Friday, January 10, 2014

The BEST Nut Rolls

Yesterday, Emma gave me one of the biggest scares of my life.

There is a door just off of the kitchen that leads to our unfinished basement (and temporary lair of the household feline). The stairs leading down to the cement floor below are wooden, a bit rickety, and have large gaps between them. When we brought Emma home from the hospital, I began having nightmares of our future little crawler falling down those stairs (more specifically, falling through the stairs to the cold cement below). Since the litter box for the aforementioned feline is situated in the basement, the door opens and closes frequently throughout the day to let the cat out. Paul assured me that we would quite simply have to ensure that the basement door remains shut at all times.

Sounded simple enough at the time, but fast-forward seven months when our little tiny baby girl had her first taste of freedom - and now can't get enough of it. She is into everything. And she is fast. She is pulling dishes out of the cabinets, unrolling toilet paper in the bathroom, flipping rugs upside down, and wreaks havoc wherever she goes, leaving a tell-tale trail of destruction behind. Over the last few weeks, I have begun to realize our home has a ridiculous number of light sockets for Emma to stick her fat fingers into - because Emma has tried to inspect every single one. Nowadays, it seems like most of my time is spent trying to protect Emma from herself!

And so my nightmare was realized the other day while I was cooking dinner. I had let Emma tear some pots and pans from the cabinet and even handed her a spoon to create a fantastic soundtrack for me to cook by (but mainly so I would know where she was). Matthew was working on another one of his puzzles so I thought I had a couple minutes to focus on the recipe. I turned around for 30 seconds and then suddenly heard the heart-stopping noise of something thumping down the basement steps. When the thumping stopped, a blood-curdling wail from Emma could be heard and my heart flew into my throat as I saw the basement door standing open.

"Oh Dear God, NO!" I thought as I ran to her, feeling certain she might have fallen through the stairs and broken a limb.

Emma was laying face down on the landing - only about halfway down the stairs, thank goodness! I picked her up and began to comfort her while inspecting her tiny body for injury. Miraculously, she had no bruises or scratches. All her crying had been from fear. I began thanking her guardian angel profusely for protecting her.

Apparently, Matthew had opened the door to let Riley out and then had failed to shut it. He was concerned when Emma fell down the stairs that he would be in trouble. But how could we truly be angry with him - it was completely our fault for relying on our 3-year-old to remember to close that door each time he opened it. Hardly a foolproof system.

The door is now locked for good. It will be a pain getting the cat in and out...but it is worth it to assure the safety of our kids.

Nothing helps assuage the cries of the injured children in this household quicker than a sweet treat. And Emma just loves her a good nut roll. In fact, it was pretty darn difficult for me to snap a picture of this nut roll without the very hungry baby in the background trying to snatch a slice or two away. You can probably see her hand planted firmly on the nut roll in the picture at the top of this blog post. She really wanted a snack! And, as always, she got what she wanted...

I don't really blame her. These nut rolls are absolutely delicious. I had my first taste of a nut roll when a Hungarian co-worker of mine brought some in for a Christmas party a few years ago. I instantly fell in love with the soft sweet dough encasing a sticky-sweet nut filling. However, it took me a couple years to actually buckle down and make them myself! They were way easier to make than I expected and taste fantastically rich. I gave these out as Christmas gifts this year and since this recipe makes a ton, I made sure to freeze a couple to have on hand for a quick treat!

You could use a variety of nuts in the filling. I used only walnuts this time, but I am thinking that a combination of almonds, walnuts, and pecans would kick this up a notch. You could even add some spices and flavorings to the filling - like citrus zest or cinnamon. However, this recipe is marvelous as written.

The BEST Nut Rolls
from Brown Eyed Baker

Note: The original recipe calls for Cake Yeast. I followed the conversion specified on the label of Fleischmann's Yeast, using 2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast for every 0.6 ounce of cake yeast. For this recipe, that equals 7 1/2 teaspoons or 2 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast.

For the Dough:
2 oz. cake yeast (see note above)
¼ cup warm water
6 eggs, beaten
16 ounces sour cream
16 ounces (2 cups) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
10 cups all-purpose flour

For the Filling:
3 pounds ground walnuts
3 cups granulated sugar
6 ounces (¾ cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
¾ cup evaporated milk
½ cup whole milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Dissolve the yeast in the 1/4 cup of warm water and set it aside until foamy, about five minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs, sour cream, melted butter, sugar, vanilla, salt and the softened yeast on medium speed until smooth and well-combined, about 2-3 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour a little at a time until it is all incorporated. Continue to mix until the dough is no longer sticky and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

To make the filling, combine all the filling ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Set it aside.

Divide the dough into eight pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll each piece out on a well-floured surface into a rectangle roughly 9x14 inches. Spread the filling to within about an inch of the edges. With the long side in front of you, roll up tightly and pinch the seams shut. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, no more than 2 rolls per baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Repeat with all eight pieces of dough. Let the nut rolls rise for 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bake each pan one at a time for 20 minutes, or until the nut rolls are lightly brown. Cool completely before slicing. The rolls can be double wrapped and frozen (and they freeze excellently!).

1 comment:

  1. Good to hear that Emma is fine and enjoying your nut roll. I truly believe that we all have guardian angels. This year is the first year in a while that I didn't make nut roll. Mine, I believe, is a Slovak recipe. No matter what country, it's delicious. The pistachio nut roll looks scrumptious too.