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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Shortbread Sandwich Cookies w/ “Fancy” Chocolate Frosting

Shortbread is a very versatile cookie. You start with your basic dough and you can literally add anything edible to it. I’m not so sure how some ingredients would taste, but hey… we live in a world full of possibilities now don’t we?! My friend leaves for 42 days in 4 days so I was trying to make him something from his request list. He wanted shortbread cookies with chocolate “on top”. To me that meant sandwich cookies… haha, I heard what I wanted, leave me alone! 😉

So, I decided to just keep the lovely shortbread simple. Butter is all that I needed to get the flavor I wanted, but a nice chocolate to be sandwiched was in order. I wanted something not too sweet, but sweet enough. I tried a few different combinations of chocolate to powdered sugar to cream, and I found the best one for this cookie. I love sandwich cookies!!!!!!!

So, you will need…

*Makes 30 cookies

  • 1 C. Salted Butter, softened (Adds to the flavor)
  • 2 C. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 C. Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla

Frosting

  • 1/2 C. Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 C. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1/4 C. Heavy Cream
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla
  • add milk if you need a thinner icing/frosting

 

Here was my process…

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare 2 baking sheets, can line with Parchment Paper, but it isn’t necessary
  2. In a small bowl whisk together flour and salt, set aside.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, cream butter using mixer of your choice, and mix until light and fluffy. About 1 minute.
  4. Add powdered sugar and vanilla, beat until smooth. About 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the flour mixture until everything is well combined.
  6. Take dough and flatten it into a disk on a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap it up.
  7. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  8. Unwrap the dough and roll it out onto a slightly floured surface. Rolling the dough to be about 1/4 inch thick.
  9. Using a circular floured cookie cutter, (you can get crazy and use whatever cutter you fancy!!!!), cut out as many cookies as you can.
  10. Place cookies on the cookie sheet then put into icebox (fridge) for 10 minutes. This allows the cookies to maintain their shape during baking.
  11. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes.
  12. Let cool completely before frosting and making the glorious sandwiches!

While the cookies are cooling you can prepare your frosting. Take the powdered sugar, cocoa, vanilla and cream and mix it all together at the same time until you have a smooth consistency. If you need to make the frosting thinner, or it isn’t wet enough add a tsp of milk at a time until you are happy with it!

These cookies might sound boring to you, but they appeal to my 1950’s inner housewife in an undeniable way! Make a batch, wear an apron, drink a martini in the middle of the day, enjoy a shortbread cookie sandwich. 😉

Happy Baking!

 

 

 

 

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!

Apple Butter Oatmeal Cookies

I love to eat, and as I have previously mentioned in this blog, I am also a “Juicer”, which means one or two of my meals each day are juiced! I am like every other woman in the world who just isn’t satisfied with her weight! Anyway, today I am experimenting with a new way to make Oatmeal cookies.  Most of the recipes I have come across in my time call for lots of sugar and lots of butter and that seems like it would cancel the “healthy” right out of them. On the other hand it kills me to look for an alternative to butter because butter is glorious and possibly the best ingredient since Kobe beef, I mean… am I right or am I right?!

I tried to used yogurt and banana instead of butter… and they weren’t “bad” but the cookies seemed more like a muffin than a cookie. I decided that cutting out butter, at least for me and my baking style, isn’t going to give me the results I require for excellent baking! So, I figured that cutting back on the butter and the sugar was good enough for this recipe!

Luckily these are one of my favorite cookies, and they aren’t that bad for you to begin with. So… let us see!

 

So, you will need…

*makes 40 smaller cookies or 18 large cookies

  • 2 1/2 C. Oats
  • 1 C. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbs Butter, softened and unsalted
  • 2 Tbs Canola Oil
  • 1 C. Light Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1 Egg White
  • 1/3 C. Apple Butter, homemade of course
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 3/4 C. Raisins and Chocolate Chips (Combined)

Here was my process…

  1. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl combine oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
  3. In a larger bowl mix butter and canola oil until combines and creamy. Then add brown sugar, mix until everything is well mixed and looking fluffy (using a beautiful wooden spoon of course!)
  4. Add egg white, apple butter, vanilla and raisin+chocolate chips. Mix well.
  5. Combine the dry mixture with the wet mixture, mix until all ingredients are well mixed in.
  6. Use your hands to for cookies. Slightly moisten them with water so that the dough doesn’t stick. Form little 1/4 inch balls for a smaller cookie, or a 1 1/2 inch ball for larger ones. Then flatten each cookie with your damp fingers to get a more elegant look to your fabulous cookies.
  7. Space cookies about 1 to 2 inches apart.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 15- 18 minutes.

And I will say, these are pretty good! You barley notice the lack of white sugar and excess of butter. Give it a try my little bakers and let me know what you think!

Happy Baking!

Drunken Meringue Cookies

So, today being St. Patty’s and all I wanted to add a little color to my dinner party. As much as I love the ever faithful green beer, I thought to myself, “let’s try to class things up a bit”. I figured that my aunt and uncle would appreciate my efforts.

I wanted dessert to be light and fun, especially after a Chicken Pot Pie, and Broccoli Cheese Bites so I made Green Apple Crisp and Drunken Meringue Cookies. They are the classic vanilla flavor but with a touch of Creme de Menthe, and I mean, barely a smidge. A little goes a very long way.  I love the classic taste and texture and it gives the illusion that you had a lot of dessert because they are fairly rich, without being heavy.

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So, you will need…

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/8 tsp of salt
  • 1/8 tsp of Cream of Tartar
  • 1/2 C. fine white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Creme de Menthe

Here was my process…

I set the oven to 225 degrees and lined a baking sheet with foil.

Next I used my hand blender to beat egg whites, salt and cream of tartar until soft peaks formed. Then I slowly added sugar and beat until stiff peaks formed. It is important to not under-beat the mixture!!!

I added the Creme de Menthe at the end then beat mixture for another 2 minutes. I then spooned the mixture into my pastry bag and squeezed most of the air out. I then piped out regular “cookie” sized dollops onto the cookie sheet spacing them about an inch apart. If done right, the cookies should retain their shape until done baking.

Last I baked them for 1 hour and 15 minutes. They should easily peel away from the foil.

Don’t forget bakers, to get a good meringue, beat the hell out of those eggs!

Happy Baking!

Oatmeal Drop Cookies w/ Ghirardelli Chips or Raisins

For the past two days I was attempting a juice cleanse, and it was pretty miserable. After 2 days I packed it in and really wanted to bake something delicious without being terribly unhealthy. My little reward for trying!  Alas, I turned to the ever faithful and tasty oatmeal cookie! (I like to drop them instead of flatten them to keep the oaty texture. I like the way they look and taste so much better.) I mean, I couldn’t go right for the Sinful Brownies after trying to be on a healthy cleanse… could I?

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So, what you will need…

  • 4 1/2 C. Rolled Oats
  • 3/4 C. of Butter
  • 1 1/3 C. Brown Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 5 Tbs Water
  • 1 Tbs Vanilla
  • 1 C. all-purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp of Baking Soda
  • 1 C. Chocolate Chips or Raisins, or both!

Here was my process…

First I preheated the oven to 350 degrees and greased two cookie sheets.

Next I blended the butter and sugar until it was light and fluffy. I beat in the egg, water and vanilla until the mixture was smooth. In a separate bowl I mixed the Oats, flour (sifted), salt and baking soda. Then I slowly added the dry mixture to the creamed mixture, and mixed until all the ingredients were thoroughly combined.I took half of the dough and put semisweet Ghirardelli 60% Cocoa chocolate chips in it, and the other half I added raisins.

Then I dropped spoon fulls of dough onto greased cookie sheets and let back for 18-20 minutes.

These are really tasty cookies and you don’t really feel  guilty eating them. They are still a cookie, but they have a healthier attitude about them!

Happy Baking!