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Hello and happy (almost) Purim! Can you believe that it’s almost Purim time? I seriously feel like it was JUST yesterday that I was making cheddar Sriracha latkes on The Feed Feed and now I’m making hamantaschen? How can this be? My waist line is not ready for all the holiday hamantaschen baking! Blargh!

 

 

 

I’m back from my little jaunt to exotic Dallas, Texas for the BBYO International Convention. I was there giving two separate presentations — one on food sustainability through the kosher lens plus a joint session with my girl, Amy from What Jew Wanna Eat. Amy and I had a session up against Aidy Bryant from Saturday Night Live and while our workshop was heavily attended, I’m not convinced that the majority of our audience weren’t students who weren’t able to get into the Aidy Bryant workshop. But that’s OK! They got to learn about food blogging so ha! Suckers! Ya learned something new!

I had SUCH an amazing time with Amy and meeting so many teens who frikkin’ love their Jewish selves. It was a bit of  a mind-trip to be at a BBYO conference as a 36 year-old mother of two. My days as a Jewish high school convention-attendee were so much fun but also so incredibly awkward (here’s to being a teen in the mid-90s). It felt crazy to be walking around this convention with the confidence that a grown woman should have while my 16 year-old self was screaming out, “Look at me now! I’m a grown a** woman. Now watch me lay in bed for an hour and read before turning out the lights for a sensible bed time of 9pm!”

But these hamantaschen! Oy! These hamantaschen. I did some research on Pinterest to get some inspiration for this year’s hamantaschen flavors. I have another flavor combo in my back pocket for the next week but for now, I’m really loving on the intensity of the chocolate in this dough and the realness of the fluffy middle. My official taste-tester for these was my husband as he ate enough Oreo/Hydroxy cookies as a child to consider himself an Oreo/Hydroxy expert and he swears it tastes like the real deal. Only, be warned, this chocolate dough is chewy and soft, the way I prefer my hamantaschen. You MUST be vigilant with your refrigeration/freezing of dough. Do not skip these parts of the process. They are vital. But, in case you do miss a bit and end up with wonky-shaped hamantschen, just delicately squeeze some filling over it and no one will ever know!

busy licking the spatula

 

a journey through Amy and Whitney learning how to pose for a picture.

 

(Heads up, this is NOT a hard cookie dough. I am not a fan of hard cookies so I made a soft, chewy cookie dough. See narrative and notes in the directions on maintaining the dough’s form while baking. Happy eating!)

Ingredients for Cookie

Ingredients for Cream Filling

Directions for Cookie

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using handheld mixers), beat the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add egg, milk, espresso or coffee, and vanilla until mixed thoroughly.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt. Slowly add dry mixture to wet mixture until incorporated. (Note: if the dough is too soft, increase flour amount by 1/4 cup of flour until firm – see notes written in narrative regarding the chilling and softness of the dough).

Shape dough into a disk, wrap in saran wrap and chill for AT LEAST (I chill mine overnight) an hour. Once chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in the center. On a floured work surface, roll out dough to a scant 1/4-inch thickness. With a 2 3/4-inch round cutter, or wide-rimmed drinking class, cut out circles; place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Gather scraps, chill while previous cookies are baking, and repeat with your roll-out and cutting until all dough is used.

Whisk together remaining egg and 1 teaspoon water in a bowl. Brush circle edges with egg wash; pinch seams together. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. Bake cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet, 1 sheet at a time, about 10 – 12 minutes. Allow to cool completely before adding filling.

Directions for Filling:

Using a mixer, cream the butter and shortening until fluffy. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. I used an icing bag with a small, round tip for filling centers of the cookie. You could just as easily ‘ice’ the centers with a knife or spoon but I do not think it will be as easy as using an icing bag and tip.

Vanilla Cake with Chocolate and Tahini Sauce

 

I swear this blog is not turning into a dessert blog. I also swear this blog is not being sponsored by a tahini company (though I wouldn’t be opposed to it . . . hint, hint tahini companies). Anyway, like I said, this blog is not necessary a dessert blog it’s just that with the holidays approaching, my husband finishing his PhD and Winter Break officially beginning, we’ve got a lot to celebrate and plenty of reasons to bake!

My crazy sous chef.

Vanilla Cake with Chocolate and Tahini Sauce

 

Vanilla Cake with Chocolate and Tahini Sauce

I call this recipe, “Siona’s Vanilla Cake” for two reasons. 1) It’s so easy to make that when I need to bring a quick dessert for a Shabbat dinner or potluck, she and I grab our matching Jewhungry aprons and within minutes, we’ve got ourselves a cake baking in the over and 2) this kid LOVES vanilla cake. Most cake she actually just eats the frosting off of and then doesn’t actually eat the cake but this cake? This cake she’ll devour. The additional chocolate sauce and sprinkles helps too.

I love baking with this kid. It started a couple years ago when she and I had just moved to LA and the hubby was still in Miami finishing his PhD work. I needed something for us to do on Sunday mornings and we just naturally fell into the habit of baking together. She has mastered the scrapping down of the bowl in between mixing and can sift flour like a pro-baker. Let’s not forget, she’s 4. Baking together has become such a normal part of our weekends that she actually has turned down the opportunity to watch a movie in favor of baking together. Seriously. Hashtag parenting win.

 

Vanilla Cake with Chocolate and Tahini Sauce

 

Vanilla Cake with Chocolate and Tahini Sauce

I can’t express to you how easy peasy this cake is to make. The chocolate and tahini sauce aren’t a necessity but, I mean, come on. It’s chocolate and tahini sauce so yeah, it’s a necessity. It also dresses up the cake so if you do bring it to a potluck, folks will be all, “OMG! Did you make that?! It’s gorgeous”. And you’ll be all, “Hell yeah I did. Who’s the Cake Boss now, Buddy!?”

Vanilla Cake with Chocolate and Tahini Sauce

 

Ingredients for Cake:

1 cup margarine (I use Earth’s Balance) at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsps baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegan sour cream (I used Tofutti)
2 tablespoons clear imitation vanilla extract (this is what gives it that old timey cake flavor).

Chocolate Sauce recipe HERE

For tahini sauce:

1/4 cup raw tahini
4 tbsp of hot water

Directions for Tahini:
Combine ingredients and stir until well-combined.

Directions for Cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a Bundt pan with non-stick canola oil spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. With the mixer on law, add the eggs one at a time beating after each addition. Add in the flour mixture, and then the sour cream and vanilla. Beat well until combined. The batter will be thick.

Spoon the batter into the Bundt pan. Bake until golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes. (Mine took 45 minutes but every oven is different and due to the density of this batter, you will want to make sure it is clearly cooked in the middle.)

Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Turn out onto a cooling rack and continue to cool to room temperature.

Once completely cooled, artfully drizzle the chocolate sauce onto the cake followed by the tahini sauce. Add sprinkles at your leisure.

jewhungry kosher cinnamon rolls

 

It’s a sick day in my place today. It’s been a sick-several-weeks in our place, to be honest. But today I finally gave in and took the day off. I’m coughing myself into a headache and my body is so tired it feels like I’ve run a marathon or 5 (or so I imagine this is what one’s body feels like after a marathon. I have never and WILL never run a marathon) but still, I feel guilty about taking off a day of work. I’ve been working since I graduated college (not counting that one summer I spent working the local Marietta, GA department store of Upton’s. The music rotation still runs through my head) and I still feel guilty when I take off work when I’m actually sick. What is that?! When will the guilt end!?!

 

jewhungry kosher cinnamon rolls

 

I usually end up getting sick some time in between the high holidays. During my non-observant days, I used to lounge around watching TV on holidays. I’d occasionally hit up the local synagogue but those days off of work were really a day off. I rested. I relaxed. It was necessary. But my observant days have brought me mad-dashes to the supermarket, trying to find a babysitter so someone can entertain the girls while I cook and then cooking even more on those holidays because, unlike Shabbat, one can actually cook on certain high holidays. I love hosting and I love feeding friends and family on holidays but it wears me out every single year. I am highly impressed with those of you who can put out a gorgeous homemade spread by the time Yom Kippur break fast rolls around. Several years ago my husband and I decided to give ourselves a break (no pun intended) by making the only dish out there that satiates all of our tastebuds and need for carbs and salt after a long day of fasting. Of course, I’m talking about . . . the tuna noodle casserole. We class it up by adding lots of frozen organic vegetables and using whole wheat noodles, for health and stuff and sometimes I add several cheeses. It’s a real delight. It’s also an extremely low-maintenance dish and enjoyed with a Diet Coke, it’s my idea of heaven after 25 hours of not eating and drinking. It’s the break I need after the craziness of Rosh Hashanah.

jewhungry kosher cinnamon rolls
jewhungry kosher cinnamon rolls

This year, for Sukkot, we’ll be heading for a little cabin in Topanga Canyon for a break from the hustle and bustle of the Valley. The plan is to do nothing. There will be no mad-dashing. I plan on not overdoing anything and there will no hosting. Just the four of us in the woods. I’m extremely excited. I will also be bringing these cinnamon rolls along to enjoy the entire weekend away. That’s the good thing about cinnamon rolls — there are 12 of them and only 4 of us (3 if you don’t count the baby. This baby is not eating an entire cinnamon roll) so there’s plenty for a whole 2-day holiday.

jewhungry kosher cinnamon rolls

Recently, on the Jewhungry Instagram page: Siona + our friend, Reid, on their Rosh Hashanah bestie dinner; my ‘new fruit’ cheese plate; Siona’s interpretation of our family as challah; pumpkin cake with vegan cream cheese icing.

 

I hope everyone is having a wonderful 5777 so far. Sending lots of love your way!

jewhungry kosher cinnamon rolls

 

Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls with Pomegranate Icing
(Cinnamon roll dough recipe inspired by Gimme Some Oven’s AMAZING 1-hour recipe)

*Products sponsored by Seasons Kosher Markets

INGREDIENTS:

DOUGH INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup milk (I used 2%)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 envelope instant or ‘rapid rise’ yeast (approx. 2 1/4 tsp)
  • 1 egg

Chocolate Cinnamon-Sugar Filling:

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter, completely softened
  • pinch of flaky sea salt

Pomegranate Cream Cheese Icing:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp pomegranate juice
  • 1 Tbsp. milk (if needed)

DIRECTIONS:

TO MAKE THE DOUGH & FILLING:

Combine milk and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high for 1 minute, then remove and stir. Continue heating in 20 second intervals, pausing after each to stir, until the butter is melted and the milk is warm to the touch but not hot. If needed, let the milk mixture sit for a few minutes until it is warm but not hot.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 3 cups flour (not all of the flour), sugar and salt until combined.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add yeast and lukewarm milk mixture and stir by hand to combine. Add the flour mixture and egg, and beat on medium-low speed until combined. If the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl, add the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough begins to form a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Continue beating for 5 minutes on medium-low speed. Remove the dough hook and cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make your filling by whisking together sugars. instant espresso powder and cinnamon in a bowl until combined.

When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured work surface. Then use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough out into a large rectangle, about 14 x 9 inches in size. (If you want all edges to be even, you can use a pizza slicer to cut the dough into a perfect rectangle.) Use a knife or pastry spatula to spread the softened 1/4 cup of butter out evenly over the entire surface of the dough. Then sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the cinnamon and sugar mixture.

Beginning at the 14-inch edge, tightly roll up the dough. And then give the final seam a little pinch so that it seals. Cutt off the two ends of the roll (an inch on each end – discard that dough) so that they are even. Then cut the remaining dough into 11 or 12 equal pieces.

Place each of the cut cinnamon rolls into a greased pie plate or 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Then cover again with a damp towel, and leave the dish in a warm place to rise for 25 minutes.

While the dough is rising, make the icing (instructions below).

When the rolls have risen, uncover the dish. Then place on the center rack of the oven and bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, or until the rolls are golden and cooked through. Remove and let cool on a wire rack for at least 5 minutes. Drizzle with your desired icing and serve.

TO MAKE THE CREAM CHEESE ICING:

Either in the bowl of an electric stand mixer, or a mixing bowl, whisk softened butter and cream cheese together until combined. Then whisk in powdered sugar until combined. Whisk in the pomegranate juice to the mixture, which will also thin out your icing if it’s too thick. If the icing is still too thick, add a tablespoon or two of milk to thin.

 

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