25 December 2013

Christmas Traditions: Candy Coated Clouds

I love traditions. Growing up in a family with many traditions likely caused my love for them, but regardless of the reason, I love traditions. Christmas time, in my family, is a time filled with traditions. I could give you an hour-by-hour account of what happens on any given Christmas starting Christmas Eve morning through Christmas night. Although this year was a bit different than other years (my mother's health is failing), we're still engaging in most of the traditions that we've had for years.

One of those traditions is what we eat for breakfast on Christmas morning: caramel pull-apart rolls. Although historically this breakfast was ONLY for Christmas, while my sister and I were growing up it became a breakfast occasionally served at other times. One of those other times was a trip up to my family's cabin in high school. I brought along a group of my friends and my dad made these for breakfast. One friend, upon taking her first bite, said, "it's like eating candy coated clouds!" The name (description) stuck; I don't even know what they are actually called. As an adult, I've served it to many other people. My nephew LOVES this breakfast and requests it every time we visit. He's been helping me cook them since he was about 3. He knows the whole process (and how long it takes) and has been requesting that I post this recipe here for a while.

Before I go on, let me clue you in that this is NOT a healthy breakfast. It's a delicious treat of a breakfast, but certainly not something that should be a regular indulgence. But hey, it's Christmas!

Candy Coated Clouds
2 loaves frozen, uncooked white bread dough
1 c. Earth Balance (2 sticks)
1 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
2, 4 oz. containers "Cook and Serve" vanilla pudding mix
chopped pecans (optional)

1. The night before you plan to make Clouds, put the loaves of dough in a plastic bag and then in the refrigerator to thaw overnight.
2. The morning you plan to make Clouds, take the thawed dough from the fridge and cut it into small pieces (see Helpful Hints).
3. Evenly distribute the pieces of dough into a greased 9x13 pan, leaving some space between each piece. Note: if you plan to use the optional pecans, those should go into the greased pan before the pieces of dough so that the dough rests of top of the chopped pecans.
4. Melt the Earth Balance and brown sugar on the stove. When they begin to bubble, add the pudding mix. Stir well and let boil for at least one minute.
5. Pour the caramel sauce over the dough.
6. Move the dough to a warmish place and let rise until doubled in size. This usually takes about an hour.
7. Heat the oven to 350; bake the Clouds for 30-40 minutes. You want golden brown coloring on the top and for the middle rolls to spring back up when you push them down.
8. Remove the Clouds from the oven and let them rest for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, line a cookie sheet with foil.
9. Place the foil-lined cookie sheet over the pan of Clouds and then carefully flip the entire unit over. Remove the 9x13 and devour.
This is just after flipping and removing the 9x13. 

Helpful Hints
  • This is so much sugar! You absolutely NEED some kind of protein to eat with clouds. We generally eat vegan bacon strips (as pictured), simply because they are easy. However, a lovely tofu scramble or my vegan quiche would also be awesome. 
  • Many good-natured fights break out over clouds. For example, we fight about whether the inside or outside pieces are better (I say in, Shana says out), whether they should be topped with nuts (I say no, Shana says yes), whether there is such a thing as too much caramel sauce (Shana and I say no, my sister says yes), or who gets to scrape the extra caramel out of the pan (me, always me! - says everyone). 
  • When I cut the dough, I cut it lengthwise down the center, then cut each of those halves lengthwise again (leading to 4 long pieces of dough). Then I cut those long pieces of dough into small chunks (maybe 1/2 an inch). 
  • The foil-lined pan is not a necessity, but it does save a ton of time with the cleaning-up process. You'll wind up with minimal caramel gooeyness on the pan and can wrap up the leftover Clouds in the foil and not lose any of the caramel sauce. These reheat like a dream! 
  • If you are using the optional nuts (sometimes I just put them on half the pan), putting them on the bottom at the beginning leads to them being on the top at the end. When I put them on half the pan, I usually use about 1/2 c. This is the amount in the small bags in the bakery aisle at your local grocery store, which means that you won't have extras if you don't eat nuts very often. 
  • I had some really great shots of the process of clouds, but I can't find them. I'll have to take more the next time I make some. 
The post "Christmas Traditions: Candy Coated Clouds" originally appeared on Maggie's LesVegan Kitchen.

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