By Carol Dzadony-Mancini
Ah, the teenage years – a time of growth, exploration and discovery. For many of us, our teenage years are filled with memories of a simpler time.
There are certain things that immediately take me back to my teenage years.
Go ahead, close your eyes. Using all your senses, what can you remember that would transport you back and evoke memories of a time when life was simpler and more carefree?
• The scent of a freshly opened pack of gum.
• The cologne or perfume of a crush.
• The rickety sound of the Jack Rabbit as it comes around the bend at Kennywood.
• The nachos from Fox's – the impeccably aligned nacho chips, all standing up at attention in the Styrofoam white carton waiting for nacho cheese to soften them and crumbled sausage to give it an extra bite (if you know where it is, you know what I mean.)
• The clicks of the Big Six Wheel at the West Park Firemen's Fair. My hefty quarter bet. C'mon trip sixes. "Ace, Deuce and a Trey."
• The complicated albeit peculiar aroma of Neville Roller Drome.
• Ten cent Buffalo wings at Pine Hollow Inn after high school play practice.
• The smell of Mancini's bread baking as we walked around the neighborhood after football games. Once we started driving, we'd stop, and each get a "stick" and eat them in the car as we cruised. Then we'd have to vacuum out the car before our parents saw the crumbs so they wouldn't be angry.
For me, I close my eyes and my senior year of high school comes rushing back.
Eat’n Park's grilled stickies, a la mode, after an evening of New Wave dancing at Swizzle's on McKnight Road and hearing Depeche Mode's 1987 album, Music for the Masses.
Strangelove was on a loop – literally and figuratively – as we had to rewind the cassette tape in the car in order to listen to it again. And again. And again.
Turn it up, Judy! Loud! Louder!
For those of you who don't know, Eat'n Park is a restaurant chain based in Pittsburgh, known for its signature Grilled Stickies dessert.
Grilled Stickies are a warm, gooey cinnamon bun baked, then cooked on the grill, creating a slightly crisp exterior while keeping the inside soft and fluffy. It is served with a generous amount of buttery caramel sauce that drips down the sides of the bun and makes it even more delicious. Add a scoop of vanilla a la (Depeche) mode for an extra layer of deliciousness.
The recipe for the Grilled Stickies has been a closely guarded secret since it was first introduced in the 1970s. However, the restaurant has shared that the dough is made with a blend of cinnamon, sugar, and yeast, and is allowed to rise twice and baked before being grilled.
The grilled sticky bun has become a beloved menu item at Eat'n Park and is often ordered as a dessert or a breakfast item. It has also gained a cult following among Pittsburghers and visitors to the area, who often make a special trip to Eat'n Park just to try this delicious treat.
Sadly, Eat’n Park grilled sticky buns will no longer be available on their menus.
According to local news source, WTAE:
"The popular treats are currently unavailable, following the closure of a bakery partner, Eat'n Park Restaurants confirmed.”
"Eat'n Park's longtime bakery partner, who produced the custom ingredients necessary to make our famous Grilled Stickies recipe, has recently closed. This forced us to put a pause on this beloved classic," spokesperson Courtney Caprara said in a statement. "With a legacy item like our Stickies, we are being very intentional with our evaluation of replacement options. In the meantime, we are proud to offer our guests other desserts to celebrate all their special occasions, including sundaes and our freshly baked pies."
Ironically enough, Depeche Mode released its 16th studio album, “Memento Mori” on March 24, 2023.
I've been flung back in time reminiscing with my lifelong friend about their music. What was our favorite? What inspires us? What moves us? Why are we so old?
It's still “Strangelove,” “Enjoy the Silence,” and “Ghost Again.”
Even more ironic, “Memento Mori” is Latin meaning "remember that you (have to) die."
Time is fleeting my friends as Depeche Mode realizes after the loss of bandmate Andy Fletcher last year. Now in their 60s they are taking the proverbial bull by the horns and embarking on living life, the new album drop will be accompanied by a global tour 'remembering that we have to die.'
Farewell Eat’n Park Grilled Stickies a la (Depeche) Mode!
So, do yourself a favor, eat the grilled stickies while you can with this delicious recipe below.
Put on your favorite music; turn it up loud. Louder. Sing and dance like no one's watching!
And enjoy remembering fond memories and great times and even better, invaluable lifelong friends.
Cooking Class with Carol
Things to consider
Sticky buns are the upside-down cousin of the cinnamon roll. The only difference is the glaze you spread at the bottom of the pan before baking. Otherwise, it's the same. If you have a great recipe for cinnamon buns, use it!
Sticky buns contain nuts (usually pecans) while cinnamon rolls traditionally don't. Sticky buns are baked in a pan with nuts and sweeteners on the bottom. They're flipped after baking, so the gooey bottom becomes the topping.
The nuts and the sugar topping make the sticky buns a little denser.
Eat'n Park grilled stickies did not have nuts on them, so I will be leaving those out of the recipe. You could, however, include them in the bottom glaze for your recipe.
It's important to note that when you are combining the ingredients with the yeast, that the salt does not contact the yeast until it is going to be incorporated. If the salt comes in contact with the yeast for a long period of time prior to blooming, it induces osmotic stress in the yeast cells. This leads to the yeast’s cell structure breaking down, effectively killing the yeast.
Using a non-stick pan to grill the sticky buns is important. All the ooey gooey goodness is sugar based and will stick to the pan, therefore, destroying the grilled outside of the bun.
Carol's take on 'Grilled Stickies'
3 1/2 cups flour
1 package yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons softened butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
cinnamon to taste, approx. 1 teaspoon
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
What to do:
1. Heat milk and add butter. Stir until melted and let cool until you can put your finger into it. In a small bowl stir 1 cup of flour with yeast, 1/4 cup of sugar and salt. Stir in milk and add an egg.
2. Incorporate well by hand so not to overprocess the yeast. Put in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, and add the rest of your flour a half cup at a time while mixing. The dough should be soft but pull together.
3. Knead the dough in the machine and then turn it out and knead it by hand. It should be very soft but hold its shape. Let it rise to double in a cool place. Maybe 2-3 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Punch down. Roll out the dough into roughly 15 x 12 inches.
4. Spread butter/sugar mixture known as "filling." It should be a thin layer across the entire dough. Roll up and cup into 12 pieces about 1 to 1-1/2 inches.
5. Melt butter in a small pan and add sugar until it dissolves. Microwave for 30-second increments until the butter is melted.
6. In a glass or ceramic baking dish, pour a thin layer into the baking dish. Put your rolls on top. Drizzle the top with glaze. You may have some left over.
7. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Let the rolls rise until a finger pressed on the dough leaves an impression. Loosely cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for five to 10 minutes more.
8. Before serving, heat up a nonstick pan and melt a dab of butter in, put the stickies on top and grill until they are lightly caramelized. Serve with a spoonful of your favorite ice cream.