Sweet Sticky Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

**This gem is a re-run from earlier this year, but as the Autumn air crisps up, I found it appropriate to re-post. I am in Los Angeles shooting a movie so will be doing some re-posts here till I have a second to shoot some new content.**

When I was a kid, we’d make the drive from Alvin to the ranch in Johnson City, TX, in the big grey Buick LeSabre, and we always got there without mom and dad murdering us. This bakery is one of the institutions I credit with allowing me to be alive today to write this article for you.

The Bon Ton Bakery, now known as Weikel’s Bakery (www.weikels.com) located on Highway 71 in LaGrange, TX, was a usual stop on our road trip. Yes, that LaGrange, TX. The one with the infamous chicken ranch brothel. We never stopped there.

But we DID often stop to empty our bladder and fill up our belly at the bakery. They particularly specialized in a Texas treat derived from German and Czech traditions called kolaches. That’s another post. But they also had fantastic cinnamon rolls.

Being a little porker, I always appreciated a sweet roll. Even as an adult, it’s a weakness I still possess. Mind you, not any sweet roll will do.

So, I have spent a few years developing this one: the one that cries out to be eaten as soon as it is cooled down enough not to hurt you. With much fanfare I present The Gentleman Caller’s Sweet Sticky Cinnamon Roll with Maple Cream Cheese Icing.

Diametrically opposed fat sources.

What you need:

  • Half recipe of The Gentleman’s Sweet Roll Dough*
  • 1 ½ – 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup vanilla bean sugar**
  • 3-4 Tablespoons grated cinnamon
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • Cream Cheese Maple Icing

*A full recipe will make two pans of cinnamon rolls.

**Vanilla bean sugar: in a jar or container, store a few cups of white sugar with a vanilla bean. Measure your 2/3 cup of sugar when ready to use and add vanilla bean caviar to your liking.

“Exquisite dough, and fortunately Jill got me this beautiful dough cutter for Christmas.This is very straightforward, especially if you watched the video.

Roll the dough out to approximately 16″ x 22”.

The Gentleman Caller’s Sweet Sticky Cinnamon Rolls

Smear that barely softened butter on that dough. After that, grate all the cinnamon. Yes, grate it.

Throw brown sugar and vanilla sugar all over it.

This is round one… Keep spreading. Not nearly enough.

Make a thick layer of sugar and spice, then roll that dough lengthwise.  Be careful initially, it’s tender. But the further you get, the easier it is.

It’s time to cut the log into pieces.

These are just risen, and so demure.

Allow to rise again for an hour. Then brush with butter (actual butter).

Bake them for 12 minutes initially. Check them. Do not overcook them. 14 minutes is probably your number, but watch.

I am so careful about instructions sometimes because I know what you’ve done to get to this place. I am never offering you a Pinterest fail.

It’s time to ICE.

The Gentleman Caller’s Maple Cream Cheese Icing

Writers usually don’t tell stories about icing, but I am.

My family members love icing like they love meat, Christmas and possibly their kids.

This sort of loose cream cheese frostings sinks down into a cinnamon roll, but not too deep. I do not enjoy a cinnamon roll with no icing bleed-down into the roll itself.

I recommend that you ice when the rolls are warm, as the video states.

What you need (to ice 1 pan of rolls, double for 2):

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons good maple syrup (If you use Mrs. Butterworth’s and that’s your jam, don’t tell me. Just send me pics.)
  • A whisper (one squeeze) of lemon juice
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted

In the bowl of a mixer, marry the butter and cream cheese. Beat them until they are well combined and almost fluffy. Add the vanilla, maple syrup, and lemon juice. Make sure the mixture is combined. You’ll likely need to use your rubber spatula and stir it together.

Once that is combined, incrementally add the confectioners sugar, 1/2 cup at a time.

*A hint – I grated a whisper of orange rind into this. My maple syrup wasn’t as robust as I wanted, so I grated some orange rind. Even with a robust maple flavor, you can’t go wrong with this.

Continue to blend that at a high speed until it’s like sinuous pancake batter. Thick.

Once it reaches that consistency, spoon the icing into a ziploc bag. Work it into a corner. Snip the edge of the corner on the diagonal and let the frosting go.

Spew it onto the rolls at your discretion.

Allow to sit briefly, then eat!

Trust me, these are evil. And thank you.

xo,

The Gentleman Caller

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The Gentleman Celebrates His Past Summer – The Brunswick Blueberry Basil Cocktail

The Gentleman’s Brunswick Blueberry Basil Cocktail

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Sometimes things come together in a beautiful dovetail.

You wind up in Maine, doing a show. You meet people you love. I mean LOVE.

You book a lead in a movie. While on that job. Then you realize you need to see some of them as much as humanly possible. Because you’re moving back to LA.

Aleka Emerson and I present The Gentleman’s (and Aleka’s) Maine+Texas Brunswick Blueberry Basil cocktail.

What you need (for 2):

  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 4 leaves basil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon citric acid powder (Fruit Fresh)
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • 4 ounces Dripping Springs Gin
  • 2 splashes bitters
  • seltzer, club soda, sparkly water
  • basil or lemon peel for garnish

Muddle blueberries and basil. Add honey and citric acid.

Add gin and lemon juice. Stir with ice.

Pout into rocks glass. Top with seltzer. Garnish.

You’re going to love this.

The Gentleman’s Brunswick Blueberry Basil Cocktail
The Gentleman’s Brunswick Blueberry Basil Cocktail

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Rehabilitated Chairs on a Dime!

Rehabilitated Chairs on a Dime!

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Friends, you know I am cheap. This video – our first upholstery rehab video – shows you how to rehabilitate a pair of old but well made chairs to make them seamlessly fit into an existing design scheme.

The project turned out to be a little more ambitious than originally anticipated due to extra steps that I added on myself, but the chairs turned out nonetheless exquisite and momma was VERY happy!

Thanks for popping in!

Rehabilitated Chairs on a Dime!

Sage-Studded Garlic Fennel and Brussels Roast

After a perfect day in Maine, TGC feeds his hungry friends.

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

TGC’s first paddle boarding adventure.

As summer flashes by us, I am getting to spend some of its waning moments in beautiful Maine. I am up at Maine State Music Theater presently, and having one of the best summers in recent memory.

Gorgeous people: Aleka Emerson, Matty Rickard (and GUS)!

Firstly, Maine is indescribably spectacular. The weather can be a tad menopausal, but the natural beauty of its lakes, beaches, trees, architecture, and denizens make it absolutely enchanting.

Chelsea Williams, best Sandy ever and all-around beautiful soul.

This last week, my “Sandy” – incomparably cool Chelsea Williams ACTUAL Mainer  – took me and the Dream Team to Thomas Pond in Raymond. An afternoon of intense sunshine, paddle boarding, a pontoon boat ride, a family of loons and a very energetic Boston Terrier conspired to make the perfect day off from the show.

Gus!

How does one top a day like that? With a Gentleman Caller family dinner, of course!

This is one of the dishes I put down in front of my little Maine “family” on our final day off before heading back to the big City. It’s not terribly difficult but will punch you in the face with robust flavors and intense aromas.

What you need:

  • 1 – 1 1/4 pound brussel sprouts
  • 1/2 a white onion
  • 1 large lemon
  • 1 large fennel bulb
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 6-8 cloves garlic
  • 5 or 6 large fresh sage leaves
  • 1-2 tablespoons red chili flake (based on your taste buds)
  • kosher salt
  • fresh black pepper

The Gentleman Caller giving you surfer chic while zesting. PC: Aleka Emerson

Preheat your oven, preferably on convection mode, to 425.

Line a baking sheet with foil. Spray with pan release.

Cut the butt off the brussel sprouts and halve them. Put them in a large mixing bowl.

Cut the fennel fronds off the bulb. halve the bulb lengthwise, then cut into 1/3 inch pieces widthwise. Add to mixing bowl.

Smash the garlic with the side of your knife; chop to the consistency you like. I like bigger pieces.

Rough chop the onion. Chiffonade the sage. Add to bowl.

Zest the lemon, preferably with a zester that allows strips and not a microplane grate. Add to the bowl.

Drizzle everything with olive oil. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, ample salt (at least a teaspoon, probably more), and pepper. Stir to combine.

Spread evenly on the prepared pan. Place in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes. When the edges start to caramelize, remove from the oven and squeeze the entire lemon over the vegetables and add some additional black pepper. You could also opt to sprinkle with chopped flat leaf parsley.

Printable PDF here: Sage-Studded Garlic Fennel and Brussels Roast

Thanks for joining me on my adventures! You’re gonna love this simple healthy dish!

xo, The Gentleman Caller

 

Hoisin Pecan Dates wrapped in Bacon

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

In another round of my Tony Award party, I offered my guests these Hoisin Pecan Dates wrapped in delicious Stanton’s pepper bacon. It’s sort of East meets West, Asia meets Texas.

This is also REALLY easy and can be done ahead.

www.Stantonmeats.com

This particular appetizer truly marries sweet, salty and spicy in a flavor explosion that is hard to rival. And despite the richness of the bacon and pecan, it isn’t a total gut bomb.

Let’s get cooking.

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup of your favorite commercially produced Hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces (halves and quarters work best, not chopped pieces)
  • 20 large pitted Medjool dates
  • 10 pieces pepper bacon, halved
  • 20 pieces of kitchen twine, 3-4 inches long

Pre-heat oven (preferably on convection) to 400 degrees.

Find something in your kitchen to loosen up the holes in the dates. It can be a chopstick, a shish-k-bob skewer, anything pointy. Get the dates stretched and loosened up a little.

In a small bowl combine the Hoisin sauce and the pecans.

Carefully using your fingers insert the nuts into the dates. Get them just to the point of splitting open.

Take a half piece of bacon and try to wrap it around the date so that most of the surface area is covered. Then take a piece of twine and tie it around the date to secure the bacon. Super easy.

Put a wire rack on a sheet pan. Line the dates up on the wire rack, allowing room around the perimeter of each one.

Put into the pre-heated oven. Watch them like a hawk. You will need to occasionally re-arrange them for consistent browning. Probably this will take 12-15 minutes. But like I said, watch continuously and take them out when the bacon is crispy on all sides. If you are doing this ahead with the intention of re-heating, pull them out a little prematurely, allow them to cool completely, store in a zip top bag and pop them back in the oven for a few minutes just before serving.

These little bites are irresistible, trust me.

Enjoy! That’s all for now.

xo, The Gentleman Caller

Printable PDF here:  The Gentleman Caller’s Hoisin Pecan Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Pepper Bacon

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