Breakfast Honey Buns

This morning treat will scratch your itch for cinnamon rolls without any refined sugar. The dough itself is unsweetened, relying on a honey goo in the bottom of the pan to take it from yeasted bread to breakfast dessert. Do you tend to overindulge on sweets in December? This gives you a special treat to enjoy with your coffee that isn’t too much. (I may never make traditional cinnamon rolls again.)

I adapted this recipe from Baking With Less Sugar, a book that I’m really enjoying (and one that I featured in my recent gift guide.) I’ve tweaked the ingredients a bit and the timing – I always think it’s easier to do the prep the night before.

honey bunsBreakfast Honey Buns

Dough:

2 1/2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 c. vegetable oil, olive oil, or coconut oil
1 c. warm water

Goo:

8 tbls. unsalted butter
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. cream or 1/3 c. half and half
1/2 c. water
1/4 tsp. salt

Filling:

2 cups hazelnuts
6 tbls. soft unsalted butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. cardamom
a sprinkling of fresh nutmeg
1/4 tsp. almond extract

  1. Combine the dry dough ingredients with the wet. Knead by machine or hand until the dough feels supple.
  2. Leave to rise for an hour in a warm place.
  3. Make the goo by combining all ingredients in a small sauce pan over low and whisking until homogeneous. (Yes, it will look pretty thin, but don’t worry, it’ll work out.) Set aside to cool.
  4. The filling is best prepared by pulsing all of the ingredients in a food processor until the nuts are your desired size, but you can definitely chop the nuts and incorporate the butter by hand.
  5. When the dough has risen, roll it out into a long rectangle. Smear with filling, leaving about a 1/2 inch bare on one of the long sides. Roll up tightly and gently, sealing with the bare edge. Cut into 12 equal buns.
  6. Pour the goo into a 9×13 inch pan. Spread evenly and place the buns in the pan, keeping a space between each bun to allow for rising and baking.
  7. Seal with plastic wrap or lid and pop in the refrigerator.
  8. In the morning, uncover, and place in a cold oven. Set the temperature for 400F and allow the buns to come to temperature with the oven. Start your timer for 25 minutes when it hits 400F.
  9. Enjoy warm!

Notes:

  • To make and eat right away, increase the first rising time to 2 hours and, after forming the buns and placing them in the goo, let rise for another hour.
  • For our small family of three, I prepare the recipe using two square pans and freeze the second pan for a future weekend.
  • If you’re looking for a sweeter treat or more complete tips for making a roll, check out Cinnamon Rolls Your Way

Make Your Own Peppermint Bath Soak

Here’s a luxurious gift to make and give someone. Co-workers have questionable dietary needs? Family members eschewing sweets and trying to be healthy? Sometimes it’s nice to make and give something that isn’t food. (Shocking, I know.)

If you’re lucky, you still have mint in your backyard. This year, sadly being without an established herb garden, I picked mine from our school playground. It was still alive and well, as we haven’t had a big freeze yet. About a week before I wanted to make my gifts, I snipped it and hung it upside down in a bunch to dry.  You can probably get everything else that you need at the grocery store or drug store. Epsom salts usually come in a bag or in a container that looks like a milk carton. I found my peppermint oil at a health food store (on sale!) but you can find it in most grocery stores too. Look for it in a tiny little bottle, probably shelved near candles or bath items. (Don’t look in the spice aisle – you don’t want peppermint extract.)

You can decide how you want to package and accessorize this present. I like the quilted jars because they’re beautiful and reusable for many purposes. You could add some peppermint tea, a tiny wooden scoop, or anything that might complete a little collection of luxury items. (It’s hard to resist this little cookie.) Here’s a gift tag that you can use, if you like.

Bath salt proportions:

1 cup kosher salt
1 cup epsom salt
1/4 cup baking soda
4-5 drops of peppermint oil
About 1 cup mint, dried and chopped finely

Since the proportions are easy to manage, this recipe is easy to enlarge to suit your needs. I measured the salts using a jar, according to how many gifts I wanted to make. (Get out the big bowl for this one!)

  1. Assemble and organize your ingredients.
  2. Mix salts and baking soda together.
  3. Remove about 1 cup of your mixture to a small bowl and stir in the oil. Mix well. Add this back in to your big mixture.
  4. Stir in the mint.
  5. Package and give with love.

Much merriness to you all!

Serious Hot Chocolate

It’s cold. Get serious about hot chocolate. Try this one, and you’ll find it hard to go back to powdered mixes. Tis the season to indulge.

In a heavy saucepan, bring 1 cup cream to a low boil. Remove from from heat and whisk in 8 ounces of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips. When thouroughly mixed, pour through a fine mesh strainer into a glass container. This ganache mixture can be refrigerated for about 2 weeks.

When you’re ready to relax, heat 8 ounces milk. Whisk in 2 ounces of the ganache mixture. Add a few drops of vanilla in the bottom of your mug. Stir your hot chocolate in your mug.

  • For extra spunk, add a sprinkling of cinnamon.
  • For rich ‘french style’ hot chocolate, mix 4 ounces of milk with 4 ounces of ganache (or any other amount in a one to one ratio.) Can you handle this decadence?? (Made in this way, your hot chocolate will taste like the good stuff at B&O.)