…no cinnamon in sight! ha!

As most of you know, I love to bake. I also love to experiment. On Christmas morning, I made cinnamon buns from the America Test Kitchen’s New Best Recipe book. I found them to be delightful, though, quite honestly, too sticky sweet for my liking. Granted, I am not fond of the sweets I typically make, but found these to be especially over-the-top sweet. Also, I found them to lack a depth of flavor.

I’ve been thinking about what ingredients I’d alter to make a similar breakfast treat but one with multiple flavors, one with a depth of flavors. Tonight, I altered the recipe and am quite delighted to offer up this new twist on an old favorite.

The ingredients in this altered recipe that transforms it from ho-hum sticky bun favorite to subtle warm lushness are: chopped semi-sweet choclate chips (1/2 cup, pre-chopped), ground espresso (approximately 1/4 tsp), orange zest (1 tsp), and almond paste (1 cup). I substituted low-fat yogurt for the buttermilk (which provided a bit of tang) and wanting a bit more texture, I used white whole wheat flour.

I purposefully chopped the chocolate in the coffee grinder without cleaning out the espresso residue. This adds a hint of espresso flavor. Orange zest from one orange. The almond paste I made myself by blanching 1 cup dry raw almonds. Set aside and cool. Boil 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar. Set aside to cool. Place almonds in food processor, slowly adding the cooled sugar water. Store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to six weeks. One could also purchase almond paste at the store, I suppose, but what’s the use when it is so easily made?


1.5 c white whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. low-fat yogurt
6 Tbs. butter (melted and cooled)

425 degrees. Prepare spring pan or 9″ round baking pan with melted butter. I placed parchment paper in the bottom of this springform pan.

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add the 2 Tbsp. butter and yogurt to the dry and mix with a wooden spoon. (Save the remaining butter…see below). Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is no longer rough, but rather smooth and cohesive (1 minute or so). Pat the dough into roughly 9 x 12 inch rectangle.

Brush the rectangle with butter. In a bowl roughly mix 1/4 c. of brown sugar with the almond paste, adding a pinch of mace. Spread the mixture ontop of the dough and pat into place. Grind the chocolate in the coffee grinder and sprinkle ontop of the almond paste mixture. Roll the log (width wise) and turn down the edges. Bisect the log into 7 pieces (if the log is longer, you can place the extra bisected cuts into prepared cupcake pans).

Brush extra butter onto the top of the buns, place in oven for 20-25 minutes until golden. Allow to cool, then turn out onto a plate. You may want to make a sugary coating, but I find this frosting to be quite over the top. Eat immediately out of the oven!

The flavors have depth and while sweet, they are not overly sweet. The almond paste seems to have melted nearly into the dough— producing a warm soft texture that nearly melts in the mouth. A lovely little bun indeed! I made an espresso to enjoy this one fresh out of the oven!

I’ll bake up the springpan batch tomorrow morning to give to neighbor Dan. He came by tonight and reminded me once again that I should open a bakery. Ah, perhaps. In the meantime, he happily fulfills the position of Wildlands taste tester.