Papaya, Mango & Pear Pie

A wide variety of fruit has be used to make pie, from crisp apples to juicy berries or tender stone fruit. Tropical fruit, not as commonly used, can make amazing additions to pie filling creations. One such combo is papaya and mango.

Once considered exotic, papaya can now be purchased pretty much throughout the year. A very versatile fruit which contains enzymes that help in tenderizing meat as well as using it in salads, puddings, yogurt, chutney etc. For the sweetest flavor, select a papaya with a yellowish-orange skin that yields to the touch. Green papaya can be peeled like a carrot. It is similar to winter squash and can be baked or barbecued in the same fashion.

Mangoes have a rich sweetness with an aromatic floral note that isn’t present in many other fruits. As well as holding their shape during baking, mangoes become extremely tender, which makes them an excellent choice for pie filling.

Regardless of what type of pie your eating, the general consensus is that it should have a base made of some kind of pastry. When people first began cooking food in ovens there was little to protect the filling from searing heat. As a result, juices would fizzle out and everything would burn rather quickly. As a solution, dough was used to protect the filling. The dough or pastry absorbed the juices, making the entire case and filling a dish in itself. Since then, many complex forms and fillings have evolved in the world of pie making.

My objective today, was to create a ‘tropical’ pie. I had picked up a papaya as well as a couple of pears on my last shopping trip. I already had some mango chunks in the freezer. I thought pears would compliment the papaya and mango well. Between the fruit and spice combos, the flavor was just incredible. I think I ‘nailed it’!

Papaya, Mango & Pear Pie
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Servings
6-8
Servings
6-8
Papaya, Mango & Pear Pie
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Servings
6-8
Servings
6-8
Ingredients
Pastry Crust
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Prepare pastry if making from 'scratch'. Line a 8-9-inch pie pan. Peel & core papaya, mango & pear. Cut & dice into 1/2-inch pieces. In a large bowl, combine fruit with lemon zest & juice. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch, sugar, spices & salt. Carefully mix 3/4 of dry mixture with fruit reserving remainder for later.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Pour filling into pastry lined pie dish. Sprinkle with the rest of dry mixture & dot with butter. Roll out pastry for top crust. Make into design of choice or just place over pie; pinch top & bottom together to form a seal & cut 'vents'. Brush with egg wash & sprinkle with sugar.
  3. Place in oven & bake for about 10-15 minutes to bake bottom crust somewhat then reduce heat to 375 F. & bake another 30 minutes or until golden brown & filling is bubbling.
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Halloween Cookies

The end of October! Seriously, it seems like we were just getting into spring and now its Halloween. Brion and I were in a store around the end of September that already had Christmas displays up. For me, that really doesn’t work. Maybe it just comes as we get older, but I really enjoy to try to stay in the ‘moment’ and enjoy each day, season and year as they unfold. That time will never come again, so why do we feel the need to rush it so. I guess you could call it, ‘making the most of your own personal journey’.

Nevertheless, it is time to think about some treats for the special ‘little people’ next door. We have just wonderful neighbors on either side of us. One family has two boys and the other side, two girls. I especially enjoy to come up with something unique each year for them on Halloween.

This year I decided to do some apple ‘mummy’ pastries (apple instead of pumpkin for kids, right?!), chocolate bats and black cat cookies. If these treats turn out they should look great! Fun! Fun! Fun!

Halloween Cookies
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Halloween Cookies
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Ingredients
Apple Mummy Cream Cheese Pastries
Filling & Topping
Black Cat Cookies
Servings:
Instructions
Apple Mummy Pastries makes 12
  1. FOR CRUST: In a food processor, pulse flour, salt & sugar, then add butter. Pulse until only until coarse meal texture is obtained. Add chilled water 1-2 Tbsp at a time. If your dough doesn't come together in clumps add remaining water. Divide dough into two portions & shape each into a 5-inch disk. Cover with plastic wrap & chill for one hour.
  2. FOR FILLING: On a cutting board, chop apple pie filling into smaller pieces. In a bowl, soften cream cheese & combine with apple filling & 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Cover bowl & chill until ready to assemble cookies.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. On a floured work surface, roll out first disk of dough to about 13 X 11-inch rectangle. You will need to have straight edges so you may need to trim a bit. Make twelve 4 X 2 1/2-inch rectangles. Roll out second disk of dough & cut into 1/2-inch strips.
  4. Space rectangles on prepared baking sheet & spread 2 heaping Tbsp of apple filling onto each one, leaving a rim on all sides uncoated. Brush uncoated edges with egg/water mixture. Top with strips to create a 'mummy' look, then seal edges with your fingertips & trim any excess. Brush strips with remaining egg white/water mixture & sprinkle with combined sugar & cinnamon. Bake about 10-12 minutes, until golden. When cooled secure edible candy eyes.
Chocolate Bats
  1. In a bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually beat in powdered sugar; set aside. Remove wrappers from Reeses cups. Gently separate Oreo cookies & scrape off frosting. Cut cookies in half to form 4 bat wings. Fill a plastic baggie with cream cheese frosting. Cut off the tip of one corner & pipe frosting onto one corner of each cookie half.
  2. Press one cookie piece on the left of the Reeses cup & another cookie piece on the right forming your bat in flight. Pipe frosting on the back of the edible eyes & secure on top of the center of the Reeses cup.
Black Cat Cookies
  1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter & sugar until light & fluffy. Add egg, & vanilla; combine then stir in flour, dry pudding mix & nuts. Combine well but do not over mix. Roll out dough to about 1/4-inch thick between 2 sheets of parchment. Place in freezer for about an hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut cooled dough into pumpkin shapes & place on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake about 8 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.
  3. In a small double boiler, melt black candy melts. Pour melted wafers into a piping bag fitted with a fine tip. Place a large piece of waxed paper on a flat surface with a printout of black cats underneath. Trace cat shapes & fill in after. Allow to set completely, then peel shapes from waxed paper.
  4. Ice cooled pumpkin cookies with orange frosting then lightly press a black cat on the top of each one. This recipe should make about 30 cookies.
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Pumpkin Liqueur Cupcakes with Pepita Oatmeal Topping

Love it or hate it, pumpkin  spice season is well underway. Every year our obsession with the ‘flavor of fall’ continues to grow with weirder, more unique, pumpkin themed products invading the bakeries, grocery stores, coffee shops, you name it—

It all started with the introduction of the famous Starbucks ‘Pumpkin Spice Latte’ in 2003. Strangely enough, as a kid, I wasn’t crazy about pumpkin at all. But that was then, now I’m one of those who loves everything pumpkin.

Some time ago, Brion had picked up a bottle of Pumpkin Cream Liqueur. It has a wonderful taste on its own but of course it only seems fitting that I would want to bake with it.

I believe one of the secrets of having incredible flavors in both savory and baked goods is with the use of alcohol. You can’t help but notice, over the last number of years how the humble little cupcake has been elevated to a whole new level. Many of these specialty cupcake stores that have popped up are featuring alcohol-inspired, adult-friendly options.

Now, today, I’m back to ‘recipe development’ to see what I can come up with.

Pumpkin Liqueur Cupcakes / Pepita Oatmeal Topping
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Pumpkin Liqueur Cupcakes / Pepita Oatmeal Topping
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Ingredients
Cupcakes
Pepita Oatmeal Crumble Topping
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper cups.
  2. In a small bowl, combine all topping ingredients & set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt & spices. With a pastry blender, cut in butter until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together egg, liqueur, milk & pumpkin puree. Stir into flour mixture JUST until moistened. Place a small scoop of batter in each cup. Divide topping. Using half of topping, divide evenly between cupcakes, creating the 'filling' for the cupcakes. Divide remaining batter between cups; top with remaining topping. Bake 15-20 minutes or until they test done. Remove from pan & cool on a wire rack.
Recipe Notes
  • Technically, pepitas and pumpkin seeds are the same thing. But pepitas (which mean “little seeds of squash” in Spanish) don’t have a shell and are found in only select pumpkin varieties.
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Apple & Sour Cherry Bread Pudding

Basic bread pudding is one of those desserts that has become lost in the shuffle it seems. Truly a comfort food for those of us that remember it from childhood days. Most of my memories are of the classic recipe— a simple mixture of eggs, milk, sugar, flavorings, raisins and of course, some stale bread.

Bread puddings date back centuries. For the vast majority of human history most people could not afford to waste food, so numerous uses for stale bread were invented.

Today, bread puddings are still being made but they are far more luxurious, often using gourmet breads, vanilla beans, bourbon, expensive cheeses and nuts.

Having a German heritage, German recipes and food history are especially interesting to me. It seems in Germany there are two versions of bread pudding, one with apples and the other with sour cherries.

It just so happens I have some of both which has inspired today’s blog recipe. All things are possible with bread pudding so if you don’t like either, just substitute blueberries, raspberries, canned peaches, pears, dried apricots, cranberries or whatever you like because you know its all going to be good!

Apple & Sour Cherry Bread Pudding
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Servings
6-8
Servings
6-8
Apple & Sour Cherry Bread Pudding
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Servings
6-8
Servings
6-8
Instructions
  1. Butter an 8 x 8-inch baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk together brandy, milk, eggs, sugar, butter, cinnamon, salt & vanilla. Add bread cubes, cherries & apples folding together with a rubber spatula. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish, flatten with spatula , making sure fruit is distributed evenly. Cover with plastic wrap & refrigerate for about 15 minutes so bread absorbs all the liquid.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake pudding about 55-65 minutes or until top is golden & center is set. Nice to serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
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Roasted Parsnip Loaf / Sticky Lemon Frosting

Root vegetable desserts aren’t exactly a new concept. Incorporating vegetables such as beets, asparagus, mushrooms and sweet potatoes can lend themselves to new creative dessert ideas if you start thinking ‘out of the box’. 

Parsnips, traditionally used in savory dishes, can bring a subtle sweet tenderness to your baked goods. When roasted or sauteed, their sugars caramelize richly and are well complemented by a variety of seasonings such as orange or lemon zest, ginger and cardamom. 

As the autumn weather turns cooler, root vegetables like carrots and parsnips convert their starch to sugar. After a few fall frosts, parsnips develop a higher sugar content than those harvested before the freeze.

My original idea was to make a loaf cake with shredded raw parsnips as you do with carrots when making  a carrot cake. Knowing how sweet they become when roasted, I decided to do that first. If you have any roasted parsnips leftover from a previous meal they would work just great.

I realize parsnips are not for everyone. It probably seems a bit odd to make them the ‘star’ in dessert but I have to say we both loved this cake. The tart sticky lemon frosting was truly the ‘icing on the cake’.

Roasted Parsnip Loaf / Sticky Lemon Frosting
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Roasted Parsnip Loaf / Sticky Lemon Frosting
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Ingredients
Roasted Parsnips
Cake
Frosting
Servings:
Instructions
Roasted Parsnips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Peel parsnips & quarter lengthwise; remove core. Chop into medium size pieces & place in a plastic bag. Add a little veg oil & shake to distribute evenly. Line a baking sheet with foil; place parsnips on it & sprinkle with salt & pepper. Bake until soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven & allow to cool, then puree in food processor.
Cake
  1. Line a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder & salt. Using a mixer, beat eggs & sugar together. Add parsnip puree, oil, sour cream, vanilla & spices. Fold in flour mixture, combining gently until well incorporated. Fold in walnuts & chocolate, creating a marble appearance ONLY.
  3. Pour batter into loaf pan & bake for about 40 - 45 minutes or until it tests done. Remove from oven & cool slightly before topping with frosting.
Frosting
  1. While cake is baking, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon zest & extract in a small bowl. With hand mixer, beat until smooth. Frosting will be thick & sticky. Top loaf cake while it is still slightly warm. Slice when cool & serve.
Recipe Notes
  • I had personalized the spices in this cake but if my combination doesn't appeal to you, simply use 1/2 tsp each nutmeg & cloves with a teaspoon of cinnamon instead.
  • When purchasing parsnips, look for the small to medium size. Large parsnips are often bitter & have an undesirable woody quality.
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Fresh Pineapple Summer Cobbler

As a rule, when a person thinks of a ‘cobbler’ dessert, it means warm comfort food on a cool winter evening. But summer is here with all its fresh produce. There are dozens of simple variations on cobblers, and they are all based on fruits and berries, whatever is in season. The nice thing is, a cobbler relies more on the taste than fancy pastry preparation.

While they are not as show-stopping as a fresh fruit pizza, these easy desserts are perfect for summer barbecues. You can mix everything up, then pop it in the oven while everyone is eating barbecue outdoors. Dessert will be baked and ready for a big dollop of ice cream by the time everyone is finished eating. Fresh  Pineapple Cobbler  is the perfect ending to any spring-summer meal. Quick, easy and good!

Fresh Pineapple Summer Cobbler
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Fresh Pineapple Summer Cobbler
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Batter
Fruit & Topping
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In an 8 x 8 x 2-inch GLASS baking dish, melt butter, tilting dish to coat bottom. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon & salt. Add milk & extracts folding until smooth batter forms. Pour batter into baking dish over melted butter. DO NOT STIR BATTER INTO BUTTER. Distribute pineapple chunks evenly over the batter & sprinkle with brown sugar.
  3. Bake for about 40-45 minutes in which time the fruit will sink to the bottom of the baking dish & the batter will bubble & bake up to the surface in random spots. When baked, the cobbler will be golden & will spring back slightly when touched in center. Serve warm with a dollop of ice cream!
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Rhubarb Cheesecake Muffins

As usual, I can’t get enough of using rhubarb throughout its growing season. This year we started three new plants as our older ones are producing less and less. I think they are probably just becoming to shaded so we put the new ones in a great little spot on the south side of the garage.

Rhubarb’s awkward positioning between fruit and vegetable, sweet and tart, is a topic that’s constantly debated. It resembles sticks of celery dressed in their best pink Sunday attire, blushing from the first few washes of early sun peaking through its dense foliage after winter hibernation underground.

Pie remains the most common use for rhubarb, so much that older cookbooks called it the ‘pie plant’. While it generally is treated as a fruit, it has also been used as a savory ingredient, frequently paired with meats, cheese, stuffings, sauces and much more.

This is one of my favorite ‘sweet’ recipes from quite a few years ago. It has it all — rhubarb, cream cheese & streusal!

Rhubarb Cheesecake Muffins
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Rhubarb Cheesecake Muffins
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Ingredients
Stewed Rhubarb
Batter
Cream Cheese Filling
Servings:
Instructions
Stewed Rhubarb
  1. In a small saucepan, combine rhubarb, sugar & lemon slice. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar melts. Reduce heat & simmer about 10-12 minutes or until thickened & reduced to about 1/2 cup. Allow to cool.
Batter
  1. In a large bowl, combine flour & sugar. with a pastry blender, cut in butter to resemble coarse crumbs. In a small dish, measure 1 cup of the flour mixture & add walnuts & cinnamon. Set aside. To remaining flour mixture add baking powder, baking soda & salt. Set aside. In a third bowl, combine sour cream, vanilla & beaten egg.
Cream Cheese Filling
  1. In a small bowl, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 sugar, egg & lemon zest. Fold in stewed rhubarb.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper cups. Stir SOUR CREAM mixture into FLOUR/BAKING POWDER mixture until just blended. Do not over mix! Spread this batter evenly over bottom & up the sides of each paper cup. Place a spoonful of FILLING MIXTURE in center of each, then top with WALNUT MIXTURE & bake 12-15 minutes or until muffins test done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
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Swedish Apple Pie

Many cultures have embraced the ‘apple pie’ and put their own spin on it, so why is it known as the quintessential ‘American’ dessert. If your someone who hates making pie crust …. this pie is for you. Swedish Apple Pie is more like cake than a pie and very similar to a cobbler. You layer your apples in a buttered pie dish, whip up the batter, spread it over the apples and bake it. As it bakes, the batter fills in the spaces between the apples, creating cakey  goodness for each bite. 

This pie reminds me of an experience that seems quite comical when I think of it now. Before I had ever studied in the commercial food industry or made any amount of pies, a friend gave me a recipe for a ‘Swiss’ apple pie. Her instructions were to place the apple slices in a pastry lined pie pan. Next, pour vanilla pudding over the apples and bake. It sounded great! I purchased a box of Jell-O brand vanilla pudding & pie filling, made a crust and filled it with apple slices. I assumed you were supposed to cook the pudding before covering the apples with it for some reason. Wrong! What resulted was apples baked in a pastry shell with a ‘rubber top’. I guess we all have to start somewhere right?!

Nevertheless, I think you will enjoy this easy way to make an apple pie.

Swedish Apple Pie
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Swedish Apple Pie
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9-inch pie pan.
  2. Peel, core & slice apples. Place in buttered pie plate. Sprinkle apples with 1 Tbsp sugar & cinnamon.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine cooled, melted margarine, 1 cup sugar, salt, egg, flour, extract & walnuts. Mix well. Gently spread batter over apples. Bake for about 45 minutes or until top is golden. Serve warm or cold with ice cream or whipped cream.
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Easter French Toast with Strawberry Compote

HAPPY EASTER!

Easter is synonymous with spring which speaks of new life and fresh hope. After the cold winter there is nothing we look forward to more than having a sunny day and seeing the flowers peeking up through the ground. Buds on the trees open up after having slept all winter. Leaves burst out of the buds in fresh green color when the sun gets brighter and warmer.  The season of spring really is a time of renewal.

Whether or not your religious, Easter has some pretty magical facets to it. I remember as a kid the ‘secret bunny’ leaving colorful eggs and little baskets filled with a few goodies. My sisters and I always got a new Easter dress and ‘straw bonnet’ to wear to the church service. Then of course, the wonderful Easter meal itself.

After having good luck with my Easter bread, we are having some for Easter brunch.                                                                                                                     ORANGE ANISE FRENCH TOAST w/ STRAWBERRIES & GREEK YOGURT — perfect!

Easter French Toast with Strawberry Compote
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Easter French Toast with Strawberry Compote
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Strawberry Compote
French Toast
Servings:
Instructions
Strawberry Compote
  1. Rinse, hull & slice strawberries. Zest & juice lemon. In a small saucepan, whisk together lemon zest & juice, sugar, water & cornstarch. Add strawberries, mixing gently while bringing to a simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cool slightly.
French Toast
  1. In a shallow bowl, beat eggs; whisk in milk, salt & cinnamon. Soak the slices of Easter bread in egg/milk mixture for 30 seconds on each side. Cook on hot griddle until golden brown on both sides & cooked through.
  2. Serve strawberry compote over french toast & Greek french vanilla yogurt.
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Kahlua Cinnamon Nut Roll

Today, March 28th, marks the date of my mother’s birthday. She passed away in 1978 at the age of 60. No matter how many years go by she will always be the never ending song in my heart. She had such a wonderful ability to make the everyday things more enjoyable. I have so many great memories of those times that I just took for granted and now realize how special they were. Her courage and strength to endure the harshness that farm life sometimes throws at you was nothing short of amazing. As we honor my mother today, we hold on to those precious memories that will never fade from our minds.

As I have mentioned so many times before, my mother was exceptional in her ability to cook and bake. Regularly, when she baked bread, one of the extra treats was a pan of cinnamon rolls. This Kahlua Nut Roll seemed perfect for today’s blog recipe. 

In 1986, a little recipe pamphlet was published by Maidstone Wine & Spirits Inc. using Kahlua liqueur. All you had to do was write to them and request as many copies as you wanted free of charge. It contained about 90 recipes all using Kahlua. What a great bit of ‘PR’ work!

The oldest proof of Kahlua’s date of origin is a bottle found by Maidstone. The bottle came from Mexico and was dated 1937. The word Kahlua was discovered to have ties to ancient Arabic languages and the old label, which bears similarity to the current label, shows a turbaned man smoking a pipe beneath a Moorish archway. The only obvious change in the current label is the man has become a sombrero wearing man, napping beneath the same Moorish archway and in some labels there is no man pictured at all.

My  Kahlua Cinnamon Nut Roll  was adapted from this great little recipe pamphlet.

                              WONDERFUL MEMORIES OF OUR BEAUTIFUL MOM!

Kahlua Cinnamon Nut Twist
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Kahlua Cinnamon Nut Twist
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Ingredients
Yeast Dough
Cream Cheese/Pecan Filling
Kahlua Syrup
Servings:
Instructions
Yeast Dough
  1. In a small dish, add yeast to lukewarm water; set aside. In a large bowl, combine milk, shortening, sugar & salt. Add 1 cup of flour; beat well. Add egg, yeast mixture & remaining 1 1/4 cups flour.; beat to form moderately stiff dough. Turn out on a floured work surface. Knead gently until smooth & elastic. Lightly butter bowl, form dough into a disk & cover with clean tea towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 50-60 minutes.
Cream Cheese/Pecan Filling
  1. In a bowl, combine cream cheese & butter until smooth. In another dish, combine pecans, brown sugar, cinnamon & salt. Set aside.
Kahlua Syrup
  1. In a small sauce pan, melt butter; add brown sugar & Kahlua liqueur. Bring to a boil; simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; reserve 1/3 cup syrup. Pour remaining syrup into a 9-inch round cake pan.
Assembly
  1. When dough has risen, turn out on a lightly floured work surface & roll into a 14-inch square. Spread dough with cream cheese mixture & sprinkle sugar mixture on one half. Fold other half over sugar & press lightly to adhere.
  2. Cut dough lengthwise into 5 strips. Beginning in the center of prepared pan, wrap strips in a spiral pattern, pinching ends together. Cover & let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake until golden & cooked through, about 25-30 minutes. Remove & let stand in pan 5 minutes. Invert onto serving plate; spoon reserved syrup over top.
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