cinnamon spiced chocolate bark

Cinnamon Spiced Chocolate Bark | A Brown Table

November has been a month of change. For one, we had some big weather changes, it finally cooled down and we had a nice big shower of rain (a much needed one at that and I hope we get several more). Second, I learned that I can spend a lot of time at hardware stores as much as I do at kitchen stores and at the cookbook aisles in bookstores. And I dread the thought of packing and unpacking when it's a move that's only a few miles away. But as time proceeds and I see my ideas actually materialize, I find the stress of renovating worth it and exciting. The kitchen is painted and the garden fence is finally up and the move date moves closer and closer.

By the way, I feel that the holidays are making their appearances even faster than usual, I was hoping to catch a few horror flicks last weekend during Halloween but I found myself flipping through four or five different tv channels that were filled Christmas movies! Way too soon...

Chocolate bark is one of my favorite sweets to look forward to during the holidays. It's perhaps one of the easiest things to make and to be honest, it's versatility is understated, you can adapt it to whatever season or festivity that you want to and this time, I'm making a holiday version. This bark is scented and spiced with a little cinnamon with a few dried cranberries, pistachios and maldon salt flakes embedded to add sweet, tangy, nutty and salty flavors to each and every bite of chocolate you eat.

To get the recipe and learn how to make this chocolate bark, headover to West Elm's blog,Front + Main!

Kitchen #abrownhome | A Brown Table
Kitchen #abrownhome | A Brown Table
Cinnamon Spiced Chocolate Bark | A Brown Table

cinnamon raisin milk bread

Cinnamon Raisin Milk Bread | A Brown Table

Remember, a couple of weeks ago when I asked you guys to help me out and send in my name for the Saveur food blog awards nominations, well guess what, we did it! A few days ago, I received an email informing me that my blog is a finalist in the Best Food Photography category for this year's Food Blog Awards of 2015. I'm extremely thankful to each and everyone of you for nominating and recommending my blog, this would not have happened without your love and support! To be honest, I didn't think this would happen and the past few days have been such an overwhelmingly happy moment to have my work recognized and I'm excited to share it with you. 

Here's what's next. The final winner in this Best Food Photography category will be decided based on the number of votes and I would be extremely grateful and honored if you could take a moment to head over to and vote for my blog once more at the Saveur Food Blog Awards 2015 or click the badge below. Voting ends on April 30th, so please do vote and spread the word! 

Thank you so much!!!

I've been exploring working with milk powder in my recipes and also learning more about enriched doughs. There were the milk and pistachio cookies earlier and now this enriched cinnamon raisin bread. This particular bread in itself is not very sweet and has the soft texture that comes from milk proteins and fat. 

I like to eat it this cinnamon raisin bread with a little bit of butter and jam/honey for breakfast.

Cinnamon Raisin Milk Bread | A Brown Table
Cinnamon Raisin Milk Bread | A Brown Table
Cinnamon Raisin Milk Bread | A Brown Table
Cinnamon Raisin Milk Bread | A Brown TableCinnamon Raisin Milk Bread | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips when preparing this bread

  • I went with a more dinner roll/bun approach when styling the bread but you can definitely shape it anyway you want, loaves, etc.  
  • Make sure your yeast is still good and hasn't expired and your milk is fresh. 
  • The prewarmed oven trick always works for me especially when the weather is unpredictable. The yeast ferments the sugars in the dough much more reliably this way and you end up with a nicely risen piece of dough.
  • I plan to remake this bread and flavor it with a few more spices to explore the flavor profile.
Cinnamon Raisin Milk Bread | A Brown Table

cinnamon raisin milk bread

yields: 12 rolls

ingredients 

1 1/2 cups whole milk, warmed to 

1/4 cup ( 1 ounce) sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast

3 1/2 cups (1 lb 1 1/4 ounces) all purpose flour 

1/4 cup non-fat milk powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt, fine grain

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder, freshly ground 

1 1/2 cups golden raisins 

2 teaspoons gelatin

4 tablespoons boiling water

1 tablespoons sugar

1. Mix the milk, sugar, butter and yeast in a jar or bowl with a fork. Allow to sit for 5 minutes in a warm spot until the mixture turns foamy and frothy. If it doesn't, your yeast dead and you will need to repeat this step with fresh ingredients. 

2. Preheat the oven to 200F for 5 minutes and then shut it off, keep the door shut. Dry whisk the flour, milk powder, salt and cinnamon to combine in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. When the dough is almost formed, toss in the raisins. Using your hands, bring the dough together to form one large ball. Alternatively, you can use a stand mixer to mix the ingredients and form the dough using the dough blade attachment. Mix for about 5 minutes on low-speed until the dough is just formed. Fold in the raisins. Place the dough in a large lightly greased bowl and cover the bowl with cling film. Place the dough in the prewarmed oven and allow to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size. 

3. Once the dough has doubled in size. Transfer it to a lightly floured clean surface and divide it into 12 equals parts. Shape each part into a ball and place it in a 9X5 baking pan lined with parchment paper. The balls should touch each other. Cover the surface with cling film and allow to rise for another 20 minutes in the prewarmed oven. 

4. Remove the pan from the oven and preheat to 400F. Bake the pan with the bread on the middle rack for 20 minutes rotating the pan halfway through baking. 

5. While the bread is baking, mix the gelatin, sugar and water in bowl to form the glaze.. Once the bread is baked remove the pan from the oven and immediately brush the surface of the hot bread lightly with the gelatin glaze. Allow the surface to dry and serve the bread immediately. 

cinnamon and matcha rice pudding

cinnamon and matcha rice pudding | A Brown Table

Can someone be passionate about pudding? I want to say, yes because I am. Puddings are one of those comforting desserts that I've always looked forward to, even as a kid I'd have them on my mind at school waiting for that bell to ring so I could rush home and indulge in spoons of chunky goodness. Even now without the restraints of school, I'm still a huge sucker for a good bowl of pudding. The holidays are a time to indulge a little and in that spirit a pudding is a must and this time with a different kind of Christmas pudding!

cinnamon and matcha rice pudding | A Brown Tablecinnamon and matcha rice pudding | A Brown Table

A holiday themed pudding can be many things but I think it should be comforting and rice puddings though pretty simple fall right into that category. To give this rice pudding a holiday touch, I infused matcha and cinnamon into my favorite almond milk from Califia and dunked a whole bunch of fresh ripe raspberries on top. One of the great features about their milk, is it's ability to withstand heating which is great when during cooking. Serve it warm or chilled, it's great either way.

cinnamon and matcha rice pudding | A Brown Tablecinnamon and matcha rice pudding | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips when preparing this rice pudding that you might find useful,

  • Though I've listed instructions on how to prepare basmati rice here, you can skip this step if you already have boiled, plain, unsalted cooked basmati rice. When blending the rice into the almond milk, don't overdo it, you want to achieve a tiny grainy texture just like tiny bits of chia seeds. 
  • *Sugar-adjust the sweetness of the pudding to your liking, I like it less sweet but if you want it sweeter add more sugar. You can also play around with the type of sweetener you use.
  • Avoid adding cinnamon powder to the matcha pudding while it is cooking. Infusing a cinnamon stick in the almond milk will get the job done without changing the color of the pudding. 
  • To keep with the spirit of the holidays, I've used fresh raspberries but any other fresh berry or fruit might work here.
cinnamon and matcha rice pudding | A Brown Table
cinnamon and matcha rice pudding | A Brown Table

cinnamon and matcha rice pudding

yields: 4 servings

ingredients

1 cup basmati rice

2 cups water, at room temperature

2 tablespoons matcha powder

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch or tapicoa starch

2 tablespoons sugar (*see kitchen notes)

1 inch piece cinnamon stick 

a few fresh ripe raspberries for garnish

a little extra cinnamon powder, freshly grated for garnish

1. Rinse the rice under cold running tap water. Place it in a medium-size saucepan and cover it with the water. Bring the contents of the saucepan to a boil and then reduce to a medium-low. Cover with a lid and cook the rice for about 20 minutes until the grains have become tender. Open the lid and continue to cook on medium-low until almost all the water has evaporated. Remove from stove and keep aside until ready to use. 

2. In a thick bottomed saucepan add the matcha, cornstarch, and sugar. Pour the Califia almond milk and whisk vigorously to mix. Add the cinnamon stick and heat the contents of the saucepan on medium-high and allow to cook for 5 minutes with constant stirring. Remove from stove and discard the cinnamon stick.

3. Add the cooked rice to the saucepan containing the almond milk mixture. Using an immersion blender or a food processor, pulse the contents of the saucepan a few times to break the rice grains into small tiny bits. Return the saucepan to the stove and cook on high heat with constant stirring for about 2 -3 minutes until the mixture has thickened (the consistency should resemble a thick custard). Remove from stove and pour the pudding into individual serving jars or a large bowl. Cover with cling film to prevent the formation of any film on the surface of the pudding. This pudding can be served warm or chilled. Garnish the pudding with a little extra freshly grated cinnamon powder and a generous helping of fresh raspberries.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Califia and all opinions stated here are purely my own.

caramelized apple and coconut sticky buns

caramelized apple sticky buns |A Brown Table

Before we get to these delicious caramelized apple and coconut sticky buns, I need to announce the winner of the giveaway for the Smitten with Squash cookbook by Amanda Paa. Kelli who made a fall themed strudel with butternut squash, caramelized onions and kale is the winner of this giveaway. Kelli, please shoot me an email with your details so I can have your book sent out to you at abrowntable [at] gmail [dot] com.  

caramelized apple and coconut sticky buns |A Brown Tablecaramelized apple and coconut sticky buns |A Brown Table

As a kid, when I thought I would someday enroll in culinary school, I also harbored a not-so-secret desire to become a pastry chef. Pastry chefs are like magicians (or more appropriately culinary scientists) in my head. They come up with wondrous edible marvels that require a good knowledge of chemistry and food both of which make the inner geek in me rather happy. That desire didn't pan out as I would have wished but then this blog came about and now I find myself baking sticky buns at home! 

caramelized apple and coconut sticky buns |A Brown Table

Sticky buns are definitely an indulgent treat however, if I am going to make a batch at home, I like to have them stuffed up with something other than cinnamon and sugar. I decided to fill the swirls in these buns with little bits of apple and golden raisins enveloped with the delicious flavor of coconut. There's a little bit of applesauce to bring all the flavors together in the filling with a hint of cinnamon, all in all I think these are great to serve at a fall inspired brunch or breakfast.

caramelized apple and coconut sticky buns |A Brown Table

I got the basic dough recipe for the sticky buns from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Cook's Illustrated Baking Book.

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing these guys;

  • Make sure your yeast hasn't expired or else the dough will not ferment and rise properly. 
  • Use fresh cinnamon and firm and ripe Granny Smith apples. Cut those apple bits into small bits so the dough will fold over easily during rolling. Granny Smith apples hold their texture well during baking but they also have a little tartness to them which balances the sweetness of the filling.
  • Personally, I don't like too much of a sugar glaze, so I made a very small amount of glaze for these buns. You can easily increase the amount of glaze by doubling the quantities of the ingredients listed for the glaze below. 
  • I used sliced almonds to top the buns but you can use pecans, walnuts, pistachios and probably any other type of your favorite nut.
caramelized apple and coconut sticky buns |A Brown Table

caramelized apple sticky buns (adapted from The Cook's Illustrated Baking Book)

yields: 12 buns

ingredients 

filling

1 lb granny smith apples

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1 cup unsweetened apple sauce

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut 

1/2 cup golden raisins

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder, freshly ground 

dough

3 larges eggs, at room temperature

3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) brown sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons instant/rapid-rise yeast

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher sea salt

4 1/4 cups (21 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour + extra for dusting

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled + 1 tablespoon for brushing the dough and greasing the pan (*you can also use a neutral vegetable oil spray to coat the pan, but don't use olive oil)

1/2 cup sliced raw almonds

glaze (if you want more glaze, double the quantity)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/4 cup brown sugar

4 tablespoons honey

4 tablespoons water

1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, freshly ground

1. Wash the apples, peel and cored them. Chop the apples into very tiny pieces (the smaller the better as it will be easier to handle when wrapping the dough). 

2. Heat a thick bottomed medium-sized saucepan on a medium-high flame. Melt the butter in the saucepan and then add the apples along with the lemon juice, apple sauce, coconut, raisins, sugar and cinnamon. Mix evenly with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, cover the saucepan with a lid and cook for about 8-10 minutes with occasional stirring to prevent any burning. Remove and keep aside until ready to use.

3. Using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer whisk the eggs on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes. Add the buttermilk and whisk for about 1 minute. Then add the brown sugar, yeast and salt and combine for about 1 minute. Add 2 cups of the flour and mix with the paddle attachment until combined. Then remove and replace the paddle attachment with the dough blade. Add the next 2 cups of flour and the 6 tablespoons of melted butter, mix until the dough comes together for about 5 minutes. 

4. Transfer the dough to a clean and lightly floured surface. Knead with hands for about 5 minutes adding the remaining 1/4 cup flour as needed to bring the dough together. The dough should not be sticky but should be soft and pliable. (You might need to add a little more flour if the 1/4 cup isn't enough, avoid adding too much flour). Once the dough has come together, transfer it to a well-oiled bowl, place it in there and brush lightly with a little oil (a neutral vegetable oil spray would work too). Cover the bowl with cling film and keep it in a warm place. Allow the dough to double in size for about 2 1/2 hours. 

5. Transfer the risen dough to a clean and lightly floured surface and shape it into a small rectangle with your hands. Using a rolling pan, roll out the dough into a 16 X 12 inch rectangle, dusting lightly with flour as needed. Brush the dough with the remaining tablespoon of butter, leaving a half inch border along the top edge. 

6. Using a large flat spoon or silicone spatula, transfer and spread the apple filling over the dough. Smooth with your hand or the spoon. Lightly grease your hands before you handle the dough. Starting with the longer side, begin to lift the dough and roll, pressing tightly but gently to form a cylinder. Pinch the ends firmly to seal the cylinder. Using your hands, gently shape the cylinder to an even diameter. The cylinder should be around 18 inches in length. Using a sharp serrated bread knife, gently cut through the center of the cylinder with a sawing motion. Cut each half similarly into 6 equal parts. Line a rectangular baking (13 X 11 inch) dish with parchment paper, grease lightly with a little butter (or spray lightly with an oil spray). Place each of the 12 buns in the pan cut side down, arranged next to each other. Cover and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours in a warm spot. 

7. While the buns are rising, prepare the glaze. In a small stockpot, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter on a medium-high flame. Add the sugar, honey, water, salt and cinnamon and stir until the mixture is smooth and the sugar has completely dissolved. Bring the syrup to a boil and then cook for another 5 minutes with constant stirring until it just begins to caramelize.  Immediately remove from stove and keep aside until ready to use. If the glaze begins to harden, warm it slightly before use to melt and add 2 -3 tablespoons of water to dissolve it. 

8. Place a wire rack in the center of the oven and a pizza stone on it (if you don't have a pizza stone to bake with, just use the wire rack). Heat the oven to 350F. Once the oven is warm, sprinkle the almonds over the buns and bake the pan with the buns for about 20-25 minutes until just golden brown. Immediately remove from oven and carefully drizzle with the warm glaze all over the top of the buns. Transfer the buns back into the oven and bake for another 6-8 minutes until the glaze just begins to caramelize (watch it carefully to make sure it doesn't burn). Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Slide the buns out of the pan using the parchment paper onto a wire rack. Serve warm by pulling the buns apart or cutting through with a serrated knife.