Easy Sticky Buns

sticky buns

It’s fall, y’all!

Regardless of the fact that we have yet to feel any brisk fall temperatures for more than half a day I feel that it is time to brush off those fall recipes. Why not start with a little morning treat?!

The hardest part of this recipe is having puff pastry on hand and remembering to thaw it out. The thawing out part… that tends to get me sometimes.  If you master those two hurdles, you are well on your way to an easy caramel treat.

Fair warning, these are full of butter and brown sugar.  But I’m pretty sure that’s what the start of fall calls for!  Try these out and let me know if you agree.


Easy Sticky Buns

Yield: 12 sticky buns

  • 12 T (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ⅓ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ½ cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
  • 2 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • ⅔ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 T ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick spray and place it on the cookie sheet.

Whisk together the 12 tablespoons of room temperature butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar. I typically just work it all together with a fork until it is a smooth consistency. Drop a tablespoon or so into each of the 12 muffin cups. Scatter the pecans evenly over the butter mixture.

Lightly flour a cutting board or other surface and unfold one sheet of the puff pastry so that the folds are running left to right in front of you. This will help you roll the pastry up after it is filled. Brush the entire sheet with half of the melted and cooled butter. Sprinkle the dough with half of the brown sugar and half of the cinnamon.  If you’d like an added treat, sprinkle in some raisins, cranberries, other fruit or chocolate chips.  You can mix these up in many ways!

Starting with the edge closest to you, roll the dough up like a jelly roll.  End with the seam at the bottom of the roll.  Using a serrated knife, trim the uneven edges off of the roll, about 1/2 an inch.  Discard the scraps. Slice the roll in half, then slice each half into three equal pieces.

Place each piece of the roll, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups.  Repeat this process with the second sheet of puff pastry.

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Bake the full tray for 30 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden brown on top and firm to the touch – but be careful! The caramel will be very hot!

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Set the tray on a potholder or rack and allow them to cool for 5 minutes only.  If the sticky buns cool too long before taking them out of the tray… they will very much stick to the pan. Turn the buns onto the parchment paper, easing any pecans and filling that hang behind onto the buns with a spoon.

Cool the sticky buns completely and enjoy! These are delicious at room temperature and reheat easily the next morning. 

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Full Recipe

Easy Sticky Buns

  • 12 T (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ⅓ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ½ cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
  • 2 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • ⅔ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 T ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400.

Place a 12-cup muffin tin on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

Spray the tin with nonstick spray.

Whisk together the 12 T butter and ⅓ cup brown sugar.

Drop about 1 T of the mixture in each of the muffin cups.

Scatter the pecans evenly among the muffin cups on top of the butter mixture.

Lightly flour a wooden board or stone surface.

Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right in front of you.

Brush the whole sheet with half of the melted butter.

Sprinkle the dough with half of the brown sugar and cinnamon.

Starting with the end nearest you, roll the pastry up snugly like a jelly roll around the filling, finishing the roll with the seam side down.

Trim the ends of the roll about ½-inch and discard.

Slice the roll in half, then slice each half in thirds.

Place each piece, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups.

Repeat the process with the second sheet of puff pastry.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden to dark brown on top and firm to the touch.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes only.

Invert the buns onto the parchment paper, easing pecans and filling onto the buns with a spoon.

Cool completely.

Shortbread Carmelitas

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Have you ever had a Carmelita?  Typically, a Carmelita is a soft oatmeal cookie stuffed with caramel and chocolate.  While that is pretty darn tasty… shortbread takes the cake, oops – I mean the cookie bar, here. It’s a brown sugar pecan shortbread, giving the Carmelita a nutty little update.  I also can’t resist adding a little salt to the caramel sauce in the middle of the bar.  I tend to think salted caramel is the stuff dreams are made of, though.

I hope you enjoy my take on Carmelitas!  What’s your favorite cookie bar?


Shortbread Carmelitas

  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup toasted pecans
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 sticks/1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 40 caramel squares unwrapped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt (for salted caramel sauce)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Extra chocolate chips for topping

Preheat the oven to 350.

Line an 8×8 pan with foil, coming up the sides of the pan so you can grab and lift the bars out of the pan after cooling.  Spray the foil with nonstick spray.

In a food processor, grind together the toasted pecans and flour. Add the sugar, salt and cold cubes of butter and pulse to fine crumbs.

Keep pulsing until the dough starts to come together.  Don’t process so long that the butter starts to warm up too much and the dough is overworked – you want a soft, crumbly dough.  If you don’t have a food processor handy, or just enjoy the workout, you can also mix the dough in a bowl using two knives or a pastry cutter.

Press about two-thirds of the dough in an even layer in prepared pan and use a fork to prick little holes all over the top of the dough.

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Bake until lightly golden brown and not completely set, about 12-15 minutes.

While the dough bakes, starting mixing up the carmel sauce. In a microwavable bowl, combine the unwrapped caramels and cream. Microwave for 4 minutes, stirring every 60 seconds, until the sauce is smooth and easy to stir.  Add 1/2 tsp salt and stir.

Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle 1 cup chocolate chips over the shortbread. Carefully pour the caramel sauce over the chocolate.

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Crumble the remaining shortbread mixture over the top.

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Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned and center is set. After taking the bars out of the oven, sprinkle the reserved chocolate chips over the top and let it sit for a couple minutes. Once the chocolate chips are softened a bit, gently take a knife and streak the chocolate across the top of the bars.  

I’m not so fancy with the chocolate on top of my Carmelitas.  Fancier people might melt down the reserved chocolate chips and then drizzle the melted chocolate across the top in a nice design.  You do you 😉

Let bars cool completely in the pan before slicing so the caramel and chocolate will set.

Pro tip:  these Shortbread Carmelitas can also be placed in the fridge to cool quickly.  They are also delicious cold!

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Full Recipe

Shortbread Carmelitas

  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup toasted pecans
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 sticks/1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 40 caramel squares unwrapped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt (for salted caramel sauce)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Extra chocolate chips for topping

Preheat oven to 350.

Line an 8×8″ pan with nonstick aluminum foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.

In a food processor, grind together the toasted pecans and flour.

Add the sugar, salt and butter and pulse to fine crumbs.

Pulse a few more times until some of the crumbs start to come together, but don’t overprocess; the dough should be somewhat crumbly.

Press about two-thirds of the dough in an even layer in prepared pan.

Prick dough all over with a fork.

Bake until lightly golden brown and not completely set, about 12-15 minutes.

While it bakes, make the caramel sauce.

In a microwavable bowl, combine the unwrapped caramels and cream.

Microwave for 4 minutes, stirring every 60 seconds, until the sauce is smooth and easy to stir.

Add 1/2 tsp salt and stir.

Remove pan from the oven and sprinkle 1 cup chocolate chips over the shortbread.

Carefully pour the caramel sauce over the chocolate.

Crumble remaining shortbread mixture over the top.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned and center is set.

Sprinkle reserved chocolate chips over the top and let sit for a couple minutes.

Gently take a knife and streak the melted chocolate across the top of the bars.

Let bars cool completely in the pan before slicing so the hot caramel and chocolate will set.