In prepping for the holiday season, we couldn’t help but peruse some go-to recipes that give Christmas morning just a little extra sense of comfort and joy. And, as with every year, the philosophical question arises: Should we tinker with the classics or keep it traditional? Coming to our holiday rescue, the lovely photographer, stylist, blogger, and recipe guru, Beth Kirby of Local Milk introduces us to her favorite traditional pastries with a twist. Her recipe for soft brown butter cinnamon rolls with whiskey and eggnog frosting have us thinking she might actually be Santa. So, save your Christmas stocking treats for the afternoon, because these gooey pastries are going to be the sweet hit of the day.
Words + Photos by Beth Kirby of Local Milk
Hi Beth! What are you up to these days? How is motherhood? Your little nugget is just precious!
Beth Kirby: We are up to so much! We are moving back into our home after a year long remodel, working on our first cookbook, blogging about everything from travel to new motherhood, and hosting travel photography retreats all over the world! Being a first time mom & working full time has been both completely rewarding and maddeningly challenging. My husband Matt & I co-parent, and I don't think I could do it without him.
Any recipes you've been dying to test out this Winter?
Beth: I want to do a simple, immaculate apple cake with pink Mountain Rose Apples. And slow cooked braises that simmer in the oven allllll day long.
We at The Venue Report have been drooling over this recipe. What was your inspiration behind marrying eggnog & whiskey flavors into this recipe?
Beth: Well, since eggnog & whiskey are a classic drink around here during the holidays, it was a natural leap for a festive rendition of my favorite cinnamon rolls.
4 cups (500 g) flour, plus 1/4 cup for rolling out
1 1/4 cup (300 grams) eggnog, warm
1 packet (1/4 oz, 2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/4 cup (60 grams) creme fraiche
2 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 tsp smoked salt (or regular kosher salt)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted, browned, and warm
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon cinnamon (can increase to taste or omit)
8 oz creme fraiche
1 tablespoon good whiskey (optional)
beans from one vanilla bean
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon eggnog
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Warm the eggnog gently in a small pot until about the temperature of bathwater. Remove from heat and stir in the yeast. Allow to proof for five to ten minutes. It should be bubbly.
While the yeast proofs melt & brown the butter. In a stainless steel skillet (I prefer these for browning butter because you can clearly see as it starts to brown), melt one stick of butter (113 grams) over medium heat, swirling the pan often. The butter will bubble, foam, and then brown. This should take about 5-10 minutes. Remember to swirl often. As soon as the butter is golden & smells toasty, pour it into a heat proof bowl. I pop this in the fridge for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, to take the heat off before adding it to my dough. It should be warm when you add it but not hot.
In a large mixing bowl combine the yeast & eggnog mixture, the eggs, creme fraiche, sugar, nutmeg, vanilla, brown butter, and salt. Stir to combine well.
Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon. I add about half, work it in, then add the other half. Stir pretty vigorously for about a minute or two. Or until you tire out, which is what I do. Make sure there are no dry bits left. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap or a lightly floured kitchen towel. Leave in a warm place to proof until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours. I proof mine in my oven. I turn it on for about 30 second to a minute to warm up, then turn it off, put the dough in, and let it sit.
After the dough has risen, sprinkle the additional 1/4 cup of flour onto a clean work surface. Turn the dough out and gently knead just enough of the flour in to get a workable dough. Pat it out into a rectangle about 9" x 12" with the narrow end facing away from you.
In a bowl combine the dark brown sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon (if using, I leave the cinnamon out because I want my rolls to taste like pure eggnog & I think cinnamon dominates...they're excellent both ways!).
Smear the butter all over the surface of your rectangle, leaving about a 1" boarder. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture evenly over the butter. Gently & mindfully roll the dough from right to left (or left to right...), and use your hands to shape it into a nice log if it gets a bit wonky. This is a soft dough.
Using your finger pinch the dough to seal it well. Squish the dough into a nice log before proceeding.
Using dental floss or fishing wire (I am serious here, don't use a knife...) cut the log into ten 1" or so rolls. Place them in two pie plates or into a 9" x 13" baking dish. Reshape rolls as needed after cutting as you place them.
Cover loosely with plastic or a lightly floured kitchen towel. Allow to rise for about 45 minutes - 1 hour. At this point you can also cover them and place them in the fridge over night, up to about 16 hours. Bring them to room temperature before proceeding if you do.
Halfway through the second rise, heat your oven to 350° F. When they are done rising, place them in the oven on the center rack and bake 20-25 minutes until golden (but not too dark!) and cooked through. Mine took about 22-23 minutes.
Allow to cool fully before frosting. While they do said cooling...make your frosting!
In a medium bowl whisk the creme fraiche together with the sifted powdered sugar, nutmeg, vanilla beans, whiskey, and eggnog. Feel free to leave the whiskey out, but it's a fun touch.
Pour the icing generously over your cool rolls. Enjoy, messily. With either more eggnog or a cold glass of milk....best if on Christmas morning!
Any substitution recommendations?
Beth: You could use milk or buttermilk instead of the eggnog, and if you aren't feeling the boozy flavor you could substitute a different liquid for the whiskey in the frosting.
What would be the perfect drink of your choice to pair with this yummy treat?
Beth: Milk or coffee. Or you could double up and have some whiskey spiked egg nog with them!
Photography + Recipe: Beth Kirby of Local Milk