Sourdough “Pizza Oven” Pizza

I am a big-time pizza lover. My whole family loves pizza and Friday night pizza has been on the rotation for many years. We love this recipe that we’ve been using in our regular oven, but recently we added an Ooni Koda pizza oven to our appliances. Even though it was quite the long wait (supply chain issues), we love the way this pizza oven cooks and everything that we pull out of it is top notch! Check out this naan bread I made that is one of our favorites. I decided to combine my love for sourdough everything with my love for pizza and have found the perfect sourdough pizza recipe for our family. I’ve made it a number of times and will continue using this recipe for years to come. It is delicious, the perfect chewy crust and makes the most delicious pizza. We are obsessed and it has revitalized our family pizza nights.

Type 00 Flour or Bread Flour?

Ooni gives instructions with their pizza oven to use a special Italian flour, “type 00.” Type 00 flour is known for making traditional Neapolitan-style pizza (the type of pizza this recipe is trying its best to mimic) and it historically gives a crispy, thin crust while being chewy at the same time. In Europe, flour is categorized by how finely ground it is, not by protein content (which is what we use in America to categorize our flour). You can buy type 00 flour used in Italian pizza crust in some stores (our local Kroger carries it now!) or on Amazon, but with a big family that gets a little expensive if you want to make pizza often. An option that I prefer is to use American bread flour with about 11-12% protein content. I use unbleached bread flour from my local mill that is finely ground. The combination of bread flour, a long rise, high hydration content and sourdough helps to soften the gluten and to produce a light and airy crust that mimics the type 00 flour.

Side by Side Comparison of Sourdough Pizza

I actually did a side-by-side comparison of this recipe using both bread flour and type 00 flour and guess what?! My family preferred the pizza made with the bread flour. I thought the difference was negligible between the two and both are good options for the pizza. They both had a light, airy crust thanks to the high hydration, which produced lots of air pockets and a beautiful rise. Both had good flavor from being refrigerated overnight and baked up the next day. If you’d like to save a little money, look for a bread flour with 11-12% protein content that is finely ground, and you will have a much more affordable way to make pizza night happen weekly in your pizza oven.

Sourdough Starter

I feed my sourdough starter usually once a day, sometimes twice depending on how often I’m baking. This recipe uses 100 grams of ripe sourdough starter. This can be discard from the last few days or starter that is at its peak point. If you want to make starter specifically for this recipe, take a teaspoon of starter and feed it 75 grams of flour, 75 grams of water. Stir it, cover it and wait for 6-8 hours for the starter to double in size. Then use it in this recipe for sourdough pizza.

Sample Schedule for Sourdough Pizza

Day 1

  • 8 AM Mix together the dough ingredients with a stand mixer/dough hook
  • 8:30 AM Bulk Rest – perform 1st fold
  • 9:00 AM Bulk Rest – perform 2nd fold
  • 9:30 AM Bulk Rest – perform 3rd fold
  • 10:00 AM Bulk Rest – perform 4th fold (at this point the dough should be strong and smooth)
  • 11:00 AM Cover the dough and place in the refrigerator overnight
Dough risen and ready to be separated and shaped into balls on day 2

Day 2

  • 8 AM Shape dough into balls, cover and rest at room temperature
  • 1 PM Check on dough, place in refrigerator until ready to bake 
  • 5 PM Preheat pizza oven
  • 5:30 PM Take dough out of refrigerator, shape into pizzas, top and bake

Shaping the Balls of Sourdough Pizza Dough

The more you work with dough, the easier this will become. Don’t worry if it seems hard at first. It will turn out okay! To shape a ball of dough, pick it up in your hand and gently pull the dough together as you turn it in your hand, forming a ball. Then take the ball and tightly move it in a circular motion on the countertop to seal the ball. You should be left with a taught, round ball of dough. It will flatten as it rises, but this shaping process sets your pizza crust up for a successful rise in the oven.

How I pre-shape pizza dough

Working with Cold Dough

The process for making this pizza dough is two days but it is not a lot of hands-on time. Most of the work is done while the dough is resting. I don’t like to add extra flour to the dough while I’m working with it on the counter. Cold dough is easier to shape without extra flour. Once your dough has been shaped into balls, let it rise at room temperature for 5-6 hours. You will notice it expand and puff up. Once the dough has risen, stick it back in the refrigerator until ready to make the pizzas. Cold dough doesn’t stick as much to the pizza peel, especially with a sprinkle of cornmeal underneath it. Work quickly so it doesn’t warm up too much and your dough should slide right off the pizza peel or wooden cutting board.

Cornmeal and an Ooni Pizza Oven

I like to use cornmeal on the bottom of my pizzas. This is not necessarily traditional, but I have found cornmeal is the best way to provide a little friction between the wet dough and the pizza peel or cutting board. The friction makes it much easier to launch into the pizza oven. Be careful that you don’t use too much cornmeal because it can burn up in the pizza oven; you really just want a light dusting of cornmeal.

Too Many Toppings?

With this pizza recipe, it is possible to have too many toppings. Part of the beauty of this style of pizza is in the simplicity of the ingredients. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experiment. You should! Just be careful to not load your pizza up with too many toppings. It will make it difficult to get your pizza into the pizza oven without half of your pizza collapsing, giving you a melty/cheesy mess that will need to burn up before baking your next pizza—not that I have experienced this or anything 🙂

Launching and Baking Pizza In an Ooni Pizza Oven

The more you make the pizza, the better you will get at this step. I like to use a wooden cutting board to assemble my pizza on. Spread a little cornmeal and place the stretched dough on top of the cornmeal. Press the pizza into a circular shape and top with pizza sauce, chunks of mozzarella and any other toppings you’d like. Check that your pizza is not sticking to the board (if it is, lightly lift it off), and scoot the pizza toward the end of the board. Launch the pizza with a quick thrust of the board into the pizza oven. Do not stick your fingers into the oven! Have a pizza peel and a fork nearby. Once the pizza has cooked about 45 seconds and starts to look crispy, pull it out with the pizza peel, rotate it 180 degrees (one half turn) with the fork and bake for another 30-45 seconds until the crust is perfect.

Pizza Oven vs. Conventional Oven

This pizza recipe works best in a pizza oven. I’ve made it many times in an Ooni Koda 16 pizza oven. You will get the best texture, taste and crispness using the high heat and baking stone of a pizza oven. If you don’t have a pizza oven, you can still make good pizza from this recipe, though you may want to check out this one instead. Crank your home oven up to the highest temperature it will go (550 is the temperature I tested it at). Place a pizza stone in the oven and let it pre-heat for at least 30-40 minutes. This long pre-heat is crucial to the texture of the pizza dough. Proceed with the recipe as written and bake the pizza in the regular oven for 5-7 minutes, until the dough is puffed up and baked through.

The top pizza was baked in an Ooni Pizza Oven. The bottom pizza was baked on a pizza stone in a conventional oven at 550 degrees.

Pizza Sauce for Sourdough Pizza

Neapolitan style pizza traditionally uses a fresh, non-cooked sauce. We prefer our pizza with a cooked sauce and the recipe I have listed is one of our favorites. It doesn’t take too long to make and can keep fresh in the fridge for a week or two. I like to make this sauce, cool it down and use it on our homemade pizza nights. A jarred sauce will work too, just find one that you love.

Why do I need to refrigerate the dough in this sourdough pizza? Can I skip this step and make it in one day?

The long fermentation time in the refrigerator helps the dough build flavor and softens the gluten in the dough which allows for lots of air pockets which means a light, airy and open pizza crust. Don’t skip this step!

What are the Best Pizza Topping Combinations in Sourdough Pizza?

Traditionally this Neapolitan-style pizza is made with a simple tomato sauce, chunks of mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. We love making a “white” pizza with a bit of olive oil, goat cheese, mozzarella, roasted garlic and adding a bit of arugula and balsamic vinegar on top after it bakes. Our kids love traditional pepperoni on this pizza dough too.

Can I use Sourdough Discard that is a few days old in this sourdough pizza?

Yes! Due to the long, slow rise, sourdough discard works great in this recipe. The older the discard, the more soudough flavor the crust will have.

Where Can I buy “type 00” flour?

I buy it online on Amazon and most recently I’ve found some at our local Kroger.

Can this Sourdough Pizza Recipe be made in one day?

It can, but it really tastes much better when it’s had time to ferment overnight in the refrigerator. The long rise breaks down the gluten making an amazing, tender, chewy & light pizza crust.

Pizza night has never been better with this sourdough pizza in an Ooni Pizza oven. Give it a try! I hope you’ll love it as much as we do.

Sourdough Pizza for a Pizza Oven

Chewy, tender and perfect Neapolitan-style sourdough pizza made for a pizza oven. This is the perfect pizza crust for family pizza night or to make when you are craving delicious pizza.
Prep Time 1 d
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 1 d 17 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 8 6-8 inch pizzas

Ingredients
  

Sourdough Pizza Crust

  • 100 grams ripe sourdough starter 100% hydration see recipe notes
  • 400 grams water room temperature
  • 575 grams bread flour see recipe notes
  • 65 grams whole wheat flour finely ground
  • 4 grams diastatic malt powder see recipe notes
  • 12 grams salt
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal reserved for sprinkling when shaping pizza

Pizza Toppings

  • 16 slices mozzarella cheese good quality
  • fresh basil torn
  • 2 cups pizza sauce recipe below works great
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • other toppings as desired

Pizza Sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic pressed/diced
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper chili pepper for spicy–up this if you want more spicy
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes nothing else in it but tomato
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2-3 springs basil with stems/leaves on

Instructions
 

Sourdough Pizza Dough

    Day 1

    • To a stand mixer, add the ripe sourdough starter and water. Mix with your hands until mostly dissolved. Add the bread flour, whole wheat flour, diastatic malt powder and salt. Mix together with a dough whisk or spoon until a shaggy dough forms.
    • Using the dough hook on your stand mixer, mix the dough for 7-8 minutes until smooth. Alternatively you can knead the dough by hand for 8-10 minutes until smooth. Transfer the dough to a bowl or container.
    • Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rest for about 2-3 hours on the counter at room temperature (if your kitchen is warmer err on the side of 2 hours; colder err on the side of 3-4 hours).
    • During this bulk rest, perform a series of stretch and folds every half hour to continue developing the dough.
    • After the bulk rise, cover the dough and place in the refrigerator overnight for a long, slow rise.

    Day 2

    • Add a little olive oil to one or two baking dishes or pans with high edges.
    • Pull the dough out of the refrigerator and separate into 8 pieces, about 145-150 grams per piece. This will make about a 6-8 inch pizza. If you'd like to make larger pizzas, divide the dough into 4 balls about 290 grams a piece.
    • Use your fingers to shape the dough into 8 tight balls. Pinch the dough together into a ball shape and drag in a circular motion on your countertop to form a taught, tight ball. Place the dough ball into the prepared, lightly oiled pan. Repeat with the next dough ball, placing it apart from the first ball to allow room for the dough to rise. Continue this process until the dough balls have been shaped.
    • Cover the pans with plastic wrap and leave on the counter to rise for 4-6 hours (depending on the temperature in your kitchen). The dough will puff up a bit and flatten out to a disc-like shape.
    • Check on your dough after about 4 hours. If it has puffed and flattened considerably, move on to the next step. If not, give it a little more time to rise. At this point, the dough balls can be placed in the refrigerator to use later that day or the next day.

    Baking the Pizza

    • Preheat a pizza oven to 700-800 degrees (see recipe note about using a regular oven) and place the dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes while setting up the pizza toppings. This dough is easiest to work with chilled.
    • On a pizza peel or large wooden cutting board, sprinkle cornmeal to dust the board. The cornmeal provides the friction needed to Take one piece of dough and stretch it with your hands to form a circle. Place it on top of the cornmeal and continue working it around in a circle until you a 6-8 inch pizza shape.
    • Work quickly to top the pizza with about 2-3 Tablespoons pizza sauce. Tear the mozzarella into pieces and place pieces on top of the pizza dough. Tear the fresh basil and sprinkle with parmesan if desired. Check that the dough is not sticking to the board (this can happen if you don't work quickly enough). If it is sticking, unstick it with your fingers, add a bit of cornmeal if needed and try again.
    • Launch your pizza into the pre-heated pizza oven with a quick thrust forward. Let the pizza cook for about 45 seconds, then using the pizza peel pull the pizza out of the oven, turn it with a fork and return it to the pizza oven for another 30-45 seconds. This ensures that the pizza is cooked on both sides. You can watch a video of this process here.
    • Repeat the process with the rest of your pizza dough, adding whatever toppings you desire and enjoy!

    Pizza Sauce

    • To a small saucepan add the butter, olive and garlic over medium heat. Sautee garlic until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the oregano, salt & pepper and sautee 1 more minute. Add the crushed tomatoes and stir.
    • Slice the onion in half and add to the sauce. Add two sprigs of fresh basil to the sauce. Simmer on low heat for about an hour until the sauce is reduced and concentrated. Remove the basil and onion. Season with a teaspoon of sugar and more salt if desired.
    • Remove to container and let cool before using on pizza dough. Sauce can be refrigerated for a week or two if desired.

    Notes

    Sourdough Starter: This recipe is based on 100% hydration sourdough starter (fed equal parts flour/water). You can use bubbly sourdough starter or sourdough discard for this recipe.
    Flour: Most recipes for Neapolitan-style pizza call for special Italian type 00 flour. Italian type 00 flour is difficult to come by in a typical U.S. grocery store but can be easily found on Amazon. If you are looking for a more cost-effective option, and the one I use most regularly, I’ve had very good results using bread flour with around a 12% protein content.
    Diastatic Malt Powder: This helps the pizza dough in its long rise and gives the dough a strong rise and a caramelized color crust. You can buy it on Amazon or check your local grocery. If you don’t have any on hand, leave it out.
    Oven: This pizza recipe works best for a pizza oven. I’ve made it many times in an Ooni Koda 16 pizza oven. You will get the best texture, taste and crispness using the high heat and baking stone of a pizza oven. If you don’t have a pizza oven, you can still make good pizza from this recipe. Crank your home oven up to the highest temperature it will go (550 is the temperature I tested it at). Place a pizza stone in the oven and let it pre-heat for at least 30-40 minutes. This long pre-heat is crucial to the texture of the pizza dough. Proceed with the recipe as written and bake the pizza in the regular oven for 5-7 minutes, until the dough is puffed up and baked through.
    Keyword beginner sourdough, neapolitan style pizza, ooni koda, ooni pizza oven, sourdough pizza

    Rating: 1 out of 5.

    Disclaimer: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a very small amount from qualifying purchases.

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    Perfect Peach Cobbler

    We are at the tail end of peach season, but this recipe is one I’ve been working on perfecting over the summer – and I’ve got it just where I wanted it. This perfect peach cobbler is a combination of biscuit/cake topping, perfectly spiced peaches and absolutely divine with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream. Even though I may be a bit late to the game posting it for this season, I want it somewhere I can come back to again and again, because it tastes like summer in a pan. While I love fall and have many pounds of apples sitting on my kitchen counter, I’m still holding on to the tail end of our warm days while I can.

    Jump to Recipe

    Cake or Biscuit?

    Peach cobbler is often made with a biscuit topping or a cake topping. Both are delicious in their own right. This peach cobbler combines the flavor of a biscuit topping with the spreadability of the cake topping. It is not overly sweet like cake toppings sometimes are, allowing the fresh peaches to really shine through. The cake topping benefits from baking powder and buttermilk which give it a beautiful rise and the combination of a crispy crust with tender cake and mixed with fresh peach…it can’t be beat!

    Fresh, Frozen or Canned Peaches

    This perfect peach cobbler is definitely best with in-season, fresh peaches. Can this be made in the “off season” with frozen or canned peaches? The short answer is yes. The longer answer is, make sure to drain the canned peaches or for frozen, bring them to room temperature, then drain off the juice and excess water. You may also want to increase a Tablespoon or two of flour in the peach mixture to help thicken the peach mixture. This will help your peach cobbler from turning into peach soup!

    Use a Glass Baking Dish

    I love USA bakeware metal pans (affiliate link) that I use daily for almost all my baking. Originally I baked this peach cobbler in a metal baking dish but when I switched over to a glass dish (affiliate link), my results were consistently better. Cobbler is baked for a long time and the slow heating of the glass pan helps the cobbler bake evenly and retains the heat when the cobbler is finished baking in the oven. If you can use a glass dish, it will improve your finished cobbler.

    One Bowl, One Baking Dish

    If you’ve been around here for awhile, you know that I love using one bowl when I can. My favorite one bowl pumpkin spice muffins here. Applesauce bread using one bowl is here. This favorite sourdough discard zucchini bread here. Perfect peach cobbler is no different! The less dishes, the better. I mix together the peaches with the sugar, flour and spices right into the baking dish. Then I’ll mix up the cobbler topping in a bowl and spread it on top. I love how simple this recipe is and how you really only need to wash one bowl.

    If you’re looking for a way to use up the last of those summer peaches, give this perfect peach cobbler a try. I’m hoping to make this cobbler or my favorite sweet peach bread at least once more this season. Either would be the perfect end-of-summer dessert, and I won’t tell if you happen to have a bowl or two for breakfast!

    Perfect Peach Cobbler

    Perfect Peach Cobbler

    Perfect peach cobbler with fresh peaches, spices and the perfect topping that tastes a little bit biscuit and a little bit cake.
    Prep Time 15 mins
    Cook Time 45 mins
    Course Dessert
    Cuisine American
    Servings 1 8 by 8 pan

    Ingredients
      

    Peaches

    • 5-6 cups peaches sliced
    • 1/3 cup brown sugar
    • 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
    • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

    Peach Cobbler Topping

    • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour about 6 oz
    • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled
    • 1/3 cup buttermilk
    • 1 large egg
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Instructions
     

    • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
    • Cut and slice 5-6 cups of fresh, soft peaches. Add them to the bottom of an 8 by 8 glass pan (affiliate link). Add the brown sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon and vanilla to the peaches and stir to combine.
    • To a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, buttermilk, egg and vanilla extract. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry and whisk together until no dry streaks remain.
    • Spread the batter over the top of the peaches.
    • Bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick is inserted into the center of the cobbler and no batter streaks remain.
    • Serve the cobbler warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

    Notes

    For canned or frozen peaches: Bring frozen peaches to room temperature and drain the excess liquid before using. Drain canned peaches before using. Add a Tablespoon or two of extra flour to the peach mixture before topping with cake topping.
    Buttermilk substitution: If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, substitute 3 Tablespoons sour cream with 2.5 Tablespoons milk, mixed together.
    Peeled or unpeeled: Peaches can be peeled or unpeeled depending on your preference.
    Keyword peach, peach cobbler

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    Cloverleaf Dinner Rolls

    St. Patrick’s Day is one of those holidays that makes a normal day just a little extra special. We love to celebrate with a visit from the leprechaun and a festive meal. Often we’ll serve this Irish Soda Bread to accompany our dinner and some years we choose to make these cloverleaf dinner rolls. We love them for any special meal, though they are especially fun on St. Patrick’s Day. Shaped like a clover, three little bread balls are set in a muffin tin to rise and create the perfect, fluffy, pull-apart dinner roll. Cloverleaf rolls are tender and would be a tasty addition to your March 17th. 

    Honey and Oil

    One of my favorite tips whenever I’m using a recipe that calls for both honey and some kind of oil or melted butter is this: Pour the oil (or butter in this case) in first, then use the same measuring cup for the honey. In the case of this recipe I melt the butter in a liquid measuring cup and then add the honey to the same measuring cup. The honey slides right out and doesn’t stick to the measuring cup.

    Bread Flour or All Purpose Flour?

    Bread flour really gives these rolls a nice texture. The exterior is chewy and the rolls bake up nice and tall. I recommend getting your hands on a bag of bread flour if you can. If you only have all purpose flour, go ahead and use it, but the rolls might not rise quite as much. Adding about a Tablespoon of vital wheat gluten to the all purpose flour is a good substitute for bread flour in this recipe. And if you don’t have vital wheat gluten, check out this post that tells you all about why you need it in your kitchen.

    Eight Minutes of Kneading

    One of the keys to good bread and dinner rolls is in the long kneading time. You can knead this dough by hand, but it will be an arm workout. I like to use a Bosch Mixer (affiliate link) or a Kitchen Aid (affiliate link) stand mixer. Any mixer that is fitted with a dough hook should work. When I mix bread dough, I add flour just until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Pinch a piece of dough off, roll it into a ball and notice if you have just a bit of sticky residue left. These are clues that you can stop adding flour. After I’ve determined that the amount of flour is correct, I’ll set a timer and let my mixer go for about 8 minutes. Doing this develops the gluten strands in the dough. These gluten strands are what will trap the gases from the yeast and give your rolls a beautiful shape. If you want to improve your bread skills, start with kneading the dough for a good eight minutes (ten to twelve minutes if you are doing it by hand).

    Shaping Dough into Large Rolls

    After the dough has risen, it is ready to be shaped. This recipe makes twelve large rolls. If you’d like to make them a little smaller or even four-leaf-clover shaped, cut the dough into more pieces. Separate the dough into twelve (or more) equal-sized pieces. Taking a piece at a time, cut it into three equal-sized balls. Place each ball into the cup of a lightly greased, non-stick muffin tin (affiliate link). Let the dough rise until puffy and just over the top of the muffin tin before baking.

    Festive St. Patrick’s Day

    If you really want to get festive with these, you could brush the top with a little bit of green-dyed egg wash, like I did with these pumpkin-shaped rolls in October. They would be a lot of fun for a green-themed meal. With or without the green dye, I hope the leprechaun shows up at your house so you can create a little St. Patrick’s Day magic with these cloverleaf dinner rolls.

    Cloverleaf Dinner Rolls

    Light, fluffy and tender, these cloverleaf dinner rolls are a fun take on a traditional roll. Easy to pull apart and delicious for any dinner or fun to make for St. Patrick's Day.
    Prep Time 30 mins
    Cook Time 22 mins
    Rise Time 2 hrs
    Course Bread, rolls
    Cuisine American
    Servings 12 rolls

    Ingredients
      

    • 1 cup 2% or whole milk, warmed temperature of baby's bathwater, see note
    • 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
    • 1/4 cup honey
    • 1/4 cup melted butter
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 3 1/2-4 cups bread flour see note
    • melted butter for topping

    Instructions
     

    • To the bowl of a stand mixer, add the warm milk, instant yeast and honey. Drizzle in the melted butter and add the salt.
    • Turn on the mixer and add three cups of bread flour, a cup at a time. Knead together and continue adding flour 1/4 cup at a time until the dough moves away from the sides of the bowl and you can pinch off a piece, roll it up in your fingers and have just a little bit of sticky residue left on your fingers. More tips for checking the readiness of your dough here.
    • Knead the dough for 8 minutes. I like to set a timer to make sure my dough gets the full eight minutes. This helps develop the gluten strands in the dough which gives a better crumb, rise and texture to your bread.
    • Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container. Cover and let rise about an hour or until doubled in size. The warmth of your kitchen will impact how long it takes for the dough to rise.
    • Lightly grease a muffin tin (affiliate link) with cooking spray.
    • Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a countertop and cut into twelve (for large rolls) or sixteen (smaller rolls) pieces. Take each dough piece and cut it into three equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place the three balls into one cup of the muffin tin to create a cloverleaf shape. Repeat with the remaining balls of dough until all of the muffin cups are filled with dough.
    • Cover and let rise 45 minutes to an hour until puffy and about doubled in size.
    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake rolls for 20-22 minutes.
    • Top with melted butter as they come out of the oven. Enjoy!

    Notes

    Milk: 2% or whole milk is best in this recipe. If microwaving milk, warm it in 20-30 second increments, stir the milk and check the temperature in the middle of the milk (it can sometimes be hotter than the edges). The temperature of the milk should be warm, not hot. Milk that is too hot will kill the yeast. 
    Bread Flour: These rolls are best made using bread flour. If you don’t have bread flour you can use all purpose flour and add 1 Tablespoon of vital wheat gluten to help increase the protein content and texture of your bread.
    Amount: This recipe makes 12 large rolls. If you want the rolls a little smaller, make 16 rolls and bake for a minute or two less.
    Keyword Clover, Dinner Rolls, St. Patrick’s Day

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    Chocolate Puff Oven Pancake

    Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and I’m the kind of mom who loves sweet, simple and easy traditions. We like eating this puff oven pancake on special mornings (ie: back to school) and we look forward to this chocolate version every Valentine morning. It is simple enough to throw together on a school morning. It’s sweet enough to be a “Valentine-kid-approved” breakfast and also has enough protein to be “mom-approved.” This chocolate puff oven pancake is the perfect breakfast to start your Valentine’s Day off right.

    Jump to Chocolate Puff Oven Pancake Recipe

    Valentine Traditions

    In my home while growing up, the tradition was to eat a sugar cookie for breakfast on Valentines Day. Yes. It’s the day I looked forward to every year as a kid because I got to eat a frosted Valentine cookie with my name on it! Sometimes I would save it for when I got home from school, but more often than not I would eat it for breakfast…and savor every bite. You can find the recipe for these best ever sugar cookies here. As I became a mom myself, I still give my kids a cookie with their breakfast (some traditions are hard to break!), but I also like having something that has a little more protein, some fruit and not quite as much sugar as my kids will be consuming throughout the school day. This chocolate puff oven pancake hits all the right spots. It is breakfast decadence at its finest, but also filling and just delicious. It could also be a delicious Valentine dessert, or a fun anytime breakfast for the chocolate lover in your life.

    Use a Blender or Whisk by Hand

    I love puff oven pancakes because they are so simple. Throw ingredients in a blender, pulse for 20 seconds, pour the batter into a preheated pan and stick it in the oven. We love this recipe for an original puff oven pancake and make it frequently. This chocolate version, made chocolatey with the addition of cocoa powder, really puts a special spin on an old favorite recipe for a special occasion. If you don’t have a blender, you can always whisk the ingredients together in a bowl and it will turn out just fine.

    Cocoa Powder in Chocolate Puff Oven Pancake

    The cocoa powder is what gives the chocolate puff oven pancake its rich, chocolatey flavor. I’ve made it with dark/rich cocoa powder and regular cocoa powder from the grocery store. My family preferred the puff oven pancake made with the dark cocoa powder. The flavor is more intense with a dark cocoa powder and not as subtle. My favorite cocoa powder is this one from Costco, but I also like using the Hershey’s special dark cocoa powder (affiliate link) that you can find in most grocery stores. You can use a dutch-processed cocoa powder in this recipe with no issues.

    Make-Ahead Instructions

    This year, Valentine’s Day happens to fall on Sunday. We won’t worry about rushing off to school and can enjoy a leisurely Valentine breakfast. On a typical school-day, I like to have all the ingredients set out the night before. I’ll chop the strawberries, whip the cream and get a little bowl of sprinkles all set out. I even set my pan in the oven with a little bit of butter in it so it is ready to be preheated as soon as I get downstairs. Turn on the oven, blend up the ingredients, pop it in the oven. The chocolate puff oven pancake takes 5 minutes to prep and 20 minutes to bake. Then I’m free to wake my kids and help them get ready for the school day. We only have to double and triple check that they still have their bag of Valentines. After twenty minutes of hands-off time, breakfast is ready. I love sending my kids off to school with some protein in their bellies from a filling breakfast.

    ALL the Toppings

    We top our chocolate puff oven pancake with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, followed by a healthy scoop of freshly whipped cream. Strawberries are up next with some sprinkles for good measure. You can use any type of fresh fruit and whipped cream. I’ve used whipped cream out of a can many times, even though freshly whipped cream makes this breakfast extra special. Chocolate puff oven pancake is so versatile and fun to make. Your kids will thank you for getting to eat chocolate for breakfast!

    What are your Valentine traditions? Do you make a special breakfast? Cookies? We love celebrating traditions, and it seems that food often plays a role in them. You can find a few more of my family’s traditional foods on the blog.

    Chocolate Puff Oven Pancake

    Amy
    Rich, chocolatey and full of protein? Chocolate puff oven pancake is the perfect Valentine or any special occasion breakfast.
    Prep Time 5 mins
    Cook Time 20 mins
    Course Breakfast
    Cuisine American
    Servings 1 8 by 8 pan

    Ingredients
      

    • 2 Tablespoons butter
    • 3 eggs
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 5 Tablespoons all purpose flour
    • 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder see recipe note
    • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • powdered sugar for topping
    • sliced strawberries for topping
    • freshly whipped cream for topping

    Instructions
     

    • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
    • Place the 2 Tablespoons of butter in an 8 by 8 pan and set it in the oven to melt while you whip up the ingredients. Once the butter has melted, be careful not to let it sit too long in the oven by itself or it can burn. This usually isn't an issue if you quickly whip up the other ingredients.
    • To a blender add the eggs, milk, vanilla, flour, cocoa powder, sugar and salt. Blend together about 20 seconds until fully combined.
    • Pour the blended mixture into the hot pan with melted butter and place in the oven.
    • Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.
    • Prepare toppings: slice strawberries, whip cream, sprinkles, etc…
    • Dust with powdered sugar and Enjoy!

    Notes

    Cocoa Powder: This recipe tastes best and has a more intense chocolate flavor with a rich dark cocoa powder like Hershey’s special dark chocolate cocoa powder (affiliate link). You can substitute regular cocoa powder and it will still taste delicious, just not quite as “chocolatey” in flavor.
    Keyword chocolate, Puff Oven Pancake, Valentines

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    Best Ever Sugar Cookies

    Valentine’s Day is the quintessential sugar cookie holiday. It’s the day that I equate with sugar cookies. As long as I can remember, every Valentine’s Day I would wake up to a beautiful, pink sugar cookie with white icing piped around the outside and my name written in the middle. This was no fancy bakery-style cookie. This was a home-made, made-with-love cookie by my mom. My childhood Valentine mornings were more about cookies than any Valentine card I received. That cookie, flavored with almond, topped with a whole lot of buttercream and oh-so-sweet will always be my top Valentine memory.

    Jump to Best Ever Sugar Cookies Recipe

    That childhood Valentine memory has stuck with me so much that even though we are not a “cookies for breakfast” family, I give my kids a homemade Valentine sugar cookie on Valentine’s morning…and they look forward to it all year long. Isn’t it funny how traditions are like that? To think that one simple cookie could evoke so many memories for generations. I love that about food and family and how little simple things repeated every year can mean so much.

    Over the years I’ve played around with my mom’s amazing sugar cookie recipe. I love her recipe, but it calls for a lot of Crisco and truthfully, I’m not the biggest fan of baking with shortening and don’t usually keep it in my pantry. Butter on the other hand…I keep many pounds of butter on hand. This best ever sugar cookie recipe has all the nostalgia of Mom’s but with 100% butter. This is the one that my kids will be eating for years to come…and maybe my grandkids too (you know, unless they also decide to change it up 🙂 ).

    Thin and Crispy or Thick and Chewy

    Which is your favorite? A thin and crispy cookie or a thick and chewy cookie? Whatever way you answer, you are going to love this cookie. My personal preference is thick and chewy. I love a cookie that is ¼ inch or more in thickness and slathered with some buttercream. This cookie fits the bill for a chewy sugar cookie. BUT, if you love a thin and crispy cookie, the recipe works just as well. My kids always seem to roll the dough out paper thin and the cookies come out crispy on the outside with just a little give in the center. They almost have me converted to thin and crispy. Basically, no matter how you roll these, you can get your preference. If you want them crispy, roll them thinner. If you want them chewy, roll them thick.

    Tips for Baking with Kids

    One of the reasons I love this best ever sugar cookie dough is because it is so simple to make with kids. I have four kids, so I almost always double the recipe. My kids all enjoy cutting out shapes and making their own set of sugar cookies. I find it easiest to portion a section of dough for each child. I set them up with a piece of parchment paper, a little bit of flour and a rolling pin to roll out their own dough while I make my own cookies. This way, I don’t care whatever shapes they cut or how thick or thin their cookies are. They get full autonomy over their cookies and I get to make mine exactly how I like them (especially if I’m planning to gift some to friends and neighbors)

    No Chilling Required and Rolling the Dough

    A lot of sugar cookie recipes require you to chill the dough. One of the things I love about these best ever sugar cookies is that no chilling is required. If you need to chill the dough for planning purposes, you can, but there is no need. You can go straight from mixing up the dough to having beautiful cookies cooling in just a few minutes. I like to use a pastry mat to roll out my sugar cookie dough. Lightly flour the bottom of your pastry mat (or countertop works too). Set the ball of dough on top of the lightly floured surface. Sprinkle a little more flour on top of the dough or on the rolling pin and gently roll the dough until it is your desired thickness. Cut out your shapes. You may need to use a spatula to lift the cookie dough onto the baking sheet. If you notice your dough sticking a lot, add a little bit more flour. The scraps of the dough can be re-rolled a few times to use up as much dough as possible.

    Almond Extract in Cookie Dough

    One of my favorite flavors to add to a sugar cookie is almond extract. I love a hint of almond in these cookies, but you could substitute any other favorite flavor. Some like lemon, or a blend of coconut and almond extracts is also very good. If you want to stick with vanilla extract, they will taste delicious. It’s all about your personal preference. 

    Baking with or without Convection

    I am a big believer in baking cookies using the convection setting on your oven if possible (read more about that in this cookie recipe here). However, I have baked these cookies for years using a regular bake. Just recently I tried them out on convection and the main difference is that convection bake saves you a couple minutes of bake time if you want a thick, chewy sugar cookie. If you are going for a crispier cookie, using convection would be the way to go to get a crispy edge. You may want to add a minute or two onto the bake time for a crispier cookie. If you choose to use convection, bake at 325 for about 8 minutes or bake on regular heat at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

    Buttercream Frosting

    Sugar cookies taste delicious with any type of icing. I love how pretty royal icing looks, but buttercream always will be my favorite way to top sugar cookies. Growing up, my mom always used Crisco in her buttercream. I loved it as a kid, but now I prefer to use 100% real butter. If you want good piping/hardening consistency you can substitute half Crisco for part of the butter in the buttercream. It is important to whip the butter for a few minutes before adding in the sugar. This helps to lighten the color of the buttercream and give the desired light and fluffy consistency. I like adding heavy cream to the frosting for the extra creamy flavor. You can substitute milk if in a pinch, but it won’t be as creamy. If you are planning to color the buttercream with food coloring, it is best to use a gel color so the buttercream doesn’t change consistency, though drop colors will work in a pinch. The key to good buttercream: whip it, whip it, whip it.

    Freezing Best Ever Sugar Cookies

    One of my biggest tips for home bakers is: use your freezer. Sometimes I don’t have time to make sugar cookies from start to finish. I often will make the sugar cookie base, freeze the bases and then frost them later. Sometimes I will make and frost the sugar cookies and then freeze the whole cookie. I can pull the frosted cookies out the morning I want to gift them, let them come to room temperature and then give them away. This is a huge time saver for a busy mom and it makes the “project” of sugar cookies less overwhelming. Break the process down into a couple of days. The sugar cookie bases themselves freeze easier than a whole assembled cookie. Stack them, cover in plastic wrap or tin foil or place them in an airtight container to freeze. When you are ready to frost them, pull the cookie bases out of the freezer and frost. No need to let the cookies come to room temperature. They are actually easier to frost frozen and will come to room temperature quickly and taste delicious. If you want to store cookies that have been frosted, lay them out on a cookie sheet after frosting/piping. Freeze in a single layer. Once hardened, add a few more cookies on top of them and freeze. Cover with saran wrap and tin foil to store.

    So what are you waiting for? Make a big batch of these amazing best ever sugar cookies and give a few to your Valentine, family, teachers or friends. We make the cookies ahead of time and enjoy frosting them closer to Valentines Day. Who knows, maybe you will even luck out with a cookie for breakfast this year!

    Best Ever Sugar Cookies

    These best ever sugar cookies are tender, chewy (or crispy…your choice), melt in your mouth and smothered in light, whippy buttercream. No chilling required!
    Prep Time 30 mins
    Cook Time 10 mins
    Course cookies, Dessert
    Cuisine American
    Servings 40 3 inch cookies

    Ingredients
      

    Best Ever Sugar Cookies

    • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter 3 sticks or 24 Tablespoons, room temperature
    • 2 cups granulated sugar
    • 3 eggs
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon almond extract optional, but we LOVE it
    • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup cornstarch
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar see recipe notes
    • 1 teaspoon salt

    Buttercream Frosting

    • 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
    • 4 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract see recipe notes
    • 2-4 Tablespoons heavy cream see recipe notes

    Instructions
     

    Best Ever Sugar Cookies

    • To the bowl of stand mixer, mix the butter until light and fluffy. Add the granulated sugar and cream together.
    • Add the eggs an egg at a time and mix. Continue mixing until fully incorporated.
    • Add the vanilla extract and almond extract. Mix together.
    • To a medium-sized bowl, add the dry ingredients: all purpose flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and cream of tartar. Whisk together with a fork.
    • Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until completely combined. Don't be too zealous with the mixing, but make sure you have a cohesive mass of dough.
    • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees regular bake or 325 degrees convection. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper (my favorite cookie sheet here, affiliate link)
    • Lightly flour a countertop or pastry mat.
    • Turn the dough out onto the counter and split into a few pieces.
    • Working with a piece at a time, roll the dough to about 1/4 of an inch thick, flouring a little as needed, though be careful to not over-flour the dough. If you want a crispier cookie, roll the dough a little thinner to 1/8 of an inch.
    • Using a cookie cutter (affiliate link), cut shapes out of the dough. Try to place your shapes as close together as possible to use up as much dough without needing to re-roll. Place cut cookie dough on a cookie sheet with a little space in between each cookie.
    • Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes (or 325 convection for 8 minutes). For a crispier cookie, bake an extra minute or two. Let cookies cool for a few minutes before removing from the pan to cool.
    • Continue this process, re-rolling scraps together once or twice until all your cookie dough is used up.
    • Let cookies cool completely before frosting or freezing.
    • To Freeze: Stack cooled cookies. Place cookies in an airtight container and freeze. Pull out when ready to frost, and frost from frozen.

    Buttercream Frosting

    • To the bowl of a stand mixer, or to a bowl with a handheld mixer, add the room temperature butter. Whip together with the whisk attachment or beaters. Whip for a few minutes until the butter is light and airy looking.
    • Add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and almond extract if desired. Whip together.
    • Add heavy cream as you are whipping the frosting, beginning with 2 Tablespoons and increasing up to 4 Tablespoons depending on how you prefer the consistency of the frosting. Add food coloring if desired.
    • Continue whipping until light, creamy and whiter in color (the buttercream loses its yellow, buttery color and turns more white the longer you whip it for).
    • Frost cooled cookies or frozen cookies with buttercream. Pipe around edges if desired. Enjoy!

    Notes

    Cream of Tartar: This can be left out of the recipe, but I like the flavor it lends to the cookie. If you don’t have it on hand, leave it out.
    Buttercream: This buttercream recipe makes enough to lightly frost a two layer cake or lightly frost all of your sugar cookies. If you want to pipe extra decorations or borders, you will want to make 1.5 times the recipe or double it.
    Almond Extract: I love the added flavor almond extract gives to the buttercream and the cookies. It’s one of the “secret” ingredients that take these cookies to “best-ever” status. If you don’t like the flavor, you can leave it out.
    Heavy Cream: Heavy cream gives the buttercream its creamy and luscious texture. If you don’t have it on hand you can substitute milk. Be careful not to pour too much milk because it will thin the frosting quicker than heavy cream.
     
    Keyword Sugar Cookie, Valentine’s Day

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    Fondue Two Ways: Classic Swiss and Rich Chocolate

    We were babies!

    Many years ago (almost fifteen if I’m being exact), I ate my most memorable fondue dinner. My husband and I were honeymooning in Europe. We had a small wedding and spent the money we would have spent on a fancy party traveling around Europe for five weeks. This was definitely one of our better decisions. One evening we found ourselves in the tiny mountain village of Gimmelwald, Switzerland surrounded by the Swiss Alps. We were traveling on a budget trying to eke out the most of our trip but when we saw fondue on the menu, we threw caution (and a whole lot of Swiss Francs) to the wind and enjoyed one of the most memorable meals we’ve eaten together. Melty cheese, gorgeous mountains and two kids in love. Definitely a moment to remember.

    Jump to Fondue Two Ways Recipe

    Alcohol Free Fondue

    Ever since that evening, I’ve been trying to recreate our fondue experience…sans beautiful mountains and overlooking the bluegrass fields of Kentucky instead. This recipe lives up to the hype in our minds of the perfect Swiss Fondue. It uses equal parts Gruyere and Emmentaler cheese which are pricey but totally worth it. We are not the biggest fans of alcohol in fondue and find it a bit overpowering, so we like to use chicken stock in place of the traditional white wine. If you prefer the flavor of white wine, by all means, substitute that for the chicken stock. You can add a few Tablespoons of Kirschwasser for a more traditional flavor too. I think this Classic Swiss Fondue recipe is pretty perfect without the alcohol and our kids love it too.

    Cheese, Cheese and More Cheese

    Can you substitute other types of cheese in this recipe? You can, but it may not give you the traditional sharp Swiss flavor that we love so much. That doesn’t mean it won’t be good. If you are looking to substitute cheese, I would look for a good melting cheese. Jarlsburg, French Comte or a generic Swiss cheese can be used. A pro tip: If you are looking for one of the easiest fondue recipes ever, just pick up a block of brie cheese. Cut off the casing and melt it in a fondue pot. Not quite as flavorful as our favorite recipe but delicious just the same. We love the creaminess of the classic Swiss fondue recipe and the sharpness of the Swiss flavors with some crusty bread or apples. 

    Rich Chocolate Fondue

    In our family it’s not a fondue night without chocolate fondue. Our kids love dipping fresh fruit, marshmallows, muffins or angel food cake in the chocolate mixture and it makes for a very fun and memorable evening. This chocolate fondue recipe I’m sharing below does not make a whole lot of chocolate fondue. You may want to double it if you are just making it on its own. For our family, after eating the cheese fondue we don’t need a huge pot of chocolate fondue because our bellies are so full of cheese!  I love this chocolate fondue because it is downright delicious and so easy to whip up.

    What to Dip

    A good crusty bread cut into chunks is a must for cheese fondue. We also like cutting up apple slices to dip in the cheese. I will often set out bowls of nuts, cold cuts, boiled potatoes or other easy-to-eat foods with the cheese fondue. For the chocolate fondue I scour my fridge and pantry for fresh fruit and marshmallows. If I can’t find angel food cake or pound cake I will cut up muffins into small pieces to dip in the fondue. I love how adaptable fondue is to what I have on hand. It’s not hard for anything to taste good covered in cheese or chocolate.

    Fondue Tradition

    In our family, fondue has become a tradition. We like to have fondue for our New Years Eve dinner, setting goals and toasting around the table to the new year. We also eat this traditional fondue (cheese and chocolate) for Valentines Day. It’s a dinner my kids look forward to all year long. Every so often we’ll pull out the fondue set for a back-to-school dinner or some other special occasion. We love eating fondue together because it slows down the meal and lets us enjoy and create family memories together. We’ve had so many good times gathered around the fondue pot as a family; laughing and enjoying delicious cheese and chocolate fondue.

    Fondue Pot

    Do you need a fondue pot to make fondue? Technically, no. If you are planning to have a one-off fondue dinner, then maybe you don’t need to invest in a fondue pot. If you want to make it a yearly family tradition, I think it’s worth it! We started off with this fondue pot (affiliate link) and after using it a couple of years, upgraded to this one. We definitely prefer the Swissmar pot (affiliate link) because it heats so evenly, but the Cuisinart is a good value too. It can burn easier on the bottom, so make sure you stir your fondue every so often.

    Fondue is fun and has become a wonderful tradition for our family. Our kids look forward to it every New Years and Valentines Day (and sometimes on other special occasions). We love these recipes because they are simple, special and delicious. I hope you love them too! Happy New Year!

    Fondue Two Ways: Classic Swiss Fondue and Rich Chocolate Fondue

    The perfect creamy and classic Swiss cheese fondue and a rich chocolate fondue for dessert. Use these two recipes for a perfect special occasion dinner!
    Prep Time 20 mins
    Course Dessert, Main Course
    Cuisine American, Swiss
    Servings 6 people

    Ingredients
      

    Classic Swiss Fondue

    • 2 cups high quality Gruyere cheese, freshly grated see recipe note
    • 2 cups high quality Emmentaler, freshly grated see recipe note
    • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
    • 1/2 cup chicken stock *substitute white wine if desired
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
    • pinch of nutmeg
    • pinch of ground pepper
    • 1 loaf soft or crusty french bread cubed

    Rich Chocolate Fondue

    • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips can substitute for your favorite chocolate
    • 1/4 cup heavy cream
    • 2-3 Tablespoons milk
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • an assortment of items to dip ie: fresh fruit, marshmallows, angel food cake, etc…

    Instructions
     

    Classic Swiss Fondue

    • Grate the cheese. I sometimes use a food processor for the harder cheese and it makes the process very fast.
    • To a medium-sized bowl, add the cheese and 4 teaspoons of cornstarch. Coat the cheese in the cornstarch and mix until completely combined. Set aside.
    • To a liquid measuring cup, add the chicken stock and milk. Whisk together.
    • Heat the fondue pot, (affiliate link) and add the chicken stock and milk to the pot. Warm to a weak simmer. Then add the lemon juice and continue to simmer (weak simmer).
    • Taking a handful at a time, add the cheese to the pot, stirring constantly. Wait for the cheese to melt before adding in another handful. Continue this process until all the cheese has been added to the fondue pot.
    • Add a pinch of nutmeg and pepper to taste.
    • Eat immediately by dipping the crusty bread into the fondue. Enjoy!

    Rich Chocolate Fondue

    • To a fondue pot (affiliate link) or small saucepan, add the chocolate chips, heavy cream and a Tablespoon of milk.
    • Stir the mixture until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Add a Tablespoon of milk as needed to thin the chocolate fondue. Stir in the vanilla extract.
    • Keep the chocolate warm as you dip fresh fruit, marshmallows, muffins or angel food cake into the chocolate fondue. Enjoy!

    Notes

    Recipe Notes:
    Pre-Shredded Cheese: This recipe works best when you use block cheese that is freshly grated. Pre-shredded cheese often is coated with preservatives which means they don’t melt together as well during cooking. 
    Classic Swiss Cheese Fondue: Traditional cheese fondue is made with alcohol. We prefer the flavor of the fondue made with chicken stock (and our kids do too). If you prefer, add 1/2 cup of your favorite white wine (or other alcohol) in place of the chicken stock for a deeper flavor.
    Rich Chocolate Fondue: This recipe makes the perfect amount for dessert after eating cheese fondue. If you are making this recipe without eating a meal beforehand, you may want to double it.
    Keyword fondue

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    Chocolate Caramel Pecan Christmas Cookies

    In our house, it is not Christmas until we have made our traditional Christmas cookies. My family has been making them ever since I can remember (and long before that). These Chocolate Caramel Pecan Christmas cookies are the ultimate holiday cookie. Buttery shortbread-style crust with a luscious caramel, chocolate and pecan topping. What isn’t there to love about these? The festive star-shape makes them a Christmas cookie you will want to make on repeat at your house every year. 

    Jump to Chocolate Caramel Pecan Christmas Cookies Recipe

    Chocolate Caramel Pecan Christmas Cookies: The History

    When my mom was little, she would make Christmas cookies with my grandma. I don’t know if she just liked these cookies the best or if they won out over all the cookies my grandma made but for whatever reason (and good reason in my opinion) this was THE cookie. Originally many cookie cutters were used to cut out the dough for these cookies but the star-shape always turned out the best. From then on, my family made hundreds of these cookies every Christmas. Truth be told, I didn’t even know people made many different kinds of cookies. This chocolate caramel pecan cookie is the one cookie you will want this Christmas too!

    Buttery Shortbread-Style Cookie Dough

    This dough is a dream to work with. It rolls out beautifully (just add a tiny touch of flour to the rolling pin if needed) and is so easy for little fingers to cut and help shape. I always make a little extra dough (double the recipe) and pull out my cookie cutter collection so they can make whatever shapes they want. We bake them up and the kids love eating them plain or decorated. While they are occupied, I go to town rolling the dough and cutting the star-shaped ones to give away to friends and neighbors. I’ve found rolling the dough to about ¼ inch thickness and using a 3-3.5 inch star-shaped cookie cutter (affiliate link) works best for these cookies. This recipe will give you 24 beautiful star cookies.

    Baking Time

    The cookie bases bake for about 10-12 minutes depending if you use convection or regular on your oven. I’ve waxed poetic about convection ovens before, so you know my preference but I’ve made them for years before having a convection oven and in many different countries with different ovens and they always turn out amazing. Be careful on the time as you bake these because these cookies are really divine if you don’t over bake them. They will puff up just a little bit but keep their star-shape. If you let them go too long or have rolled them out too thin, the edges will start to brown just a bit and you will know they went a little too long in the oven. Still delicious, but much better without the browned edges.

    Caramel, Chocolate and Pecans

    The toppings are what really set this cookie apart. Caramels are melted down (I use the microwave but you could also do this on the stove if you watch very carefully) with butter and evaporated milk and then stirred with sifted powdered sugar and chopped pecans to give the most amazing caramel topping. The pecans help the caramel to set up to a little ball on top of the cookie which makes the perfect base for the thick chocolate topping. I love the richness the semi-sweet chocolate chips bring to this cookie and any extra topping we have from these cookies we save to eat on ice cream or…by the spoonful. It is so good. A whole pecan tops the cookie for a finished look.

    Sift. Sift. Sift that Powdered Sugar

    One note about sifting. Please, please, please sift your powdered sugar. One year when I was a college student, I was making these Christmas cookies (yes, I made these every year…even while I was in the midst of college finals, they are that nostalgic for me). I decided to forgo the sifting and it was a BIG MISTAKE. I had chunks of powdered sugar all throughout my caramel sauce. Even though I did everything I could to get those chunks combined, they just wouldn’t combine well. My caramel still tasted okay but it didn’t look very good with little white chunks throughout what should have been a smooth caramel. So learn from my mistake and get yourself a sifter if you don’t have one. 

    Gluten-Free Option

    If you need to make these cookies gluten-free, good news. They are absolutely amazing gluten-free. My sister eats gluten-free and makes them every year with Cup4Cup flour (affiliate link). It is really hard to tell the difference between the gluten-free version and the regular version. Just sub the flour in the cookies for the Cup 4 Cup flour and they should turn out amazing.

    A Cookie Job For Everyone

    I make over 200 of these cookies every year for Christmas. This is our family tradition. We spend a few days doing the entire process. One day baking the cookies. One day making the toppings. One day assembling everything. When we finally get to the assembly portion, everyone has a job to do. My kids have now graduated to being able to help put on the caramel and chocolate toppings. The youngest in our crew is usually relegated to “pecan sorting” and putting nuts on top of the cookies. I love that these cookies have a job for everyone. We have such fun every year blasting Christmas carols, making cookies and sneaking a cookie or two.

    Caroling and Cookies

    The cookie bases freeze well (actually the whole cookie does) and it makes it easy for us to make plates of cookies to deliver to friends and neighbors. We love caroling, bringing along our Christmas card and a plate of these cookies. It’s a tradition that began when I was a kid and has continued on with my family and the families of my siblings. And after all the deliveries…we get to enjoy eating our star-shaped cookies. The funny part is that if you ask each of us, we all have a different way to eat the cookie. Some of us eat off all the star points first leaving the gooey middle. Others pull off the pecan and eat off all the topping first. I love having these fun traditions to look back on every year 

    I love all cookies. Chocolate chip, candy jar, gluten-free oat cookies, but these chocolate caramel pecan Christmas cookies are a standout favorite. Full of nostalgia, lots of butter, chocolate and caramel, they are the ultimate holiday dessert. Whether you are looking for cookies to give, cookies to eat or cookies to leave out for Santa, these chocolate caramel pecan cookies are the perfect indulgent holiday cookie. I wish I could bring you a plate! From my family to yours…Merry Christmas!

    Chocolate Caramel Pecan Christmas Cookies

    Chocolate Caramel Pecan Christmas cookies are the ultimate holiday cookie. A star-shaped buttery crust with a luscious caramel, chocolate and pecan topping. They will be on repeat at your house every Christmas.
    Prep Time 1 hr
    Cook Time 10 mins
    Course Dessert
    Cuisine American
    Servings 24 cookies

    Ingredients
      

    Cookie Base

    • 3/4 cup unsalted butter softened
    • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 Tablespoons evaporated milk
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 2 cups all purpose flour

    Caramel Topping

    • 8 oz caramel candy Kraft caramels are the ones we traditionally use
    • 1/4 cup evaporated milk
    • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
    • 1 cup powdered sugar sifted
    • 1 cup pecans finely chopped

    Chocolate Topping

    • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • 1/4 cup evaporated milk
    • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/2 cup powdered sugar sifted

    24 whole pecans

      Instructions
       

      Cookie Base

      • Using a stand mixer or a handheld mixer and large bowl, cream together the softened butter and powdered sugar until thick and creamy.
      • Add vanilla extract, evaporated milk and salt. Mix well until completely incorporated and creamy.
      • Add the flour and mix gently until combined. Be careful not to over-mix the dough, but you do want it to be fully incorporated.
      • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees convection or 325 regular and place parchment paper on two large baking sheets.
      • Separate the dough into two portions and roll the first ball of dough out on a lightly floured surface until about 1/4 inch thick.
      • Use a star-shaped cookie cutter about 3-3.5 inches to cut out the stars from the dough. Transfer the cutouts to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
      • Bake for 10 minutes convection or 12 minutes regular until just baked. Watch the cookies so they don't brown. The bottoms of the cookies should still be light.
      • Cool the cookies completely. At this point you can move forward with topping the cookies or freeze them to top later.

      Caramel Pecan Topping

      • Combine unwrapped caramels (or kraft caramel bits), evaporated milk and unsalted butter in a microwave-safe bowl.
      • Microwave in 1 minute increments, stirring with a spoon. Alternate stirring and microwaving until the caramels are completely melted and mixed together. This can take upwards of 10 minutes.
      • Sift in the powdered sugar and stir until completely incorporated.
      • Finely chop the pecans (I pulse them a few times in the blender) and add them to the caramel topping. Mix.
      • Set the caramel aside while you make the chocolate topping. At this point you can also refrigerate the caramel for up to a week before using.

      Chocolate Topping

      • To a microwave safe bowl, add the chocolate, butter and evaporated milk. Microwave in 30 second increments. Alternate stirring and microwaving until the chocolate, butter and evaporated milk are melted and combined.
      • Stir in the vanilla extract. Sift the powdered sugar into the bowl and mix until completely combined. Set aside the chocolate topping to assemble the cookies. You can also refrigerate the topping for up to a week before using.

      Assembly

      • Lay out all the cookies on a flat counter space.
      • Place a dollop of lightly warmed caramel topping on the center of each cookie (about 1 Tablespoon).
      • Place a smaller dollop of lightly warmed chocolate topping on top of the caramel (about 1 teaspoon).
      • Add a whole pecan on top of the chocolate quickly before the chocolate hardens.
      • Let the cookies cool completely before moving to a cookie tray, sharing with friends and neighbors, freezing or setting out for Santa on Christmas Eve. Enjoy!

      Notes

      Freezing Tips: These cookies freeze very well. The fully assembled cookies can be frozen after the toppings have cooled and pulled out to thaw when needed. The process can also be split into multiple days; making the bases one day (then freeze them) and the caramel and chocolate topping a different day. 
      Sifting: It is really important to sift the powdered sugar into the caramel and chocolate. If you don’t, the caramel and chocolate will have tiny lumps of powdered sugar in them that won’t fully incorporated. They will taste okay but not look as good.
       
      Keyword caramel, chocolate chip cookie, Christmas cookies, cookies, pecan

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      The Great Family Bake Off: Reunion-Style

      One of my guilty pleasures that I enjoy sharing with my kids is the show, “The Great British Bake Off.” You can check it out on Netflix if you haven’t watched it yet. My kids absolutely love it and we often spend evenings folding laundry and watching the latest episode of “Bake Off” (or the Great British Baking Show as they call it here in the U.S.). It is equal parts funny, challenging and just endearing. We love it. During March and April of this past year, I surprised my kids with their own “Great Family Bake Off” where they completed three challenges and were judged on what they made. You can check it out here. My kids loved it so much that they begged to do it again. And again. And again. Until I finally agreed and decided to make it a larger “reunion-style” family affair.

      Reunion-Style Bake Off

      That’s how “The Great Family Bake Off–Reunion Style” was born. This past summer we drove cross country to be with my parents and siblings for about a month of our Covid-style summer. I planned out a “Reunion-style” bake off and paired the kids up with adults who wanted to participate (those who chose not to participate in the cooking still participated as judges). This entire day was such a hit and so much fun that my family has asked to do it every year.

      Three Rounds

      An episode of Bake Off takes you through three rounds. A signature challenge, a technical challenge and a show stopper challenge. Our Reunion-style Bake Off took us through these three challenges: Cookies for the Signature, Rice Krispy Treats for the technical and Pie for the show stopper. We drew names for teams a few days before the competition and gave the teams time to brainstorm for their signature and show stopper challenges. Ingredients were purchased and imaginations ran wild. This was almost as much fun as baking everything!

      Choosing Teams

      We chose teams about a week in advance to give them time to brainstorm and collaborate. You can print the planning worksheet below to help you out. Teams were selected somewhat randomly (drawing names out of a hat) but we did pair up the younger bakers with an adult because this bake off called for more intricate recipes.

      Signature Round: Cookies, 1 hour

      We gave each team one hour to make and bake their best cookie recipe. Cookies were judged on presentation, uniformity and taste. One of our teams was dairy free and gluten free and had no trouble coming up with delicious recipes. We tasted super creative cookies this round: gluten free sandwich cookies, salted caramel cookies, “lolipop” cookies and mint oreo cookies. All were stellar and hard to choose a winner!

      Technical Challenge: Rice Krispie Treats, 30 minutes

      One of my sisters is gluten free (and she was dairy free at the time due to a nursing baby) so I picked rice krispie treats for the technical challenge as it is easily gluten and dairy free. Portion out the butter, marshmallows, rice krispies, salt and vanilla into the number of teams you have. Give everyone their own ingredients and this “recipe.” The “contestants” have to follow the recipe and figure it out without any help from you. This challenge is also judged “blind,” so the judges can rank them in order from best to worst. 

      Show Stopper Round: Pie, 2 hours

      The pie challenge requires a bit more time. The pies should be properly baked (or chilled) and mostly cooled within the 2 hour time period. We had four very different pies: a candy pie, a charcuterie board of mini pies, a pizookie pie and a potato pie. All of the pies were amazing, but the potato pie was gobbled up (probably because we had been taste-testing sugar all day). Contestants can make any kind of pie they want: sweet, savory, mini pies…the sky is the limit! 

      Judging

      After each round of baking, bring the judges in to judge the round. This is a lot of fun for the other family members who are not participating in the competition. Make sure to have some small plates, forks and napkins for the judges as needed. At the end of the entire competition judges can award “Star Baker” to one team or judges could come up with different awards to give to each team who participated. Depends on how “competitive” you want this experience to be.

      Our Experience

      This was such a fun day for a family reunion. The groups were so creative. Everyone shined in the show stopper round and they are still talking about this fun experience…six months later. No one in our group ended up winning (you can watch the video and see the shoutouts given to each group) but I think we all came out winners with extra treats to eat throughout our reunion and memories to last a lifetime. 

      You can Watch our Bake Off Here

      Please share this post if you enjoyed it. If you plan to host your own “Great Family Bake Off” we’d love to see it! Tag me @amybakesbread on Instagram or share your video clip in the comments section.

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      Family Favorite Cinnamon Rolls

      I’ve been making these rolls for many, many years every Thanksgiving.

      You may be wondering why I am sharing a cinnamon roll recipe right before the week of Thanksgiving. I should be sharing my favorite pie or telling you about this roll recipe that is perfect for your turkey leftovers. But instead, I am waxing poetic about cinnamon rolls. The best cinnamon rolls. Cinnamon rolls that I have been making and perfecting for many, many years. These rolls are tender, fluffy and filled with an ooey gooey cinnamon mixture then topped with a delicious “light on the cream cheese” frosting that is absolutely amazing. These cinnamon rolls are our family favorite and I have been sharing them with family and extended family every year over our Thanksgiving holiday.

      Jump to Our Family’s Favorite Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
      Missing this view this year! We’ll be back next year 🙂

      My extended family has been going to the coast of Oregon for Thanksgiving every year for the past 50 plus years. We enjoy pot-luck style feasting for many days, lots of family time, long walks on the beach and I especially love making new and favorite recipes fit for a crowd. These cinnamon rolls are a part of our family Thanksgiving week every year. I sometimes make these rolls twice during the week…we love them so much. The dough is substantial, yet soft. The middles are gooey but baked through. The icing takes these rolls to a whole new level of glorious cinnamon rolls. Basically, our whole family loves these cinnamon rolls. 

      Because of Covid this year, Thanksgiving looks a little different and my little family isn’t going to the Oregon Coast. It’s been a tough year for so many and I’ll be honest and say, writing out this cinnamon roll recipe has been hard but good if that makes sense. It’s hard to know we won’t be there to carry on this tradition this year but also good because I love looking back on the many memories I have of cinnamon rolls shared and consumed for so many years. 

      Enough of the walk down memory lane…Let’s get to the details. Here are some of my pro tips for my family’s favorite cinnamon rolls.

      The Dough

      This dough is a dream to work with. I like to use a stand mixer (affiliate link…but check your local Costco for a good deal if you’re looking for one) or Bosch mixer but you could also make this dough kneading by hand. Just knead for about 10 minutes…until your arms are screaming at you to be done. All the butter and eggs in the dough enrich it, which can make it take longer for this dough to rise. To help combat this issue, I use instant yeast in the dough. This is my favorite yeast (affiliate link). It doesn’t need to be proofed and it helps an enriched dough rise a little more quickly.

      Filling Cinnamon Rolls: Cinnamon-Sugar Paste

      Throughout the many years of making this recipe, I’ve learned a few tips that have upped my cinnamon roll game. Many cinnamon roll recipes will have you spread butter over the dough and then add the cinnamon sugar mixture on top. Instead, I like to mix together softened or melted butter in a bowl and mix cinnamon, brown sugar and a little bit of flour into the butter. Then I spread the cinnamon-sugar paste over the roll dough. I think this gives a more even flavor and that little extra flour helps keeps the rolls from gaping open when baked. If you want to add nuts or raisins into your rolls, you can add them right on top of the cinnamon-sugar paste and roll them right up. I sometimes top some of the cinnamon rolls with toasted pecans. Yum!

      Shaping Our Family Favorite Cinnamon Rolls

      This recipe makes 12 large cinnamon rolls. I roll out my dough on the counter, spread on the filling and then roll up, pinching the seam together. To cut out the cinnamon rolls, you can use a sharp knife, bench cutter or even dental floss. If you have any wispy cinnamon roll ends, go ahead and tuck them under the roll so they don’t come loose during the bake. I also prefer baking these rolls six or eight to a pan because they rise a lot on the pan and in the oven while baking. I do know that’s not always possible or ideal (especially when I’m doubling this recipe to feed a crowd), so you can cram 12 to a pan if you want, though they may not rise quite as much.

      Add A Little Heavy Cream

      One other tip that ups the ooey, gooey factor in a cinnamon roll is the addition of warmed heavy cream. I like to take ¼ cup of lightly warmed heavy cream and pour it over the tops of the cinnamon rolls right before baking. You want the cream a little bit warm so it doesn’t impede the rise of the rolls. This little addition keeps the rolls extra tender and gooey, while still being baked through.

      Just drizzle the warm cream right over the top of the risen rolls. Yum!

      Baking the Cinnamon Rolls

      A word of caution on baking the rolls. Ovens all bake differently. Some ovens bake hotter in the back and cooler in the front. If you want an even bake on your rolls, rotate your pan 180 degrees after the first ten minutes of baking. This will keep half of your rolls from getting too dark and the other half being too light. Check the center of one of the cinnamon rolls once the pan is baked to make sure that the middle isn’t raw. Sometimes you need to let them go a minute or two longer just so they are completely baked through.

      The Best Cinnamon Roll Frosting

      The frosting on these rolls is amazing. There’s no other way to describe it. I’m not a huge fan of overly “cream cheesey” tasting frosting, and the ratios on this icing are just perfection. More butter than cream cheese, all whipped together take these rolls to an ethereal level. I also highly recommend adding in the maple flavoring that really give a unique flavor to the entire cinnamon roll. It is just divine! Whip the frosting until it is thick and creamy. Let the cinnamon rolls cool about 5 minutes before spreading a large dollop on each roll.

      How to Make Cinnamon Rolls Ahead of Time: A Few Options

      1. Mix up the dough, fillings and frosting the night before. Stick the dough in the fridge for the first rise and let it rise overnight. The next morning, shape the cinnamon rolls, let rise and bake. This would probably be my first choice if I wanted the freshest cinnamon rolls for a special morning breakfast.
      2. Make and shape the cinnamon rolls. Place them on a sheet pan, cover with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge. Pull the rolls out the morning of and let them come to room temperature and puff up a bit before baking and frosting. You may have a little bit of leakage from the cinnamon sugar mixture, but they should bake up well and taste delicious.
      3. Make the cinnamon rolls completely without adding the icing on top. Freeze them in ziplock bags. Warm them up and add icing on top when serving.
      4. Make the dough and increase the amount of yeast to 1.5 Tablespoons of yeast. Shape the cinnamon rolls and freeze them immediately. When ready to use, pull them out of the freezer, let them warm up to room temperature and puff up a bit and bake. The freezer can kill off a small amount of yeast in un-baked dough, so you add more to counterbalance this.

      Have I convinced you yet? You need these cinnamon rolls in your life. And your family does too. I usually double this recipe to feed a large crowd at our Thanksgiving celebrations. This year I wasn’t planning to make these cinnamon rolls but my kids looked at me with those sad eyes of “too much has been cancelled in the name of COVID” and this mama has a hard time saying no right now, so I made them. And guess what? I am grateful I did. For the memories. For the traditions. For the look on their faces. And for the amazing gooey deliciousness that is sitting in my kitchen right now. I hope you love them too! Enjoy!

      Family Favorite Cinnamon Rolls

      All the cinnamon-sugar goodness rolled up in a tender, light & fluffy roll and covered in practically perfect icing. These cinnamon rolls are ooey-gooey perfection and our family's favorite treat.
      Prep Time 30 mins
      Cook Time 20 mins
      Total Time 3 hrs
      Course Bread, Breakfast, Dessert
      Cuisine American