Gooey Turtle Brownie Sticky Buns

Gooey Turtle Brownie Sticky Buns
Gooey Turtle Brownie Sticky Buns

Gooey Turtle Brownie Sticky Buns

Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking with filling adapted from these brownies
Yield: 12 buns plus dough for more

This recipe makes twice as much yeast dough as you need (I don’t recommend halving yeast recipes). Roll and fill half of the yeast dough to make these buns and then use the other half to make another kind! Need inspiration? Try these or these or these or these or these or these! Alternatively, you could use the extra dough to make a second batch of these buns and freeze it for later. To freeze some of the unbaked rolls, just wrap them well before the second rise and freeze them. Once frozen, pop them out of the pan all together and store in the freezer, wrapped in plastic wrap and in a zip top bag or wrapped in foil. When you want to bake them, stick them back in a greased pan, thaw them in the fridge overnight, proof for the instructed amount of time, and bake like usual.

Bun Ingredients:
1/4 cup warm water (100-110 degrees F)
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 cups milk minus 2 tablespoons, room temperature
5 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup cold shortening (I use butter flavored Crisco)
2 tablespoons butter, melted, for after baking

Half-Batch Filling Ingredients:
(or try your own favorite brownie batter scaled for a 9 x 13-inch pan, provided it’s a pretty thick batter)
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
bittersweet chocolate chips
caramel sauce
1 cup toasted pecans*

Glaze Ingredients:
melted chocolate chips
caramel sauce
toasted pecans

*To toast pecans: spread pecans on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for around 6-7 minutes, tossing occasionally, until fragrant. Chop while still warm.

Mix the warm water and yeast in a medium bowl and let the yeast foam for about 10 minutes. Put 2 tablespoons white vinegar in a measuring cup and then add milk up to the 2 cup line. Set this aside. In a separate large bowl (or the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook), whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder and cut the shortening into the mixture with two knives or a pastry cutter until the shortening looks like small peas. Stir yeast mixture and milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well, kneading just a few turns. Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly sprayed with cooking spray, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and store in refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, in a medium bowl, mix melted butter and cocoa powder until cocoa is dissolved. Mix in the sugar and then mix in the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each until just combined. Stir in the vanilla, flour, and salt, mixing until just combined (don’t over mix). Set the batter aside while you roll out your dough. Don’t stick it in the fridge like I did, because it hardens. Oops.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and lightly spray a baking dish (I use an oval dish that’s smaller than a 9 x 13-inch, but just use whatever will fit about 12 buns close together) with cooking spray. Turn half of the chilled dough out onto a floured surface and roll it into a large rectangle about 1/8-inch thick. Spread the brownie batter gently and evenly all over the dough and sprinkle on chocolate chips and toasted pecans. Drizzle on caramel sauce. Gently roll the dough up into a spiral and cut it into rolls, placing them close together in your prepared baking dish (at this point, you could wrap and freeze the rolls for later if you wanted).

Cover the rolls with a clean dish cloth and let them rise in a warm spot (I set them on my oven’s heat vent) until they’ve nearly doubled, about 2 hours. Bake them for about 15-20 minutes or until browned on top (if you take them out at just lightly golden brown, they may still be doughy in the center). Brush with 2 tablespoons melted butter and return to the oven for 1 more minute. Drizzle rolls with chocolate and caramel sauce. Sprinkle on toasted pecans. Serve immediately.

The Ultimate Gooey Caramel Brownie Mug Cake Sundae

The Ultimate Gooey Caramel Brownie Mug Cake Sundae
The Ultimate Gooey Caramel Brownie Mug Cake Sundae

5 from 1 reviews
The Ultimate Gooey Caramel Brownie Mug Cake Sundae
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
I took an already-great mug cake from one of my faves, America’s Test Kitchen, and pumped it up! I added some espresso to deepen the chocolate flavor and a slew of my favorite toppings from my pantry to create a dessert as decadent as one it takes hours to make. Throw this together at home when you want a special dessert but don’t want to get out of your jammies! I used a big espresso mug for this cake, but you can use any regular size coffee mug that’s microwave safe. Different microwaves may require different cooking times, but your finished cake should look set up but very moist.
Serves: 1
Cake Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate chips (half bittersweet and half semisweet)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 square of your favorite dark chocolate bar
Topping Ingredients:
  • 3 Werther’s Original® Baking Caramels
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • melted chocolate chips
  • vanilla bean ice cream or gelato
  • crushed toasted nuts
  • crushed cookie
  • whipped cream
  1. Place butter and chocolate chips in a coffee mug and heat on half power for 15 second intervals, stirring between each interval, until melted (about 45 seconds total). In a separate small bowl or ramekin, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate small bowl or ramekin, whisk together the egg, vanilla extract, and espresso powder. When the chocolate is melted in your mug, stir in sugar and cocoa powder. Stir in the egg mixture. Stir in the flour mixture. Stir well to eliminate lumps.
  2. Microwave the mug on half power for 30 seconds (I set mine on a plate just in case there’s spillover). Stir. Microwave on half power for 35 seconds (the cake will rise over the top of your mug like a giant soufflé, but stay calm.) Press the square of chocolate bar down into the center of the cake (I broke mine into two pieces), being careful not to burn your fingers. Microwave on half power for 40 seconds. Let the cake cool in the mug for 2 minutes while you prepare your toppings.
  3. Melt the chocolate chips by heating on half power for 20 second intervals, stirring between each, until melty. Melt the Werther’s Original® Baking Caramels by placing them in a small bowl with the milk. Heat on 30 second intervals, stirring carefully between each, until melty. Top your mug cake with a big scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, crushed toasted pecans, a crushed cookie (I used a Biscoff cookie), and the kitchen sink. Just kidding about the sink. Enjoy!


Brown Butter Pecan Gooey Butter Cake with Spiked Whipped Cream

Brown Butter Pecan Gooey Butter Cake with Spiked Whipped Cream
Brown Butter Pecan Gooey Butter Cake with Spiked Whipped Cream

Brown Butter Pecan Gooey Butter Cake with Spiked Whipped Cream

Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking
Yield: 6 servings

This delicious cake has everything delightful in it: nutty brown butter, bloomed cinnamon and cloves, toasted pecans, a simple caramel sauce, and spiked whipped cream! It’s perfect for a holiday table, but easy enough for an anytime dessert.

Crust Ingredients:
1 cup cake flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/3 cup cold butter

Filling Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup toasted pecans*
icing sugar

Topping Ingredients:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons dark rum (optional)
20 Werther’s Original® Baking Caramels
2 tablespoons whole milk

*NOTE: To toast pecans, spread them on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for around 6-7 minutes, tossing occasionally, until fragrant. Chop while still warm.

NOTE 2: If you don’t have a skillet, I believe you can bake this in a greased 9-inch square baking dish (I’d use a glass one if you have it, and check it early and often. Remove when there’s some jiggle left.) Let us know how it goes if you try it this way for all the other skilletless people!

Make the brown butter: Cut the 1 cup butter into 1-tablespoon cubes. Place it into a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat and brown the butter, whisking often. The butter will melt, foam, and then begin to brown, and the whisking is important so that it browns evenly. Whisk in cinnamon and cloves. Pour your brown butter into a shallow, wide dish to cool for a bit before sticking it in the freezer to set up. After it’s set up, set it back out at room temperature to soften for use.

Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together cake flour and sugar in a medium bowl. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter or two knives until the mixture resembles fine crumbs and starts to cling together (I often use my food processor for this step, pulsing the cold fat into the flour). Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 10-inch cast iron skillet using a flat glass or the back of a spoon.

Make the filling: Cream together the softened brown butter and white and brown sugars until fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Mix in the egg until just combined. Alternate adding the flour and evaporated milk, mixing after each addition. Mix in the corn syrup and vanilla. Stir in the toasted pecans. Pour the filling into the crust and sprinkle the top with icing sugar.

Bake and assemble the cake: Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until cake is nearly set (mine was probably ready around 30). Some jiggle is fine — do not overcook! It’ll finish setting up as it cools. Let it cool in pan for 2 hours. Whip the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and rum to stiff peaks. Melt the caramels and milk together in a microwave safe bowl for 2 minutes, stirring often but carefully, until the hot caramel sauce is ready. Pour caramel sauce over cooled cake and top with a giant mound of spiked whipped cream. Serve from the skillet with a few forks or on plates, if you like things a little more formal.

Baked Caramel Apple Cheesecake Dumplings

Baked Caramel Apple Cheesecake Dumplings
Baked Caramel Apple Cheesecake Dumplings

Baked Caramel Apple Cheesecake Dumplings

Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking, adapted from Brown Eyed Baker and Taste of Home
Yield: 4 servings

Baked Apple Dumplings with a cinnamon cheesecake center. These are a heavenly fall dessert!

Pastry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup lard or vegetable shortening, chilled
1/4 cup butter, chilled and cut into cubes
3 tablespoons ice water

Apple Ingredients:
4 medium apples, peeled
2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Cheesecake Ingredients:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 egg

Sauce Ingredients:
3/4 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter, cubed
pinch salt
Werther’s Original® Baking Caramels, melted
toasted pecans*

*Note: To toast pecans, spread them out on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for about 6 minutes or until fragrant, tossing several times.

Make the pastry: Pulse the flour and salt together in the bowl of a food processor to combine. Add the lard in hunks and pulse for about 10 seconds until it’s the texture of coarse sand. Add in the chunks of cold butter and pulse for about 10 pulses until butter pieces are no larger than small peas. Add 3 tablespoons of ice cold water and turn food processor on low — the dough should form a dough ball in a few seconds. If the dough remains crumbly and doesn’t come together, add another tablespoon of water. Add as little water total as is required for the dough to form a ball. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions on sheets of plastic wrap, form each into a disk, and chill for at least 20-30 minutes while completing the rest of the recipe.

Make the cheesecake: In a medium bowl, mix the cheesecake filling ingredients together. Scrape the filling into a ziplock bag and chill while you complete the rest of the recipe.

Prepare the apples: Core each of your peeled apples, taking out a core of about 1 to 1 1/2-inch diameter so you have space for your cheesecake filling. Mix together the 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon to form a cinnamon-sugar mixture and roll each apple in the mixture. Reserve any leftover cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Assemble: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Roll out each portion of the pie pastry on a lightly floured surface to a rough 7-inch square. Place an apple on the center of each. Cut off the corner of the ziplock bag of cheesecake filling and pipe filling into the center of each apple. Then pull up the corners of the pie pastry and tuck each corner into the center of the apple, pinching the dough together to seal. Place the apples into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Make the sauce: Heat the brown sugar, water, and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until it boils, stirring occasionally. Pour the sauce over the apples and bake them, basting occasionally, for 50 to 55 minutes or until tender and golden brown. If the cheesecake seems to be getting too dark on top, cover it with a snippet of foil. Serve warm with vanilla bean ice cream, a drizzle of melted Werther’s caramel, and toasted pecans.

Gooey Carmelitas

Gooey Carmelitas

Recipe by: Adapted from Our Best Bites
Yield: 20 carmelitas

These are gooey, chocolatey, caramelly, and amazing! They’re quick and simple to make, and served warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, they’re to die for.

1 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (or you can use all light)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
1 Ghirardelli dark chocolate bar (I used 86%)
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans (optional)
store-bought caramel sauce, warmed according to package directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with parchment paper, leaving an overhang that will help you to pull the bars out later. Spray the paper a little with cooking spray.

Beat butter in a large mixing bowl until fluffy. Add brown sugars and cream until fluffy, 2-3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat in eggs, vanilla extract, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour slowly, mixing until just combined, and then stir in the oats. Press about 2/3 of the dough into your prepared pan, covering the bottom. Sprinkle chocolate chips, pieces of the chocolate bar, and nuts (if using) over the top. Pour caramel sauce over top just until the bars are all nice and drizzles (you probably won’t use the whole jar).

Take pinches of the rest of your oat mixture and flatten them into “shingles” in your hands, laying them over top of your chocolate and caramel filling until it’s roughly covered. Bake the bars for 22-25 minutes or until top is light brown. Don’t overbake them. Let the bars cool in the dish until they are room temperature. Lift them out and onto a cutting board and slice (I like to drizzle them with melted chocolate at this point). You can store them in an airtight container until you’re ready to serve them — and at that point, I recommend heating them up and adding a big scoop of vanilla bean ice cream!

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