Posts tagged dessert

choux pastry + chouquettes

Choux pastry is so named because a patissier in the 18th century created little buns from the dough, and they were shaped like cabbages, choux meaning cabbage in French.  Choux pastry is one of the last frontiers of pastry/dough-making for me, after having tackled macaron and meringue.  This egg-enriched dough is used for, among other things: profiteroles (cream puffs), eclairs, churros, beignets, and French crullers.  Also, chouquettes (“little cabbages”), which are choux pastry balls sprinkled with pearl sugar, a special kind of large-grained sugar found mostly in Europe.

Unfortunately (?) all of my chouquettes puffed, which I suppose is really a good thing, since I was making choux pastry after all.  I was expecting something a bit flatter and denser, but I won’t complain.  Since I saw that the crushed sugar cubes I was using weren’t adhering well enough, I chose to omit the sugar on most batches and fill the remaining ones with salted caramel sauce, or serve them plain.  No one complained.

choux pastry

This makes a huge amount of chouquettes or profiteroles, so, feel free to halve the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 tbsp. sugar
  • 3 c. water
  • 3 c. flour
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • pearl sugar

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring butter, sugar, salt, and water to a simmer.  Add flour and stir until combined.  Cook until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the saucepan.
  2. Let cool about 5 minutes.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring to incorporate between each addition.  The dough is fairly thick and sticky, so this will take a little muscle.
  4. At this stage, you may use the pastry immediately, or even let rest overnight – the dough I let rest overnight puffed, and then fell, so if using for chouquettes, this is desirable, less so for profiteroles.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400.  Pipe small rounds or bars onto parchment-covered baking sheets.  Sprinkle with pearl sugar for chouquettes.  Cook 13 minutes, then open the oven door, and cook a further 5-7 minutes, or until lightly golden brown on top.
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carrot cake caramel trifle

I haven’t been very diligent in posting this week, so I wanted to lead the next string of posts off with something yummy.  August tends to be kind of a busy month for me, considering that both my parents, one of my best friends, and my sister-in-law all have their birthday.  I love family birthdays because it gives me an excuse to make bigger things, like roasts and layer cakes, that I tend not to make for just us two.  Having already done the layer cake thing this month, I was dying to break out the mini-trifle dishes I picked up at the Crate and Barrel outlet.  They are adorable and just the right size for dessert.  I also have a big trifle dish, but let’s be honest, that thing probably serves 16 people.

I was originally planning a blueberry peach trifle with the blueberry sauce I’ve got frozen away in my freezer from – ahem – probably two years ago.  But Mom mentioned she’d been dying for some carrot cake, so I changed my plan.  I still really wanted to make little layered desserts, so I picked out apples as a complementary fruit.  Layering it with salted caramel whipped cream made all the other flavors stand out – and, the whipped cream wasn’t nearly as complicated as I thought it would be.

Carrot Cake Caramel Trifle (serves 6)

If you plan to make this in a big trifle dish, I would probably at least double the amounts you see below.  There’s only one layer of apples, so obviously if you’d like two layers, double just the apples.

Ingredients:

For the trifle:

  • 1/2 recipe carrot cake (the rest is excellent for snacking on plain)
  • 1 recipe sauteed apples
  • 1 recipe salted caramel whipped cream

For the carrot cake:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/3 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/3 c. shredded carrots
  • 2/3 c. flaked coconut
  • 2/3 c. crushed pineapple with juice
  • 2/3 c. raisins or currants
  • 2/3 c. chopped walnuts, optional

For the sauteed apples:

  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 3 medium apples
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar (not packed)
  • pinch salt

For the salted caramel whipped cream:

  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. + 3/4 c. cream, divided

Directions:

For the carrot cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour a 9″x13″ pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, oil, sugar, and vanilla until thoroughly mixed.  Add flour and stir until almost combined, but some flour is visible on the surface and sides of the bowl.  Add remaining ingredients all at once and gently fold until well mixed.
  3. Pour into prepared pan and smooth top if necessary.  Bake until done, approximately 20 minutes.  Cool several minutes in the pan, and then turn out onto a wire rack.  Cool to room temperature.

For the sauteed apples:

  1. Peel apples if you like (I usually don’t) and chop into approximately 3/4″ dice.
  2. Melt butter over medium heat in a frying pan.  Add apples and saute for a minute, then add brown sugar and a pinch of salt.  Saute about ten minutes or until apples are cooked through and juices are syrupy.
  3. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.

For the salted caramel whipped cream:

  1. Place sugar, water, and salt in a small saucepan.  Heat over medium heat until sugar and salt have dissolved.  Stir constantly until the mixture has turned a uniform amber color and you can smell the caramelizing sugar.  Don’t let this mixture burn – it’s better for it to be a little underdone that to be burnt.
  2. Whisk this mixture constantly while drizzling in 1/2 c. of the cream.  Whisk until thoroughly mixed and smooth.  It will be thin.  Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature, or chill.
  3. Be sure the remaining 3/4 c. of the cream is thoroughly chilled.  When you are ready to assemble the trifle, place chilled cream in a chilled bowl and whip until soft peaks.  At this point, continue whisking and slowly drizzle caramel into the cream until completely incorporated.

For the trifle:

  1. Dice or crumble about half of the cake.  Divide half of that into six mini trifle dishes.  Follow with half of the whipped cream, the apples, then the remaining cake.  Finish with the second half of the cream.  Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on the top.

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meyer lemon sherbet

I remember the first time I ever saw a Meyer lemon.  It was six or eight years ago now, and the tiny bowl of lemons was just sitting there on top of a big display of citrus fruits.  I was attracted to them by the deeper yellow color, almost orange, and the smooth skin.  Picking one up, I noticed immediately how fragrant and floral they were.  This year, I was lucky enough to get a nice bag full from an acquaintance who has a Meyer lemon tree, and needed to figure out what to do with them all.  Some I knew would be destined for a marmalade, but it was hot this past spring, and I needed something that would cool us down.

Having never made sherbet, I was surprised at how easy it was.  Because I’ve been focusing on lower-fat ice creams or sorbets, I had forgotten how very soft heavy cream keeps frozen desserts even after days or weeks in the freezer.  This particular recipe is very intensely lemony and sour.  You can decrease the ratio of lemon juice to other ingredients if you desire a more delicately-flavored sherbet.

Meyer Lemon Sherbet (makes about 1 qt.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup Meyer lemon juice (about 8 Meyer lemons)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine lemon juice, water, and sugar.  Heat over medium until sugar has completely dissolved.  Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until cold.
  2. Combine lemon juice mixture and cream thoroughly, then freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

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salted caramel ice cream

I love caramel.  Let’s just get that out of the way there.  I have said before I’ve found browned butter to be overrated (in taste anyway, the smell is heavenly), but caramelize up some sugar, and I am all about it.  I’ve found that caramel and butterscotch sauces are incredibly easy to make, and more delicious fresh at home out of the pan than you could ever buy in a store.  So… what’s the difference between caramel and butterscotch, many people wonder.  Well, the answer is sort of complicated.

Typically, I have heard that caramel is made with white sugar, and butterscotch with brown sugar.  Thus, the difference is primarily that the brown color in caramel is achieved from the caramelization of the sugar molecules, where the brown color in butterscotch comes from the molasses content of the brown sugar.  Caramel is used to describe both the brown syrup from plain white sugar caramelized, as well as this syrup mixed with butter and cream to form a softer confection.  Butterscotch can refer to either a syrupy mixture of brown sugar, butter, and cream, or also a hard candy that resembles toffee.  Toffee, incidentally, is really just an alternative spelling of taffy, which are two very different sweets in America.  Confused yet?

Toffee is generally defined as a confection made of boiling caramelized sugar with butter (and sometimes brown sugar).  Though in America we usually only consider toffee as being brittle, in the UK toffees can be hard or soft, the latter being what we would call caramels.  However, there is also a form of confectionary in the UK called cinder toffee, sometimes referred to as honeycomb here in the US, which is an aerated very crispy toffee made by combining caramelized sugar and butter with baking soda (and sometimes vinegar), which creates bubbles that are then preserved in the cooling mixture.  It’s found here in imported candy bars Violet Crumble or Crunchie, and is also referred to as hokey-pokey sometimes.

I guess the essential lesson to come away with here is that language is variable, but you will not find one type of caramelized or sugar-butter-cream thing that I will not eat and enjoy.  I tried salted caramel ice cream once before at a fancy ice cream shop, but found that it had a bitter, almost burnt taste to it.  Thinking to eliminate this by making it myself, I will say that despite being very careful not to burn it, it does have a slightly bitter edge to it that was not unpleasant.

Now, I consider myself a huge ice cream fiend.  More than once I have demolished a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, though I am also very fond of a Texan gelato I recently discovered at the market – the Caramel Cookie Crunch was divine, and the Double Dark Chocolate tasted like frozen creamy truffle, and at $6 a pint, both were more than worth it.  That said, I found one scoop of this ice cream to be perfectly satisfying, and any more than that was honestly overkill.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream (makes about 1 qt.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c. vanilla sugar
  • 1/2 c. room-temperature unsalted butter, cut into eight pieces
  • 2 scant tsp. large-grained gray sea salt
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 c. whole milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

  1. Place sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and cook about 5 minutes without stirring, allowing the sugar granules on the bottom of the saucepan to begin melting.  Stir occasionally until all of the sugar has melted.
  2. Turn the heat down to low and add the butter and salt, stirring until the butter has melted.  Mine seized at this point and hardened into huge chunks, possibly because I added the butter in one big, cold lump.  This is why I suggest the butter be cut into chunks and used more or less at room temperature.
  3. Add cream and stir until any hardened caramel has melted.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth.  Very slowly, pour a few tablespoons of the caramel mixture onto the egg yolks, whisking constantly to temper them.  Then, add the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan along with half of the milk.  Rinse the bowl.
  5. Heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon.  Pour through a mesh strainer into the bowl.  Add the remaining milk and vanilla extract.  If you’d like to cool the mixture off quicker, place the bowl into an ice bath and whisk constantly.  Otherwise, place plastic wrap over the bowl, pressing onto the surface of the mixture and refrigerate several hours until chilled.  Process in ice cream machine, and freeze until hard.

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low-fat strawberry coke ice cream

I had a sudden craving for strawberry ice cream a few weeks ago, but didn’t have any cream in the house.  I did have rice milk and half-and-half, however, and decided that the mixture would be creamy enough to have a nice mouthfeel, but also lower in fat than a regular ice cream.  Having a bottle of coke at the ready, I decided to macerate the strawberries in some of that instead of the usual white sugar and lemon juice.  I felt like the mixture was missing something in the end, but a shot of Chambord raspberry liqueur amped up the taste, and it was suddenly delicious.

Rereading this, it sounds a lot like a Cook’s Illustrated article.  Funny.

Low-Fat Strawberry Coke Ice Cream (makes about 1 quart)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 1/2 c. coca-cola
  • 6 oz. half-and-half
  • 8 oz. rice milk
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 oz. chambord raspberry liqueur

Directions:

  1. Pour coke over the strawberries in a medium bowl.  Let sit for an hour.  Add all ingredients together in a blender, or in the mixing cup of a hand-blender.  Blend until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
  2. Process according to the instructions in your ice cream maker, and then freeze until the correct texture, another hour or so.

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chocolate-orange bread pudding with sticky cherries

I was really excited to try this chocolate-orange bread recipe I found here, but when I pulled it out of the oven I found that it wasn’t what I had hoped for.  I doubled the recipe, and am notorious for forgetting to double all of the ingredients in a recipe, so I may try this again at some point in a single loaf form.  Still, the loaf tasted very little like chocolate, and even less like orange, so I admit to some disappointment.

Having almost two entire loaves of the stuff sitting around with no discernible purpose, and having just bought the most delicious liquid on the planet (dark chocolate almond milk – yum!), I opted to try out a bread pudding, something I haven’t been too enthused about in the past.  It was well worth the experiment, though it was pretty thick and maybe not as puddingy as a traditional bread pudding?  Not sure, as it’s not really my thing.

I topped it off with a few of the sticky cherries – really, almost candied – I had made last week, and I highly recommend.

Chocolate-Orange Bread Pudding (makes 1 9-inch square pan)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2-3/4 standard 9″x4″-size loaf of bread, cut into 1″ cubes – a light, eggy bread is the usual, but heavier breads can be used for a denser pudding; also, I used 3/4 of a loaf, but it was very crumbly, so it may have yielded only about a 1/2 loaf
  • 1/3 c. currants
  • 5 eggs (up to 3 may be egg white only)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. orange extract
  • 2 1/4 c. chocolate almond milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Spread bread cubes out on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, or until bread has dried out a little bit.  Place in a 9-inch square pan; the cubes should mostly fill the pan.  Sprinkle currants over the bread cubes.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, cinnamon, orange extract, and almond milk until smooth.  Pour over bread cubes.  Press bread down with the back of a spoon.  If cubes are not totally covered by milk, you can add a little more.
  3. Let rest at least 15 minutes, and as long as overnight, occasionally pressing down with a spoon.
  4. Bake 30-40 minutes until firm and slightly puffed.  Cool 15 minutes before serving.  Serve with custard sauce or slightly thickened whipping cream if you like.

 

Sticky Cherries (makes about 1 1/2 cups)

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag sweet red cherries
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 3/4 c. vanilla sugar

Directions:

  1. Pit the cherries.  One easy way I recently learned about was to use a metal star tip for a frosting bag.  Insert into the cherry where the stem is until it contacts the pit.  Twist the star tip around to dislodge the cherry pit, and then pull out.  The cherry put should be detached and can be discarded.
  2. Place the cherries in a saucepan with the water and sugar.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 30-45 minutes, or until liquid has turned very syrupy.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to use.  Syrup should become very thick.

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Glazed Donut Cheeseburgers with Brown Sugar Bacon

Ever since I saw the glazed donut cheeseburger online, I knew I wanted to try it.  It’s disgusting, looks fattening, like a heart attack on a plate, right?  In actuality, it was… amazing.  Transcendental, even.  A completely delicious burger-eating experience.  Hard to describe.  Having sweet elements added to meat is in no way unusual these days.  My best meatloaf has a brown sugar-ketchup glaze, pork is braised in Dr. Pepper, ham is braised in Coke, and people are rubbing brown sugar into everything.

Glazed Donut Cheeseburgers with Brown Sugar Bacon (for 1 burger)

Ingredients:

  • 1 glazed donut
  • 1/4 lb. beef
  • 1 thick slice cheddar cheese
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 and a grill or grill pan to medium high.  Place bacon on an oven-safe rack on top of a cookie sheet.  Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar.  Bake 8-10 minutes, or until bacon is cooked and sugar has caramelized.  Watch carefully to prevent burning.
  2. Form ground beef into a patty just slightly larger than the glazed donut, and press an indentation in the center.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides, then grill 5 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.  During the last 2 minutes of cooking, place cheese on burger patty and close grill top (or place bowl/lid over the top) to melt cheese.
  3. When bacon is done, cut each piece in half.
  4. Briefly grill glazed donut halves on the grill, then place burger patty on bottom half.  Top with four pieces bacon in a tic-tac-toe pattern, then add the top half of the donut.
  5. Serve with a salad, if you want to feel virtuous.

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