Friends! It is less than three weeks out from the publication date of While We Were Dating! I love this book so so much, and I can’t wait for it to be out in the world. And I’m thrilled that some wonderful authors have agreed to do virtual events with me for my launch week! On July 12th, I’ll be in conversation with Ashley Ford, author of the New York Times bestselling Somebody’s Daughter, and hosted by Barnes and Noble! On July 13th, I’ll be in conversation with Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, the pair otherwise known as the Fug Girls and the authors, most recently, of The Heir Affair (which comes out in paperback that same day!) hosted by Parnassus Books! On July 14th, I’ll get to talk to Leah Johnson, author of You Should See Me in a Crown and the upcoming Rise To the Sun, and we’ll be moderated by Tia Williams, author of the newest Reese’s Book Club pick, Seven Days In June, and hosted by Third Place Books! And finally, on July 16th, I’ll be in conversation with Glory Edim, founder of Well Read Black Girl the organization, and author of Well Read Black Girl the book, and hosted by Books are Magic! To preorder While We Were Dating, you can order through any of those bookstores (and then you’ll get a signed bookplate from me!), you can click on this link, which will give you many options for the retailer of your choice (and tell you more about the book itself!), or you can preorder from my local bookstore, East Bay Booksellers, and I’ll sign (and personalize, if you wish!) your copy. If you’d like it personalized, just make a note in the order comments section on the checkout page! While We Were Dating will be out in hardcover, paperback, ebook and audio, all formats out on July 13th!
Okay so I know that it’s now iced coffee season for many people, but I am a hot coffee year round person, and if you are like me, I am here to recommend the Ember mug to you. It is simple but magical — a rechargeable mug that keeps your hot beverages hot, and it works exactly how it’s supposed to. When you buy it, you charge it, you download the app (which I was annoyed by, but you really only need to use the app one time) and tell it the temperature you want your beverages to be, and then your mug will always keep your coffee (or tea, or whatever other warm drinks you like) warm. I’d been tempted to buy one for months, and finally bought one for myself in March, and I only wish I’d bought it months before. (Well, I also wish I’d been able to buy one of the cool colors, now they have copper and gold and rose gold and silver, mine is boring black). You can order online, but I got mine from Target, so you can check there too!
Okay so last week I was trying to figure out what sweet thing to make for my dad for Father’s Day brunch — I wanted something cinnamon roll like, but with chocolate, because he loves chocolate. And then I thought “what if cinnamon rolls, but with chocolate inside?” I knew I couldn’t be the first person to think of this, so I googled “cinnamon rolls but chocolate” or something like that, and found a recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction for exactly this. But also, I have a cinnamon roll recipe I already love, so I used the dough from the recipe I love, along with a version of the filling and icing from Sally’s, and made some truly delicious chocolate buns. Recipe below!
Oh, but one note on these: I gave you this cinnamon roll recipe a few months ago, but since then I had some issues with the dough rising, and I’ve realized that the 90 minutes for the first rise listed in the recipe is sometimes wayyyy too little time. I don’t know if it’s because I use active dry yeast instead of the instant yeast she calls for (which doesn’t do this to me for other recipes) (I use active dry yeast because I had the incredible foresight to order a pound of it on March 13, 2020, and I’m still working my way through that pound, so I’m not buying more!) or what, but this time when I made the dough, it took over three hours for the first rise, just a warning! This was fine for me, because the second rise is an overnight rise, and I started them early enough in the evening that I could just wait for the dough to double, but it’s something to keep in mind! One other thing that’s been super helpful for me in bread dough making is to have something for the dough to rise in where I know very clearly when it’s doubled — I have an 8 cup plastic pitcher a lot like this one, and I make a note where the dough is when I put it in, so there’s no guesswork. Okay, these are enough headnotes!
Overnight Chocolate Buns with Espresso Icing
16 ounces all purpose flour (3 1/2 cups, 450 g)
3 1/2 ounces sugar (1/2 cup, 100 g)
2 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast (if you use active dry, see my note above!)
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 ounces butter (8 tablespoons; 115 g)
4 ounces milk
8 ounces plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt (about 1 cup; 225 g)
6 tablespoons (90 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup or 100g light brown sugar
3 tablespoons (15g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces of semi sweet chocolate, finely chopped (or 4 ounces of chocolate chips)
3 Tablespoons heavy cream or milk (I used milk, it worked fine)
1 teaspoons espresso powder
1 and 1/2 cups (180 g) powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, and baking soda until it’s all combined. Melt the butter in a medium pan over low heat, then stir in the milk and yogurt, warming to about 80 degrees F. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and stir — the dough will be pretty dry. Then knead with the dough hook on low for about 20 minutes, until you can stretch the dough without tearing — this time it took me about 24 or so minutes, so at around 20 minutes, start doing the windowpane test with the dough.
Put the dough in something where you can easily see if it’s rising, and cover with plastic (I like to use those cheap plastic shower caps for this!). Let the dough rise until it’s puffy and more or less doubled — as I said above, this can be from around 90 minutes to 4 or so hours, depending on your yeast and the heat of your kitchen etc. At around an hour, if it doesn’t look much like the dough is rising, do not despair — this is what happened to me this time, and then it rose beautifully. When it’s nice and puffy, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, dust with flour, and roll the dough into a 10x16 inch rectangle.
Filling: Mix all of the filling ingredients together, except for the chopped chocolate or chocolate chips. You want the butter to be soft, but not melted, so this can be spreadable. Spread the filling mixture evenly all over the rolled out dough, and then sprinkle the chopped chocolate or chocolate chips on top. Roll the dough up tightly so it makes a 16 or so inch log. Cut the log into 12 even rolls, and arrange in either one greased 9x13 inch pan, or two greased 9 inch cake pans.
Second rise: Cover the rolls with aluminum foil, and put in the refrigerator to rise overnight or up to 48 hours. When you’re ready to bake these, take them out of the fridge about an hour before putting them in the oven, and let them warm up a little as the oven preheats. Preheat the oven to 350. When you’re ready to bake, put your pans in the oven (still covered in foil!) and bake for 45 minutes, and then take off the foil and bake for another 15 minutes or so, until they’re all lightly browned. (I went over by about 3 or so minutes at the end this time, because some of my buns in the middle took a little extra time to brown).
Frosting: Make this right when you take the foil off the buns, so it’s all ready for you to frost them as soon as they come out of the oven. Heat your milk or cream until it’s barely simmering (not boiling over, um, like I did). Whisk espresso powder into the warm milk, then whisk this and the vanilla into the powdered sugar, until it’s all combined. (If you don’t have espresso powder on hand, you can just make this without, or use a combination of hot coffee and cream as the liquids). As soon as the buns come out of the oven, frost them evenly, and eat as soon as possible.