Sunday, September 4, 2011

French Éclairs

♥♥♥ Advanced

If you've seen the Pate a Choux recipe, then you know where my inspiration for Éclairs came from. Aside from the fact that it's one of my absolute favorite desserts. My grandma makes them better than anyone (although, mine are prettier...ooooo!) and everyone requests hers when she's in town. However, these are a quick second, and are especially good when the pastry and chocolate are still warm. Seriously, try them warm with a cold Crème Patissiere... it will knock you off your feet. 

"I find it hard to disagree with the possibility that the height of luxury might not be an expensive car, a yacht in Monte Carlo, or a villa in Jamaica, but may instead be a really, really, really good chocolate eclair." -Andre K. Crump

What you'll need: 

Eclair Shells: 
* Pate A Choux Sucree (Cream Puff Dough) 
* 1 Egg, for the egg wash
* A pinch of Salt

Crème Patissiere
* 6 Egg Yolks
* 1/2 Cup Sugar
* 6 Tablespoons of Flour
* 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
* 2 Cups of Milk
* 2 Tablespoons of Vanilla Extract

Chocolate Icing
* 10 oz. (1 1/4 Cup) Dark or Milk Chocolate 
* 3 Tablespoons Milk
* 4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, cut into small pieces
* 4 Tablespoons Sugar

How it's done: 

Éclair Shells: 
1. Preheat the oven to 400*F, and butter a baking sheet. 

2. Using a 1/2 Inch Nozzle, pipe 3-4 inch long logs of Pate a Choux Dough on the sheet. Allow adequate spacing! 

3. In a bowl, beat the egg and salt to form a glaze. Brush the top of each log with the glaze. Use the back of a fork dipped in the egg wash to score the top of each log. Drag prongs lightly across the top of the logs length, creating rows of shallow lines. 

4. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until light golden brown, and somewhat crisp, but not hard. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. 

Crème Patisseiere: 
1. In a bowl, whisk eggs and sugar together until they thicken and are pale yellow. Fold in the flour and cornstarch. 

2. In a saucepan, bring the milk to a low boil, then pour hot milk into the bowl of egg yolks. Stir well. Then pour mixture back into saucepan and heat to a boil. Lower heat and allow Crème to thicken, stirring regularly. When thickened, remove pan from heat, pour into a bowl and mix in vanilla extract. Cover the creme with parchment or saran wrap, which prevents a skin from forming on top, and chill to cool. 

Chocolate Icing: 
1. Slowly bring butter, sugar, and milk to a low boil in a saucepan, stirring continuously to make sure sugar dissolves. Add chocolate and remove from heat. Stir until chocolate has melted and icing is a smooth texture. Allow to cool some before using. 

To Assemble: 
1. Make a horizontal slice down the middle of the length of the Eclair shell. Pipe or spoon Creme Patissiere into the cavity of the Eclair shell. Top with the other half of the shell. Spoon the warm chocolate on top of the eclair, or dip the eclair into the frosting. 

Pâte à Choux Sucrée - Puff Pastry Dough

♥♥ Intermediate 

This past week, I took Ms. McKinley in to the Borders (5 days until they close for good!) to pick out some children's books on the cheap. Come to find out, the children's section was the first section to be raided by moms and teachers alike, as soon as the 'Everything must go!' sign went up in the window. However, there were still a few books left in the baking section - three of which I thought would make a great addition in cookbook collection. Sorry Kinley, we'll find you some books another day...

One of the books I picked up is called, Chocolate French. It's compiled by pastry chefs all over the world and focuses on the French influence on global cuisine. Totally up my alley. (The cover of the book shows some very tasty looking Eclairs, so I was sold on it instantly!)

The following pastry recipe is used in several different ways. It can be used to make cream puffs, eclairs, or profiteroles. It's the base to all great pastry treats!!!

Let's get baking.

What you'll need:

* 1 Cup of Flour
* 8 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter
* 1/2 Cup of Water
* 1/2 Cup of Milk
* 5 Eggs
* 1 Tablespoon of Sugar

How it's done:

1. Place the butter in a saucepan with the water, milk, sugar, & salt. Stir, then bring slowly to a boil, allowing the butter to melt.

2. As son as the butter is melted, remove from the heat. Add all the flour into the liquid at once, then mix with a spoon until smooth.

3. Return to heat and continue to stir. Remove from heat when dough no longer sticks to the side of the pan. Transfer to a bowl and let mixture cool slightly.  (I let it cool for 5 minutes in a stainless steel bowl.)

4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing each thoroughly until totally absorbed into the dough. The chox dough should be smooth, shiny, and thick. Stir it a bit more with the spatula to add air to the door and to lighten its texture.

5. Set the choux dough aside for use in profiteroles, eclairs, or cream puffs.

Yields approximately 20 large choux! 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Chocolate & Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies

♥ Beginner

These are great to make around our house because even though we may be on the low side of groceries, we ALWAYS have the ingredients for no-bake cookies. I'm willing to bet that your home usually does too. I actually forget about no-bake cookies until my loving husband decides to make them. (This is sort of his thing in the kitchen!)

He got frustrated yesterday when he started pulling things out of the cabinet, determined to make something sweet for our family (thinking he could surprise me), when I asked "Whatcha makin'? No-Bake's?" His reply was an exasperated "How did you know?!"  - - I know everything. He should know that by now. 

If you don't love these little nuggets, there's something seriously wrong with you...

What you'll need: 

* 8 Tablespoons of Butter
* 1/2 Cup of Milk
* 2 Cups of Sugar
* 1 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
* 4 Tablespoons of Peanut Butter
* 3 Cups of Oatmeal (Rolled or Quick Oats)
* 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla

How it's done: 

1. Combine the Butter, Milk, & Sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil and boil for 1 minute. 

2. Remove mixture from heat, and stir in chocolate chips, peanut butter, & vanilla. Once fully melted, pour mixture over oats. Work quickly!  

3. Once combined, drop by the spoonful onto waxed paper and let cool & harden. 

You'll need to make about 4 batches of them, because they disappear SOOOOOO quickly!!

*Pictures are from - Check her out, she's amazing too! 

Classic Baked Mac & Cheese

♥ Beginner

Who doesn't love Mac n' Cheese? Maybe it's that I spent a good portion of my formative years in the south and midwest, or maybe it's just such a good comfort food, but we almost always have a baked mac n' cheese in the fridge.

Some mac n' cheese recipes call for some ingredients that might have you scratching your head. For me however, I like the classics. It should just be noodles and cheese! Here you'll find a classic recipe for a wonderful baked mac n' cheese.

What you'll need: 

*16 oz. Package of Noodles (I like to use cavapatti)
* 4 Tablespoons of Butter
* 4 Cups of Milk
* 4 Tablespoons of Flour
* 4 Cups of grated Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese (You can use Sharp or just regular Cheddar Cheese
* Salt & Pepper to taste
* Panko Bread Crumbs

How it's done:

1. Prepare pasta according to directions on box.

2.  Preheat oven to 400*F.

3. In a large saucepan heat milk & butter to boiling and then turn down to medium & whisk in the flour. Make sure to whisk until it's completely combined so you don't get chunks of flour. Whisk for 5 minutes or until mixture begins to get thick.

4. Remove the milk mixture from the heat and add in half of the cheese. Stir until completely melted.

5. Drain pasta and put them in a pyrex baking dish, and pour cheese the over the pasta evenly. Top with bread crumbs.

6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the top starts to brown. Let it set for 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy... I know we have! :)