Family Traditions, Food, Holiday cheer

Ballard-Reisch Holiday Traditions – Thanksgiving breakfast – Monkey Bread

One of the things I like best about the holidays is family food traditions. For example, for Thanksgiving we make a feast! Turkey, dressing (those not from Ohio might call it stuffing), mashed potatoes and gravy, baked corn, green bean casserole (yes, the French’s onions recipe), 7-up salad (my mom’s recipe from when I was a child), and this year, pumpkin pie with whipped cream. For over 30 Thanksgivings, a family breakfast favorite has been monkey bread. We got the original recipe from my sister-in-law Sandy Estep. I have no idea where it came from. Anyway, for the Ballard-Reisch family, Thanksgiving breakfast means monkey bread. We invite you to join us in this tradition.

Here goes!


3 loaves – Rhoades white frozen bread dough

1 cup granulated sugar (plus up to ¼ cup additional as needed – see below)

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon (plus 2 teaspoons)

1 ½ sticks (3/8 lbs butter) – (Real butter is the best. We prefer Kerry gold.)

What to do:

Thaw loaves in the refrigerator, in the plastic bag they come in. (Or you can make bread dough from scratch. I used to do that, but I often take the easy way now.) Once thawed, remove from the bag and return to the fridge in a covered bowl. Let rise. When dough has risen, kneed it to release all the yeast and air bubbles. It will return to roughly the volume of the original dough. Let dough rise a second time, and again kneed to release the yeast and air bubbles. We typically do this overnight so that the dough is ready to go on Thanksgiving morning.

Mix 1 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon together in a soup or cereal bowl.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Tear the dough into approximately 1 teaspoon chunks; roll into balls.

Drop balls into cinnamon and sugar mixture. Coat all sides thoroughly. I use a spoon to scoop the mixture around the dough balls.

Drop the balls into a greased (We use Pam.) bundt pan. (The bundt pan, because of it’s center opening, helps cook the dough balls thoroughly, but you can also use an 8×8 inch glass baking pan.) ((My favorite of the moment is a silicone bundt pan.))

Melt butter in a 1-quart saucepan.

Once cinnamon and sugared dough balls have been put into the bundt pan, measure remaining mixture. You will need at least 1 cup. Add sugar to make 1 cup and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Melt over medium high heat in a sauce pan for approximately 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Sugar mixture will get clumpy, then eventually smooth out and melt fully.

Once sugar has melted, stir in melted butter. Bring to a boil for 1 minute. Reduce heat. (If the butter and sugar mixture won’t mix together, try using a whisk.)

Pour mixture over dough balls in bundt pan.

Bake for 1 hour or until dough balls are cooked thoroughly (or to your desired doneness). Some Ballard-Reisch’s prefer fully cooked dough balls. Others like them slightly doughy.

Turn out onto a round plate.


Add 1 cup chopped nut pieces of choice (I prefer pecans, but others like walnuts) to cinnamon and sugar mixture when you add the melted butter. The melted sugar and butter will coat the nuts. Pour over the dough balls as noted above. Bake as noted above.

Make a caramel or salted caramel topping – You may keep or omit the cinnamon in this step. Your choice. When sugar mixture and butter are melted and combined, slowly add ½ cup heavy cream. Boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat. Add ½ teaspoon salt to mixture and stir for salted caramel. Drizzle over dough balls. Bake as above.

Serve with butter and a large glass of milk or your favorite cup of coffee.



Easy Recipes, Holiday cheer, Peppermint Bark, Uncategorized

Deborah’s Peppermint Bark

Peppermint Bark #1

I LOVE the holidays! I love cooking and baking! I love giving pretty food to my friends and family. One of my recent favorites is Peppermint Bark. There are many versions of Peppermint Bark out there. I used to be intimidated to make it because I thought it was difficult. SURPRISINGLY, IT’S NOT! Even if you choose to temper your chocolate so that it won’t melt at room temperature, it’s not difficult or especially time consuming.

I tried the results of this recipe out on some of my colleagues yesterday and everyone loved it, so here’s what I do!


3 cups of dark chocolate – (I used Cocoa Dolce 54% Dark Chocolate Callets – Use your favorite chocolate!)

2 cups white chocolate – (I used Cocoa Dolce White Chocolate Callets – Use your favorite white chocolate!)

1/8 tsp peppermint oil – (You can use more. See below! I used Loranss Peppermint oil)

14 –candy canes crushed (traditional)

Here’s what you do!:

Crush the 14 candy canes – I use the plastic bag and a hammer method. Crush to your desired level of crunchy. You can also do this in a blender or food processor.

Temper dark chocolate* – Melt 2/3rds of the chocolate over a double boiler (medium setting on an electric burner) ((What I do is put water in a larger pan and put my chocolate in a smaller pan, letting the warm water in the lower pan melt the chocolate in the upper pan.)) – When the chocolate is melted, check the temperature – You want it at 115 degrees exactly (use a candy thermometer). Take the small pan out of the large pan and stir in the remaining 1/3rd of the chocolate until melted.

Check the temperature when this step is completed and all chocolate is melted. If the temperature is below 90 degrees, heat again (on the double boiler – return the small pan to the large pan of medium heat water) until the chocolate reaches 90 degrees.

If it’s still above 90 degrees when all the chocolate is melted together, put the pan in a cool water bath in the sink (about 2 inches of cool water – don’t let any water get into the chocolate), stir the chocolate constantly so that the temperature remains consistent throughout. When it reaches 90 degrees, remove the chocolate from the water bath. DRY THE BOTTOM OF THE PAN (don’t ask me why I accent this. 8) ).

Spread the tempered chocolate across a parchment covered cookie sheet (you can also use aluminum foil if you don’t have parchment paper) Layer the chocolate to about 1/8th inch deep (don’t worry if it doesn’t reach the sides. You will shatter it into pieces later anyway, so it doesn’t have to be neat.).

Put it in the frig for no more than 5 minutes to set it up a bit. If you leave it in longer, the white chocolate may not stick to the dark.

Simultaneously (as you put the dark chocolate in the frig):

Temper white chocolate – Melt 2/3rds of the white chocolate with peppermint oil added to 115 degrees (using the double boiler method outlined above). Stir in the remaining 1/3rd of the chocolate away from heat.

Check the temperature:

If it’s below 85 degrees, heat again until it reaches 85 degrees.

If it’s above 85 degrees, follow the cool water bath outlined above (under dark chocolate) until the chocolate reaches 85 degrees. Smooth the white chocolate over the cooled dark chocolate.

When it’s 85 degrees, smooth the crushed candy canes over the top of the spread white chocolate.

Refrigerate for 1 hour or until the bark is completely cooled and set. Break into pieces.

Peppermint Bark #2

*Tempering makes your chocolate really creamy and it holds up better at room temperature.

There are multiple options to this recipe.

Modification #1: Mix ½ of the candy canes into the cooled white chocolate prior to smoothing it over the dark chocolate.

Modification #2: You could use all white chocolate in this recipe

Modification #3: You could flip the amounts for a sweeter peppermint bark – 3 cups white chocolate and 2 cups dark chocolate

Modification #4: You could do a top layer of dark chocolate or invert the layers and have 2 white chocolate layers.

Modification #5: You could omit or add more peppermint oil – up to 1 tsp peppermint oil. (To determine how much peppermint oil you want, stir it by 1/8 tsp increments into the white chocolate. I went for the milder version. If you omit the peppermint oil, your peppermint flavor will come completely from the candy canes.

To me the holidays are about sharing food I love with those I love. I welcome you to share in this tradition! Happy Holidays!

Peppermint Bark with Angel