors help cut the sweetness of whatever dessert they are in.

I must admit that I do like cheesecake, but in small portions, like the cheesecake bites at Yogurtland. Sometimes, I get that craving but never go out and buy one because most restaurants and stores makes theirs too sweet and thick. Finally, I had time to make one. I found this tiramisu mascarpone by BelGioioso, and I wanted to make tiramisu, because that is one of my top favorite cakes, but that required getting heavy cream and whipping cream and other things. I already had cream cheese at home so I thought a tiramisu cheesecake would be an awesome thing to make.

After searching a bit, I found this recipe for tiramisu cheesecake on AllRecipes that met my requirements for minimal ingredients and only a moderate amount of work and complexity. Earlier, I made a batch of homemade graham crackers and decided to add that to the crust to add a bit more crunch and flavor. I made some other adjustments as I went along: (1) soaked ladyfingers in a mix of Kahlua and coffee and wedged in the cheesecake batter, (2) added more Kahlua to the crust, (3) added more Kahlua and coffee to the cheesecake batter, and (4) topped with a pretty design using finely-ground coffee. I reduced the sugar by half because of my aforementioned aversion to sweet desserts and the cheesecake came out perfectly. It was just sweet enough and just thick enough to be addicting and enjoyable without getting sugar headaches. In addition to those changes, I baked the cheesecake in a waterbath, which helps maintain moisture while baking. I think I read somewhere that the waterbath also helps the top from cracking and helps the cheesecake bake evenly.

My family was very impressed by the presentation and flavor of this cake. This is definitely a recipe that I will return to time and again when I want a show-stopping cake!

Tiramisu Cheesecake with Kahlua
1 7 oz package of ladyfinger cookies, crushed to a coarse powder
About 5 crushed graham crackers to bring up the dry weight to 12 oz (I will increase the amount of crust in the future. This was too thin for my liking)
2 Tbs Kahlua (coffee liqueur)
4 Tbs of unsalted butter, melted

16 oz of cream cheese (regular or Neufchatel)
8 oz of BelGioioso tiramisu mascarpone cheese (mascarpone cheese flavored with real coffee and sugar; you could probably make your own by mixing mascarpone with some instant espresso powder and some sugar, or with a splash of room temperature strong brewed coffee with some sugar)
2 eggs
1/2 cup white sugar
4 Tbs all-purpose flour or white whole wheat flour
3-4 Tbs Kahlua (I would add more Kahlua and coffee in the future)
3-4 Tbs of strong-brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature OR 3-4 Tbs water mixed with 1-2 tsp instant coffee granules
4-6 ladyfinger cookies
Finely ground coffee for decorating top (optional)

Special Equipment
A 9" springform, nonstick pan
A jelly roll pan with at least a 1" rim

1. Mix the crushed ladyfingers and graham crackers with the Kahlua and butter. Press into the bottom of a 9" springform pan.
2. Beat the cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, and sugar until smooth. Add the Kahlua and coffee and mix. Add the eggs and four and mix slowly, just until incorporated. You do not want to overbeat or else the cheesecake will crack as it cools.
3. Pour half of the cheesecake batter over the crust.
4. Mix the brewed coffee (at room temperature) with some Kahlua. Dip each ladyfinger in the mixture and arrange in a single layer over the cheesecake. You don't need to cover the entire top.
5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Pour the remaining cheesecake batter over the ladyfingers. Jiggle the pan a bit to distribute the batter evenly.
7. Place the pan on a large sheet of aluminum foil. Wrap the foil up and around the sides of the pan, making sure there is no opening for water to get in. Make a second layer of aluminum foil wrap in the same fashion. Place the wrapped pan in middle of the jelly roll pan. Pour water to reach 1/2" up the side of the pan.
8. Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes - just until the cheesecake is only slightly jiggly in the center. If it is browning on top too quickly, cover the top with foil and lower the temperature 10 degrees. Once done, turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in the oven with the oven door open for 20 minutes. Then, remove from the oven, let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate at least 3 hours.
9. Before serving, dust finely ground coffee over the top, using patterned stencils if desired. Slice and serve!

1. Wipe your knife with water in between slices to prevent dragging cheese filling over the rest of the cake.
2. Cheesecake freezes and thaws well too. You can wrap individual slices, or put wax or parchment paper in between slices, then wrap and freeze. When you want to eat, just remove from the freezer, thaw, and eat!
3. You can sprinkle cocoa powder on top instead of finely-ground coffee.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Cranberry Orange Cream Scones

If you have a lot of whipping cream that you need to use up, these cream scones are a great way to use it up. I myself had bought a bottle of whipping cream to make green tea cream puffs, but then my dad used all the matcha and then I got lazy to make the cream puffs.

In addition, these scones are great if you are low on eggs and butter. Rather than using butter and eggs, these scones use the pure fatty goodness of heavy (whipping) cream. The texture came out so great. It was moist with a texture somewhere between cakey and bready. It was not as dry and crumbly (aka flaky) as typical scones, but I like this better, I think. I was eating my mom's day-old red velvet donut and I think its texture was very similar to that. Cakey but firm and crisp on the outside. Ooo, great idea! This recipe could be piped into donut pans to make baked donuts! Will have to try that next time I get a donut pan.

This recipe is based on this one for lemon cream scones. I swapped out the apricot for cranberries and lemon for oranges, because I had those at home and they are two typical flavor combinations. I also added cinnamon because I think cinnamon should be added to nearly every baked good. Hey, they say it helps control blood sugar!

Cranberry Orange Cream Scones
based on this Epicurious recipe
2 cups all-purpose flour
Just under 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Just under 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 Tbs freshly grated orange peel
1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (next time I may reduce this to just 1 cup)

1/2 Tbs melted butter
1-2 tsp coarse sugar

1. Mix flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Mix in the cranberries and grated orange peel.
2. Pour in the whipping cream and stir just till combined. Form into a ball and lightly flour the surface.
3. Lightly flour a clean surface and your hands. Pull the dough out onto the surface and shape into a rectangle about 8-9" by 4-5". Cut in half lengthwise, then cut each strip into 3 squares. Cut each square diagonally to create triangles.
4. Preheat oven to 420-425 deg Fahrenheit.
5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush the parchment paper with oil. Place the triangles of dough evenly across the baking sheet. Brush the top of each triangle with melted butter and sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar.
6. Bake for 10-12 minutes. You may turn it around 8 minutes to promote even browning. Let cool on the rack for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool further.

These scones can be eaten warm from the oven, at room temp, or lightly rewarmed. Goes very well with a cup of coffee or tea! I will definitely remake this in the future because it is so easy and rewarding!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Banana Oatmeal Bread with Nutella Smile


It is officially autumn but it sure is still hot in Southern California. Yesterday it was mid-80 degrees Fahrenheit and the news says that it will be hotter these next few days. It will be nice when the cool fall weather kicks in.

Southern California Sunset

In its fourth year of drought, California has been cutting back on water, making various efforts to reduce water loss and waste, and has successfully reduced water use by more than 30%, which is about 5% above what the government was hoping for. Despite almonds getting a bad rap for water use in California, California still manages to churn out a good deal of produce.

Luckily, just last week, there was some torrential downpour which broke the drought but caused some damaging flooding in various areas. There was some hope that there was going to be rainfall earlier this week, but the clouds ended up just passing by my area with no rainfall.

Although it's been hot lately, I still want to bake and that requires turning on the oven. It's a small price to pay, though, when the reward is something scrumptious! My mom and I have been buying lots of bananas because my sister and her boyfriend take so many when they go surfing. We buy a bushel and then half are gone by the end of the week! This time, we bought too many, and boy-oh-boy was I happy. Because you know what brown bananas mean?

Banana bread!

I had this recipe I used before that merged America's Test Kitchen's banana bread recipe with Giada's recipe. I made it twice but they were too moist and lacked structure. Although adding more bananas increases sweetness and moistness of the final product, too much made it mushy. Therefore, I sought to make a better banana bread. Serious Eats has become one of my top go-to sites for food recipes. I trust their recipes because of the expertise and creativity of its contributors. When I found this Banana Oatmeal Bread recipe on their site and read that a pastry chef, Anna Markow, created it, I knew it must be a good recipe. As a healthy baker, I could tell that although this was a dessert, the ingredients were not so bad for you and I could feel good making and eating a lot of this.

In place of the rolled oats, I used Coach's Oats Steel-Cut Oats that I pulverized in my spice/coffee grinder. Also, I had some Nutella leftover and I wanted to use it up because it has been in my pantry for so long, so I mixed it with a small portion of batter and added that to the middle of the pan. On top, I put sliced bananas and some mini chocolate chips for presentation value. The final result was spectacular. My sister and her boyfriend really enjoyed it. I had to stop myself from eating too many slices myself so that I could share with my family!

Hope you try this recipe as it is a slight change on the classic banana bread recipe with a few improvements that make it nearly irresistible.

Banana Oatmeal Bread with Nutella Smile (adapted from Serious Eats)
makes 1 9" by 5" loaf 
1 cup white whole wheat flour (recommend Ultragrain(R))
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup granulated (white) sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, slightly packed into the cup
1/2 cup rolled oats (or steel cut oats pulverized into almost flour texture)
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 medium, ripe bananas
2 eggs
1/3 cup of buttermilk (or a little less than 1/3 cup of whole milk with 1-2 Tbs fresh lime or lemon juice, set aside to curdle for 5 minutes)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs Nutella
For topping (optional):
1/2 banana sliced in thin rounds
A few chocolate chips

1) Sift the white whole wheat flour, the whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon into a large bowl. Stir in the white sugar, brown sugar, and rolled oats.
2) In a blender, blend the bananas, eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla until well-mixed, but do not over-blend or you will incorporate too much air.
3) Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Fold/mix together until just combined.
4) Prepare a 9x5" loaf pan by lightly greasing and flouring. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (if you oven tends to output higher temperature or tends to brown things too quickly, try reducing the temperature to 325-340 degrees Fahrenheit).
5) In a small bow, mix 2 Tbs Nutella with about 1/2 cup of the batter.
6) Pour half of the original batter into the pan, then spread the Nutella batter in the center. Pour the remaining original batter and spread evenly in the pan.
7) Place the banana slices and chocolate chips as desired on top of the bread.
8) Bake in the preheated oven for 28 minutes, then turn the pan 180 degrees and bake for another 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Make sure to watch it in the last 10 minutes because mine browned quick a bit and I had to remove it after about 46-48 minutes of baking.
9) Immediately remove from the pan and let cool on a wire rack for about 30-60 minutes before slicing and serving.

Note: Loaf lasts at least 4 days without refrigeration in Southern California summer weather. If you live in a humid, hot area, I suggest refrigerating by the 3rd or 4th day.

Smile! Happiness can come from food! :D

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Oatmeal Cranberry Walnut Bread

I've been sooo lazy to post. Honest, I have been cooking and baking a lot, but nothing too spectacular to warrant a blog post. Well, I guess, one thing that I enjoyed was that, earlier this week, I made some homemade black bean veggie enchiladas with homemade roasted tomato serrano sauce. It was good and fed me throughout the week. The recipe for the roasted tomato salsa is from Once Upon a Chef (found here). I am now amazed at how easy it is to make roasted salsas at home. By simply broiling tomatoes, onions, garlic, and serranos for 10-20 minutes, then blending them with oregano, cumin, salt, and fresh lime juice, you come out with this tasty sauce you can add to various Mexican dishes to perk up the flavor. Alas, I had no cilantro, which really would have given the sauce the extra fresh flavor it needed. This will be a go-to recipe for a different salsa than the normal pico de gallo.

Today, I was shuttered up in the house for most of the day because it was raining all day here in Houston. Houston is like that. One day will be bright and sunny and beautiful (i.e., yesterday, the first day of spring), and the next is freezing and it's raining cats and dogs! Okay, so the rain was not so terrible. It let up now and then, but still put a damper on my usual morning walk with my dog. Being stuck in the house, all I could do was cook or bake. So after fixing myself a nice breakfast taco (I have learned to make scrambled eggs by cooking over low heat rather than medium high. My breakfasts have been transformed with soft silky eggs now instead of dry crunchy eggs!), I set to making a bread that has wow'ed me since I first tried it out.

Red Star Yeast posted this recipe for Oatmeal Walnut Bread and I made it some months ago. It was so fantastic I had to write a note on the recipe that it was really good so I would remember. Now, this is my go-to bread. But I must admit I never seem to make it the same. First time, I used just honey and maple syrup instead of molasses and pecans instead of walnuts, because that is what I had. This time, I used 2 Tbs of molasses and 1 Tbs of honey and added walnuts and cranberries. This bread gets better each time I think.

The reason I added walnuts AND cranberries is because the HEB (huge Texas grocery chain) bakeries make this fantastic cranberry pistachio bread. It is one of their best. They also do a cranberry walnut bread. These are baked in artisan-looking loaves and run about $4.99. HEB knows these breads are good and generally never put them on sale. I wanted to replicate that delicious bread but with a recipe I was familiar with. Additionally, I wanted a healthy spin. This Oatmeal Walnut Bread lends naturally to those requirements.

I was pleased with the result. I admit I am still uncertain about my hand-kneading technique but I think the crumb came out well. The crumb was a bit dense from the whole wheat and mix-ins, but you can still see the airy micro-structure and the gluten development, which allowed for a sturdy loaf that doesn't fall apart too easily when you cut or tear it. The instructions listed below are for how I made it this time around (rainy day, humid Houston, 65-75 degree outside temperature).

Oatmeal Cranberry Walnut Bread
One 9x5" loaf
1+1/4 cup of bread flour + more for kneading
1 sachet (2+1/4 tsp) of Platinum Red Star Yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water
2 Tbs molasses
1 Tbs honey
2 Tbs vegetable/canola oil
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup instant plain rolled oats
1/2 cup walnuts, crushed or chopped
1/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries
Half an egg and some more plain rolled oats for topping

Special equipment
Thermometer that reads up to 130 deg Fahrenheit
9x5" loaf pan


  1. Mix the 1+1/4 cup of bread flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. In a medium sized microwaveable bowl, add 1 cup water, 2 Tbs molasses, 1 Tbs honey, and 2 Tbs. Microwave for over 1 minute 30 seconds until a thermometer, when inserted, reads 120 to 130 deg Fahrenheit. 
  3. Pour the still warm liquid mixture into the dry mixture. Stir until dry bits are incorporated.
  4. Add in the 1 cup whole wheat flour slowly until you reach a dough ball that pulls away from the sides, stays together, but don't make it too dry.
  5. Mix in the crushed walnuts and cranberries.
  6. Now turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5-8 minutes until the dough is supple and elastic. Add extra bread flour a tablespoon at a time if needed to work the dough. The dough may still be a little sticky but do not add more just to prevent all stickiness. Adding too much dough will make your bread dense and taste like cardboard wheat.
  7. Lightly grease a large bowl. Roll the dough into a ball, brush a little oil on top, and then place into the greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a towel and leave for 30 minutes. 
  8. The dough will have almost doubled in size. Lightly punch down the dough, expelling excess air and redistributing the yeast. Knead and stretch the dough into about a 7" x 14" rectangle. Roll the rectangle up along the long end so you end up with a log about the size of the loaf pan. Pinch the seals closed.
  9. Lightly grease the bottom and lower sides of the loaf pan. Sprinkle with flour or cornmeal. Place the rolled dough seam-side down into the pan, cover, and let rise for another 30 minutes.
  10. Before the last 10 minutes of rising, preheat the oven to 375 degree Fahrenheit. Place a pan filled partway with water inside to create steam. Mix half an egg with water and brush the top of the loaf with the egg wash. Sprinkle the remaining rolled oats on top and press lightly to make them stick.
  11. Once the oven has finished preheating, put the loaf in the middle rack of the oven (keep the water pan inside) and bake for 30-40 minutes until the top is lightly browned and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. If the top is browning too quickly near the end, remove the loaf, cover the top with foil and return to the oven to finish baking.
  12. When finished baking, remove the loaf and let cool for about 20 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan and let cool on a rack.
The bread was so good eaten fresh out of the oven. It was even better when it cooled down further and even better better when I made a roast turkey sandwich with it. I really should have taken a picture of my sandwich. Fresh avocado, smoked gouda, cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce, and turkey deli slices that I heated in the toaster. It was a fantastic sandwich. 

Hope you enjoy this bread as much as I did! Oh, and if you have tips on kneading bread dough, I would love to hear your advice. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

King Cake for Fat Tuesday

I've seen King Cake circulating around Mardi Gras time for several years now. I've never had it before and it looked very festive with all the colorful sprinkles on top. The tradition of hiding a little baby Jesus inside the cake always make me laugh. Whoever receives the slice with Baby Jesus inside has to bring the cake next year, but then I also heard how Baby Jesus is sometimes replaced by a little bean or candy bean because people would choke on him.
It being Fat Tuesday, I wanted to try King Cake. Like I do, I decide to make it even before I have tried the real thing from stores (but really, can the grocery store in Texas make as authentic a cake as something homemade?). I used the recipe for Quick King Cake from Betty Crocker and proceeded to make it last night while also eating dinner, playing with my dog, and prepping a huge pot of beans. It was quite a busy night.

So, in making this recipe, I found out what a King Cake really is. It is basically a sweet brioche (eggy, buttery bread) dough with a buttery cinnamon sugar filling, twisted or braided into a circle. Other filling are possible such as pecans instead of just cinnamon sugar. Then, the "cake" is topped with icing and sprinkled with the typical Mardi Gras colors: purple, green, and yellow. Once completely cooled, Baby Jesus is hidden inside the cake. Sadly, Baby Jesus is not with me and I could not hide him inside.

In making this dough, I thought it was interesting that the butter is added after combining the dry ingredients with the eggs, milk, and vanilla. The addition of the butter made the dough very easy to handle. I did everything by hand, all the mixing, kneading, shaping, so the ease of handling was a godsend. I did add some flour after the full 3-1/2 cups of flour were added because the dough was too sticky. I let it sit in the fridge for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. When I came back, it had risen nicely.

I prepared the filling with only half the butter because I ran out but it was still enough, I think. I rolled the dough out to the specified size, spread the filling in (a little sparse), folded in half and then made a mistake. I wanted to incorporate the filling more and didn't think that cutting the strip into three would allow me to make a big ring. So I tried rolling it out to cut it into three strips lengthwise but that wasn't working. I ended up cutting it into three short strips, found that i couldn't braid that long enough, and ended up just trying to put the three strips back together to form a long ring. I twisted to the dough to give it that nice look. The ends didn't really seal but it kind of worked.
I let it rise for about 1-1/2 hours and then baked it for 25 minutes. The filling was spilling out because the way i twisted the dough created many openings. The filling became delicious sweet brown sugar caramel on the pan. Delicious mistake, but not one I want to make again.

After letting it cool overnight, I frosted it with cream cheese icing and dusted it with food glitter. Not the prettiest, but it sure is soooo tasty. It's like a giant cinnamon roll but better. The brioche dough is light, fluffy, buttery, a bit sweet. Biting into the filling or the caramelized sugar coating the bottom gives you that punch of more sweetness.
No wonder they eat this on Fat Tuesday. Yayyyy fat and sugar!

Overall, the recipe was not too difficult except for my misunderstanding of the shaping part.