Butterscotch Coffee Rounds


Ok, now that we're clear on that, here's the back story. When my parents were first married, long before I was born, they lived in South Georgia while my dad finished his undergrad degree. For awhile, they lived with my great-great-Aunt Gladys, in a wee farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. It was their time living near her that taught my mom to like tomatoes (warm and fresh from the vine), asparagus, and probably a lot of other Georgia produce.

By the time I was born, Aunt Gladys was quite old (she was, remember, my grandmother's aunt), but we would go up to Georgia to visit her every year or so. Whenever we went, she would set me loose in her yard with a pecan picker-- basically a tiny cage on a stick that you could use to pick up the pecans that fell from the trees without bending over. Her home was shrouded with pecan trees that I remember being taller than an office building, and in the fall the ground underneath them would be thick with nuts. I'd gather shoeboxes full of pecans-- paint buckets full!-- and we'd eat them for snacks all year round, give them as Christmas gifts, and bake all kinds of delicious things with them. (One time, in a story I'm not sure we ever told her, my brother and I were so hungry for pecans while my mom was at the store that we couldn't wait for her to come home and tell us where the nut cracker was, so we spent the afternoon on the kitchen linoleum, shattering pecans with my brother's baseball and gathering up the shell remnants to avoid getting caught.)

Ever since then, in the many years I lived in Georgia, I could never drive past a rural general store promising 'papershell' pecans. I've been duped into buying my fair share of (probably imported) mediocre pecans at exorbitant prices, but I've never tasted pecans as good as the ones that grew on Aunt Gladys' trees.

Gladys probably never knew Eleanor well (linked, as they were, only through Gladys' great-nephew and Eleanor's daughter), but I think that based on the number of recipes featuring incredibly Southern ingredients I've found in the box, it's a safe bet that they probably had a fair amount of overlap in their cooking repertoires-- at least when it comes to desserts.

Now, as I mentioned, these breakfast rolls are soaked in butter, studded with pecans, and coated in a sticky brown sugar glaze. Not sold yet? How about this: it's a one-bowl recipe and you don't even have to use a mixer. You can even make these on a weeknight (I did) and still be in bed by the time the sun sets at 11:30pm.

If you have Georgia pecans, they'll be even better, but don't let it stop you if not: these are decadent and heavenly, and so worth making as a reward for your coworkers for making it through another week of madness. There's nothing particularly 'butterscotch' about them, but they pair great with coffee (or tea!) and I can personally vouch that they are just as good the second day as they were the first.

The verdict:

5 spoons out of five. Seriously, make these. They taste as good as cinnamon rolls but they're a fraction of the work. These are definitely a luxury breakfast-- not the kind of thing you eat every day, but that makes them even more special when you do make them. Make these and everyone in your house will be grateful.

The recipe:

Pecan Breakfast Rolls

the directions:

Dissolve yeast in hot water.
Add 1 1/3 c flour, sugar, salt, soda, sour cream, and egg.
Mix thoroughly until fairly smooth, but do not overmix.
Stir in remaining flour, mixing until smooth and scraping sides of bowl frequently.
Melt 1/8 c of butter in each of two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans.
Sprinkle brown sugar and pecans evenly over melted butter in each cake pan.
Drop batter in tablespoons evenly over mixture in pans.
Let rise in a warm place for 50 minutes (batter will not rise much).
Preheat oven to 176C/350F.
Bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown.
Immediately invert pans onto serving plates then let pans remain a minute so butter drizzles over coffee cakes.
Serve warm, if possible.

Yields 12 rolls.

the ingredients:

1 pkg yeast
¼ c tap water, very hot
2 1/3 c flour, divided
1/3 c sugar
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
1 c sour cream
1 egg
¼ c butter, divided
¼ c brown sugar, packed & divided
¼ c pecan halves, divided