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…

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Almond Cake

July 30, 2008 at 12:27 am | Posted in Daring Bakers | 21 Comments
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I didn’t know what to title this Daring Bakers Challenge…Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream? What the heck is that? Oh, it’s one of those cakes. A genoise cake with syrup, buttercream, whipped cream, a glaze and ganache. Ugggg.

Thank goodness for Gretchen. She talked me down off the wall and I got to work. She helped me decide on an almond genoise (cake) brushed with an almond syrup, layered with almond buttercream, whipped cream, topped with an apricot glaze (I know, sounds wierd), covered by a chocolate ganache.

Whew! Did you get all that? If you are still having trouble picturing this cake, maybe this will help…

Or this…

How about this…

What you are looking at is an Almond Gateau with Almond Buttercream. It was…just okay. I had a slice. My hubby had a slice. That was it. Gretchen encouraged me to give it away, but why? It’s just not me. It’s not my kind of cake.

But, I’m glad I made this cake. I finally feel comfortable with genoise. I got a great rise out of this one. And this buttercream was okay. Probably the one I would prefer to make again if I had to.

I’m sure of the thousands of Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercreams, you will find many many more beautiful and great tasting cakes.

Daring Bakers Danish Braids

June 29, 2008 at 12:28 pm | Posted in breakfast, Daring Bakers, Dessert | 34 Comments
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I’m back home after a week long training in Sacramento and I just pulled my Danish Braids out of the oven, whew!

I’ll post prettier photos, the recipes and reviews later. For now, here’s what I’ve got sitting on my counter.

One Danish Braid filled with an apple filling:

One Danish Braid filled with a cream cheese filling and chocolate chips:

Be sure to check back later. And check out all of the other Daring Baker‘s Danish Braids…yum!

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Okay, it’s later…first of all, my family loved these! What a way to start a Sunday morning! My thanks to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What’s Cookin’? for hosting such a fun challenge.

After doing this recipe, I learned that you have to allow time for the dough to rise. For me, it was late and I was tired. I gave my dough just one hour to rise. As you can see by my photos I didn’t get the great rise that others did. That being said, when pressed for time, it can work. I will try these again. And am trying a cream cheese with blackberry topping next.

Also, next time I will make the dough a day ahead. Then do my fillings, braiding, and final proof on my baking day. It will be much easier and I won’t be rushed for time.

My daughter and I agree that the apple filling braid was the best. The filling was the perfect compliment to the dough. Oh and the dough, the orange and vanilla bean were perfect and made this a tasty treat. I saved my $10 and skipped the cardamon spice…didn’t miss it at all.

My hubby and son agreed that the cream cheese with chocolate chip filling was the best braid. For the cream cheese filling I consulted The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard (yes, the book the danish braid recipe hails) and found her recipe for Cream Cheese Filling.

Here’s a look at some of those chocolate chips sprinkled on the cream cheese filling, yes I could have used more…live and learn.

Cream Cheese Filling

The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard

  • 3/4 pound cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream together until smooth. Spoon onto the danish and bake.

The Daring Bakers recipes…

Continue Reading Daring Bakers Danish Braids…

not a fan of the opera

May 28, 2008 at 8:30 pm | Posted in Daring Bakers, Dessert | 17 Comments
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I’m not a fan of the opera, but I love musicals.  Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Rent, Miss Saigon, My Fair Lady, Lion King, Beach Blanket Babylon…but the opera, I have no desire.

And maybe this was my problem when the Daring Bakers announced this month’s recipe, an Opera Cake.  The restrictions were no coffee or chocolate.  What, no coffee or chocolate in an Opera Cake?  That’s like an opera with no singing!  Or, at the very least, very bad singing.

So I dutifully made my opera cake with almond cake, vanilla bean butter cream, a caramel mousse and a caramel glaze.  Sure, the cake tasted alright.  But the cake didn’t rise.  Nope, not  one bit.  So my opera cake fell flat, literally.

There are, however, some amazing cakes out there.  So be sure to check out the other Opera Cakes.  Some, like my friend’s Passionfruit Opera Cake, require a curtain call.

Lemon Meringue Pie Tartlets

January 28, 2008 at 11:39 pm | Posted in Daring Bakers | 31 Comments
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My thanks to Jen, The Canadian Baker for hosting this month’s challenge, Lemon Meringue Pie. I love love love Lemon Meringue Pie. Unfortunately I’ve yet to find a recipe that didn’t turn runny…until now.

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I decided to use my mini-muffin tin and turn the one big pie into lots of little Lemon Meringue Tartlets. The crust was easy to make and reminded me of shortbread, sweet and buttery. For the filling I used meyer lemons, fabulous! It tasted bright, sunny, and smooth (would be great spooned over one of Rebecca’s scones). For the meringue, I used a pastry bag and piped the meringue over the top, making sure to completely cover the filling.

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Make sure you check out all of the Lemon Meringue Pies and Tartlets on The Daring Baker’s Blogroll.

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Lemon Meringue Pie

Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

For the Crust:

  • ¾ cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
  • 2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt
  • cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:

  • 2 cups (475 mL) water
  • 1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (120 mL) cornstarch
  • 5 egg yolks, beaten
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) butter
  • ¾ cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

For the Meringue:

  • 5 egg whites, room temperature
  • ½ tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
  • ¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt
  • ½ tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

For the Crust: Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of ⅛ inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about ½ inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

For the Filling: Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated.

Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

For the Meringue: Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.

Pie recipe courtesy of Wanda’s Pie in the Sky by Wanda Beaver, 2002

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