Cherry, Dark Chocolate, Cinnamon and Pecan Rugelach

Well hello again! If you haven’t already noticed by now, I’ve been away for a while. I sincerely apologize for that. Believe me, it hasn’t been by any choice of mine. The holidays have kept me quite busy.  Thanksgiving taught me that there is no limit to how much turkey I can eat. I know that it seems like I haven’t been working on the blog, but if you really think about it,  I have been working on new recipes for the blog to share with you guys. I’ve teamed up with a few companies that I’m super excited to work with and although I can’t share the recipes or all of the details right at this moment, I do want you to know that some new and exciting recipes (that I’m most proud of, mind you) are coming to the blog very soon. And by very soon I mean a couple of weeks. I’m just itching to tell you guys all about them. To let the cat out of the bag and spill the beans but unfortunately I can’t just now. I can tell you though that these recipes I’m talking about are going to blow your socks off. Blow them clear across the country. I think that justifies my absence, right? 

The other day I was video chatting with my mother—which by the way, I had no idea she even knew how to Facetime, but I gotta tell you she’s more of a pro than you and I could ever dream of being—so she proceeds to tell me that I’ve been neglecting my blog for far too long. She hasn’t gotten any email updates from me recently, and she’s worried that I’m going to lose all of my followers if I don’t post anything soon. Thanks mom. Now, I’m no cookie pro baker but I do have to inform you that I am a professional cookie eater. Don’t believe me? It’s on my resume. (It really isn’t on my resume, but how cool would that be?) Anyhow, as I was saying, my mother was throwing shade my way so I knew that I needed to get my act together.  

After that, I wanted to get into the holiday cookie-baking spirit so I decided to think outside of the box for a bit. I didn’t want to share an easy recipe of something we’ve all seen far too many times. I wanted something that was unique and perhaps maybe even new to some of you. Rugelach sort of made all the sense in the world because you can easily fill it with whatever your heart desires. These are loaded with butter, cinnamon sugar, dark chocolate, cherries and pecans. I don’t think it gets any better than this, but luckily for me, I’m not complaining about the situation. Rugelach kind of look like croissants but the doughs are completely different from one another. This one is a little more dense than pie crust, but it’s still super delicious. If you’ve never made these before or have never tried them for yourself, I think it’s safe to say that you’ve been missing out. Don’t worry, you still have time to catch up to the rest of us. I’ll even help you eat your way through. I’m willing to take one for the team. 

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Salted Caramel Apple and Pear Buckles

I needed a super fancy name for this post, hence the word “buckles.” Although in all reality, these are buckles. Buckles. Buckles. Buckles. I just really like saying “buckles” for some reason. Like that one very popular song I used to love as a kid. One, two, buckle my shoe. Three, four, close the door….wait, where was I? Oh that’s right, I was talking about how much I love these crumb cakes. That’s basically what buckles are, just really good coffee cake-like dessert. The perfect dessert or breakfast for autumn. Is it a problem that it’s been 80 plus degrees here in Los Angeles, and I’m baking for fall with the air conditioning running on full blast? I think it’s a problem. Clearly, Southern California didn’t get the whole changing of the season memo. Get it together LA! You’re way behind, it’s almost Thanksgiving. This is the part where you change the colors of your leaves and drop them to the ground. This is when you’re supposed to start pouring down on us all of this autumn rain. You’re doing it all wrong, California. You need to be more like the East Coast, or like Seattle. I’m all about Seattle weather. 

You know what I’m also all about? These salted caramel apple and pear buckles. AKA apple and pear spice cakes with a crumb topping. Even though it’s still hot as summer during the day in the West Coast, I still get a craving for a warm apple spice cake every November. I decided to take this recipe over the edge with a little (okay more than a little) salted caramel and of course let’s not forget about the cinnamon and oatmeal crumb topping. It’s like the world’s best coffee cake had a baby with the world’s best cobbler or fruit crisp. It’s like the universe is trying to tell me I should be spending my days eating all of the apple spice crumb cakes in the world.  Hey, what can I say? When the world talks to me, I listen. Especially when there’s cake involved. 

Speaking of cake, I’m having a really difficult time establishing if this cake is actually a breakfast or a dessert. Of course, if this is my mother or my doctor asking, I have most definitely decided that this is in fact not the perfect breakfast. Wink wink. Shhhh don’t tell anyone yet. This all stays between you and I.  Although I did actually make these with the idea on my mind that I need more breakfast recipes. So it can really go either way on this folks. I don’t care about what time during the day I eat it, just as long as I get to eat it. Am I right ladies and gentlemen? Of course I’m right. So now let’s go out and celebrate by making and eating these apple and pear buckles. It’s the only way to celebrate! 

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Baked Salted Caramel Chocolate Doughnuts

I think by now you’re already well aware about my love—some might call it an obsession and maybe they’re right—with doughnuts. In case you didn’t already know, maybe these Baked Blueberry Crumb Doughnuts will convince you. Or these Baked Peanut Butter Chocolate Doughnuts topped with chopped peanuts and lots of chocolate. Finally, perhaps these Bourbon Blueberry Basil Doughnuts will do the trick. They’re perfectly boozy and sweet. It’s safe to say I’m addicted, but nothing to worry about because I have a number to a group on hand, just in case it ever gets to that point. Not that it ever would because I don’t see a problem with eating doughnuts by the dozen until you can’t eat anymore. That’s totally normal, right? Yeah, it’s normal. Doughnuts are meant to be eaten two at a time and frequently, at that. You can quote me on that. 

My love for doughnuts is so big that I actually created a special day for them. National Doughnut Day, which is on June 6th by the way (just around the corner), is a holiday that I created to celebrate the best dessert/treat/breakfast item ever invented. You’re welcome. Okay, so maybe I personally didn’t create the day itself (I totally should have though). I actually don’t know who did, but whoever declared June 6th National Doughnut Day, is a hero in my eyes. I’ll never forget you. Thank you random person I don’t know for making this special day possible. A monument should be built in your honor. National Doughnut Day? More like National Jonathan’s Favorite Holiday Let’s Celebrate by Eating Tons of Doughnuts Day. Or something like that. I’m still working on the name. 

So in honor of this special day, I decided to make doughnuts for the blog. Also, I began realizing that I hadn’t posted a doughnut recipe in a while. We can’t have that. That’s a really big problem. So I thought since I don’t have any chocolate doughnuts on here yet, I just needed to make a chocolate doughnut recipe. And what goes better with chocolate than salted caramel? Well, maybe crushed up salty pretzels because it’s the way it always should be. I baked these because I was too lazy to go through the entire process of making the dough, letting it rest, rolling out the dough and cutting them and then frying them. My head was hurting just thinking about it. I also didn’t fry them because I figured if I slapped on the work “Baked” right to the front of this recipe, it would instantly become healthy. So here I am with my healthy doughnuts, taunting you to make them and eat them. You can thank me later, right now, just go out and celebrate National Doughnut Day. 

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Fluffernutter Cookie Sandwiches

Fluffernutters are my childhood. Literally, my entire childhood. If I had to choose one thing I loved as a kid, it would be fluffernutters. (Well that would be my sweet pick, if I had to choose a savory it would be tater tots. Tater tots all the way). If you’re not familiar with fluffernutters, allow me to explain this marvelous invention to you. They are sandwiches made with white bread, peanut butter and marshmallow fluff. Delicious right? I think I’ve mentioned on several occasions that my mamma isn’t much of a baker. Somewhere out there, at this very moment, my mamma is saying, “Yes, Jonathan. You’ve already mentioned that I didn’t bake anything for you and your sisters when you were little, on several occasions. Any chance you get. Stop telling the whole world I can’t bake!” I’m sorry mamma, but it’s true, and if it makes you feel any better, it’s not really the whole world. It’s like a few people here and there. Anyhow, my mamma didn’t really bake when my sisters and I were kids. Have I told you that? She didn’t at all. Cut and bake cookies, do those count? Anyhow, she did however, make us a few treats here and there, like jell-o (hmmmm), Rice Krispies treats (yummm) and lastly, flutternutters (coma inducing deliciousness).

The fluffernutters that my mamma would make my sisters and I, however, weren’t the traditional kind I described earlier. Unfortunately she didn’t make us whole sandwiches because I think she knew it would basically be a sugar rush and we’d be jumping off the walls for hours if she had. Whomp whomp. She’s a smart woman. She knew what she was doing. Instead, she’d take two ritz crackers, spread creamy peanut butter on one, and marshmallow fluff on the other, and then sandwich them together. It was the best thing on the planet. I could eat like fifty of them. I even think one time I challenged myself to see if I could actually eat fifty in one sitting. I only got to like eight, but needless to say, I’m still trying to challenge myself. I’m up to like nine now. It’s going to take me a while. 

This past week, I wanted to bring back a bit of my childhood, so I came up with these cookie sandwiches. Mostly I just wanted an excuse to eat marshmallow fluff and peanut butter straight out of the jar without getting caught. I did that for a while before I realized I needed to save some for the cookies. Darn you cookies (but not really because you’re super delicious and I just want to keep you all to myself). I’m trying to devise a plan that would allow me to eat all these cookie sandwiches without giving my mom or doctor a coronary. So far, I got nothing. Until then, if you need me, I’ll be tucked away in a corner sneaking a cookie sandwich here and there, trying my best to outdo my record for most fluffernutters eaten in one sitting. 

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Tres Leches Cake

Do you know how sometimes you really just want a birthday cake, even when it’s not your birthday? You find yourself asking everyone you know if their birthday is coming up, and if their answer is no, you ask if they know of anyone whose birthday is coming up. An aunt, an uncle, a cousin (twice removed), or even a dog, perhaps? You’ll settle for a pet’s birthday at this point because all you really want right now is an excuse to make and eat some birthday cake. That’s totally normal right? Everyone does that. I’m not just projecting my feelings for birthday cake onto you all, am I? That’s a rhetorical question. One that I don’t expect for you to answer, like at all. Mostly because I know you get me on this. We’re on the same page.

I have a sister (the older one) who doesn’t like birthday cake. Or just cake in general, for that matter. She’s prejudice against cake. A true cake hater. Those are the worst kind of people, if you ask me. Every night right before I sleep, as I’m lying in bed, I ask myself the same question. This is every single night, without fail, mind you. I ask the ceiling of my room, and to anyone out there listening up in the stars, “Why is my sister such a weirdo?” Sometimes I’ll even ask another question right after like, “What did I do to deserve a crazy sister who doesn’t like cake?” I must have killed a cute baby animal at some point in my life, and now I’m being punished by the universe. I’ll normally ask those questions and then right after, I’ll eat a giant slice of cake because I get too worked up thinking about it, and the only way to calm me down is with some (it’s not anyone’s birthday but I still have birthday cake) cake.

Tres leches cake, or three milks cake for all you non-spanish speakers out there, is a cake that has three different types of milk in it. (Duh). I won’t even say anything because many people close to me asked what it meant. You know who you are. I wasn’t a fan of tres leches cake growing up, actually I hated it. I’m glad my mom hated it too, because we never had it as kids. It was always too moist and wet for my taste. Not the way a birthday cake should be. I remember going to my friend’s birthday parties as a kid, being super excited for cake, and when they’d bring it out and I’d see that it was tres leches I’d run up and toss the cake on the floor. I was doing everyone a favor. Cut to me now, many years later, I actually love it. Only when it’s homemade though, because I get to control the amount of wetness in the cake. That my friends is the meaning of happiness in life. Let’s make birthday cake for ourselves even when it’s not our birthday.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Caramel Shortbread

Let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the good things and all the bad things that may be. Let’s talk about…me eating all these bars because I’m addicted and I just can’t get enough, baby. I started singing a song there for you, but then quickly realized it was inappropriate for the internets so I had to change it up a tiny bit. I mean, this is a family blog after all. What kind of site do you think I’m running?!?! There are children on here, probably. But maybe not, I don’t actually know that for a fact. Who’s to say, really? Just in case there are kids on here though; eat your vegetables and fruits. Stay in school. Say no to drugs and alcohol and all that sort of stuff (This message has been brought to you by the responsible Jonathan Melendez).

Sometimes peanut butter and chocolate just need to mash together to make a dessert that’ll blow your mind, you know? Sometimes the only way to survive is by combining pretzels, chocolate, roasted peanuts, caramel, peanut butter and chocolate into one dessert. And in that order too. It’s an explosion of flavor that can solve any and all problems. When those moments occur it’s best to just go with the flow. Don’t fight it because fighting will only result in frustrated denial. You’ll eventually come around and when you do you’ll find yourself eating every last bit of this dessert. Maybe even licking the pan—I’m guessing. Well, when I put it that way, those consequences don’t sound all that bad. So go ahead and say no now, I dare you to. Say no to dark chocolate topped with salty pretzels. Say no to peanut butter caramel mixed with roasted peanuts. Say no to a buttery shortbread crust. I double dog dare you to. Really I’m just  daring you to say no so that I can have it all to myself. There, now that it’s all out in the open, I feel much better.

The best way to go about this is to just dive in, head first, without regret. The sooner you come to the realization that you absolutely need these bars, the faster you’ll be able to devour them. Also you’ll be able to sleep better knowing that you had just about the best dessert known to man. Or for the time being. At the moment, this dessert is everything. Who know’s what it will be in a month, a week or even tomorrow? Just enjoy today and make these bars.

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