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.
I am beginning to think I will never catch up on these posts! The problem was that I made a bunch of recipes before going away in September and had planned on having them come up “delayed” while I was away but as things seem to go, I got busy before leaving and never had time to prepare the posts. So instead of being on top of things and posting the delicious spicy fall flavours, I am putting together a post from when the peaches were perfect in BC. With the Okanagan getting the summer heat for peaches, we get excellent ones at the end of August and into September. Oh and I do realize that I could just not post everything that I bake BUT these were a lot of work and I feel like I need to put it out there that I tried something with pie crust!
The pastry wasn’t all that straighforward either. Not only did I have to make the pastry (Pâte Brisée), but I also had to roll it (obviously) and cut it into shapes to use for hand pies. And that all involved at least three trips to the fridge for the dough! Also, I had to poach the peaches. So what I am suggesting is that this recipe is a bit more work than say chocolate chip cookies… In saying that, they are pretty tasty and I was happy with the final product, even if it wasn’t all that pretty! I just want to remind you though, I have never made my own pie crust so I shouldn’t have expected perfection!
The recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts cookbook (originally for Apricot Hand Pies)
- 2 cups water
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- peel from 1 lemon, in long strips without the pith (I suggest using a vegetable peeler or very sharp knife for this)
- 1 piece of fresh ginger, about 1/2 inch long, peeled
- 4 cardamom pods, cracked, or 4 whole cloves, or 1 cinnamon stick (this is what I had)
- 1/2 vanilla bean, halved and seeds scraped
- 6 peaches, halved and peeled (see below note)
- Bring the water, sugar, lemon peel, ginger, cardamom/clove/cinnamon, and vanilla bean seeds to a boil in a saucepan. Cook until sugar dissolves and then reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered until liquid has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.
- Add peaches to pan. Cover peaches with parchment paper and add some weight to hold it down (I used a lid for a smaller pot). Simmer until peaches start to soften, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Store in the fridge in the poaching liquid until you are ready to use.
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
Place flour, salt and sugar in bowl and whisk together.
- Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender quickly (you can do this in a food processor too) until the mixture has a coarse crumb. Drizzle 1/4 cup of water over the mixture and work with the blender (or in the food processor). The dough should just start to hold together. If it doesn’t add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Divide dough in half and place on two sheets of plastic wrap. Gather the plastic wrap around the dough loosely and press into a disk (may need a rolling pin). Refridgerate until firm – 1 hour to 1 day.
Assembly of Hand Pies
On a floured surface, roll out 1 disk of dough until it is about 1/8 of an inch thick. Now you can do it one of two ways, depending on how you want your hand pies: either cut out 3-inch rounds or cut out 4-inch rounds. If you do the 3 inch ones, you will place 1/4 of a peach (that is half of a half) between two rounds whereas if you do the bigger round, you can place it on one side of the round of dough and wrap the other side over the top. Don’t do this yet, just prepare the rounds. Place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet and refrigerate or freeze until firm (about 30 minutes).
Remove the peaches from the liquid and using paper towels, blot the peaches and then cut the halves in half. Place 1/4 in the center or on the side of a round (see previous step) and cover with the other half or the other side of the dough. Press edges together to seal. I found that the peach liquid was enough to hold this but if you need to, you can brush with water. Refrigerate about 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Using a sharp knife, cut slits in the tops of the pies. Brush with water or milk and sprinkle with sugar (I used turbinado). Bake for 15 min and then reduce heat to 350°F. Continue baking until the pastry is golden brown, about 15-20 min more. Transfer pies to a cooling rack to cool completely.
I have two friends that I bake for regularly that are frequently mentioned in this blog, not by name of course! They, like me, love food and frequently talk about it. I think that this recipe may have been a favourite for one of them – and that is saying A LOT. Every time I have seen them lately, he mentions this dessert and has a new comment about it. He has asked if he can pay me to make it for him so he can take it to potluck dinners – and of course claim that he made it! And really I didn’t even make it as well as I could have – I would have used Frangelico if there weren’t kids eating it!
Anyways, it is based on a chocolate trifle like dessert known as Death by Chocolate (I often just call it “Chocolate Mess” as it ends up looking like that once served) but it is a Chocolate-Hazelnut Trifle rather than just straight up chocolate. Basically I had a layer of my favourite chocolate cake in the freezer and wanted to use it without making anything that would take a ton of time. Also, I had Ferraro Rocher’s that someone had given me but I was afraid to open them as I have a fear that I will eat them all! So put that together with some Nutella and you have “Death by Ferraro Rocher”! Here are the layers:
Chocolate Hazelnut Trifle
Chocolate Cake or Brownies, cut up in 1inch cubes
Use your favourite recipe or just buy a cake mix if you are being lazy! Although you do want a good cake, it isn’t as important to make sure it is moist since everything else in the dessert ensures lots of moisture!
1/2 cup Frangelico, Kahlua, Chocolate Hazelnut Tea (for the kid friendly version!), or any liquid that has a little sweetness/flavour to add
3/4 cup Nutella
1 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
4-8 Tb milk/cream
Beat all together until smooth. Add enough milk to ensure a pudding like consistency.
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Whip cream until soft peaks form. Add sugar and vanilla and beat a little more but not too much!
6 Ferraro Rocher’s, chopped roughly
- Arrange half of the chocolate cake pieces in the bottom of your bowl (I like using my trifle bowl but any deep bowl will do – it is nice to use a clear one so you can see the pretty layers!).
- Drizzle 4 Tb of Frangelico/whatever you are using over the top of the cake pieces.
- Spread half of the Nutella mousse over the cake evenly. I tend to put it in ‘glops’ and then spread it out evenly.
- Spread half of the whipped cream over the mousse.
- Sprinkle half of the chopped Ferraro Rocher’s over the whipped cream.
- Repeat all layers.
- Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. You can make it ahead of time and refrigerate overnight too.