Sunday, January 27, 2013

chocolate chip cookies with nutella, brown butter, and sea salt

Bauble of the Day:  Gold Geo Bib (BaubleBar), Wishbone Charm Necklace (Gorjana), and Vine Ring (Gorjana). BaubleBar + Gorjana just go beautifully together, don't they? Statement pieces always seem to look better paired with simple, dainty jewelry. Clearly this comes from the mind of someone who is indecisive and sickly obsessed with jewelry.
 shirt: Madewell Laid-Back Tee in Stripe || jeans: J Brand Legging in Starless || shoes: Sperry Top-Sider A/O 1 Eye in Brown || nailpolish: Essie lapiz of luxury

Okay, I'm back. Well, in case you were wondering, I started throwing things at the t.v. during the Thunder/Lakers game. I really don't want to talk about it. I even wore my blue and orange striped shirt to support OKC! The only NBA update that matters at the moment is that Rajon Rondo tore his ACL, which means the Celtics are not getting anywhere close to the ship this year. Wasn't counting on that anyway. Le sigh, All-Star weekend cannot come any sooner..

The rest of my day was productive-- if you're like me and consider worthy productiveness to be shopping and baking. I popped into Anthropologie, not because I actually needed anything but it happened to be on the way to the grocery store. My intention was to make a quick return and leave, but then I tried on a few things. An hour later, let's just say I ended up in the negative. Don't care, new clothes makes me happy. But, for the record, I would totally judge me, too.

I got a little off track, but I was still on a baking mission today. So, here's the deal. I spend oodles of hours on Pinterest. I would consider myself to be an avid repinner. I'm not sure what any of it really means (I feel more like a stalker-- constantly admiring the fashionable and DIY savvy) but damn it's fun. Admittedly, I've also never actually made any of the recipes I've stored away on my pinboard.. until today.

Dear Annie (whoever you are), I wish I were you and could take credit for creating this Godly creation of a cookie. Alas, I am just a baker who had the honor of successfully fulfilling all my hopes and dreams that were unknowingly wrapped up in single cookie. Brown butter. Nutella. Chocolate chips. And OMG, the sea salt. This cookie is my new favorite (really, how could it not?!). It blew my mind and then slapped me in the face for waiting this long to make it. Sorry S'mores cookie-- I still heart you, though.

Here it is.. You're welcome.

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Nutella, Brown Butter, and Sea Salt
Recipe by Annie's Eats, adapted from Ambitious Kitchen
Yields about 2 dozen

Chocolate hazelnut spread (such as Nutella), about 1/2 cup
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp greek yogurt or sour cream
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

1. Prepare nutella coins. Line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper. Place chocolate hazelnut spread in plastic bag toward one corner of the bag. Twist so that it does not squeeze out of the top. Snip one corner off the end of the bag. Pipe small dollops of the spread on the wax paper, about 1 1/2 tsp each. You will need about 2 dozen. Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer and let set until firm, about 2 hours.

2. Prepare brown butter. Place the butter in a medium to large skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter completely. Continue to cook, whisking frequently, until the butter foams, bubbles slightly, and begins to brown. Continue whisking until the butter is evenly browned, being careful not to burn. Remove from heat and let cool.

3. Put the dough together. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine sugars and brown butter. Mix on medium speed until well blended and smooth. Blend in egg and egg yolk, scraping down the bowl as needed. Blend in the vanilla and yogurt. With the mixer on low speed, blend in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Fold int he chocolate chips. Chill the dough briefly, about 30 minutes.

4. Assemble. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Use a medium dough scoop (about 2 Tbsp) to scoop a portion of cookie dough. Press an indentation into the center of the dough ball to create a bowl shape. Place a dollop of the frozen Nutella in the indentation and pinch together the edges of the cookie dough over the top to completely seal it in the center. 

5. Place the shaped cookies on the prepared baking sheets, 2-3 inches apart. Bake until the cookies are golden brown and set, rotating the pans halfway through, about 14 minutes total. When the cookies are finished baking, sprinkle lightly with additional sea salt. Let sit a few minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining dough as needed. *Be sure to place the Nutella drops back into the freezer while waiting for cookies to bake. It softens fairly quickly otherwise.

I promise all the work is worth it. The instructions are very thorough, but I absolutely love the method outlined by Annie's Eats. Piping and freezing the Nutella dollops-- genius.

This is one sweet cookie, with the excessive chocolate and all, but the sprinkle of sea salt on top takes this cookie to the next level. It orchestrates all the flavors and balances out the sweetness to perfection. In all seriousness, if you don't make this cookie, you will never forgive yourself and I might slap you for being so ridiculous.

salmon and veggie cakes

Happy NBA Sunday! So far, I've spent my morning watching NBA on ABC and I don't see that changing anytime soon since Thunder/Lakers are up next.

During halftime of this Heat/Celtics game, I cooked up some salmon cakes. Salmon cakes are by far the best breakfast/brunch if you have leftover salmon in the fridge. I made a batch a couple weeks ago on a whim. I loved how they turned out, so I decided to make them again. They also happen to be gluten-free and Paleo!

Salmon and Veggie Cakes
Yields about 11

1 cup salmon, cooked and shredded (gently break up with hands)
1/3 cup onion, finely diced
1/3 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
1/3 cup broccoli, finely chopped
1 large egg
3/4 cup almond flour
1 tsp parsley, chopped
pinch of salt and pepper
olive oil

1. On the stove, heat a skillet/saute pan on medium high heat with a drizzle of olive oil. When the pan is hot, add onion, red bell pepper, and broccoli. Saute until veggies are all tender. This should only take a few minutes since the veggies are finely diced. Remove from heat and allow veggies to cool.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, add salmon, 1 egg, cooled veggies, parsley, salt and pepper. Use a fork to combine together well.
3. Then, add almond flour to mixture. Gently incorporate. The mixture should look sticky but not wet. If the mixture looks too wet, add a little more almond flour.
4. To the same skillet, add a drizzle of olive oil and heat to medium/ medium high.
5. Place about 1 to 1 1/2 Tbsp portions of the salmon and veggie mixture to the hot skillet. Press down slightly on each dollop to flatten for even cooking.
6. These cook quickly. With a spatula, flip each cake over once it is golden brown on the bottom. Cook for a couple more minutes on the other side.
7. Turn off the stove, and serve right away while they are still warm!

These aren't baked but they are definitely good! I'm letting my oven rest because I will be baking up a whole lot of sweetness tonight..

Thursday, January 24, 2013

madewell + layered necklaces

So, in case you didn't hear, Madewell is having a promo-- extra 40% off sale items thru January 28th (use code: LOVE40). The problem is, you have to really stalk the site if you want to snag something, because everything sells out quickly. I've seen a few new items added to the sale section throughout the week, but mostly they keep lowering the sale price on the last of what they cannot sell.

I did happen to order a few items last week. It was one of those "I'm up at 3am and have nothing to do so I'll shop online" impulse buys. That maybe happens often. Anyway, I just received my order a couple days ago and, let me just say, my clicking finger didn't disappoint.

Today was all gloomy, rainy, and depressing. Yet, it did not stop me from wearing one of my new sweaters. After all, I did receive some new baubles last week I've been dying to wear. 3am purchases unite!

sweater: Madewell || pants: J. Brand [similar: here] || boots: Bandolino

Bauble of the Day: Brushed Tab Strand and Black Mesh Pearl Bib from BaubleBar. These are my most recent BaubleBar purchases and I am obsessed. Usually, I'm a one statement necklace per day kind of girl. But I couldn't help it! There's something about these two necklaces together that makes me swoon a little bit. And because I have no shortage of sparkle, I may have also thrown on the Ice Cluster Studs (no longer available on site), as well. They are kind of my favorite earrings ever.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

orange balsamic glazed brussels sprouts with bacon

I personally don't know why people dislike/hate/are revolted by brussels sprouts. I assume it's due to a bad experience. I never ate brussels sprout anything growing up, so for a long time I never knew how they tasted or what to do with them. Then, I had a life-changing brussels sprout moment at Motorino in New York a few years ago. Brussels sprout and pancetta pizza.. holy goodness. That pizza is so scrumptious that it hurts to be 3,000 miles away. I literally want to cuddle with that pizza. Okay, I'll keep it G-rated and stop now. It's not even possible to recreate the depth of flavor developed by brussels sprouts roasted in a brick oven. So if you are ever in the East Village, stop by Motorino and know that I am jealous. I don't really miss pizza much, but that pizza.. it doesn't make me feel even a smidge guilty for binging on gluten and cheese.

Okay moving on, back to brussels sprouts. I don't mind them just oven-roasted with EVOO, salt and pepper. But today, I was feeling adventurous and decided to add a twist.

Orange Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

1 lb. brussels sprouts
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp honey
1 1/2 tsp fresh-squeezed orange juice
2 slices of cooked thick-cut bacon, crispy
orange zest for sprinkling (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Prepare brussels sprouts. For each brussels sprout, cut off and throw away the brown end. Then, cut each brussels sprout lengthwise into thirds. Don't worry about this being perfect. Place onto a rimmed baking sheet. 
3. Add the EVOO, salt and pepper to the brussels sprouts. Gently toss until the brussels sprouts are evenly dressed.
4. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Then, stir the mixture around. Bake for an additional 10 minutes until they are tender and the leaves have browned.
5. Prepare the orange balsamic glaze. This can be done while your brussels sprouts are baking. In a frying pan on medium heat, add the balsamic vinegar, honey, and orange juice. Allow the mixture to cook for about 5 minutes until it looks like it is reduced to about half the amount. It does not look like much but it will be just enough for the shrunken brussels sprouts.
6. Add brussels sprouts to the glaze in the frying pan. Carefully stir together until brussels spouts are lightly coated. 
7. Turn off heat and pour into a separate bowl. Roughly chop or crumble the crispy bacon and use it to top the brussels sprouts. Add a sprinkle of orange zest if desired.
8. Serve, eat, enjoy!

I paired my brussels sprouts with a salmon fillet. I only added lemon pepper to the skin and cooked it in the same frying pan with some EVOO. I've been pan-frying my salmon lately instead of baking it in the oven, mostly because I've been dealing with skinned salmon. I find that by cooking it in the pan, I can get the skin really nice and crispy and it somehow also turns out perfectly moist every time. If I did have a skinless fillet, I would then prefer baking it in a foil packet with herbs, fresh lemon, onion slices, and cherry tomatoes. But that sounds like another recipe for another day..

Sunday, January 20, 2013

sausage and spinach frittata

Sunday brunch is my favorite meal of the week. Because it's Sunday, I will spend a few extra minutes staring into my refrigerator, trying to get inspired.

Eggs are definitely a friend to the Paleo community. It's the one exception to the "no dairy" rule and such a versatile ingredient. Scrambled, fried, hard-boiled, poached.. I'll eat it in any form (except raw because I'm not that hardcore).

I haven't made a frittata in a while. But I whipped up a good one today that was so so incredibly perfect. Yes, I said perfect. And I mean it! Don't be intimidated by the word frittata, we're just dealing with eggs.

Sausage and Spinach Frittata
About 6 servings

8 eggs
1 cup sausage crumbles (about 2 good-sized spicy sausage links, uncased)
1 cup sauteed veggie mixture (about 1 small onion + 1 red bell pepper, diced small)
1 cup uncooked baby spinach
olive oil 

**NOTE: I didn't add any extra seasoning because I used a spicy sausage. Feel free to add some s+p and/or fresh herbs to amp this up!

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Dice onion and red bell pepper and set aside. I prefer a smaller dice, which seems to make for a more balanced frittata. 
3. Prepare sausage crumbles. On the stove top, heat a saute pan on medium to medium high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan. Once the pan is hot, break up the sausage into fairly small pieces and drop into saute pan. Do not stir sausage around constantly. Allow to brown a bit and then flip over to finish cooking. They should be in crumbles but not crumbs-- there's a difference! The more you stir, the more crumbs you will make. When the sausage is cooked, place into a separate bowl. Leave all the sausage grease in the pan.
6. Prepare veggie mixture. Still on medium to medium high heat, add the diced onion and bell pepper to sausage grease. Cook veggies until they soften. The onions will soften a bit more than the red bell pepper. Then turn off the heat and let veggies cool down.
7. Put it all together. In a medium mixing bowl, lightly beat together eggs with a whisk. Add cooled veggie mixture and 3/4 cup of the sausage crumbles to eggs and mix together. Gently stir in spinach.
8. Lightly grease a baking dish with olive oil. Pour entire egg mixture into the dish and spread so mixture is evenly distributed. Scatter reserved 1/4 cup of sausage crumbles to the top of the egg mixture.
9. Bake in preheated oven for about 35 minutes or until fully cooked. If you pat the top of the frittata, the egg should feel like it's springing back.
10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes (or as long as you can wait!) before serving. If your baking dish was well-greased, the frittata will start pulling away from the edges as it cools.

No milk, cream, cheese, bread crumbs, whatever crazy things people add these days.. This frittata doesn't need all that. It maintains such a wonderful, tender consistency because of the low and slow baking. As long as you don't keep opening the oven to check it, it will turn out beautifully.

Friday, January 18, 2013

a week of granola

I am addicted to granola. I will put it on anything and everything, but it's even better on it's own as a snack. The problem is that most granola on the market contains oats/grains, and well that's not Paleo-friendly. Even if you can track down a good granola or trail mix, they always seem overpriced for such a small portion. And all that money for snacking adds up, which just makes me want to buy a $.99 bag of chips.

Well, guess what? Granola is actually so simple to make. I used to make it with oats, but now I just pack it with variety of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit to make it super hearty and delicious. Grain-free, Paleo-friendly, and unprocessed-- there's really no need to buy granola again.

Grain-Free Granola
yields about 7 cups

1 1/2 cups sliced or slivered almonds
1 cup roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds
1 cup roasted, salted pepitas
1 cup roughly chopped/crushed unsalted cashews
3/4 cup chopped unsalted walnuts
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup shredded coconut
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup honey (I used a dry measuring cup)
2 tsp coconut oil, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Put all ingredients into a large bowl. Combine everything together well with a wooden spoon.
3. Dump the mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet and spread out into an even layer.
4. Bake in your preheated oven for about 20 minutes, gently mixing the mixture in between.
5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet.
6. Granola can be stored once cooled.

**NOTES: I couldn't find any pepitas that were roasted AND unsalted. Since I don't add any extra salt to the recipe, it's okay to have one of the nuts/seeds be salted. However, be careful because I find that the "salted" versions tend to be overly salty. I advise buying everything unsalted and add a dash of salt to the mixture if you'd like, so that you can better control the amount of salt.
Seriously, SO easy. One bowl, one spoon, one sheet. That's it. This is a great snack for a group, but I usually try to keep it all for myself. Since it makes about 7 cups, I measure 1 cup of granola into 7 sandwich baggies. Then, I have a snack already prepared for each day of the week! Now, someone please pass me a bowl and unsweetened coconut milk. I'm about to have a cereal break right now.
Enjoy my Grain-Free Granola! Hope you love it!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

apple turnovers

Apples are definitely the best fruit ever.. especially in any baked form.

Whenever I have a craving to bake, I usually make a rustic apple pie and call it a day. It's relatively quick, easy, and it's pretty darn good. However that buttery, flaky crust requires a little bit of nonfat milk (shhh), and milk is not a staple in my Paleo fridge. And thus enter Plan B: apple turnovers.

I may have slipped some phyllo dough into my cart during my Trader Joe's trip yesterday with some fire-roasted red bell peppers and sausage. Clearly, my intention was to make something savory. Shocker.. I went with sweet instead.

Because of the layers of phyllo and butter created by the folding technique, these turnovers are incredibly flaky. Right when you bite into it, they are crisp yet also resemble a sense of lightness. Then, the crunch from the course sparkling sugar. YUM. When you hit the apple, orange zest, and cinnamon filling, something magical happens. If warmth was a flavor, I imagine this is how it would taste-- just the right amount of spice and sweetness. And let's face it, two fruits are always better than one. I don't even know what to say except.. SO GOOD.

Apple Turnovers
Adapted from Big Oven
Yields 18-20

4 medium granny smith apples, peeled and diced (smaller dice is better)
2 tsp orange zest
1/4 c. light brown sugar
1/4 c. white granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp cinnamon
1 lb package of phyllo dough (20 sheets) 
melted butter (lots of it!)
sparkling sugar

1. In a medium saucepan on medium low to medium heat, add apples, orange zest, light brown sugar, white granulated sugar, vanilla, salt, cornstarch, and cinnamon. Cook until mixture thickens, stirring occasionally.
2. Remove saucepan from the heat and set off to the side to cool down.
3. Take phyllo dough out of the package, unroll the stack of sheets, then cover with damp dishtowel. The phyllo dough will dry out quickly, so keep covered with the damp dishtowel when not using.
4. Peel one single sheet of phyllo and place onto a flat surface. Brush the sheet with melted butter.
5. Fold the sheet in half lengthwise. Brush with butter. Fold over once more lengthwise (so you have a long strip of phyllo) and brush again with butter.
6. Place about 1 to 1 1/2 Tbsp of apple filling onto one end of the phyllo.
7. Roll into a triangle shape (like a flag).
8. Brush the outside with more butter and top with some sparkling sugar.
9. Put the turnovers onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.
10. Remove baking sheet from the oven and allow turnovers to cool. Then, eat!

Friday, January 11, 2013

baked crispy kale chips

I don't know why it's taken me so long to make kale chips. Really, though. I came home from my New York vacation vowing to get back to Paleo.

The first thing I did was open my fridge to find a bunch of kale I had bought right before I left. It looked good still, so I decided that I should just use it right away. I knew I wanted to make kale chips, but I have very little experience working with kale. So, obviously I turned to Google to give me some answers.

I stumbled upon a Food Network recipe by Melissa d'Arabian. It looked promising.. 5 star rating, lots of reviews, and look at that.. it has "Crispy" right there in the title. Bingo.

Crispy Kale Chips
Recipe courtesy of Melissa d'Arabian via The Food Network

1 head kale, washed and thoroughly dried
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt, for sprinkling

1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F
2. Remove the ribs from the kale and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces. (Just break up with your hands)
3. Lay onto a baking sheet and toss with olive oil and salt.
4. Bake until crisp, turning the leaves halfway through, about 20 minutes.

After glancing the recipe, I came across a few things: 1) Apparently you only need 3 ingredients-- kale, olive oil, and salt; 2) this is byfar the shortest recipe I've seen on the Food Network site; 3) the estimated 25 minutes for prep time is outrageous.
I'm a nonconformist, so I mostly only use actual measurements when I really can't afford to screw up a meal or when I'm baking (because I get really upset when I waste flour, butter, and sugar). I'm not even sure how much kale I actually had. I just washed, dried, very lightly dressed with olive oil, and sprinkled with a pinch of salt. General rule of thumb-- it's always better to under dress and under season, then add more if necessary. More is never more, people. Once you over do it, there's no going back. So, this is how my kale looked after adding the olive oil and salt:
I set all my kale onto my baking sheet, drizzled a little olive oil, tossed with my hands. The right amount of olive oil is probably what you consider to be not enough. There is no excess olive oil dripping off the leaves and onto the pan. The sprinkling of salt came at the end. I read from the reviews that it can taste very salty. So again, go with less.

As instructed, I popped my baking sheet of kale into a preheated 275 degree F oven and used 20 minutes as a marker (still flipping in between). After the 20 minutes, most of the kale was crispy but I added a few more minutes to give some of the less crispy ones more time. This is what it looked like out of the oven:
You can see the kale shrinks quite a bit. I advise buying a few bunches of kale if you intend on sharing. I'm not sure if the picture does these crispy kale chips any justice. They really do come out crispy and better than I could have imagined. If you are looking for an easy, tasty way to use kale, this is it!!
I had these kale chips with a fried egg, a couple pieces of bacon, and apple slices. Delish.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

chambray glam

Every wardrobe should contain at least one chambray shirt. And mine, I love. It's not like all the other chambray shirts I've seen floating around. This one is soft and absolutely comfortable. Right up my alley. There are a few different color options, but I chose the Grey-Glacier. It's a perfectly muted blue-grey color that can be worn with dark denim without looking awkward (always a plus).

Citizens Leggings || Bandolino Riding Boots || chambray button down 

Bauble of the Day: Beaded Bloom Bib from BaubleBar. You know me, I can't help but glam up my basic chambray shirt a bit. I actually spotted this EXACT same necklace at J. Crew last week for $42 or $44 (something like that). The point of my story is that I got this necklace from BaubleBar for $20. Did I already mention today that I love BaubleBar?

I also put on a couple other simple pieces of jewelry to go with my statement necklace: the Gorjana Kensington Ring and Alphabet Stud Earrings. I went a little Gorjana crazy over the holidays. I just think Gorjana gold is fabulous and the pieces are extremely well made. Over the holidays they had insane sales, so now I finally have a pretty decent Gorjana collection.

All in all, I love chambray, but of course the only way I'll wear it is if I can add a little bit of sparkle.

Friday, January 4, 2013

sticky buns galore

If you are counting calories, do not continue reading. Also, if you don't believe that all things taste better with butter and sugar, then this recipe may disgust you. And, one more thing.. I cannot assure you that this isn't a jump on the diabetic train.

Okay, let's get to the good stuff.

Dare I say, I know how to make me a good sticky bun. My interest in making sticky buns all began a few years ago when I watched an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay featuring Joanne Chang. From that moment on, I knew I could never make cinnamon rolls without a sticky goo.

Years ago when I started this sticky bun mission, I found an A-MAZ-ING brioche dough recipe here. The yield for the original recipe was way too much for me. However, in my attempt to halve the recipe, I realize now I totally don't know how to do math. Duh, 3 teaspoons equals 1 tablespoon. 1 1/2 is half of 3, not 2 1/4. Wow. I don't even know how that happened. I have no excuse for how I messed that up. But you know what? It ended up working out just fine.

So here's how I make my sticky buns:

Sticky Buns Recipe
(yields about 24)

Brioche Dough
(adapted from Artisan Bread in Five)

3/4 cup lukewarm water
2 1/4 tsp granulated yeast (1 packet)
2 1/4 tsp kosher salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1. Mix the yeast, salt, eggs, honey, melted butter, and lukewarm water in a 5 quart bowl (I use a stand mixer with paddle attachment)
2. If using a stand mixer, switch to dough hook and mix in flour. This can also be done with a spoon in a regular bowl. Mix until flour is just incorporated.
3. Cover the bowl (not airtight) and allow to sit at room temperature for about 2 hours.
4. Wrap the dough up with plastic wrap and pop it into the refrigerator to chill. The dough can be used as soon as it's chilled and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

I use a stand mixer now because I've become dependent on that gem. However, when I first made this, I alternatively used the bowl and spoon method. Honestly, go with whichever you prefer. The outcomes are exactly the same, in my opinion.
The key is to not over mix. However, I want to stress that incorporating the flour well is very important.  If there are lumps in the dough, those lumps will harden after it rises and even more after it's chilled. I advise adding the flour a little at a time, but still.. I think lumps are pretty much inevitable without over-working the dough. The upside is, the lumps have no impact on the outcome of the dough after it's baked. I do my best to make sure the dough is as smooth as possible when I roll it out, but I think I'm just personally irritated with the idea of lumpy dough.
I usually make this dough the night before I want to make sticky buns. Because of the time it takes for the dough to rise and chill, doing everything in one day is just too much even for me. So, chilling time is usually overnight for me. When I open the refrigerator in the morning, my wrapped dough looks more like an inflated pillow. Don't be alarmed. That's just the yeast still working. Once you unwrap the dough it looks normal.

Prepping the brioche dough: Once the brioche dough is all set and ready to use. It's time to roll that baby out. You will need lots of all-purpose flour handy to prevent your hand, board, rolling pin-- everything- from sticking. All-purpose flour will be your best friend guaranteed.

You can use the whole batch of dough at once, use only half, a third, whatever floats your boat. I use it all because my friends hate when I don't make nearly enough. I never measure the dimensions of my dough rolled out. But a good rule of thumb is to start from the center and roll outwards. You want to roll the dough into a rectangular shape, about an even 1/4" thickness all the way around. The dough shouldn't be too thin, because it will be more difficult to roll up once the filling is in there.

Cinnamon Roll Filling

1 3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup cinnamon

1. Mix light brown sugar and cinnamon together. Or if you don't want to waste a bowl to mix these in, just dump the light brown sugar and cinnamon straight onto the dough and blend together.
2. Spread all over the rolled out brioche dough, leaving about a 1/2" border around. Although I tend to only leave that border only along the sides where I begin rolling and where my rolling will end. 
3. Additional filling ingredients are optional. I love using some chopped nuts or diced apple. If you do want to add something extra, center it along the length of the roll. Do not spread it all over-- I've done that and the rolls won't be as easy to roll or cut up. 
This is the about the proportion I use to fill the whole batch of brioche dough rolled out in one rectangular sheet. However, more/less of this cinnamon-brown sugar mixture may be needed depending on the surface area of the dough you are place it on.
I use quite a bit of cinnamon with the brown sugar because, as it cooks, they will caramelize quite nicely and that cinnamon sugar will combine with the goo. It's best to use your own judgement.

Rolling the cinnamon rolls:
1. Start from one end (one of the longest ends) and start tucking in the dough.
2. Continue rolling and tucking underneath. The dough should be rolled up as tight as possible. The tighter it's rolled up, the better the filling will stay inside.
3. Once you get to the end, I use a pinching technique-- pull the loose end over to complete the roll and pinch it closed. It should stick. (It sticks better if there is little to no flour on this end.)
4. Now, let this hang out while you get the goo ready.

The Goo

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp whipping cream

1. On medium-high heat, melt the unsalted butter in a saucepan on the stovetop.
2. Stir in the light brown sugar. As this mixture heats, it will bubble. Continue gently stirring for about 2 minutes.
3. Lower the heat to about medium and add the honey and whipping cream. *
4. Stir until consistency (about 1-2 more minutes)
5. Turn of heat and remove saucepan from stove. Add in optional toppings as desired.

**NOTES: I use the whole batch of goo for one baking dish. However, I end up with more sticky buns than will fit in the dish. So, double the batch of the goo or do as I do and make it twice for 2 variations.

Apple Goo: 1 1/2 cups diced granny smith apple
Orange Pecan Goo: 1 tsp orange zest + 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice (*add this at step 3) + 1 cup chopped pecans

Sticky Bun Assembly: 
1. Pour the complete goo mixture into a baking dish.
2. Spread the goo along the bottom of the dish evenly.

3. Cut the cinnamon rolls-- about 3/4". If the dough seems too sticky to cut through, at a little all-purpose flour to your knife. I never have a problem with a super sharp knife though.
4. Then, spread the cinnamon roll slices out onto baking dish, leaving a little room in between each and not pressed up against the sides of the dish. They will rise and poof when baked.
5. With your fingertips, press down on the center of each roll. This will help them them bake at an even level or else the final product will have protruding middles.
6. Pop them into a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 22 minutes or until they begin looking golden brown on top. The cinnamon sugar swirl should look less sugary/coarse and more liquidy and caramelized.

7. Once they are done baking, pull the dish out of the oven and let them cool for 3-5 minutes. When serving, flip the rolls over and spoon extra goo from the dish over each of the rolls so it can drip in between all the crevasses of the swirls.

Apple-Stuffed Sticky Buns with an Apple Goo:

Sticky Buns with an Orange Pecan Goo:

Dive in and eat one right away-- they are the best when they are warm, the goo is still gooey, and the brioche is perfectly tender.

I don't make these sticky buns all the time. I think they are so great, because they are really a treat. I only make them about once or twice a year. These sticky buns are filled with so much sugar and butter, which is why they are so delicious. I strongly believe in indulging, but that's always best (and to me, even more satisfying) in small doses. If you are craving something sweet, this never fails.