Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Daring Bakers August Challenge: Chocolate Eclairs


I went over to my friend, Michele of Alwayz Bakin', to make the eclairs. We figured two heads were better than one! The recipe was long but if you went step by step, pretty easy to follow. Just very time consuming. The eclairs were delicious. I think I would like a vanilla cream instead of chocolate. Our eclairs weren't very fluffy so we stacked one on top of the other instead of slicing.
Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate ÉclairsRecipe
from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds by positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with waxed or parchment paper.

Make cream puff dough.
Cream Puff Dough
• ½ cup (125g) whole milk
• ½ cup (125g) water
• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
• 5 large eggs, at room temperature
1) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the boil.
2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan; it’s supposed to. You need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough will be very soft and smooth.
3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your hand mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough. You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.

4) The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.

Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough. Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 4 1/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers. Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff. The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.
Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking time should be approximately 20 minutes.
1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.
2) You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.
3) The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.
Chocolate Pastry Cream
• 2 cups (500g) whole milk
• 4 large egg yolks• 6 tbsp (75g) sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
• 7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted
• 2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.
2) Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture. Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.
3) Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.
4) Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.5) Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.
1) The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
2) In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.
3) Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.
Chocolate Glaze (makes 1 cup or 300g)
• 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream
• 3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
• 7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature
1)In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.
2) Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.
1) If the chocolate glaze is too cool (i.e. not liquid enough) you may heat it briefly in the microwave or over a double boiler. A double boiler is basically a bowl sitting over (not touching) simmering water.
2) It is best to glaze the eclairs after the glaze is made, but you can make the glaze a couple days ahead of time, store in the fridge and bring it up to the proper temperature (95 to 104 F) when ready to glaze.

Chocolate Sauce(makes 1½ cups or 525 g)
• 4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 cup (250 g) water• ½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream
• 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar
1) Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly. Then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.
2) It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon.
1) You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for two weeks. Reheat the sauce in a microwave oven or a double boiler before using.
2) This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.
3) If you have chilled your chocolate glaze, reheat by placing it in a bowl over simmering water, stirring it gently with a wooden spoon. Do not stir too vigorously as you do not want to create bubbles.
Assembling éclairs:
1) Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside the bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.
2) The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops of the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the bottoms with the pastry cream.
3) Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream and wriggle gently to settle them.The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.

Monday, August 25, 2008

TWD: Chocolate-Banded Ice Cream Torte


Amy of Food, Family & Fun chose the Cholocate-Banded Ice Cream Torte on pages 288-289. All I can say is OMG! It is so DELICIOUS! Great choice Amy! It was very simple to make, just time consuming because of all the freezing between layers. I definitely want to make this recipe again and again and experiment with the ice cream flavors. I used sugar free vanilla this time mixed with the raspberries. It tasted delicious.

Casper checking out the food processor!

ready for the freezer


Lots-of-Ways Banana Cake

I had a bunch of over ripe bananas on Sunday so I decided I needed to bake something (good excuse, huh?). I looked through Dorie's From My Home to Yours and found the Lots-of-Ways Banana Cake on pages 204-205. There is a lot of variations to this recipe which makes it unique.

I skipped the rum and used whole milk and coconut. I accidently put twice the amount of milk in the recipe but I added more bananas. It still turned out delicious. I was quite pleased. I topped it off with sugar free Cool Whip and coconut. Yummo.

Another easy, but delicious recipe from Dorie!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

My Award!

Thanks Michele of Alwayz Bakin' for giving me this award. She's become a very dear friend over the years. Her son and mine are best buddies since they were in the same class in elementary. They haven't been in the same class or school for 3 years now, but they always try to get together. I've always admired Michele's cakes. Not only do they look pretty, they taste awesome! She's made a couple for me for co-workers. So, again, thanks, Michele!

I am passing this on to Jacque of Daisy Lane Cakes. Everything on her blog always looks so delicious and tempting! I am going to start trying her stuff.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cookie Carnival: Chocolate Hazlenut Biscotti

This is my first posting for the Cookie Carnival. This month's recipe is Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti. This was my first attempt at making biscotti. To be truthful, I have not had very many biscottis. These were excellent. I would definitely make these again. My son loves them dipped in milk; my mom said they are great dipped in coffee. Plus, it left her coffee with a wonderful taste! The recipe was very easy to follow and the final product was delicious.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Biscotti
Bon Appétit
from The Bakehouse, Bloomington, IN

Makes about 4 dozen.
1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted, husked (I used packaged chopped hazelnuts)
3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Grind 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts in processor. Set aside.
Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Beat butter and sugar in another large bowl to blend. Add eggs and vanilla and almond extracts and beat until well blended. Beat in flour mixture. Mix in 1 cup whole toasted hazelnuts, chocolate chips and 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts.

Divide dough into 2 equal pieces. Shape each piece on baking sheet into 2 1/2-inch-wide by 14-inch-long log. Place logs on prepared baking sheet, spacing 2 1/2 inches apart (logs will spread during baking). Bake until logs feel firm when tops are gently pressed, about 35 minutes. Cool logs on baking sheet 15 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.

Using long wide spatula, transfer baked logs to cutting board. Using serrated knife, cut warm logs crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
Arrange slices, cut side down, on 2 baking sheets. Bake biscotti until firm, about 15 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool completely. (Chocolate-Hazelnut Biscotti can be prepared ahead. Store in airtight container up to 4 days, or wrap in foil and freeze in resealable plastic bags up to 3 weeks.)

TWD: Granola Grabbers

This Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was Granola Grabbers, page 82, chosen by Michelle of Bad Girl Baking. It seemed like a lot of ingredients and I wasn't sure if I would actually like the cookies. The recipe was very simple and easy to follow. The dough was yummy and the cookies were chewy and delicious. They got rave reviews from family and work!
I didn't change anything in the recipe, kept all the ingredients. I thought the results was wonderful!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Tropical Storm Fay

Yay!!!! As of 8:00 p.m., Tropical Storm Fay is heading more west and is going to miss us! We live near Fort Lauderdale, Southeast FL. We can rest easy after all that worrying and sweating out our first near miss for the season. Whew! Now, I can sleep. We will have to worry about the rain and winds still, and, since we are on the "dirty" side of the storm, the tornadoes.

I hope all of you in the path of Fay are safe.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Tropical Storm Fay and Homemade Pizza

After a day of worrying about Tropical Storm Fay and wondering where it was going to go, Jimmy and I decided to make pizza for dinner. It looks like, as of now, Fay is going more west and staying away from the Fort Lauderdale area. Thank goodness! Unfortunately, the first day of school has been cancelled. Jimmy was actually looking forward to the first day!

Our pizza isn't truly homemade. I had help - Chef Boyardee! I used to make the crust from scatch but this kit is yummy, too. I made the crust, while Jimmy helped brown the Jimmy Dean hot sausage. I spread the dough and added the sauce. Jimmy added the pepperoni, sausage, black olives, ham and cheese. It turned out delicious! It was a perfect end to a stressful day.

Chicken and Noodles

This recipe was given to me by the mom of an old neighbor of mine when we lived in the trailer park. It's very simple with no set measure-ments. My son has been wanting me to make this for awhile. He came home from a sleepover so I decided to make this for our lunch.

I love the frozen noodles in the recipe. They seem to stay very firm. The chicken can be breasts, thighs, canned, rotisserie. The quantity of chicken, veggies and seasonings are up to you and your taste.

1 pkg. Reames frozen noodles
2 cans chicken broth
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
onion, chopped
celery, chopped
chicken bouillon

Boil chicken with onion and celery. Meanwhile, put broth, soup and seasonings into a pot and heat. When chicken is done, shred and place the chicken and veggies into pot. Add the noodles. Simmer until noodles are done.

That's it. Very simple. It's one of my family's favorite recipes. A friend of mine serves over mashed potatoes. It also freezes to have another day.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Devil's Food Pound Cake

My mom wants us all to come for dinner tomorrow night. Since I have been baking alot lately, she wants me to bring a dessert. I decided to bake the Duncan Hines Devil's Food cake mix I had in the cupboard. On the side was this recipe. I didn't have the regular chocolate pudding mix, so I used the chocolate mint pudding mix.
Jimmy and I can't wait to dig into it! I had a hard time keeping Jimmy out of the frosting. Of course, I used wwaaaayyyy more than 1/2 cup of frosting!

1 package Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Devil's Food Cake Mix
1 package (4 servings size) cholate instant pudding and pie filling mix
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 c. Dunacan Hines Creamy Home Style Frosting (favorite flavor)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 10 inch bundt pan or tube pan.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

Beat on medium speed with electric mixer for 2 mintues. Pour into pan.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 25 minutes. Invert onto heat resistant serving plate. Cool completely.

For Glaze, heat frosting in microwave on hight 10-15 seconds. Don not overheat. Drizzle over cake.

see the green chips from the pudding mix!

mini chocolate chips on top

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Black-Bottomed Banana Bars

My bananas were getting over ripe, so I decided to make one of my favorite recipes that uses bananas - Taste of Home's Black-Bottomed Banana Bars. They are so yummy. This was the first recipe I ever made from Taste of Home many years ago when I was pregnant with my son! The bars are almost cake-like and moist. They never stay around long.

Black-Bottomed Banana Bars
source: Taste of Home Magazine

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium)
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup baking cocoa

Directions: In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla; beat until thoroughly combined. Blend in the bananas. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture and mix well.

Divide batter in half. Add cocoa to half; spread into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking pan. Spoon remaining batter on top and swirl with a knife.

Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until the bars test done. Cool.

Yield: 2-1/2 to 3 dozen.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Italian American Cookie Sandwiches

Since I was anxious to use my new easy accent decorator from Pampered Chef, I decided to make these cookies of Giada De Laurentiis. My friend Michele of Alwayz Bakin' recommended these. I have to say they are YUMMY! The recipe was easy and not very many ingredients. My Pampered Chef toy worked great! It was simple to use and made some pretty cookies.

Since it was what I had in my fridge, I used strawberry preserves.

Here's the recipe:

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips, optional (or other sprinkles)
1/2 cup strawberry, raspberry or other fruit preserves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 2 heavy large baking sheets with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl until fluffy. Beat in the egg. Add the flour and mix just until a dough forms.

Fit a pastry bag with a large star tip, and fill the pastry bag with the cookie dough. Pipe the dough onto the prepared baking sheets into stars, spacing 1-inch apart. If desired, press about 4 miniature chocolate chips into the center of each star at this point. Bake the cookies until they are pale golden around the edges and on the bottom, about 15 minutes. Cool the cookies for 5 minutes. Using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a rack and cool completely.

When the cookies have cooled, spoon approximately 1/4 teaspoon of preserves atop the flat side of 1 cookie. Press a second cookie onto the preserves. Repeat with the remaining cookies and preserves. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Store between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container at room temperature.)

Cook's Notes: Alternately, the cookies can be made into thumbprint cookies. To do so, refrigerate the dough until it is cold, about 2 hours. Roll 2 teaspoons of dough for each cookie into 1-inch-diameter ball. Place the cookies on the baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Make a deep indentation in the center of each cookie by pressing the back of a teaspoon into the cookies. Fill each indentation with 1/2 teaspoon of strawberry or raspberry preserves or chocolate chips, and bake as directed.

A chilled chocolate ganache may be used in place of the preserves to fill the indentations in these cookies. To do this, do not fill the indentations before baking the cookies. While the cookies bake, make the ganache by mixing equal parts of warm cream and chocolate until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth, then chill the ganache. Once the cookies have baked and cooled, and the chocolate ganache is cold and firm but still spreadable, spoon or pipe the chilled ganache into the empty indentations on the cookies.
My first attempt with the accent decorator:
Just out of the oven:

Pampered Chef

My neighbor down the street was invited to a Pampered Chef party. I LOVE Pampered Chef products, but I wasn't able to go since my daughter and family were in town. Sooo....of course, I had to order!

I ordered the large stone bar pan, shaker, pinch bowl set, stackable cooking rack, and Easy Accent Decorator. I can't wait to try them out! Love new kitchen stuff!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

TWD - Black and White Banana Loaf

Ashlee of A Year In The Kitchen chose The Black and White Banana Loaf on page 232 for this week's recipe. The banana bread was very easy to make. I was a little skeptical of putting lemon and rum in the mix, but the whole thing came out wonderful. The bread is very moist and yummy! Thank you Ashlee! It's now one of my favorite recipes to use my ripened bananas in! Work had no complaints; it was all gone before I left work for the day! I left a few slices at home for my son, who said it was delicious. Jimmy, who just got back from visiting his sister, was glad for some baked goods!

My pictures didn't come out too well, but you get the idea!