I am now home and back to work, but I had a lovely few days home with family for the holidays. Christmas is a big celebration in my family. We love giving each other thoughtful gifts and spending time together eating and being merry. Well, the being merry part is hard for me because I can be a bit of a scrooge, but I try.
I was extra excited to come home for Christmas this year, because I got to be reunited with my dog, Sadie, after she was lost the day I had to return from Thanksgiving. Fortunately, she has recovered well and is still enjoying the pink bacon-scented ball I got her last month.
I decided to try a few new things this year for Christmas. I bought my family members gifts like I normally do, but I also made each of them a homemade baked good especially with them in mind. The jury is still out on the others, but I know my brother Luke loved his chocolate chip cookies.
I also made Brussels sprouts for our family Christmas dinner. I don’t think Brussels sprouts have ever entered our home before. I certainly didn’t grow up eating them. I got my parents to try some Brussels sprouts while we were out in the Strip District on Black Friday, but they honestly weren’t that good. They were steamed and not seasoned. It was a bland introduction to my favorite vegetable. My parents asked me to make Brussels sprouts for our dinner. I knew I could definitely make them better than the ones we had in Pittsburgh. I made a Ree Drummond (aka the Pioneer Woman on the Food Network) recipe that includes dried cranberries and a balsamic reduction. These sprouts were almost too good to be true. The caramelization was just perfect, and the cranberries with the reduction just gave the perfect level of sweetness. I will eat Brussels sprouts in both savory and sweet preparations, but I must admit the sweeter preparations are becoming my favorite. I got two thumbs up from my dad for this recipe.
Finally, we did a whole new twist to our Christmas morning breakfast. It has long been our tradition for my mom to make Pillsbury cinnamon rolls. At Thanksgiving I picked up a Food & Wine magazine for the holiday baking special. I saw a recipe for raspberry sweet rolls, and I thought that would really class up our Christmas breakfast. If I am being honest, I used to think that Food&Wine recipe were out of my league. I didn’t think I was classy or skilled enough for Food&Wine recipes. I more recently realized that they really are more approachable than they seem. I love this magazine so much. It would be an absolute dream come true if I ever got to write recipes for Food&Wine.
I used my mom’s Kitchen Aid mixer to make my dough, and I was shocked at home much easier it is to bake when the mixer does the work for you. (Spoiler alert: my parents got me my first standing mixer for Christmas!) I made my dough and let it rise. I used my grandmother’s trick of wrapping the dough in a blanket to help keep out the cold. My dad said she would always bless the dough with the sign of the cross.
Before and after rising
After I actually made the filling and rolled the dough into sweet rolls, I was very skeptical about this turning out well. The recipe says to rise again for another hour or two, but it uses frozen fruit in the filling. Two hours was not enough time for the filling to even thaw. The rolls were still cold, and I didn’t notice that they rose at all. We actually kept the dish covered in the blanket until we went to bed (at which point they were still cold). I refrigerated the rolls overnight, and we took them out in the morning to come to room temperature before baking.
Surprisingly though, these turned out perfectly. Whatever rise happened in the rising process must have worked. They puffed up in the baking process and even got a nice browning on top. I flipped them over to discover a gooey raspberry filled masterpiece (even though my brother said it looked like a murder scene).
I whipped up the icing and drizzle it over the rolls before serving them to my family. They were gorgeous. The raspberry brought a nice brightness to these rolls. They were light, fluffy, and delicious. I know I am not supposed to be eating wheat, but I just couldn’t help myself. These looked too good. It was so worth it.
They were a big hit with my family. We had orange and apple cider mimosas, which is an unprecedented Christmas experience in our house. I think we should definitely switch out our Pillsbury cinnamon rolls for something like this, completely from scratch. I’d make these again in a heartbeat.