Vanilla Bean Cream Puffs (Choux Pastry)

Who doesn’t love a good Cream Puff?! For years I have wanted to make these but again, I thought it was going to be wicked hard. Turns out it is actually really easy. The Choux Pastry was the part that seemed daunting, but I found a few great recipes, and just made a dough using parts of the recipes I found. Trial and error! The first batch fell, but the second and third turned out beautifully. I found that the key to these beautiful puffs was milk! I prefer the texture and taste of the puffs much better than other recipes that don’t call for milk. They also didn’t brown as quickly. Success!

For the cream filling I made a Vanilla Bean whipped cream. It added the perfect amount of flavor to this light and airy delight.These are fun, and easy and you probably deserve to have them right now. I think these are the new bonbons! I would much rather sit around in my unmentionables eating these cream puffs than a box of bonbons. Bonbons are so 1994, in a bad way. Cream puffs are a lovely marriage of light and air pastry perfection and sexy whipped cream, with a dash of ladylike elegance that only the ground vanilla bean can offer. Cream puffs are the new sexy. 😉

So, you will need…

*Makes 30-35 puffs

  • 1/2 C. Whole Milk
  • 1/2 C. Water
  • 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 C. All-Purpose Flour, always unbleached
  • 4 Eggs, room temperature

Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

  • 1 C. Heavy Cream
  • 2 Tbsp Confectioners Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Vanilla Bean

Here was my process…

  1. In a medium saucepan bring the milk, water, butter and salt to a boil.
  2. Once butter is completely melted, remove from heat.
  3. Add flour all at once and stir quickly using a beautiful wooden spoon until blended.
  4. Return the pan to heat and stir rapidly until the dough pulls away from the sides of the sauce pan and forms a ball.
  5. Remove from heat and let cool to 140 degrees, about 4-5 minutes.
  6. In a smaller bowl whisk 1 egg, and add it to the cooled dough. (the dough will separate and get shiny after you add each egg, but keep stirring and it turns back into a nice smooth batter). Stir until blended.
  7. Add the remaining eggs, whisking them one at a time, and adding them one at a time. Stirring each until well incorporated.
  8. Let the dough cool for another 10 minutes or so before putting it in your piping (pastry) bag.
  9. Once cooled, fill your piping bag, and for each puff pipe out 1Tbsp of dough (some will call it paste), about 2 inches apart to allow for spreading.
  10. Bake puffs, one sheet at a time, at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes. Then reduce heat to 375 degrees F and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until golden brown in color.
  11. Remove the puffs from the oven and immediately poke the sides with a toothpick to let the steam escape. Don’t worry, they will not collapse on you!
  12. Return the tray to the oven, turn the oven off ( leaving the door open) and allow the puffs to dry out for 10-15 minutes.
  13. Let cool completely before filling!

For the whipped cream simply combine the heavy cream, confectioners sugar, vanilla and ground vanilla bean in a bowl and beat on medium-high with hand mixer, or stand up mixer until medium peaks form.

Once the puffs are cool, fill your pastry bag with the whipped cream, and gently insert the tip of the bag into the puff and pipe it full of cream. You will feel the puffs get full, and when you see the cream start to show, you know the puff is full!

These are super fun to make and they are also great for any occasion. A wedding, baby shower, birthday, dessert party, pajama party… literally anytime is a good time for a cream puff!

Happy Baking!

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Sweet and Spicy Cornbread

It is just starting to get a little bit warm around here, and so I have been cooking with fresh ingredients and loving every minute of it. I wanted to make some spicy spring chili with cornbread, but it just felt to boring! I love Cornbread and all, but geeze… it is really just a dull, dull bread. That can get very dry and tasteless if done wrong! Of course I am just not one of those people 😉

For Easter, the Easter Bunny (aka my mom!!!, yes, still…) brought me a guacamole basket filled with avocados, limes, tomatillos, Habanero peppers, chili peppers and jalapenos! We could only put so much in the guac, and then I made chicken tacos with some of them… they are damn spicy! So, I figured, why not Pump Up the Volume ( yes, I just went there) and pull a Christian Slater on this cornbread!

Sweet with honey (and love) and spicy with chilis! That would definitely be something to write about.

So, you will need…

  • 1 1/4 C. All-Purpose flour
  • 3/4 C.  Corn Meal
  • 1/4 C. sugar
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 C. Milk
  • 1/4 C. Canola Oil
  • 2 Egg Whites, beaten (NOT WHOLE EGGS)
  • 2 fresh jalapenos diced
  • honey to drizzle over uncooked cornbread before baking, hence the sweet and spicy… just saying!

Here was my process…

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and grease preferred method of baking pan, dish, skillet, etc.
  2. In a  large bowl combine flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix lightly, just until everything is combined.
  3. Add Milk, Canola Oil and beaten egg whites. Mix well.
  4. Add jalapeno, diced, chopped however you like them!
  5. Spoon batter into prepared baking pan.
  6. Drizzle honey over each piece. The honey will sink into the cornbread and create a delicious crust.
  7. Bake for 20-22 minutes!

 

These are best served fresh, and don’t be afraid to add a bit more spice!

Happy Baking!

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

So, I was asked to make cupcakes for a birthday party, and I was very excited to have my first professional assignment.  I wanted to make something that everyone could enjoy, and vanilla seems like the one thing most people can all agree on. There are certainly some out there who don’t like vanilla, but they don’t have to eat my cupcakes now do they! 😉

This is a delicate cupcake that is perfect for any occasion. Paired with a simple icing made of confectioners sugar, milk and cream cheese… it is really just a delightfully simple cupcake.

So, you will need…

*Makes 16 cupcakes

  • 1 C. Granulated Sugar
  • 2 tbsp Vanilla Bean, ground
  • 1 3/4 C. Cake flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 C. Butter, softened
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1/3 C. Sour Cream
  • 1/4 C. Canola Oil
  • 2/3 C. Milk
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla, clear

Frosting

  • 2 C. powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 C.  Milk, more if needed
  • 1/4 C. Cream Cheese

Mix all together using a hand blender. Add more milk if needed.

Here was my process…

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare cupcake pans.
  2. In a  small bowl combine the vanilla bean and sugar, let sit for a while to allow the flavor of the vanilla bean to infuse the sugar.
  3. In a medium bowl mix cake flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  4. Add the vanilla bean sugar to the flour mixture until well combined. You should be able to smell the delicious vanilla!
  5. Add butter and mix until crumbles form.
  6. In a small bowl whisk eggs. Then add sour cream, canola oil and vanilla, mix until smooth.
  7. Add egg mixture to flour mixture until combined.
  8. Slowly add milk until well mixed.
  9. Fill prepared cupcake pans so that each cavity is half full. Believe me they will rise!
  10. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 -17 minutes. Tops will not turn golden brown, so don’t over bake my little bakers!
  11. Cool completely before icing.

So that is all, these are very tasty and great for any occasion.Remember, the tops should be a lovely white gold color, not any darker!

Happy Baking!

 

Chili Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I was in possession of a beautiful bar of dark chili chocolate, and I wanted to make some cookies… so…. I combined the two! Instead of using chocolate chips I simply cut the chocolate bar into chunks and tossed it in my dough when the time was right. I tasted the chocolate and fell in love with the way the chili crept up on me. It is subtle and smooth, the perfect amount of chili! Lindt really mastered this one!

I wasn’t too sure if these cookies would be any good so I made a small batch to test out. These cookies definitely go better with a nice red wine than with the traditional milk, but throw a little ice cream between a few cookies and you are in for a treat!

If you just have chocolate chips you can use a 1/4 tsp of chili powder instead!

So, you will need…

  • 1 1/4 C. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 C. Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 C. Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 C. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 C. Chopped Chili Chocolate

Here was my process…

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, SIFT together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl combine butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and beat with your trusty wooden spoon until smooth.
  4. Add beaten egg and vanilla, beat until well combined.
  5. Slowly incorporate dry ingredients until everything is mixed entirely.
  6. Fold in chili chocolate chunks.
  7. Drop 1 inch balls of dough, 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheet.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  9. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt at when they are fresh out of the oven.

If you are up for something different I say give these a try. They aren’t the everyday cookie which makes them that much more fun!

Happy Baking!

Cinnamon Sugar Bagels

I wanted something kind of different and easy for Easter breakfast, so I thought a play on cinnamon sugar toast would be nice. Maybe classing it up a bit by making bagels…. and they were great. I used my same recipe from before, just added cinnamon and sugar instead of blueberries or herbs. They were so delicious served warm with a little bit of butter on them. They almost tasted like a cinnamon roll with cream cheese! I decided to not do the classic Cinnamon Raisin bagels because I don’t like them, and I feel like they take away from the elegance of the cinnamon sugar bagel. The Cinnamon Sugar bagel is a classy bagel, with poise. It would wear Prada if allowed!

So, you will need…

  • 2 tsp of active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 1 1/4 C.  warm water (add more water if needed)
  • 3 1/2 C.  bread flour (will need extra for kneading)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs Cinnamon
  • 1/4 C. Granulated Sugar

Here was my process…

  1. First I took 1/2 a  cup of the warm water and poured it into a small mixing bowl. Then I added  in the sugar and yeast. Do not stir. I let it sit for 5 minutes,  then I stirred the yeast and sugar mixture until it all dissolved.
  2. In a large bowl, I  mixed the flour and salt. I made a well in the middle of the flour and poured in the yeast and sugar mixture. Then I added half of the remaining warm water into the well. I stirred the ingredients together adding the remaining water as I needed to, and more if necessary. You want the dough to be moist and firm after you have mixed it.
  3. Add Cinnamon and sugar and mix well.
  4. On a floured countertop, I kneaded the dough for exactly 10 minutes until it was smooth and elastic. (Try to work as much flour in as possible while kneading to form a firm and stiff dough).
  5. I  lightly brush a large bowl with olive oil and turned the dough into the bowl making sure to coat the dough with the oil. Then I Covered the bowl with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, The dough should in size. I punched down the dough, and let it rest for another10 minutes.
  6. I divided the dough into 8 pieces, relatively the same size. I rolled them into nice, neat balls of dough. Then I put flour on my very clean finger and poked the ball of dough! I made a hole in the center of each adorable ball , hence the bagels shape. I carefully stretched the hole I had made out to about 1/2 and inch or so, again,it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to taste good.
  7. After shaping the dough rounds and placing them on the cookie sheet, I covered them with a damp kitchen towel and allowed them to rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I preheated my oven to 425 degrees.
  8. For the next step I brought a large pot of water to a boil and immediately reduced the heat. I used a skimmer to lower the bagels into the water. I put 4 in at a time and turned after 2 minutes and boiled for another 2 minutes. This makes for a chewy delicious bagel. If you prefer a less chewy bagel, boil for 1 minute on each side. Then remove from water and place on slightly oiled baking paper on baking sheet.
  9. I baked them for 20-22 minutes, until golden brown.

These are great tasting, and it proves that you can use one recipe a hundred ways. You can have any flavor bagel your little heart desires!

Happy Baking!

 

Double Chocolate Stout Cupcakes w/ Cream Cheese Frosting

Well, I love chocolate and I love beer. I was searching for something fun to bake and I was having bakers block if you will. Then I came across yet another Guinness recipe and I was a little tired of it. Everyone uses Guinness, and I wanted a different edge for my culinary lab. I wanted more chocolate with my beer. Love Guinness, but it just wasn’t going to satisfy my need for chocolate.

So, I found an amazing beer to work with. Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. It is so damn good, I wanted to toss a scoop of vanilla ice cream in it and call it a day. So, I thought this would make a great ingredient for the world’s most amazing cupcake. They turned out moist and rich. The beer flavor carried its way through all the complex flavors for a smooth aftertaste.  Yes world, you are welcome!

This is a great recipe. It was a fun experiment, and I tried a few different ones before I created my own. It is a lot of fun too! There is just something about beer and chocolate combined. It is what I imagine bakers heaven is like… yes, it must be! The Frosting is amazingly light and airy for a cream cheese frosting. Cream does wonders for this recipe!

So, you will need…

  • 1 C. Chocolate Stout (beer)
  • 1 C. Unsalted Butter
  • 3/4 C. Unsweetened Cocoa
  • 2 C. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 3/4 C. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3/8 C. Sour Cream

Frosting

  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese
  • 1 1/4 C. Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 C. Cream

Here was my process…

First preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line cupcake pans with Parchment liners.

Next place stout and butter in a saucepan over medium heat until the butter is completely melted. Once butter is melted, remove from heat and whisk in cocoa until smooth. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl beat together the eggs and sour cream. Then Add the stout mixture to the egg mixture and beat until everything is well incorporated.

Then Pour the wet mixture over the flour mixture int the large bowl. (It helps prevent the flour flying everywhere if the wet mixture is on top of te flour mixture.) Beat or stir by hand until the mixture is smooth. This makes a very heavy and beer fragrant batter.

Spoon the batter into prepared cupcake pans, should make about 2 dozen regular sized cupcakes, and 12 jumbo cupcakes.

For regular cupcakes bake at 350 degrees F for 15-18 minutes, and for Jumbo 20-22 minutes.

While baking you can whip up your frosting. It is super easy! Just take your 8 oz. of cream cheese, softened, and beat it until it is smooth. Then gradually add 1 1/4 C. powdered sugar. and beat until blended. Gradually add 1/2 C. of cream, and beat until it is a fluffy delightful frosting!

Wait until cooled then frost them with this fluffy delicious cream cheese frosting!

Serve and enjoy! They are so good!!!! If you love beer, love chocolate and love awesome treats…. you will love this!

Happy Baking!

Sage Cheddar Cranberry Shortbread

This is a fun spin on another classic that is too often forgotten. Shortbread! I love shortbread and I wanted to do a savory opposed to a sweet. Shortbread is sweet no matter what, so with the right ingredients it can be very delicious. I chose fresh sage, smooth sharp cheddar cheese and fresh local cranberries. You don’t need a lot of cranberries, just a handful is enough!

This is a fun buttery treat and a must try, and you don’t have to use cranberries if you don’t like them! Think about it this way, Sage and Butter are made for one another, cranberries and cheddar pair very well, cheddar and sage are a fancy couple… so why not let the three get together for a soiree?

So, what you will need…

  • 1 1/2 C. All-Purpose
  • 1/2 C. Cake flour
  • 1 C. Powdered Sugar
  • 1 C. Butter ( Room Temperature)
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Water
  • 1/2 C. Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Handful of FRESH Cranberries
  • 1 Tbsp Fresh chopped Sage

Here is my process…

First Position rack in middle of the oven and set to 300 degrees F.

Next SIFT together, and I can not stress the importance of sifting enough, both flours, and salt onto a plate. In a large bowl combine butter and powdered sugar. Mix until smooth and well blended. Then slowly incorporate the dry ingredients until large clumps form.

Toss in a handful of Cranberries, the chopped Sage and the Cheddar and mix until everything is distributed throughout the batter.

Transfer the dough to the center of a baking sheet, or brownie sheet it is a bakers choice! There is no need to grease the pan due to the amount of butter in the shortbread! Spread the dough out evenly.

Bake for 39-42 minutes, mine was good at 40 minutes, but it depends on the oven. Cut immediately, being very careful, and then let cool.

Enjoy this buttery savory  delight!

Happy Baking!

Delicate Cheese Puffs

First of all, I am a huge fan of the popover. I think they are the perfect way to eat bread. But tonight my feelings have changed, just a smidge. These puffs are so similar to a popover in texture but the process is very different. I was intimidated at first but once I started baking it was easy as pie!

The delicate puffs cave in when you pull them apart. The smell is intoxicating and the taste… well, there are only certain foods that can take my voice, and these have done it. Of course, adding a little bit of butter only makes them that much better.

My Process…

I took a cup of water and  1/2 a cup of butter and brought it to a boil. Then I took a cup of flour, a pinch of salt and two tablespoons of chives and shallots (finely minced) and threw all of that into the boiling butter/water mixture. I took the heat down to medium high and then stirred until a ball of dough formed.

Then I tossed the dough into the mixer and beat it for 1 minute until the dough slightly cooled. I beat in four eggs, individually until they were all mixed in. (It is very important to make sure each egg has been completely mixed in before adding the other). I shredded 1/2 a cup of Asiago and Parmesan cheese and mixed it in just until it was well incorporated.

Next I greased two cookie sheets with butter and spooned out 24 balls of dough about an inch apart. (My sizing and spacing leave something to be desired but what can you do?!)

The oven was preheated to 400, and I baked them for 20 minutes. Then I dropped the heat to 350 and baked them for another 20 minutes. it is very important to not exceed 20 minutes for each temperature because they will over dry.

Believe me, these are so simple to make and once you get the ball rolling the time goes by quite quickly! I’m telling you, my apron barely got a workout!

So, what you will need…

1C         water

.5C       butter (1 stick, 8 tbs)

pinch of salt

2 tbs   finely minced chives and scallions

1C       flour of your choice, I prefer to use whole wheat flour with this recipe

4         large eggs

.5C     shredded Asiago and Parmesan cheese

Happy Baking!