Sweet potato cinnamon rolls with boozy caramel glaze

Sweet potato cinnamon rolls with boozy caramel glaze

I suppose it’s important to preface this with the story of my brother. And how for a brief moment he entertained the idea of meeting us in Dublin over St. Patrick’s Day weekend to surprise our father – because Thom and I surprising him with tickets to Ireland wasn’t a strong enough recipe for a heart attack, as it was. I probably shouldn’t joke about heart attacks because my dad eats a lot of butter. Whatever you picturing right now, multiply that by ten.

I kid, but the man likes his butter. And who am I to tell him to eat less of something that’s capable of clogging his coronary arteries and starving one of the most vital organs in his body of blood and oxygen? I have a lot of nerve, caring about the overall health and well being of the man who will eventually become the grandfather of my children. But that’s not the point. This is about my brother and his plans to visit Ireland, remember? Well, the plans fell through once he realized he had prior obligations with work. Which annoyed the shit out of me because he works a lot and I don’t get to see him as often as I’d like. He loves what he does so I shouldn’t complain, but sometimes I do because I like spending time with my brother more than twice a year. Which means I should probably go back to Ohio more often. But who really wants to go back to Ohio more often?

Anyway, this is no longer about my brother. This is about us and how we got into Dublin at 8AM Friday morning, with a Thom who was adamant about getting a SIM card before we left the airport. So after he ran my dad around Terminal 1 looking for the Vodafone store, he came back with a working mobile device and we were on our way, in a taxi with a gray haired Irish man who has never stepped foot off the island. (I think it’s worth noting that he has plans of visiting the US in a few years, so it’s really not as pitiful as it seems.) He dropped us at our B&B and we were told by the head lady that she could hold our bags, but our rooms wouldn’t be ready until noon. I was a little irritated, but it was my fault as I’m the one who dropped the ball on informing her of our early arrival.

We be mixin'
We be cuttin'
Sweet potato cinnamon rolls
Boozy caramel glaze

Thom had other plans, anyway. Plans that involved a long walk through the city, around Stephen’s Green, and to a side of Dublin I had never seen before. We passed four or five establishments that looked like they’d be able to feed a person with dietary restrictions such as my own, and I started getting grumpy because I needed food. And coffee. And just when I was about to be all SERIOUSLY DUDE WE’VE BEEN WALKING FOR 25 MINUTES AND I’M TIRED AND MY FEET HURT AND I REALLY NEED SOMETHING TO FILL THIS EMPTY BELLY, we rounded the corner to see my brother standing in front of Cassidy’s Pub with luggage and the biggest, stupid grin on his face.

In typical girl-who-grew-up-with-five-brothers fashion, the first thing I did was stop and shout NO FUCKING WAY! And just when I was about to start crying (sleep deprivation, hormones – you know the deal) I ran toward him and went in for a hug, and thought about how he deserved a good ass kicking for lying to me. But also the Brother of the Year Award because he got me. He got all of us (with the exception of Thom) good.

Psst! Photo updates here and here.

Sweet potato cinnamon rolls with boozy caramel glaze
Sweet potato cinnamon rolls with boozy caramel glaze
Sweet potato cinnamon rolls with boozy caramel glaze

Notes: I use canned sweet potato puree but fresh puree should work as well. I’ve also made these with pumpkin and they’ve turned out great. Feel free to replace the sucanat with brown sugar if that’s all you have on hand. If you’re not into boozy caramel glaze (that’s a shame), substitute a simple glaze of powdered sugar, non-dairy milk, and a spoonful of molasses – it’s my go-to glaze when I’m too lazy to make anything else. I bake these rolls in a jumbo muffin pan (two!) because I like when they’re perfectly round. But you can bake them in a regular square baking pan, you’ll just need to cut them into 12 pieces instead of 9. And bake them for 16-18 minutes.

SWEET POTATO CINNAMON ROLLS WITH BOOZY CARAMEL GLAZE

Dough
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water, 105-110˚F
1/4 cup vegan butter
1/2 cup cane sugar
3/4 cup sweet potato puree
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
3 1/4 cups unbleached flour, plus more for rolling
1 tsp fine sea salt

Filling
3 tbsp vegan butter, softened
1/2 cup sucanat
2 tbsp ground cinnamon

Glaze
1 can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
1/2 cup sucanat
1-2 tbsp Irish whiskey

Lightly oil a large mixing bowl; set aside. Add the water to a small bowl and lightly stir in the yeast; add a pinch of sugar and set aside until foamy (15-20 minutes). In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then stir in the sugar, sweet potato and milk just until warm and sweet potato has dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool for 10-15 minutes (if you don’t let it cool, the heat from the mixture will kill the yeast). Add 3 cups of the flour and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment; mix for 10-15 seconds. Add the sweet potato and yeast mixture, then mix dough on medium-high speed for 6-7 minutes. If the dough is not pulling away from the sides of the bowl, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. I achieved a perfect dough with two additional tablespoons. But if you live in a humid climate, it’s likely you’ll need to add the full 1/4 cup. Once the dough has finished kneading, transfer it to the prepared mixing bowl, cover with a towel, and store in a warm part of your house until the dough doubles, about 2 hours.
Lightly oil two 6 cup jumbo muffin pans; set aside. Line a flat surface with parchment paper and sprinkle with flour. Roll the dough out into an 18×12 rectangle. Spread with butter then cover with brown sugar and cinnamon. Starting at the long end, tightly (seriously, I said tightly!) roll the dough into a log, then cut it unto 12 even pieces. Transfer the rolls to the prepared pan, leaving even space between. Cover pan with a towel and allow the rolls to rise for one hour. Bake at 375˚F for 12-14 minutes. Allow to cool in pan.
To make the glaze, start by opening the can of coconut milk and separating the thick, white milk fat from the water. Add 1/4 cup of the coconut water to a small saucepan set over medium-high heat. Whisk in the sugar and bring to a boil. Boil for 5-6 minutes, whisking only a few times, then stir in 1 cup of the coconut milk fat (you may have more or less, depending on your can of coconut milk – that’s ok). Reduce the heat to medium and boil the mixture for 5 minutes, whisking every minute or so. If you added less than 1 cup of coconut milk fat, you’ll want to cook the mixture for an extra minute or two. Off the heat and stir in the whiskey. Transfer the glaze to a glass jar and drizzle over warm cinnamon rolls. You can store the rolls in an air tight container for up to three days (I recommend not drizzling with glaze until ready to consume). Glaze can be kept in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Yield: 12 rolls

Advertisements

Buckwheat waffle with blueberry maple syrup, for one

Buckwheat waffle with blueberry maple syrup, for one

Two waffle recipes over the course of one month might seem excessive – ok, it is excessive – but this recipe is not like the other. Because this recipe is for one waffle. Just one. And I wanted so badly to call this the single lady waffle then realized it might be offensive to Thom considering this is my go-to waffle recipe and I am not a single lady. I am, however, a single lady at breakfast time because I can’t remember the last morning we ate first breakfast together. Which is a shame because I really enjoy first breakfast. A lot more than second breakfast, which is usually a mug of stale coffee and a few scoops of peanut butter drizzled over an apple or banana.

Are you following along? So far: first breakfast > second breakfast and, if you’re single, this recipe is for you. But if you’re not single, this recipe might still be for you. Like, maybe you have a significant other who sleeps in two hours past breakfast time? Yep, this waffle’s for you. And if he tries telling you that this recipe technically makes enough waffles for two breakfasts, just remind him who wakes up at 6AM to go to the gym. Who spends an hour running and competing over the only good set of 35 pound dumbbells with a bunch of meatheads. Remind him who walks all the way home in the cold (COMMITMENT) with a bottomless pit for a stomach, while he’s still sleeping like a baby. So he wouldn’t know the first thing about eating a proper breakfast because babies don’t eat that much.

I digress. If you’re on Team Thom, go ahead and share the other half of this waffle with your favorite person. If you are your favorite person, go ahead and save it for later. Or you could halve the recipe to make one waffle (except everyone on Team Ashlae knows it’s actually just half of one waffle). If you’re a big kid and like starting off your day with a solid 500 calories, don’t change a thing and down the entire waffle for breakfast. With a protein shake on the side. And maybe a banana smeared with peanut butter and rolled in chocolate chips. And now this is just getting ridiculous, but see what happens when I try to make a point?
Blueberry maple syrup + buckwheat waffle
Buckwheat waffle with blueberry maple syrup, for one

Notes: Feel free to use any flour you want. I’ve successfully made this waffle with all purpose flour, spelt flour, whole wheat pastry flour, and a gluten free flour blend. You can also use any starch you want (or flax meal – that works, too), but if you don’t have starch or flax meal hanging around, add an extra 2 tablespoons of flour to the batter. If you don’t have a 2 slice Belgian waffle maker, you can probably get away with making this recipe in your normal waffle maker (but it might make more than one waffle).

BUCKWHEAT WAFFLE WITH BLUEBERRY MAPLE SYRUP, FOR ONE

Buckwheat waffle
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 tbsp potato starch
1 1/2 tsp cane sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup almond milk
2 tsp coconut oil, melted
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup frozen blueberries, optional

Blueberry maple syrup
1/2 cup frozen blueberries, divided
2-3 tbsp pure maple syrup

Preheat a 2 slice Belgian waffle maker. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, starch, sugar, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the milk, oil and vanilla extract; whisk just until combined. Let the mixture stand to thicken for 1-2 minutes, then stir in the blueberries using a spatula. Spray the waffle maker with oil then cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

For the blueberry maple syrup, bring 1/4 cup of the blueberries and maple syrup to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook for 3-4 minutes then strain the cooked blueberries from the syrup. Add the remaining blueberries to the syrup and let sit for 10 minutes to allow the berries to thaw. Once ready, drizzle over waffle then top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon, if desired.

Yield: 1 waffle

Sweet potato waffles with cacao nibs

Sweet potato waffles with cacao nibs

Waiting in line at the post office the other day, an older lady with fire engine red lips and perfect platinum hair turned around, looked at me and said, You look tired. I wanted to tell her to mind her own business because WHO SAYS THAT TO A STRANGER? But instead I pulled down my sunglasses and said, I am. I’m really fucking tired.
Her eyes got wide, like she couldn’t believe I just said the f-word to a sweet, little lady such as herself. She gathered her packages, moved along the line and didn’t feel the need to make any other comments to the girl with the potty mouth who wears her sunglasses indoors.

But it’s true, I was tired. So. Incredibly. Tired. My inability to sleep past 5am is only matched by my inability to fall asleep before midnight (except for the other night when I fell asleep on the couch at 10:30) (that was rad), and it’s taking its toll. I have no appetite or energy to go the gym. My body aches all over. And all I want to do is sit on the couch, kick up my feet, and daydream about Thom feeding me chocolate for every meal. Daydream because I have no appetite, remember? And even if I did have an appetite, he wouldn’t ever let me get away with eating chocolate for every meal. He’s kind of a stickler for a well-rounded, vegetable heavy diet.

Sweet potato puree + hot waffle iron
Cacao nibs

I have access to pharmaceutical drugs. Lots of them. From that time I spent five months going back and forth between specialists who felt it necessary to write me prescriptions for things that would numb the pain. But I didn’t want to numb the pain. I wanted to feel better. Genuinely, not fictitiously. So these prescriptions, there’s about a dozen of them and they’re currently tucked into a pocket in a mailbag I never carry. Buried in a basket at the top of my closet that’s much too high for my five foot eight inch frame to reach. I hid them there just in case I ever wanted to forget the pain and have a day of normalcy. But if I really, truly wanted to take the easy way out, I’d have to work for it. And in the end, the effort of carrying a stool into my bedroom and rooting through a basket full of bags would be daunting enough for me to just deal with the current state of things. Which is feeling tired. And ache-y. But mostly really, really tired. I think some people use the term exhausted, but I reserve that for parents with small earthlings. Have you seen those people? They’re the definition of exhausted. I can’t compete with that.
Anyway, on my way home from the post office I cried. Not because I was sad, even though I was, and not because I had just reached my breaking point that I think if I had been home I would have taken a stool into my closet and gone to have every single one of those prescriptions filled – but because I felt bad for saying the f-word in front of a woman who was old enough to be my grandmother. Which only displayed my complete and utter lack of respect for a stranger who did nothing to deserve my unfortunate word choice, even if I was offended by the fact that she noticed the bags and dark circles beneath my eyes. Bags and circles I tried so very hard to conceal behind my sunglasses. But I digress, no one deserves to have a f-bomb dropped on them at the post office. And so I cried.

Sweet potato waffles in the making
Sweet potato waffles with cacao nibs
Sweet potato waffles with cacao nibs

Before I went home I made a pitstop to have unwanted hairs lasered off of my body. I only did it because I got a deal through Groupon and have always been fascinated by the seemingly magical process that is laser hair removal. I got zapped a few times and went on my way, but not before questioning the lady at the front desk about the fancy lip balm strategically placed at the checkout counter. She said uses them alllll the time and that they’re fantaaastic. She had chapped lips. So she was either lying about using them alllll the time or lying about them being fanataaastic. Either way, I passed up on the opportunity to have lips that taste like sex on the beach and made my way out the door.
Before I could take three steps I was nearly mauled over by a man who was in a hurry to feed the meter. I turned around with every intention of yelling something nasty at him (like, WATCH WHERE YOU’RE GOING, ASSWAD!), but then I spotted that lady across the street. The one with the red lips and platinum hair. I ran toward her as fast as I could yelling HEY LADY! WAIT UP! And she watched as I maneuvered across the street; disheveled, flinging my arms around in attempts to keep the contents of my unzipped backpack safe and sound as I tried my best to beat oncoming traffic. And when I got to her I blurted out how sorry I was for improperly using my words and before I could say anything else, before I could tell her how truly awful it made me feel, she grabbed me by the shoulders – hard enough that I let out a yelp – and said, Darling, don’t worry about it. Go home and get some fucking sleep.

Sweet potato waffles with cacao nibs

Notes: Pumpkin, banana, apple, zucchini or any other puree will work in place of sweet potato. You can replace the gluten free flour with all purpose flour, but omit the xanthan gum. If you don’t have xanthan gum on hand, just leave it out – I’ve made them gluten free without it, and the texture difference wasn’t noticeable. If you’re not into cacao nibs you be crazy, feel free to replace them with chocolate chips. Sarah posted a recipe for coffee syrup and I think you should try it. Also, I think it’s worth mentioning that I’ve eaten these waffles every day for the past two weeks. They’re good. That good.

Another favorite way to make these waffles: replace 1/2 cup of the flour blend with 1/2 cup buckwheat flour, swap the sweet potato puree with applesauce, and omit the cacao nibs. Top waffles with sliced bananas, a drizzle of full fat coconut milk, cinnamon, pecans, and shredded coconut. They’re perfect for those days that you’re looking for a satisfying breakfast without the sugar high.

SWEET POTATO WAFFLES WITH CACAO NIBS

1 1/2 cups gluten free flour blend
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup sweet potato puree
1 1/2 cups almond milk
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp muscovado sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup cacao nibs

Preheat waffle iron. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon; set aside. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the sweet potato puree, almond milk, oil, sugar, and vanilla extract. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients; whisk until combined. Stir in the cacao nibs.
When the waffle iron is heated, spray it with oil. Cook waffles according to the instruction for your iron. I added a scant 3/4 cup of batter to my iron that makes round 7″ waffles. Serve immideately, topped with with your favorite fruit and real maple syrup. If cooking for a group of people, keep waffles warm in a 225˚F oven – no need to place them on a cookie sheet, just put them straight on the oven racks. Cooked waffles can be kept frozen for up to one month. Break in half and reheat in toaster.

Yield: 5 waffles

Tofu scramble

Tofu scramble

It’s four o’clock in the morning. I’m up partly because I can’t sleep, but mostly because I crave this time alone. The one time of day where I can sit in almost complete silence and think without being distracted by that handsome man or the neighbors or a screaming tiny human at the fancy restaurant across the street. I call this moment the calm before the storm. And in its stillness, I swear I can almost hear the soft hum of this dormant city.
I prepare my coffee and sit quietly on the couch. I remember there’s a man in the other room who has a love for me so massive that it could circle the world 582 times, exactly. I tip-toe into the room, run my fingers through his hair, and whisper, in his ear, just how much I adore him; how thankful I am that he chose me. He tosses and turns, seemingly annoyed by my whispers, but as I go to leave, he grabs my hand and squeezes it. Hard. He doesn’t let go. I sit there, hand clenched, thinking about how much I love him, But mister! My coffee is going to get cold. SERIOUSLY, LET GO. MY COFFEE IS GETTING COLD.
I escape from his sleepy claw and return to the living room, where my coffee awaits. It’s cooled and ready to be sipped. I turn on the twinkly lights and pick up a magazine, but I quickly grow tired of it. Why are there so many goddamn irrelevant advertisements? I toss the magazine across the table, where it will sit far beyond its expiration date and serve as a coaster for perspiring drinkables. We subscribe to all of these magazines and they never get read. (Tell me we’re not the only ones.) I keep thinking one day, in the not so distant future, I’ll sit down and go through each and every one of them, but I never do. Time that would be spent reading magazines is reserved for other things. Like rubbing Thom’s back or soaking in the tub or making another batch of those brownies we enjoy so much.

Crumbled sprouted tofu
Spinach and cabbage

It’s five o’clock in the morning, now, and the buses are just starting their routes. I listen for the familiar sound of their brakes; like a massive exhale followed by the softest, most delicate squeal. I listen to the morning hellos and eavesdrop on conversations from the probably very sleepy people below. Don’t worry about them, I tell myself. Sit back and relax. I take it all in, each and every bit of it, and reach for my cup of coffee. It has since turned cold and another pot is made. This time, I go into the bedroom to savor my warm cup of caffeinated goodness. The spot where I laid just an hour before is now cold, and a somnolent man is hogging all the covers. That throw blanket I keep at the end of the bed has finally made itself useful. I pull it up over my chest, use my right hand to rub Thom’s back, and relish in this cup of coffee.
I sit in this moment and think about how lucky we are. How incredible it is to finally be living the life we’ve dreamt about since sewing our lives together, five years ago. Right now our bodies are settled and happy, preparing for the chaos that will come within a matter of weeks. Final projects and presentations, a 30th birthday for Thom (!!!!!), and a much needed visit back to the place where we first fell in love. This is the calm before the storm. And I really like it here.

Sprouted tofu scramble
Sprouted tofu scramble

Notes: I recommend using sprouted tofu, as it doesn’t collect nearly as much water as other water packed tofus. If you want to omit (or replace) the vegetables, that would be just fine. I know peanut butter sounds like a weird addition, but trust me on this one. And make sure you use natural, unsweetened peanut butter – peanut butter of the hydrogenated or sweetened variety will not do in this recipe. I like to use the Whole Foods brand creamy peanut butter for cooking because it’s super oily (and salty!) and doesn’t turn into one big glob when heated – but any other natural peanut butter will work.

TOFU SCRAMBLE

14 oz extra firm sprouted tofu
3 tbsp natural peanut butter
2 tbsp filtered water
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
Dash of ground cinnamon
1 tbsp organic canola oil
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped spinach
1/4 cup chopped red cabbage
Salt and pepper, to taste

Remove the tofu from it’s packaging and drain water. Wrap in a dishtowel and set a heavy pot (or two) on top; let the pot work it’s magic for 10 minutes. If you want to skip this step, you can – but you’ll have to cook the tofu a bit longer. When the tofu is finished pressing, crumble it into a large bowl; set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the peanut butter, water, cumin, turmeric and cinnamon; set aside. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the garlic and onion; sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the crumbled tofu and stir to combine with the vegetables. Pour the peanut butter spice mixture over the tofu and toss to evenly distribute. Add the spinach and cabbage, and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring/flipping every few minutes. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the pan to get all of the roasted pieces (those are the best part) off the bottom. Once cooked, add the salt and pepper. Scramble can be refrigerated in an air tight container for up to three days.

I typically serve tofu scrablmes with herbed quinoa or a side of roasted potatoes (cut into 1/4″ thick disks, tossed with a bit of oil and salt, then roasted at 400˚F for 15-20 minutes).

Yield: 2-3 servings

Maple oat scones

Maple oat scones

Dear brothers,

I don’t see you enough – as often as I’d like – but I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how different my life would be if you weren’t around; to push me, to guide me, and to scare the ever living shit out of every man I’ve ever dated.

I’d never admit it growing up, but your protectiveness is something I’ve always cherished. To have five people who care about you so much that they’d go to any extent to shield you from all-things-bad in the world? Well, that’s a pretty good feeling. Better than shaved legs on clean sheets (not that you’d know anything about that), endless salad bars (you probably couldn’t care less about those, either), or running my fingers along wrought iron fences. (Are you still reading?)

Maple oat scones in the making
Wet mixture
Maple oat scone dough

Brothers,

Many of the things I’ve grown to love about myself have been things I’ve learned from each of you. You taught me how to be strong, both mentally and physically. You taught me how to stand up for myself, to fight for what I believe and to not stop until I get it. You taught me, by example, that true happiness is attainable (as long as I want it bad enough). And most of all, you taught me how to love myself.. when I didn’t even think that loving myself was possible.

Maple oat scones
Maple oat scones
Maple oat scones

Brothers,

I think of you often; where you are, if you’re happy. And not a day goes by that I don’t dream about all six of us being together again. Sometimes I forget that we’re not kids anymore, but one day I picture us sitting around a table on a patio somewhere, laughing over these scones while we watch our little ones roll around in the grass together. Just like we used to.

I don’t tell you enough, but my love for each of you is so massive that it could swallow the world whole. The five of you have enriched my life beyond belief, and being able to grow up alongside you has truly made me a better person.

So much love,
Your “little” sister

PS – Thanks for not scaring away Thom. He likes you guys, and I think you like him, too.

Maple oat scones

Notes: If you want these to be full of gluten, simply replace the gluten free flour blend with unbleached flour (you still need to add the oat flour) and omit the xanthan gum. These guys have a soft crumb and are just barely sweet, which is why I top them with vanilla bean sugar. The maple glaze was the direct result of Thom’s absolute refusal to eat these things unless I made them sweeter (apparently, the vanilla bean sugar just wasn’t cutting it for that guy). So, the maple glaze recipe follows the baking instructions.

MAPLE OAT SCONES
1 3/4 cups gluten free flour blend
1/2 cup oat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp xanthan gum, heaping
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup Grade B maple syrup
1/2 cup almond milk
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Vanilla bean sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Line a large baking sheet with a silicone mat, or parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, oats, xanthan gum, salt and baking powder; set aside. In a small mixing bowl, combine the oil, maple syrup, almond milk and vanilla extract. Create a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the wet mixture; fold bottom mixture over the top mixture and mix with your hands (g-e-n-t-l-y) just until combined. On a flat surface (or the prepared baking sheet) sprinkled with flour, pat the dough into a circle about 1 inch thick. Slice crosswise 4 ways, transfer to baking sheet (if rolling out on countertop) and sprinkle with vanilla bean sugar, if desired. Bake at 375˚F for 16-18 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool, then store in an air tight container for up to three days.
For the maple glaze, combine 1/4 cup powdered sugar and 1-2 tablespoons Grade B maple syrup in a small bowl; whisk until smooth. Spoon over cooled scones.
Yield: 8 scones

Cinnamon rolls with maple icing

Cinnamon rolls with maple icing

I’ve never been a fan of cinnamon rolls. Or most things normal humans enjoy. But I’m a fan of baking them, and a fan of bringing them over to your house at 9 o’clock at night to surprise you. And the you we’re talking about here is Thom. Not you, you – just so we’re clear. The night I made these, I walked the pan all three blocks over to his house and shoved them into his face as soon as he opened the door. Then I followed him into the kitchen, pan in tow, as he lifted the towel to uncover the steamy buns, drenched in maple goodness. He covered them, as if he wasn’t even phased by the fact that I just surprised him with an entire pan of cinnamon rolls. He walked back into the dining room and proceeded to eat his dinner. Who eats dinner at 9 o’clock at night?
When he finally got around to trying one, his eyes rolled into the back of his head and he passed out. Because they were that good. He laid there unconscious, cinnamon roll still clinched between his fingers, until the paramedics arrived. That wasn’t even remotely true. But I’m pretty sure I did see his eyes roll into the back of his head. Did I mention he ate three (3!) before calling it a night? I mean, I don’t get it. He maintains his svelte figure after binge eating three cinnamon rolls, yet I eat one and it goes straight to my ass.
Cinnamon rolls with maple icing

I’m going to be honest – I used to think cinnamon rolls were some daunting task that required more work than they’re worth. But the truth is, making cinnamon rolls is quite simple. And the outcome wildly rewarding. I bet I spent 20 minutes total working with the actual ingredients; the rest of the time was spent washing dishes and letting the dough rise. And trust me, you need to let it rise. No cheating! You won’t have fluffy buns if you don’t let it rise. Ha, fluffy buns. That just sounds weird

If you’ve ever made cinnamon rolls from scratch, you know how important it is to get your yeast started just right. If the water you use to activate the yeast is too warm, it can kill the yeast. Too cold and it won’t activate properly. Make sure you use warm water. And if the yeast doesn’t look like this, you run the risk of having dense, chewy cinnamon rolls. No one likes dense, chewy cinnamon rolls, FYI. If you want to add more sugar to the filling, be my guest. But I was adding up the cups and realized that Thom and my homeless neighbor (I unofficially adopt the homeless person who sleeps within the closest proximity to my house) could potentially go into a diabetic coma from eating one too many of these. So I took it easy on the sugar filling.

CINNAMON ROLLS WITH MAPLE ICING
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup vegan butter
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 cup soy cream (or nondairy milk)
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
3 3/4 cups unbleached flour
2 tbsp vegan butter
1/2 cup sucanat (or brown sugar)
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp nondairy milk
1/4 tsp pure maple extract

Lightly oil a large mixing bowl; set aside. Add the water to a small bowl and lightly stir in the yeast; add a pinch of sugar and set aside until foamy (15-20 minutes). In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then stir in the sugar and creamer just until warm; about 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes. Add the salt and 3 cups of flour to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment; mix for 10-15 seconds. Add the butter and yeast mixture, then mix until combined. Add remaining 3/4 cup of flour and mix on medium-high speed for 6-7 minutes. If the dough is not pulling away from the sides of the bowl, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Transfer the dough to the prepared mixing bowl, cover with a towel and store in a warm part of your house for 60 minutes. If the dough doesn’t rise much during this time, don’t worry.
Lightly oil a 9″ square baking pan; set aside. Line a flat surface with parchment paper and sprinkle with flour. Roll the dough out into an 18×12 rectangle.  Spread with butter then cover with sucanat and cinnamon. Starting at the long end, tightly (seriously, I said tightly!) roll the dough into a log, then cut it unto 9 even pieces (each will be about 1.5″ thick). Transfer the rolls to the prepare pan, leaving even spaces in between. Cover pan with a towel and allow the rolls to rise for 45-60 minutes. Bake at 375˚F for 16-18 minutes. Allow to cool in pan.
While the rolls are cooling, prepare the icing by stirring together the sugar, maple syrup, water and maple extract. Drizzle over cooled cinnamon rolls and serve. You can store the cinnamon rolls in an air tight container for up to three days. After the dough is cut, it can be kept frozen. When ready to use, allow the dough to thaw and rise, then bake according to instructions.
Yield: 9 rolls

Coconut scones

Coconut scones

I got off of work later than usual one night last week. I also, unusually, brought my laptop along to work. Because the 3-4 hours I get paid to do nothing seemed like the perfect opportunity to edit some photos. Anyway, dark clouds started rolling in and all I could think about was how silly I was for not checking the daily forecast. Of the ten days a year precipitation falls from the sky, one of them has to be the day I bring something extremely valuable to work. WHY WAS I NOT PREPARED FOR THIS?

So, I texted Thom and asked him to send good vibes to the rain gods. You know, to convince them to hold off on the torrential downpour until my laptop was safe inside the house. Good vibes were sent, as were weird text messages. The entire ride home I received questions like: At which stop are you getting off? How far are you? Are you getting close? All I wanted to say was Dude, bug off! It’s a little rain and I’m a big lady. I’ll make it home ok. I didn’t put two and two together, which is why I was totally surprised when the bus rolled up to the stop and there was Thom – standing in the pouring rain – with an umbrella. Ready to walk me and my precious laptop all 40 feet to our front door.

Coconut scones

It took my breath away. And as hard as I try, I can never fully comprehend the magnitude of his presence on my being. He enriches my life in more ways than I have fingers and toes. And every morning I roll over to his oily head, I thank the winds for the unfortunate circumstances that lead us to one another. Lately, I’ve been so caught up with school, work and the blog, that I haven’t expressed my appreciation for him as much as I should. So, when he got sick two nights ago, I decided to wake up first thing yesterday morning and make him something comforting for breakfast. Scones. Chock full of coconut and undivided love.

Coconut scone

These scones are so full of coconut flavor that it makes my heart sing. Five of the nine ingredients are coconut derived – and it’s freaking awesome. We prefer our scones slightly on the dry side, so if you prefer yours moist, add 7 total tablespoons of coconut yogurt. Also, I used pastry flour to yield a lighter scone. If you’d prefer a dense scone, replace the pastry flour with (more) unbleached flour. And yes – these babies can be made gluten free by replacing the flour with a gluten free flour blend and xanthan gum.
COCONUT SCONES (GFO)

1 cup unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 cup fine shredded coconut
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup coconut oil, solid
1/3 cup coconut yogurt
1/2 cup coconut milk, full fat

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Line a large baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, coconut, salt and baking powder. Cut in the coconut oil until the mixture resembles coarse meal; set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt and milk. Create a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the yogurt mixture. Scoop the dry ingredients from from the bottom of the bowl and fold over the wet ingredients. Repeat this just until the mixture is combined. Do not over mix the dough. If the dough is too wet, add additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time.
Line a flat surface with parchment paper and sprinkle lightly with flour. Pat the dough into a large circle, about 1 inch thick. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into eight triangular segments. Transfer the dough segments to the prepared baking sheet. If desired, lightly brush each scone with melted coconut oil and sprinkle with vanilla sugar. Bake at 375˚F for 14-16 minutes, or until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool then store in an air tight container for up to three days. Unbaked dough can be kept frozen in the freezer. Simply place the scone segments in a freezer safe container, until ready to use.
Yield: 8 scones