12 febbraio 2013

Orange Chocolate Toasted Pecan Sticky Buns and Bad Boy First Love, Part One

I made these sticky buns over a week ago, the photos processed, resized and ready to go, but I couldn’t write the post to go with it.  There’s been a lot going on in my life – so with all the drawn blanks I let it sit until I could write something that wasn’t boring or viscous.  I finally decided to write about my first ‘true’ love.  We all have one of those, right?  It’s loaded with corn and cheese, but a great memory.  Don’t worry, I will get to these fabulous, gooey sticky buns.

When I was in High School, I had a thing for bad boys.  Not boys who did bad things, but boys who probably weren’t going to become doctors or lawyers, or even attend college for that matter.  Not dumb, just tough, hard working, strong boys – the kind that scared your parents just a little bit god forbid we marry one.  Bad boys like a young Matt Dillon, Jared Leto as Jordan Catalano on My So -Called Life etc – you get the gist.
I lived in a pretty affluent town.  Most of the residents had loads of money, old and new, as did the residents the other town that used our High School because they didn’t have a High School – probably because it was even more affluent than our town and didn’t want some old High School decreasing the palatial estate property values.
Most of the guys were clean-cut and super-duper spoiled.  Even the ones who ‘looked’ like bad boys were wealthier than the clean-cut guys and the Phish/Deadhead stoners were even wealthier than the rich guys who looked like bad boys.  I’m not saying there weren’t some great guys in the bunch, I just wasn’t feeling ‘it’ on a romance scale.

I guess there were just too many of them, and after a while, any attraction I had, poofed as I grew up.  It was the same old same old – Stepford boys who received brand new porsches and corvettes the minute they got their learner permits – not driver’s licenses, learner permits!  Some celeb’s kids were dropped off in limo’s.  Really vulgar displays of wealth at times.
I was the opposite of a gold digger.  The blue-collar cuties who had to actually work for extra spending money, with a natural toughness/grittiness and sexy, deep voices, made me weak in the knees.  The type of guy who would always defend your honor and not hide under a table when a fight broke out at a party (Yes, one of the clean cuts I dated did just that).  Ladies, have we all not had at least one moment like THIS, in some form, sans the dyslexic talk?


Turn this upside down……..
Well, I finally found my ultimate bad boy, or rather, he found me.  It was the summer of my 15th year (going on 16) of life, at the Jersey Shore, before the show of the same name completely bastardized it and turned it into something that it was the polar opposite of when I was a teen.
Back then, it was all about the beach, the boardwalk, beach parties and rock music- not the guidos/guidettes, tanning salons (they’ve got the beach as their front or backyard, for chrissake) and discos you see on TV. There were no Snooki’s in my Seaside.  In fact, the only time I saw guidos and guidettes was on Sundays when they would crowd the boardwalk like filings to a magnet.  Lasers of sun reflected off their gold chains, blinding us as they sauntered down the boardwalk in their guinea tee’s, making all kinds of lewd remarks to women. Eating an ice cream cone was grounds for;
“Oh man, I wish I was dat ice cream cone…come mere, baby…tawk ta me!”
It was only one day a week, and everyone has a right to enjoy the shore, so no big deal.  I probably wouldn’t enjoy it now, if it’s like that 7 days a week.  Since the TV show started airing, Seaside Heights is a sticky fly trap for them.
So,  I finally met my ‘dream guy’.


…….and you get this
It was an uncharachteristically chilly night for August so I had an oversized jean jacket over my thin, lacy white mini skirt and top, my arms wrapping it around me like a straitjacket.  Me and a friend were on the Casino Pier watching some hunky guy climb to the top of a pirate ship ride to fix it, with shock and awe.  She was scoping him out (blue-collar boys didn’t have the luxury of free summer vacations like we did…they had to work to play).  Suddenly, she nudged me hard in the ribs and whispered..
“That really hot guy that works on the bumper cars is trying to get your attention…OMG, Lisa..LOOK!”
I had seen this guy a few nights before and almost melted into a puddle of goo, but there were too many girls standing around trying to get his attention, and frankly, I was way too young and shy to even think of joining the fray of adoration.
I turned my head and there he was, signing to me by rubbing his arms and mouthing ‘Are you cold?”.  I nodded ‘Yes’.  He gave me a huge smile, then shouted out..
“Come over here, it’s warmer”
I don’t even remember how I got there.  I couldn’t feel my feet, much less my legs, but soon I was standing before him.  Ironically, ‘Walking on the Moon’ by the Police was the song that was playing on the classic rock station he had blasting for the ride.  I was most certainly walking on the moon, not to mention over the moon.  I’d never felt this in my entire, albeit brief, life.  Sure, I’d dated, and had crushes, but no one had ever lifted my body and soul off the earth like this.  The colorful lights around me turned into a kaleidoscope of blur, and his beautiful face and blue blue eyes were the only thing in focus.  Then the voice – deep, tough and sexy.
“Feeling warmer?  What’s your name?”

I’m pretty sure I said “Lisa”. but my friend repeated it, so it probably wasn’t very audible.
After the usual “Where are you froms…where are you staying…how long are you here for”..questions…he asked how old I was.  I gained some sense of clarity (landed on earth) for a moment, and asked him the same before I gave him my answer.
“18…how about you?”
When you’re a teenager. a 3 year age difference is akin to a 50-year-old man dating a 25-year-old woman.  A 15-year-old would be a ‘kid’ to him.
I hated myself, but I never wanted someone so much in my life at that moment.
He asked me if I wanted to do something when he got off work.  YES YESS YESSS I screamed inwardly, but I kept it as cool as I could outwardly.
Oh, and as luck would have it..the hunky guy my friend was checking out, who bravely climbed the ‘what seemed to be’ thousand foot tall ride, as fast as a monkey up a tree,..was also 18, and his friend.  So, he would be there too.  It was all too perfect.
Problem was…we were 15, we had a curfew, and that curfew was midnight, but since it was a weekday, only my mother was at the house we rented since my father only came down on weekends due to work.  She was easy to sneak out on, we’d been doing it since we had arrived a few days before.
He asked me to meet him by the carousel around midnight.  Me and my friend decided to go home early so my mother would fall asleep early, giving us plenty of time to sneak out and be there at midnight.

I was still floating, walking on the moon, not feeling my feet as we hurried down the boardwalk to meet them.  I’d never felt so alive, the salt air blowing my hair every which way, the sound of crashing waves in the dark night, the faint smell of popcorn and cotton candy getting closer with each step, the ‘perfect’ guy waiting for me.  As the lights got brighter and the music louder, I looked up – there he was..his face breaking out in a huge smile.
“Hi, I’m so glad you showed”,  he said in that tough, sexy Matt Dillonesque voice that somehow didn’t completely jibe with his amazing face (sorta like Matt Dillon), but that’s exactly how I liked my fantasy  ’bad boys’.  Once again, I felt myself melting into a puddle of goo.
Where are my legs?  I can’t feel them!  Oh, there they are – they just turned into JELL-O sticks.
We couldn’t stop staring at each other as my friend and hunky monkey man chatted away – shy, fleeting glances from my end, more direct, confident glances from his.
This is where I stop because speaking of ‘bad boys’, I’ve got some sticky buns that need a little attention here.  Part two coming on the 27th. – I promise..and it gets better..with a twist!

So what happens if you take a brioche recipe by Nancy Silverton, and sticky bun inspiration from Joanne Chang of the Flour Bakery and add orange and chocolate?  You get these sticky buns!
I call them my ‘If Nancy Silverton and Joanne Chang’s sticky buns had a baby with orange and chocolate, STICKY BUNS’.
I love Nancy Silverton’s brioche recipe..I love Joanne Chang’s sticky buns.  The goo is amazing in Joanne’s recipe – but a little too sweet for me, so I took the amount of sugar down a bit, added orange zest, orange supremes and substituted freshly squeezed orange juice for the water.  The filling is mine.  Why not add chocolate to a sticky bun filling?  This is what makes them bad boys, in relation to this ‘bad boy’ theme I’ve got going here.  One thing I did, via Nancy Silverton’s sticky bun recipe, was also add chopped pecans to the filling.

Big mistake.
Since I use 1 cup of chopped and whole pecans in each pan of the goo, the pecans in the filling were nutty overkill.  I omitted them from the filling in my second roll of sticky buns, and as you can see in the cross-section photo above, pure brown sugar, chocolatey, orange goodness.
The best part about these outside of the chocolate?  The orange supremes caramelize so perfectly, they’re like soft orange candy.

Orange Chocolate Toasted Pecan Sticky Buns

Makes two 9-inch round pans – 14 sticky buns, if using whole batch of brioche

The directions for rolling, filling, and cutting the buns are from Nancy Silverton’s recipe

One batch Nancy Silverton’s Brioche Dough

Filling – this is the amount for one pan of 7 sticky buns using half the dough – make another batch for the other half of the brioche dough if making two pans.  If not, make something else with the other half of the brioche dough or freeze it for later use.
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup grated milk or dark chocolate
Gooey Topping
Adapted from Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery, with my revisions
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks), unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 to 2 teaspoons orange zest
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Supremes from 4 navel oranges, divided – How to supreme an orange
2 cups toasted whole pecans, half of them chopped, divided (1 cup for each pan)
1. Divide dough in half; keep one half covered and chilled while working with the other. On a floured work surface, roll dough into a 11 inch wide, 13 inch long, and 1/4 inch thick rectangle. Dot surface evenly with half the softened butter and fold dough in thirds. Turn it so the closed fold is on the left and roll out again, without rolling over the edges. Fold dough in thirds again, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate 30 minutes. Repeat rolling, folding, and chilling with second piece of dough and remaining butter. (This is what I love about Nancy’s brioche for sticky buns, the additional butter with turns)
2. Rub orange zest into sugars until fragrant, then stir in cinnamon; set aside. Make another batch of the sugar, cinnamon and zest mixture  in a separate bowl and also set aside. Have two separate bowls, each containing 2/3 cup grated chocolate, ready.
3. Remove first piece of dough from refrigerator and roll into an 11 inch wide, 13 inch long, and 1/4 inch thick rectangle. Paint surface with beaten egg. Leaving top quarter of dough bare, sprinkle one bowl of the cinnamon, orange sugars over the dough, spreading it lightly with your fingers. Top with the 2/3 cup of grated chocolate; spread with fingers to distribute evenly. Use a rolling-pin to lightly press the filling into the dough. Starting from the short side, roll into a log and pinch the seam to seal.
4. Make the gooey topping.  In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the brown sugar and cook, stirring, to combine until uniform.  If it separates, that’s ok, keep stirring until it comes together somewhat. Remove from the heat and whisk in the honey, cream, orange juice, orange zest and salt. Strain to remove any undissolved lumps of brown sugar. Let cool to room temperature.
5. Wrap log in plastic and freeze until firm. Repeat with second piece of dough. While logs are chilling, lightly butter two 9-inch cake pans and divide the gooey topping evenly between them. Top each pan of gooey topping with half the orange supremes, and 1 cup toasted whole and chopped pecans.
6. Remove a log from freezer and trim ends if ragged. Slice log into seven 1 1/2-inch slices with a serrated knife. Lay each slice flat, flatten slightly, and round the sides. Place rounded buns in a circle with the last one in the center; seams of buns should face outside of pan.
7. Repeat with second log. Let rest, uncovered, for 2 hours, until slices touch. Arrange oven racks so one rack is in the middle and the other just below, and preheat to 350°F. Put pans on middle rack and put a foil-lined jelly-roll pan underneath to catch drips. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Invert immediately on serving dish – one that’s big enough to catch any extra gooey topping that drips down the sides.
8. Use any extra goo on the bottom of pan or plate you turned buns over on, to drizzle over individual buns.
Finally, did you know that sticky buns originated in Germany and and are known as ‘Schnecken’?  They were brought to Pennsylvania via German Settlers in the 18th century.  Germany is one of many countries I’d love to visit in Europe, so I’m submitting these to Bread Baking Day #46, in which the theme is baking a bread from a place we’d love to visit, hosted by Noor of Ya Salam Cooking.
I’m also submitting these sticky buns to Yeastspotting, a weekly bread baking showcase hosted by the uber talented Susan of Wild Yeast.

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