Sunday, November 30, 2014

ABC Chocolate Eclair HooDoos

A recent trip to Goblin Valley created a desire in the kitchen to recreate the hoodoos. This is a spectacular landscape in Southern Utah near the San Rafael Swell that makes you feel like you are on a completely different planet.

I piped the Pate a Choux into what I hope will look like the landscape we adventured in.

Can you find me? We hiked to the Goblin's Lair, Molley's Castle, and to 3 different Goblin Valleys.

Looking ready to fill with the pastry cream and chocolate glaze.

Created Eclair Hoodoo!!

My girls on the hoodoos.

       My Grandma Bubbles use to make eclairs on special occasions. She used jello pudding mix as the cream and I never really liked that. When I worked in the Koditori in high school, I had amazing pastries and became really picky when it came to Eclairs and Napoleons.
      We also had to have a taste test and went to 2 local restaurants to get eclairs. I really liked the homemade better. The store bought ones were way to sweet and more about sugar then other flavors. I used a different pastry cream recipe then my fellow bakers.
       My fellow ABC bakers have worked wonders with this recipe. They used a chocolate filling. In the King Arthur Flour cookbook they suggest other pastry cream flavor options: butterscotch, caramel, orange, peanut butter pastry cream. I never really thought about doing a different flavor since vanilla is so traditional. I did do things differently but my changes are in the following recipe.

Eclairs adapted from King Arthur Flour

Pate a Choux (Puff Pastry)

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 4 large eggs

Vanilla éclair filling (Pastry Cream not King Arthur Flour recipe)

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup sugar (divided)
  • 2 cups whole milk (divided)
  • 4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tb unsalted butter

Chocolate Glaze

  • 8oz chopped semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 TB heavy or whipping cream
  • 1 TB corn syrup


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
  2. Combine the water, butter, and salt in a medium-sized saucepan, heat until the butter has melted, and bring to a rolling boil.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously.
  4. Return the pan to the burner and cook over medium heat, stirring all the while, until the mixture smooths out and follows the spoon around the pan; this should take less than a minute.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat, and let the mixture cool for 5 to 10 minutes. It'll still feel hot, but you should be able to hold a finger in it for a few seconds. The temperature should be below 125°F.
  6. Transfer the mixture to a mixer, and beat in the eggs one at a time; it'll look curdled at first, but when you add the last egg it should become smooth. Beat for at least 2 minutes after adding the last egg.
  7. Using a generously filled tablespoon cookie scoop, or a level muffin scoop, drop the thick batter onto the prepared baking sheets in 3- to 4-tablespoon mounds. Space the mounds about 3" apart, to allow for expansion. For éclairs, pipe the batter into 5" logs about 1/2" to 3/4" in diameter.
  8. Bake the pastries for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until pastries are a medium golden brown. Turn off oven, open the door a crack, and leave pastry inside to cool for 30 minutes.
  9. Remove the pastries from the oven and cool completely. When they're cool enough to handle, split each in half to make top and bottom pieces; splitting and exposing the centers to air will help keep them from becoming soggy. 
  10. To make the Pastry Cream: Combine cornstarch with 1/4 cup of the sugar in the mixing bowl, then stir in 1/2 cup of the milk. Blend the yolks into the mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until smooth. 
  11. Prepare and ice bath. Combine remaining 1 1/2 cups milk with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the salt and bring to boil. Remove the pan from the heat. Temper egg mixture by gradually adding hot milk mixture into the eggs,whisking constantly. Add remaining milk to eggs. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over med heat using a whisk until the whisk leaves a trail (about 5-7 minutes). Stir in vanilla and butter. Cool in ice bath. Stirring occasionally until the pastry cream is cool, about 30 minutes. 
  12.  Spoon the cooled filling into the éclair shells.
  13. To make the Glaze, place the syrup and cream in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup.
  14.  Heat over low heat (or in the microwave) until the cream is very hot. 
  15.  Remove from the heat and add chocolate. Let rest 2-3 minutes. Stir until the chocolate melts and is smooth. Spoon over the éclairs, spreading to the edges. Serve immediately.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Banana Brickle Cream Pie via Diner Desserts

One of my favorite dessert cookbooks is Diner Desserts by Tish Boyle. The chocolate cream pie and the banana cream pie are simply to die for.

Allow to cool in an ice bath after pushing through a strainer. This makes the most creamy filling.

Oh! I got the best new knife. It is porcelain and does not discolor fruit. We love it because nothing turns brown. We can pack the girls sliced apples and they will be just like freshly cut at lunch time.

Back to the recipe, because there are fresh bananas in this pie it MUST be served the day it is made. It does not hold up well.

Banana Brickle Cream Pie
 Thanks Cake Chica for posting the recipe

Your favorite flaky pie crust recipe

4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of ground cardamom
3 ripe, medium-sized bananas
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 3/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons English toffee bits such as Bits O’ Brickle

Make the pie crust pastry as directed and use half of it to line a 9-inch deep dish pie plate. (Store the remaining disk for another use.) Fully bake the pie crust and let cool completely on a wire rack.
To make banana filling, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt until well combined; set aside. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a gentle boil over medium-low heat. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk about 1/2 cup of hot milk into the yolk mixture, then return the yolk mixture to the saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a gentle boil, whisking constantly. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter pieces until melted. Whisk in the vanilla and cardamom, if using. Quickly strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Half-fill a large bowl with ice cubes. Add cold water to cover the cubes. Place the smaller bowl of custard in the ice “bath” and allow to cool, stirring occasionally, for several minutes.
Peel the bananas and slice them 1/4 inch thick into a medium bowl. Add the lemon juice and toss gently to coat. Arrange the banana slices in an even layer in the bottom of the baked pie crust, pressing down on them lightly. Scrape the cooled custard filling over the bananas and smooth the top into an even layer with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Refrigerate the pie for at least 2 hours before topping and serving.
To garnish the pie, in an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment or beaters, beat the cream on medium-low speed for 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium-high and add the sugar and vanilla. Beat until the cream forms soft peaks. Scrape the cream into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe the cream over the custard in large rosettes, covering it completely. Sprinkle with the toffee bits. Serve the pie the day it is made.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Southwestern Burger

 Sometimes you just need simplicity. Sometimes you just need a burger. This was pretty good.

2 lb ground beef
1 pkg taco mix

In the center put 1 Tb shredded cheese
Grill 4-5 minutes each side

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Baked Nutella Scones

Another recipe from a fantastic cookbook, Baked Explorations. I made this as part of my baking group and then never posted this winning recipe. See what the other bakers thought about this recipe.

I thought this was the most humorous way to make a scone.

Rolled like a cinnamon roll.

And then put on end and smashed flat to cut.

So yummy.  Every one loved these.

Yield: 6-8 scones

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark sweetened cocoa powder (like Valrhona)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 large egg
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup toasted hazelnuts,coarsely chopped (I didn't use)
1/2 cup Nutella

Baked Note
Matt & Renato's advice: Do Not Knead Too Much. Stop working the dough the minute it comes together and don't worry if there are a few dry bits scattered throughout.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and place the rack in the center.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt until combined.
Add the butter. Use your fingertips to rub it into the flour until the butter is pea size and the mixture is coarse.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and cream. 
Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until the dough just comes together.  Gently and briefly knead the dough with your hands. 
Add the toasted hazelnuts and knead gently to incorporate. 
Flatten the dough into a rectangle approximately 6 by 12 inches. ( it doesn't need to precise) and spread 1/4 cup of the Nutella on top in a criss cross pattern. 
Roll the dough up to make a cylinder about 6 inches long, turn it on its end, and gently flatten it into a disk about 1 3/4 inches high. Do not overwork the dough.
Cut the dough into 6 or 8 wedges and place them on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake the scones for 18-20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a scone comes out clean.  Do not over bake.
Transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool completely.  Place the baking sheet with the parchment still on it underneath the rack.

Assembling the Nutella Scones:

Heat the remaining 1/4 cup Nutella in a microwave until pourable, about 10 seconds on high.  Pierce the tops of the scones a few times with a fork.  Use a spoon ( or two spoons-one to scoop, one to scrape) to drip the warm Nutella in a zigzag pattern over the tops of the hot scones.  Transfer them to a refrigerator to set for 5 minutes, then serve immediately.

Most scones have a lifespan of 24hours or less; however, these scones taste pretty darn good on day two provided you wrap them tightly and store them at room temperature.

Helpful Hints for Scones
Break up your butter in small cubes and then freeze them-helps prevent your butter softening/melting before you have your scone dough formed.
Let your scones be crumbly. Barely mix the cream into the butter and then press the dough. Remember the scone mantra-Don't Overwork the dough.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Norweigen Waffles: The Good Enough To Eat Breakfast Cookbook

Breakfast is a staple meal for us. We love weekends with big breakfasts or Tuesday night pancake nights. For this recipe you need a couple of ingredients you may not have on hand but will be worth the purchase.
Cardamom reminds me of pine needles. I about died when I saw how much this spice was but this is only my 2nd jar in my life time. I use it sparingly but what a wonderful addition.

Shredded Granny Smith apples. I never have Granny Smith on hand because the girls won't eat them but what a great texture they add to these waffles.

Whipping up the egg whites makes for a very tender waffle.

Cutting in the butter with a figure 8 motion just until blended.

Brush butter on your griddle so these will not stick.

Norwegian Waffles

1 cup all purpose flour
2 tea baking powder
1 tea baking soda
1/2 tea cardamom (original recipe calls for 1 1/2 tea)
1/4 tea salt
1 tea cinnamon (original recipe does not use cinnamon)
Mix dry ingredients together.
3 eggs (separated)
1/3 cup sugar
2 cup sour cream
1 Granny Smith apple, grated
3 Tb melted butter
Whisk 3 egg yolks, sugar, sour cream, and grated apple together.
Combine with dry ingredients and blend well.
Drizzle butter into batter and cut it in with a folk.
Whip egg whites until soft peaks form and then add to batter. Fold with rubber spatula in figure 8 motion.
Cook on preheated iron. "In Norway these waffles are served with Lingonberry jam." pg 60

Saturday, November 1, 2014

ABC Cranberry Pumpkin Rolls

Moving to a new state, starting a new job, having a family, and being a nice mom really conflicted with my blogging and baking for a while (a year or more). It has been a challenge to create a new life in Utah. Hopefully, I am back to baking!! I have missed Avid Baker's Challenge baking group but often will bake just not post. 
Today, I did both finally.
These rolls are wonderful. A nice change from plain white rolls and would be a great addition to any bread basket. Put these with the bran dinner roll and well, you have everything you need to make everyone happy.

 (added Thanksgiving 2014-perfect roll basket. I did double the spices in the pumpkin rolls..yummy)

These rolls can be made in a muffin tin to hold their shape but I wanted to try rounded rolls on a baking sheet.

Doubled in size beautifully.

Close of up of how tender this roll is. Subtle pumpkin flavor, wonderful addition of the Craisens. I didn't use crystallized ginger because I was out but that would have made these just that bit better. With your left over pumpkin try these pancakes.

King Arthur's Cranberry Pumpkin Rolls

4 3/4 cups (20 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) firmly packed brown sugar, light or dark
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast
3/4 cup (6 ounces) canned pumpkin or squash
2 large eggs
3/4 cup (6 ounces) water
1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup (4 1/2 ounces) dried cranberries or golden raisins
1/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces) diced crystallized ginger
Mix and knead all of the dough ingredients except the fruit and crystallized ginger — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — until you've made a soft, fairly smooth dough. Pumpkin varies in water content, so add extra water or flour if needed. Right at the end, knead in the fruit and crystallized ginger. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise for 1 1/2 hours, until it's almost double in bulk.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface, gently deflate it, and divide it into 16 pieces, roughly 2 3/4 ounces each. Roll each piece into a ball. Place rolls in the lightly greased cups of a couple of standard muffin pans (which will help them maintain their round shape); or onto a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Set aside, covered lightly, to rise for 1 hour, or until the rolls look puffy.

Bake the rolls in a preheated 350°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until they're lightly browned and the center of one reads 190⁰F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the pans from the oven and turn the rolls out onto a rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. Yield: 16 rolls.