As usual, my world got away from me and all my good intentions to post these recipes over the weekend were for nothing. Last Friday, when I posted the Torte de Chevre I also included a teaser photo of some of the massive amounts of cooking and baking I did for the staff and teachers at Aidan’s school for the annual appreciation breakfast that morning. It was a lot of work since the breakfast was for 50 people but it was a lot of fun.
Between the Mothers’ Day holiday- and all the usual random wackiness that seems to be my lot in life with my high maintenance children- time just blew right past me with doctors appointments, testing and other family obligations. My apologies on holding out on you by not getting these recipes posted until now but I’m sure you’ll understand. I hope since I’m not too terribly late for once that you’ll forgive me and bear with me this week as the craziness continues. Kayla had her vision screening and we now find ourselves preparing for her to have a sedated MRI tomorrow morning at PCMC – which means another full day running around to the hospital and waiting. Though the poor little gal has been through any number of things so far this will be her first time being sedated so I find I’m feeling stressed and a bit freaked out, even though they are just getting images of her brain to make sure there isn’t anything more serious going on with her vision than we think. Any good thoughts you can send her way tomorrow as I’m nervous about how she’ll react to being put under anesthesia for the first time would be greatly appreciated!
Anyway, one of the items on the menu last week was for a simple Strawberry Yogurt and Granola Parfait using simple macerated, sweet red strawberries. To make the strawberries I simply slice them, add a sprinkle of sugar and a splash of vanilla. I then cover them and let them refrigerate and sit while the sugar brings out the natural juices in the strawberries if I’m making them ahead of time (up to one day). Otherwise just let the strawberries macerate for at least 10 minutes.
I served everything buffet style with vanilla yogurt and homemade granola. The teachers and staff could layer the different components in cups however they wanted. The granola is, of course, our favorite standby for my Homemade Almond Granola recipe just slightly modified. This granola is quite likely the item I make the most often at our house. We eat it every day for breakfast or yogurt parfaits and even make cookies with it on occasion.We love the stuff so much that I probably go through about a gallon of it in just over a week. In fact, thanks to this granola, I pretty much never buy cereal at the store any more at all. It makes the perfect breakfast for Aidan before school and is easily adaptable to different tastes. The recipe is kept pretty simple and basic so that everyone can add what they like themselves – dried fruit, chocolate chips, yogurt, fruit or just milk and a spoon.
Strawberry Yogurt and Granola Parfait
Makes one parfait – multiply as needed by that number of people you are serving
3 large ripe strawberries, hulled, washed and sliced
1/4 teaspoon of sugar
1/4 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup almond granola (recipe below)
Toss your sliced strawberries with the sugar and vanilla and allow to sit and get juicy for about 10 minutes before using. In your serving cup or dish, layer yogurt, fruit and granola in alternating layers however you prefer. Serve immediately.
Homemade Almond Granola
Makes about 5 cups
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
I also served these little Mexican sweet bread rolls. I had never had this type of roll or even seen it before, but I’m told they are easy to find at Mexican bakeries or on breakfast tables in Mexico. I’ve now seen pictures of rolls topped with all different colors and cutting designs, but it seems that the most common is to cut the topping mixture into a clam shell pattern – which when made smaller in size are called conchitas instead of the full sized conchas. In fact, I’m glad I made the rolls smaller, because, had I followed the recipe I adapted exactly then each roll would have been fairly huge. As it was, I made a doubled recipe and got 40 smallish (about 3 1/2 inch) rolls, when the original doubled recipe portions would have only made 24 rolls. You can imagine then that they must be pretty large when not made a bit smaller. It’s really up to you then on how big or small you make them.
So, basically, it is a sweet yeast bread, lightly spiced with ground cinnamon, that is then topped with a butter and sugar mixture that is thoroughly creamed and flavored, usually with either cinnamon, vanilla or cocoa, that is then mixed with flour to make a very thick paste that is actually about the texture of sugar cookie dough. The topping ‘dough’ is then rolled into balls, flattened, molded over the top of your bread dough rolls, cut, then the dough and topping is allowed to rest and rise together before baking.
All things considered, these were some extra work, but I have to admit, they were fun to make and I can see them being a lot of fun to let the kids help with too. I didn’t get wild and crazy with my cutting designs this time, but you certainly could cut whatever pattern you feel like, keeping in mind that you want the dough to be a bit anchored because it can tend to slide off a bit during the rising and baking. I also chose not to choose between a cinnamon topping, vanilla topping or chocolate/cocoa topping and actually combined all three to get a kind of cinnamon spiced chocolate flavored topping that was a pretty, rich brown color. You could do whatever you want and even use food coloring in your topping, but I chose to keep it pretty basic this time around.
The rolls were tender, sweet and had a hint of the cinnamon flavor in the bread itself and the topping was really delicious with the chocolate/cinnamon/vanilla flavor which baked up into a crunchy, light almost cookie like texture on top of the bread. My whole family loved these and I will definitely be making them again! We ate the leftovers for the last few days over the weekend and they were still delicious when heated up a bit in the microwave, so if you choose to cut the recipe in half, you may end up feeling like me and want to kick yourself that they are all gone!
Mexican Sweet Bread (Mexican Chocolate Conchitas)
Adapted from this recipe
Note: I didn’t have any evaporated milk on hand so I started out with 1 cup of milk and let it boil and simmer for about 30 minutes before it reduced by half into the 1/2 cup needed. If you have evaporated milk, or don’t want to go that extra step, simply use the 1/2 cup of canned evaporated milk.
Makes 20 small rolls or 12 large ones
FOR THE DOUGH:
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 cups milk, reduced to 1/2 cup by simmering 30+ minutes OR 1/2 cup canned evaporated milk
1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
FOR THE SUGAR CRUST TOPPING:
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
pinch of sea salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon good quality, Dutch process unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, combine the yeast, water, evaporated milk, sugar, melted butter, vanilla, salt, egg, sugar, cinnamon, and 2 cups of the flour until well combined. Gradually add the remaining 2 cups of flour until the dough pulls together and makes a ball. Switch the the kneading hook attachment or knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and soft without being sticky. (About 4 minutes by mixer and 8 minutes by hand). Place the dough into a large greased bowl and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rise till doubled, about 40 minutes.
While the dough is rising, prepare the sugar topping mixture. Place the sugar, butter, sea salt, cinnamon, cocoa and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, or use a hand mixer on medium speed to thoroughly cream the butter. Add the flour and beat well to combine and make a very thick paste that is pliable and about the consistency of cookie dough. Use a scoop to divide the topping mixture evenly into as many portions as you plan to make rolls (so either 12 or 20 portions). Roll each ball lightly between the palms of your hands to make them smooth. Set aside while you shape the bread dough into rolls.
When the dough has doubled in size, cut it into 12 or 20 equal pieces and shape into smooth balls of dough. Place each roll onto a lightly greased baking sheet, about 2 inches apart for small rolls and 3 inches apart for large rolls. You’ll need at least two baking sheets for all the rolls.
Use the palm of your hand to flatten each sugar topping ball slightly, then use the bottom of a flat measuring cup or glass to lightly press the topping into a circle that will cover the top of each dough round and down about 1/3 of the side of each bread dough roll so that it is cupped with the topping. Press the edges lightly down onto the bread roll so that the sugar mixture stays in place. Repeat the process for each roll, working as quickly as you can so that the dough doesn’t rise too much and the sugar doesn’t dry out and crack too much while you are working on it. If you sugar dough sticks to the glass or measuring cup too much while you are working, you can dip the bottom of the glass in a little extra sugar to keep it from sticking.
Once all the dough rolls are covered, use a small sharp knife to cut your lines into the dough using whatever shape you want – parallel lines for a clam shell are common. Don’t cut into the bread dough itself, just the topping.
Cover the rolls and let them rise until doubled, about 40 minutes. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and bake the rolls for 18 to 22 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Serve warm. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days, reheating slightly for best leftovers.