This creation was a lot of fun to put together! It is a little extra work because you have to make the pastry cream, the pastry dough, the Choux dough, whipped cream AND caramel. And you have to assemble it! But if you have the time and you want to impress some people, it turns out delicious and everyone thinks you are amazing! You could actually make the pastry cream and the pastry dough ahead of time and chill them until you are ready to start. Just make sure you take out the pastry dough about a half hour before you start so it is workable. Otherwise, you probably need about 2.5-3 hours total from start to end (and then about an hour to chill before serving). And if you don’t feel like going crazy and making the whole thing, just make the cream puffs and fill them with pastry cream!
From Good Housekeepings Best Loved Desserts – will serve about 16 people and maybe leave you with a few cream puffs left over! All the recipes for the individual parts are listed below and this is just the assembly part of the recipe! Have fun making this creation! It really is kind of fun! There are pictures following the assembly instructions (I thought I would have the words easier to follow without pics interrupting!)
- Start by making the pastry cream and put it in the fridge to chill.
- Make the pastry dough. On a lightly floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12-inch circle. Trim the edges to make it circular and ‘clean edged’ and then transfer the dough to a parchment lined baking sheet. Prick the pastry all over with a fork and then place the whole thing in the fridge to chill.
- Preheat your oven to 400ºF. Prepare a second baking sheet with parchment paper (or grease it)
- Make the Choux Pastry. Fill a pastry/piping bag (fitted with a 1/2 inch round tip – #1 in the Wilton line) with the batter. Pipe the batter around the edge of the pastry dough circle. Then pipe about 16 “puff’s” or mounds (1 1/2 inch wide and 1 inch high) on the prepared baking sheet. Dip your fingertip into water and then smooth out any peaks in the puffs.
- Bake the pastry circle about 25 minutes and the puffs 35-40 minutes. Everything should end up a nice golden colour. If your oven has hot spots, rotate the two sheets between the upper and lower racks after 20 minutes. Transfer the puffs to wire rack to cool. Leave the pastry circle on the sheet to cool.
- Beat your whipped cream. Fold about half of the pastry cream into the whipped cream and refrigerate.
- Spoon the remaining half of the pastry cream into a large pastry bag with a 1/4 inch tip or a “filling” tip (#230 from Wilton). When the cream puffs are cool (this doesn’t actually take that long). Insert the tip into the side of each puff and fill with pastry cream. I tried to get as much as I could into each one! If you have some cream left over, just add it to the pastry cream/whipped cream mixture.
- Make the caramel – be prepared to work quickly once it is ready!
- Dip the bottom of each puff into the caramel and attach to the ‘puff’ rim around the edge of the pastry. Place as close to the outside edge as possible and put the puffs as close together as you can. Drizzle more of the caramel over the top of the puffs.
- Spread the pastry cream/whipped cream mixture evenly in the centre of the circle. Drizzle a little more caramel over the top. Don’t be like me: DO NOT put any leftover cream puffs in the centre. It makes it SO awkward to cut. Just eat them and enjoy!
- Refrigerate minimum 1 hour before serving. I put mine in the fridge overnight but that wasn’t the best – the caramel lost its ‘crunch’ and just sort of melted into the pastry cream. You definitely can make it a day ahead, but just don’t put any caramel over the cream, and be prepared that it won’t be quite as good. It is better to make this in the afternoon for an evening event.
Vanilla Pastry Cream
- 2 1/4 cup milk
- 4 egg yolks
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 Tb vanilla
- In a large saucepan, heat 2 cups of milk over medium heat until bubbles form around the edge. While it is heating, beat egg yolks, sugar and last 1/4 cup of milk together. Whisk in cornstarch and flour.
- When the milk is hot, slowly whisk it into the egg yolk mixture.
- Return to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture has thickened and boils. Reduce heat to low and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour into a shallow dish and press plastic wrap to the surface of the pastry cream to prevent skin from forming. Refrigerate.
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup + 2 Tb cold butter
- 3-4 Tb ice water
- Whisk together flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Sprinkle ice water over (1 Tb at a time) and mix lightly with the blender or a fork. Just add enough water that the mixture holds together.
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup flour
- 4 eggs
- In a medium saucepan, heat the butter, water and salt over medium heat until the butter has melted and the mixture boils. Remove from heat.
- Add the flour all at once and with a wooden spoon, vigorously stir until the mixture leaves the side of the pan and forms a nice ball.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each one until smooth and satiny.
- 1 cup whipping cream
- In a mixer or using a hand beater, beat on high until stiff peaks form.
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 Tb water
- In a small saucepan, heat sugar and water to boiling over medium-high heat. Boil until the mixture turns amber in colour then IMMEDIATELY pour the hot caramel into a small bowl to stop it from cooking.
Why is it that everything that is made with yam is actually called sweet potato? Sweet potato fries, sweet potato loaf, sweet potato salad etc. I think it is partly because it just sounds more appealing than yam. Yam sort of sounds like yak – not so appealing. Sweet potato sounds sweet – way more appealing. In reality, yams are the better tasting and the sweeter of the two.
WAIT! I just learned something. Both are actually sweet potatoes! I was going to say that yams are sweeter, moister and more orange while sweet potatoes are less sweet, dryer and more yellow. However, I just learned that what I think of as yams and what are generally sold as yams are in fact just a different variety of sweet potato! True yams are not even related and have a very dark skin and can grow up to SEVEN FEET!! (see this site and this one if you don’t believe me!)
So now at least I can call this sweet potato bread without lying to you (I figured I had used yams)! Anyways, if you like pumpkin bread, or carrot cake, or zucchini loaf (bread vs cake vs loaf – let’s not go into differentiating those today! I already lost one battle) then you will love this loaf – or rather bread! It is sweet and moist and deliciously spiced. The picture doesn’t really do it justice (and I only took a couple, late at night!) Enjoy!
Sweetly Spiced Sweet Potato Bread
(adapted slightly from this recipe by loveveggiesandyoga.com)
- 1 1/2 cup orange sweet potatoes (likely labeled at the grocery store as yams!) – peeled, cooked and mashed (I boiled mine but you could steam them or cook them however you prefer)
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1/4 cup buttermilk (or yogurt or sour cream)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 Tb molasses
- 1 3/4 cup flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 Tb cinnamon
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 Tb coarse sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- To bowl containing mashed potatoes, add eggs, oil, buttermilk and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in sugars and molasses.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, spices and salt (not the coarse sugar).
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined (it may still be somewhat lumpy – don’t overmix it!)
- Pour evenly into a greased or parchment paper lined loaf pan. Sprinkle with coarse sugar over the top.
- Bake 55-65 min or until a toothpick/cake tester comes out cleanly.
- Allow to cool at least 10 minutes in the pan before removing it to cool completely on a rack.
I finally got a new desk with a keyboard roll-out drawer thing (whatever you want to call that). Why is this important? well it is one of the reasons I haven’t been blogging lately because it would hurt my wrists to type on my old desk. So although I would sit at my computer, I really didn’t enjoy typing things.
Recently one of the blogs I follow (Love and Olive Oil) decided to start a “kitchen challenge” each month. March was the first month and the challenge was croissants. Well I didn’t even get them made before the post deadline but I still thought it would be fun to try making them (and from now on I will try to keep up with the challenges!)
I used the Fine Cooking Classic Croissants recipe as I really liked how they had so many pictures and such clear directions. As it turns out, they are time consuming (3 days total although actual hands-on time isn’t that much) but not difficult. I actually found the dough really nice to work with and found it very easy to just follow each direction one-at-a-time.
They came out perfect! I really didn’t expect such delicious flakiness in my first try but they were really quite wonderful (and I don’t even really like croissants normally!).
Since I followed the recipe so closely and their directions were so clear, I am not actually going to post the recipe here. The only thing I did differently was to use just one package of instant yeast (which was just under 1 Tb when I measured it even though the package claims to be 2 1/4 tsp).
I also put some giant chocolate chips into several of them and sprinkled the tops with coarse sugar. Delicious. Really really delicious.
Apparently I have been deprived. I had never heard about Carmelitas until about a month ago when I made a trip to Whole Foods with a good friend. We had both run a decent half marathon that day and so she was looking for a treat (I am pretty sure I had something at home that I was indulging in) and bought a Carmelita. I had never heard of such a creation. Even though she is a bit of a food addict, she actually shared a little with me. It was delicious. And I had to figure out how to make them.
However, I hadn’t made any effort to find a recipe when suddenly I saw them posted all over Pinterest. Since I had an upcoming night of food, laughter, gossip & good times with my gym friends planned, I figured it was time to try out a recipe.
Because one of the girls is limiting dairy & gluten, I actually made these gluten free and almost dairy free (they could be dairy free if you use caramel ice cream topping maybe but I don’t know how you could possibly make good caramel without cream or butter!) Basically I just used quinoa flour instead of regular flour and vegan ‘butter’ (Earth Balance) instead of butter. I have put both the regular & the allergen-free options & I am sure the regular would work beautifully.
I chose to use my homemade caramel but you could just buy caramel ice cream topping or melt together 1 pkg of caramel squares (like Kraft) with 1/2 cup cream in a saucepan. I recommend the homemade stuff though. It is the best. It is so delicious. And if you have some leftover, use it as an ice cream topper or just eat it by the spoonful! Or spread it on toast. Or pancakes. Or on a cake. Yum! So good!
I don’t normally like nuts in my desserts & considered leaving them out… but decided against and I was so glad that I did! The nuts add to the perfection of the texture and give such a delicious nuttiness that you definitely should add them!
These were FANTASTIC! I LOVED them and look forward to making them again!
Carmelitas – makes a 9×13″ pan – you decide how big you want them! The recipe can easily be halved and made in a 9×9″ pan
- 2 cups quinoa flour – or regular all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
- 1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cup Earth Balance vegan butter or regular unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup additional quick-cooking oats (if needed)
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 3/4 cups chopped pecans
- 1 1/2 cups caramel sauce (either homemade from here or caramel ice cream topping if you need dairy free or 32 caramel squares melted with 1/2 cup heavy cream)
- 2 Tb butter (or vegan)
- 2 1/2 Tb flour (quinoa or regular)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9×13″ pan with parchment paper (make sure there are pieces that come over the edges on two sides so it is easy to remove.
- Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, salt and softened butter (or vegan substitute) in the bowl of a mixer. Take half of it and press it into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove & cool slightly.
- If your mixture is not crumbly, add the extra oats to the 2nd half. I am not sure if mine wasn’t crumbly because I used vegan butter or if that is just how it ends up. I wanted my topping somewhat crumbly though so I added the extra oats. Add as much as you feel like you need.
- Sprinkle the chocolate chips & chopped pecans over the crust.
- Melt the caramel enough that you can stir it and then add the additional butter & flour – this step doesn’t seem to be in the recipes that use the ice cream topping or the caramel squares.
- Pour the caramel over the chips & nuts and then top with the remaining crumb mixture.
- Return to the oven for an additional 15-20 minutes until the crust starts to brown.
- Allow to cool completely in the pan. With the homemade caramel, do not put it in the fridge as it will get too hard to cut.
- Use the parchment paper to pull the entire pan of carmelitas out of the pan and then cut & serve (I used a pizza cutter and it worked fantastically!)