You don’t need to share an individual serving of sweet nutty bread pudding drizzled with cognac caramel sauce!
Heavy whipping cream is not readily available in Ulaanbaatar. This surprised me. Since the Mongolian culture is heavily tied to herding and to dairy, I assumed that whipping cream would be much easier to get than in remote Point Hope, Alaska, where we had to fly in this precious commodity. The plight of whipping cream difficulties has followed me across the globe. Well, that’s a bit overdramatic. I did come across heavy whipping cream in the one store that carries many western groceries here in UB. But at about $28 a liter, I decided it wasn’t worth it. Plus it was UHT (ultra heat temperature processed) in order to keep it shelf stable. My experience with UHT whipping cream is that it turns to butter with the slightest amount of whipping.
The other day, I noticed a box of a new product in the dairy section of a grocery store we frequently shop. Everything was in Korean, except for the words “whipping cream.” Since the price was reasonable and since I could not find anything that looked like “UHT” written anywhere, I took a chance. Boy, am I glad I did! Not only does this cream whip up beautifully, it is the best tasting whipping cream I have ever had.
As is often the case in Ulaanbaatar, a product is here one day and gone the next. Alas, I can no longer find this whipping cream, so I am using it sparingly. I hope it will show up again.
One of our favorites is bread pudding. Using pantry staples such as homemade French bread, toasted almonds, and good cognac, I baked a small batch of individual bread puddings. It was the perfect amount for us to enjoy and share with guests. And it was a delicious way to use some of the precious heavy whipping cream.
Almond Bread Pudding with Cognac Caramel
- 1/4 cup almonds, chopped and toasted
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 1/2 cups French bread, cubed small
Ingredients for cognac caramel
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 tbsp heavy cream
- 2 tbsp good quality cognac
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C). Grease 6 cups in a muffin tin. Set aside.
- Whisk together melted butter, milk, cream, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, almond extract and eggs in a medium bowl.
- Stir in bread cubes. Let sit for a few minutes to allow the bread to soak up egg mixture.
- Divide mixture equally into prepared muffin tin.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- Add almonds to the tops of bread puddings and bake for 10 more minutes.
- Let the bread puddings cool in the tin for 10 minutes. While they are cooling, make the cognac caramel.
- Bring brown sugar and cream to a boil in a small pan and continue to cook for 2 more minutes. Sauce should thicken.
- Remove from hit and stir in cognac.
- Loosen the bread puddings from tin by cutting around the edges with a knife. Transfer puddings to individual plates.
- Drizzle cognac caramel sauce on each bread pudding and serve warm.
Sometimes you need a big, soft, peanut buttery cookie stuffed with M&Ms and white chocolate chips.
OK, sometimes you need two. I love recipes measured in tablespoons and minutes, especially when they produce a soft cookie with an instant connection to childhood – and when there is enough to share with a friend.
Two Monster-Sized Monster Cookies
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- 8 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 4 tbsp quick oats
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- pinch salt
- 1/3 cup M&Ms
- 2 tbsp white chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 C).
- Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, mix together first 6 ingredients.
- Stir in flour, oats, baking soda, and salt.
- Fold in M&Ms.
- Fold in chocolate chips.
- Divide dough in half. Scoop each half onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten slightly.
- Bake for 20 – 22 minutes, until edges are slightly browned.
- Let cookies cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes.
Recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction.
Crunchy, savory sticks ready to be eaten plain, wrapped in prosciutto, or dipped in any savory sauce imagined. In addition to the rich flavor extra virgin olive oil provides, our grissini were peppered with black sesame seeds, poppy seeds, smoked rock salt, and charnushka.
Grissini make a fabulous edible table centerpiece, and they are a cool prop to animate your dinner conversations!
Grissini, Italian-style crisp breadsticks, have long been on my list to make. They are a tasty and fun addition to so many meals. Imagine a romantic Italian meal where grissini are centered on the table alongside tapered lit candlesticks. How about enjoying grissini with a meal of crispy salad and hearty minestrone? The list could go on.
Any type of herbs or spices could be kneaded or pressed into the dough before baking. I experimented with poppy seeds, black sesame seeds, rock salt and charnushka. The smoked rock salt was the clear winner in the flavor category, but charnushka was a close second. If you haven’t experimented with this seed yet, now is the time. Charnushka has a moderately nutty, smoky, peppery flavor that I first enjoyed on one version of everything bagels. They worked perfectly on the grissini.
- 1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/43 degrees C)
- 2 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp active dry yeast
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 cups semolina flour
- 2 tsp toppings of your choice (smoked rock salt, poppy seeds, charnushka, etc.)
- additional extra virgin olive oil for brushing on sticks before they bake
- Stir water, sugar and yeast together in a large bowl. Let sit for about 5 minutes to ensure your yeast is bubbling and active.
- Stir in olive oil.
- Add 1/2 of both flours and the salt. Mix well.
- Stir in 1/2 of remaining flour.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
- Knead in the rest of the flour. Continue kneading until dough is smooth and flour is well-incorporated, about 5 minutes. Dough will have a slightly coarse texture due to the semolina flour.
- Lightly oil a large bowl. Place dough in bowl. Turn to coat.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in a warm, draft-free location until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Cut the dough into 24 equal pieces.
- Roll each piece into dough sticks, about 12 inches long, or the length of your baking sheet.
- Brush both sides of dough sticks generously with olive oil.
- Press in toppings, if desired.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
- Place 6 dough sticks on parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 10 minutes. Flip sticks over and bake for 5 more minutes. Sticks should be lightly browned and crispy.
- Repeat with remaining dough, baking batches of 6.
Stuffed sweet dough is fairly easy to make and yields delicious results. Sweet, nutritious adzuki beans burst from this roll sprinkled with black sesame seeds.
I have happy memories of making both steamed and baked versions of sweet buns for New Year’s Eve in Alaska a few years ago. These Arctic anpan were enjoyed by everyone. Back in those days, I relied on my Zojirushi bread maker to mix and rise all the dough for me. Now that we are in Mongolia, I am determined to make all my dough from scratch without the aid of any kind of machine. I’ve found that my bread machine recipes need just a little tweaking in order to convert them to fully handmade.
This from-scratch sweet dough recipe is simple enough. In order to amp up the looks of this confection, I jelly-rolled sweet adzuki paste into the sweet dough, slashed the dough as you would miniature French bread loaves, brushed them with egg to give the finished product a golden brown sheen, and sprinkled black sesame seeds for added flavor and a dash of “wow.” A friend at work told me these confections reminded her of bakery goods she used to buy in fancy Vietnamese boulangeries.
Sweet Adzuki Bean Roll
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup warm milk
- 1 tbsp yeast
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs, beaten (reserve 1 tbsp egg)
- 6 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup sweet adzuki paste*
- 1 tsp black sesame seeds
- Whisk sugar, milk and yeast together in a large bowl. Let stand for a few minutes until yeast starts to foam.
- Stir in egg, oil, and salt.
- Stir in flour and mix until well combined.
- Turn dough out onto floured surface.
- Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
- Place dough in an oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Roll dough into a thick rope.
- Cut dough into 12 equal pieces.
- Roll each piece into a rectangle, about 5 inches by 6 inches.
- Spread adzuki bean paste (about 2 tbsp) onto rectangle, avoiding the edges.
- Roll the dough, jellyroll-style. Pinch to seal the seam.
- Place rolls, seam side down on baking sheet.
- Repeat with remaining rolls.
- Cover rolls and let rise for 30 minutes.
- Slash the rolls a few times with sharp knife.
- Brush all rolls with reserved egg. Sprinkle rolls with black sesame seeds.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Bake for 20 minutes. Finished buns should be browned and shiny.
*I made adzuki bean paste using just dried adzuki beans, water and sugar following the excellent directions from Japanese Cooking 101.
Dough recipe adapted from allrecipes.com.
Braided bread topped with anything you’d like! We topped ours with smoked sea salt, sesame seeds, caraway seeds, poppy seeds, and dried minced onion.
The beautiful photo on Taste of Home’s website grabbed my attention. With tasty success making everything bagels, I decided to tinker with their bread recipe and see what happened. Jack’s review – salty, hearty yet soft and perfect to go with a bean soup he whipped up. Oh yeah, he said “Magnificent!” too. My review – easy dough to work with with a delicious result. I really liked how the everything topping added layers and layers of flavors. I would agree with “Magnificent!”
Everything Braided Bread
- 2 1/4 tsp yeast
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 1 cup warmed milk
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 egg white
- 1 tsp coarse sea salt, or kosher salt
- 1 tsp dried minced onion
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 1 tsp poppy seeds
- In a large bowl, whisk together warm milk, water, and yeast.
- Add butter, sugar, egg yolk, salt, and 2 cups of flour. Mix together well.
- Add another cup of flour and mix thoroughly.
- Add another cup of flour and mix thoroughly again.
- Knead in remaining 1/2 cup of flour until dough is smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes.
- Place dough in large oiled bowl. Make sure to roll the dough so that entire dough ball is lightly covered in oil.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Punch dough down. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and divide into thirds.
- Roll each third into a long rope, about 20 inches long.
- Place ropes on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Pinch one end of ropes together and braid remaining strands. Pinch together both ends firmly, so that braid doesn’t come undone.
- Cover and let loaf rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (about 190 degrees C).
- Combine salt, onion and seeds in a small bowl.
- Brush loaf with egg white.
- Sprinkle salt combination evenly over loaf.
- Bake loaf for about 22 minutes. Loaf will be golden brown. The smell will delight you.
- Let loaf cool on a wire rack before serving.
Traditionalists might argue that this is a dessert; we say a bakery item made fresh in the morning loaded with fruit and eggs works perfectly for breakfast.
This time of year, the warm, yellow sun may invite thoughts and flavors of Spring. But here in Mongolia, we were greeted this morning with fresh snowfall, prompting me to serve a warm baked breakfast with hot cups of tea. Of course, this baked creation served with French vanilla ice cream or a hot custard would satisfy any time of the day.
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 cups frozen or fresh raspberries
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1 tbsp cherry flavored brandy
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp Penzeys lemon peel powder (or fresh zest)
- pinch salt
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup finely ground almonds
- powdered sugar, for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C).
- Grease an 8 x 8 inch (20 cum x 20 cm) glass baking dish with unsalted butter. Sprinkle bottom of baking dish with 2 tbsp of granulated sugar. Spread raspberries evenly in baking dish.
- Using a stick blender, or regular blender, mix 1/2 cup sugar, eggs, milk, brandy, vanilla and almond extracts, lemon powder and salt. Blend until smooth.
- Add flour and almonds to mixture. Blend until smooth.
- Pour mixture evenly over blackberries.
- Bake flaugnarde until edges are puffed and golden, and center is firm, about 25-30 minutes. When wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, the flaugnarde is done.
- Let cool on wire rack for about 30 minutes.
- Dust with powdered sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Soft bite-sized cookies spiked with orange essence and loaded with white chocolate chunks… irresistible!
No matter the weather outside or the latitude where we reside, as soon as the calendar rolls over to March, I think Spring! The thermometer right now is a wicked reminder that it is not time to get the day pack out for hiking just yet. While I patiently wait for the mercury to rise, I decided to bring some spring flavors into the house. The sunny smiles in the room after eating all of these cookies warmed up our day.
Orange White Chocolate Bites: Makes about 40 cookies
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- generous pinch salt
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp orange extract
- 1 large egg
- 2 tbsp whole milk
- 2 tbsp Penzeys dried orange peel
- 1/2 cup good quality white chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl mix together sugar, orange extract, egg, milk, and dried orange peel.
- Stir half of flour into sugar mixture. Mix well.
- Mix in other half of flour into cookie dough.
- Mix in chocolate chips.
- Drop tablespoons of dough about an inch apart onto prepared baking sheet. Flatten cookies slightly.
- Bake cookies for 10 minutes. They should be beginning to brown. Let baked cookies cool completely on wire rack before serving.