Cream Puffs

August 31, 2008 at 3:39 pm | Posted in Daring Bakers | 20 Comments
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My Chocolate Eclairs look like Cream Puffs, I know.  “And where’s the chocolate?”, you may be wondering.   It’s there, in a bowl on the side.

This months Daring Bakers challenge was hands-down my all time favorite.  I LOVED these!  Given the option of how to use the chocolate (in or out) I decided out and on the side.  Yes, I dipped one (or two) in the chocolate glaze.  I ate it (them).

But these didn’t need the chocolate.  They were perfect as is.  Lovely Pate a Choux (cream puff dough).  Vanilla bean pastry cream.  Lightly dusted with powdered sugar.

I began this challenge by making my cream puff dough, pipping it out into small circles and then freezing them.  I also made the chocolate sauce that was to be used in the chocolate glaze.

The next day I used my chocolate sauce to make my chocolate glaze.  I also made my vanilla bean pastry cream.

With everything ready, it was so easy to bake these, fill, and plate.

And they were so good.  I am counting the days until I can make these again.  Until then, I will be sitting here wishing that I had a few left overs.

My thanks to Tony and Meetak for the great Daring Bakers Challenge!

Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream (from The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard)

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 vanilla bean split and scraped
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 large eggs, chilled
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

Bring the milk, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and the vanilla bean and seeds to a simmer in a medium nonreactive saucepan over medium heat.

Meanwhile, sift together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, the flour, and salt.  Whisk the eggs in a large bowl.  Add the sifted dry ingredients to the eggs and whisk until fluffy.

When the milk comes to a simmer, remove from the heat and ladle out 1/2 cup of the hot milk and drizzle it slowly into the eggs while whisking.  Once the 1/2 cup milk is incorporated into the eggs, pour the mixture back into the hot milk, whisking constantly.  Be sure to scrape all the eggs into the pan with a rubber spatula.

Immediately begin to rapidly whisk the pastry cream.  In less than 1 minute, it will boil and begin to thicken.  Continue to whisk for about 3 minutes, or until it has the consistency of pudding.  To test the cream for doneness, tilt the saucepan to one side.  The cream should pull away from the pan completely.

Strain the pastry cream through a fine-mesh strainer.  Add the butter and stir until it is melted and incorporated.  If the cream seems grainy, pulse in a food processor until smooth.  The cream is now ready to use, or it can be cooled to room temp and refrigerated for up to 3 days.  To prevent a skin from forming as it cools, place a sheet of plastic film directly to the surface.

Continue Reading Cream Puffs…

Coconut Cream Pies Gone Bye

August 18, 2008 at 8:06 pm | Posted in Pies | 15 Comments
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When my dad asked for a coconut cream pie, I couldn’t refuse. After days of research, I finally settled on a recipe found on All Recipes (one of my favorite online sources). The original recipe calls for 3 cups of heavy cream, but after reading the reviews I followed the suggestion of 1 1/2 cups half-and-half and 1 1/2 cups coconut milk…it was a hit!

Actually, they were a hit! I decided to try out my new 5″ pie tins found at Sur La Table, (or as I like to think of it, Disneyland for the baker).

My cute little pie crusts (because I cannot resist any dessert in miniature).

Look how darling! There is nothing like diving into your own pie.

Did I mention there is toasted coconut inside and out?

Coconut Cream Pie (from All Recipes)

  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk*
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flaked coconut, toasted and divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Prepared Pie Shell, baked
  • Freshly Whipped Cream

In a medium saucepan, combine half-and-half, coconut milk, eggs, sugar, flour and salt. Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in 3/4 cup of the coconut and the vanilla extract. Pour into pie shell and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for 4 hours of overnight. Top with freshly whipped cream and remaining toasted coconut.

*The first time I tried this recipe I used this coconut milk. No good. The coconut cream was way too thick.

Then I tried this coconut milk. The coconut cream filling was smooth and creamy.

And if you are still reading this post and wondering where I’ve been or what I’ve been up to…here’s a recap…

A trip to Santa Barbara for my sister’s baby shower. She is one of those beautiful pregnant girls that you hate, but then you get to know her and find our she is one of the sweetest people in the world. Check out Angela’s site for more photos, and you’ll know why people (no, not me!) would be jealous.

A trip to Donner Lake for a family vacation. One of our favorite activities is crawdad fishing. Here’s my son actually holding a crawdad!

And now our days of summer are coming to a rapid end…today I saw my office. Yes, that’s right, I said office. I am going back to work. Full time. Beginning Monday, August 25th.

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