Love and Confections: March 2014

March 28, 2014

Cream Puffs with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream


My Mom and I gave my sister a bridal shower recently and I made the dessert table. One of the first things I knew I wanted to make was cream puffs or profiteroles. There is nothing else like a homemade cream puff filled with fresh vanilla bean pastry cream. It is truly delicious

Cream puffs are pretty easy to make. The most time consuming thing is waiting for the pastry cream to cool down. I usually make my pastry cream a day ahead, just so it can be nice and cold when I get ready to fill the puffs.

Cream puffs are made with Pate a Choux dough. This dough is different from many batters because it uses steam for leavening, instead of chemical leavening like baking powder or baking soda or natural leavening like yeast. The high initial temperature helps create the steam, then the oven is lowered for the rest of the baking time.

Cream Puffs
adapted from culinary school recipes

Pastry Cream Ingredients:
 - 500 grams Whole Milk
 - 100 grams Granulated Sugar

 - 100 grams Egg Yolks
 - 100 grams Granulated Sugar
 - 40 grams Cornstarch
 - 75 grams Unsalted Butter
 - Seeds from 1 Vanilla Bean or 1 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste

Pastry Cream Directions:
 - In a stainless steel pot (not aluminum) heat Milk and first measure of Sugar until sugar is dissolved and the milk is hot but not boiling.
 - In a medium bowl, whisk together the Egg Yolks, Sugar and Cornstarch. Temper* milk mixture into yolk mixture.
 - Pour tempered egg mixture back into the pot and return to a boil, cooking about 2-3 minutes or until nappe**
 - Strain the pastry cream through a fine mesh sieve into the bowl of your stand mixer and beat on the lowest speed. Add in the Butter and Vanilla Bean Seeds or Paste after it has cooled for a few minutes.
 - Pour into a clean medium-sized bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow it to cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator.
 - It is best to make this the day before the Pate a Choux, so it has time to fully chill.

Pate a Choux Ingredients:
 - 240 grams Whole Milk
 - 113 grams Unsalted Butter (1 stick)
 - 2 grams Sugar
 - 2 grams Salt
 - 110 grams All Purpose Flour
 - 225 grams Eggs
 - 1 Egg for egg wash
 - Powdered Sugar (optional)

Pate a Choux Directions:
 - Heat oven to 400F. Prepare sheet pans with parchment or silicone mats.
 - Bring the Milk and Butter to a boil. Add in Flour, Salt and Sugar and cook on medium-high, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until a paste is formed. The mixture should form a ball or leave a film on the bottom of the pot.
 - Remove from the heat and place in the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat on low for a minute then add in the eggs, one at a time, making sure the previous one is incorporated before adding the next one.
 - Once all the eggs have been added and the mixture is a bit cooler, put in a piping bag fitted with a large circle tip. Pipe small mounds on the sheet pans, trying to not create a point when lifting off. Using a pastry brush, or your fingers, brush the egg wash over the puffs, trying to make sure there is no point sticking up.
 - Bake at 400F for 5 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375F for the remaining time. It should take about 30 more minutes, or until the puffs are dry and golden brown.
 - Let them cool completely before filling. You can dust with Powdered Sugar or use a poured fondant or chocolate frosting. Enjoy

*Tempering: eggs are tempered when a hot liquid, usually milk, is slowly streamed into them, while whisking constantly, to bring the eggs up to a warm temperature without cooking them.
**Nappe: French term referring to a liquid "coating the back of a spoon". With pastry cream, if you run your finger through the (hot) pastry cream on the back of a wooden spoon, the lines will stay separate.

Until next time,

March 26, 2014

Mini Lemon Meringue Tarts


I recently hosted a bridal shower for my sister, KB. It was a garden party theme with peonies and pearls. KB loves anything and everything pink, so that was the color scheme Mom and I went with. We had it at a gold club near my place. They did some fantastic food, but they do not provide dessert. I knew I was going to make the desserts for the party anyway, so that didn't matter. I wanted to do a dessert buffet with a bunch of small desserts that everyone would enjoy.

I planned a total of 5 desserts plus the favor was cake in a jar. I am lucky that I have such great friends to help me out. Denny made the mini tart shells for me, which helped out a lot since my 3-month old has been a bit cranky lately

Mini Lemon Meringue Tarts
a Love and Confections original

Mini Lemon Meringue Tart Ingredients:
 - Tart Shell Recipe
 - Box Mix Lemon Pudding and Whole Milk as directed
 - 100 grams Egg Whites
 - 200 grams Granulated Sugar

Mini Lemon Meringue Tarts Directions:
 - Prepare Tart Shells
 - Prepare Lemon Pudding as directed on box for pie
 - In the bowl of your stand mixer, make a double boiler, heat the Egg Whites and Granulated Sugar, whisking constantly and until the mixture is warm and the sugar has dissolved. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the mixing bowl.
 - Place a piece of foil around the opening of the mixing bowl to trap the warm air. Egg whites whip better when warm, hence the double boiler. Using the whip attachment, whip on high until you have stiff peaks.
 - Pipe onto filled tarts using a star tip just before serving. With a blow torch, toast the tops. Enjoy

Until next time,

March 24, 2014

Overnight Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

No comments:

 So I jumped on the Chia bandwagon and am trying it out. They're all the rage right now and all over the internet - it's like the new bacon or kale. You can eat it as it, hydrate it or bake with it.

Chia seeds have a bunch of health benefits too. They are full of Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, calcium, protein and they are being studied to help regulate blood sugar to name a few.

I'm still on the fence about them, though. They don't have much taste and feel like a toothy tapioca when made into a pudding. I have a whole bag so I'm definitely going to experiment some more.

Overnight Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
a Love and Confections original, inspired by a bunch of recipes online

Overnight Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding Ingredients:
 - 1/2 cup Whole Milk (you can use Coconut or Almond Milk also)
 - 1 tablespoon Honey
 - 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
 - 1.5 tablespoons Chia Seeds
 - 1/2 tablespoon Cocoa Powder

Overnight Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding:
 - Place all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and whisk together or shake to combine. Refrigerate overnight. Stir before eating. Enjoy

Until next time,

March 7, 2014

Mini Walnut Soda Bread

No comments:

This is a little twist on the traditional Irish Soda Bread. I love the flavor the molasses gives to the bread and the crunch from walnuts is always a great addition. It is slightly sweet from the dark brown sugar and perfect warm, right out of the oven, with some butter and strawberry jam. I bet this would even be great with some cream cheese - tangy, sweet, nutty - I need to try that next!

A bench scraper and bowl scraper are great tools for working with bread. I always keep them handy for scraping dough and batters out of bowls and also for cleaning up my work area. Some doughs, like this one, are very sticky and require more clean-up than others. I definitely recommend getting some if you want to work with dough - they make it easier.

Mini Walnut Soda Bread
adapted from Epicurious

Mini Walnut Soda Bread Ingredients:
 - 3 & 1/4 cups All Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting
 - 1/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar, packed
 - 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
 - 1 teaspoon Salt
 - 1/4 cup Unsalted Butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
 - 1 cup Walnuts, toasted and chopped
 - 1 cup Buttermilk, chilled
 - 1 large Egg
 - 2 tablespoons Molasses

Mini Walnut Soda Bread Directions:
 - Heat oven to 375F and lightly flour a half sheet pan. Toast Walnuts for about 5 minutes in the oven while it is almost to temp.
 - In a large bowl, whisk together the Flour, Dark Brown Sugar, Baking Soda and Salt.
 - Using a pastry blender, knife or your hands, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles a coarse meal. Mix in toasted Walnuts.
 - Whisk together Buttermilk, Egg and Molasses in a measuring cup, then slowly add it into the flour mixture while stirring until it comes together to form a medium-to-firm dough.
 - The dough will be soft and sticky. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead the dough until it comes together, adding a bit of flour if it is too sticky. Flatten the dough into a small disk and cut it into 4 to 6 equal parts.
 - Take each piece, roll into a ball, place on the half sheet, flatten and using a sharp knife cut a cross into the top of each mini loaf.
 - Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and a tester inserted comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or room temperature. Enjoy!

Until next time,

March 2, 2014

Lemon Yogurt Mardi Gras Cake

1 comment:
Mardi Gras is just around the corner. I didn't have time to make a king cake this year. Baby L&C doesn't nap long enough for me to work with yeast breads right now. Quick breads, on the other hand, are perfect. I saw this recipe on TV the other day and knew I wanted to make it, but with my own twist.

I love anything lemon - just like my Mom. Lemons are so bright and refreshing and my favorite, second to the Key Lime, of course. This cake can easily be adapted to all kinds of citrus: Key Limes, Oranges, Grapefruit.

Lemon Yogurt Mardi Gras Cake
adapted from Ina Garten

Lemon Yogurt Cake Ingredients:
 - 1 & 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
 - 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
 - 1/2 teaspoon Salt
 - 1 cup Greek Lemon Yogurt (I used Stonyfield Organic)
 - 1 cup Granulated Sugar
 - 3 large Eggs
 - 2 teaspoons Lemon Zest (from one large Lemon)
 - 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
 - 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil

Lemon Glaze:
 - 1/3 cup granulated Sugar
 - 1/3 cup freshly squeezed Lemon Juice (from one large Lemon)

Lemon Mardi Gras Frosting:
 - 1 cup Powdered Sugar
 - 2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
 - Green, Yellow and Purple Food Coloring

Lemon Yogurt Cake Directions:
 - Heat oven to 350F. Line an 8.5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper, then grease it with baking spray or butter/shortening and flour.
 - In a medium bowl, sift together the Flour, Baking Powder and Salt.
 - In another medium bowl, whisk together the Yogurt, Sugar, Eggs, Lemon Zest and Vanilla. While whisking, slowly add the dry ingredients into to wet mixture.
 - Using a spatula, stir/fold the oil into the batter.
 - Pour into prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For the Lemon Glaze: 
 - Cook the second measure of Sugar and the Lemon Juice in a small saucepan on the stove, until the sugar dissolves. Set aside

 - When the cake is done, let it cool in its pan for 10 minutes, then place on a cooling rack over a parchment lined baking sheet. Poke some small holes into the cake and pour the Glaze over the warm cake. Let the cake cool completely

For the Lemon Mardi Gras Frosting: 
 - Combine the Powdered Sugar and Lemon Juice in a bowl. Separate into three small bowls and add Food Coloring. Drizzle over cooled cake. Enjoy

Until next time,

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for using any products mentioned. All opinions are my own.