Sally’s Baking Addiction: September, 2018 Challenge: Choux Pastry

IMG_6019

I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to complete the September challenge this month! The last two months of the summer have been a whirlwind! In a good way!

I have not made pate a choux since culinary school, and am not a big fan of cream puffs, or eclairs (and neither are my family members) so my first thought was, “should I try to fit this in?” But, I have not missed one of Sally’s challenges yet, so I had to try. It turns out, my hubby’s coworkers did like them, so it was worth it.

Sally provided us with the basic recipe and then presented us with our many, many options. I had a tough time deciding between cream puffs and eclairs, so I opted to make some of each.

Then the flavor combinations: Oh my! So many to choose from. I kept it simple and went with the classic chocolate and peanut butter duo. So….

First I made her peanut butter cream cheese mousse, to fill both the eclairs and puffs.

IMG_6003

Then the choux dough. Sally has a great video to help with this if you are intimidated by the process. Honestly, it takes very few ingredients, and is not that hard.

IMG_6004

Both of these went into the fridge for later, I had to go for a run! When I got back I piped the shapes onto parchment lined baking sheets. A word of caution here!! If you refridgerate the choux dough, let it come to room temp before piping, your life will be easier, I promise.  Also, I did not have the tips that Sally recommended, so my final products were “mini” eclairs and cream puffs!

 

Into the oven they went…

IMG_6012

IMG_6013

Even though they were small, they puffed up nicely. While they were cooling, I decided to pipe some chocolate decorations from a little melting chocolate, that I always have around for just such an occasion!

IMG_6005

I made a few pans of different designs, just for fun

Once the pasteries had cooled, I set about filling them with the peanut butter mousse mixture. For the cream puffs, I just sliced the top 1/3 off and piped in the filling. The eclairs were “injected” using a number 2 Wilton piping tip.

IMG_6017

IMG_6018

The eclairs were filled and dipped into some chocolate ganache.

IMG_6020

The eclairs were so bright and shiny that I decided to not decorate them further.

IMG_6023

They were small, but tasty! The perfect two bites with a cup of coffee!!

I am glad that I took the time to fit this one in, I kept my Sally streak going and some people really enjoyed them, what more can I ask!!

1537847461735

Advertisements

Sally’s Baking Addiction: August, 2018 Challenge: Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer Cake 🍪 🍰

IMG_4611

Oh My! It is August 31st and the last day for me to get this challenge completed 😬. Nothing like waiting to the last minute😉

I got incredibly lucky this month, because Sally chose an easy challenge for our August installment. If you have ever baked a cookie, and made frosting, then this is a fun and simple project! In fact, the hardest part of this challenge was choosing which of Sally’s flavor combinations to make. 😊

My hubby’s birthday is also in August, so I chose flavors that I knew he would like. I made Sally’s Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, as written in the link above. The only difference was that I included white chocolate chips, along with the semi sweet ones, and made mine a 9 inch, 3 layer cake.

IMG_4600

I also made her Chocolate Peanut Butter frosting, yum 😋

IMG_4601

After that, which was very little work, all I had to do was assembled and decorate!

I kept the decorations simple, as this was for my husband (who does not like sprinkles😳)

IMG_4609

IMG_4611

IMG_4613

This flavor combo was a hit with the whole family, and it was a fun alternative to the standard ice cream cake he usually requests for his birthday.

IMG_4615

Next month’s challenge involves choux pastry! So I will have to be on top of my game in  September! 👩🏻‍🍳

1535581833716

Sally’s Baking Addiction: June, 2018 Challenge: Brownie Baked Alaska 🍨

IMG_0855

For the month of June, Sally challenged us to make a retro baked Alaska. The twist: no cake base! Sally admits that she does not like cake combined with ice cream. My son is the same way. I also never eat cake mixed directly with ice cream, I don’t like the soggy cake texture 😳

So I knew my family would love the brownie, cake and merengue combo. This is such an easy dessert to make, and the entire thing can be assembled, frozen and then torched right before you serve it to your guests. I decided that Father’s Day would be a great time for us to try this out.

There is a little prep work that needs to be done the night before. The ice cream needs to be shaped and frozen. I purchased my ice cream, but I do like to make it from scratch, perhaps next time! This 9 inch, 2.5 quart mixing bowl will hold 3 quarts of ice cream. I chose mint chocolate chip since it is one of my hubby’s favorite flavors. The ice cream is softened and placed into a mixer with a paddle attachment, and beaten until creamy. The softened ice cream is placed into the mixing bowl, which has been lined with plastic wrap. This will make unmolding much easier! Wrap it tight and place in the freezer for at least 8 hours. I put mine in overnight.

The next day I made one of Sally’s brownie recipes. She has many to choose from, you will find the one you like😊. I went with the Chewy, Fudgy Homemade brownies😋 So glad I did! Super easy and so tasty!

First melt butter and chocolate together and let cool slightly. Whisk in the sugars, eggs and vanilla.

IMG_0837

Add the flour, cocoa and salt

IMG_0838

Fold in the dry ingredients and a cup of chocolate chips

IMG_0839

Bake in a 9 inch pan, which fits the circumference of the bowl.

IMG_0840

Let this cool completely, then add it to the bowl of frozen ice cream. Invert the brownie, rewrap and keep frozen while you prepare the merengue.

 

Set the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar over simmering water. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved, then place in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add the vanilla and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form.

 

Generously spoon the merengue onto the unmolded ice cream and brownie bombe.

IMG_0846IMG_0849IMG_0852

This can be frozen until you are ready to serve, or you can get out your handy torch and go for it! No torch? No problem, just use the broiler function in your oven. But don’t walk away!!

IMG_0855

IMG_0863

The left overs stayed in the freezer for several days and still tasted great! We enjoyed this so much, and it was so easy, that I decided to serve this at the second Yoga Retreat that I catered this past weekend.

I went with the individual cupcakes for the Yogis 🧘🏻‍♀️. The only difference was that the brownie batter was placed into a lined muffin tin, and there was no pre-freezing involved.

The cooled brownie cups were unwrapped, a scoop of ice cream was added, then the merengue as previously described. I assemble 8 and placed them in the freezer for after dinner.

The yogis had fun torching their own desserts 😃 .

1529731937418

1529732028525This was a fun, easy summer dessert 🍨. Another great idea from Sally’s Baking Addiction!🙏

Sally’s Baking Addiction: May, 2018 Challenge: Classic Cheesecake 🍰

IMG_7696

Last month we made croissants, which was pretty time consuming. I think Sally took pity on us and assigned a much less cumbersome challenge for May: the classic cheesecake.

If you have ever made a cheesecake, you know that they are not that difficult. There are very few ingredients, the only tricky part is baking it in such a way that you don’t have a giant crack in the center. It is not that hard really. You just need to use a water bath and be sure to avoid over mixing the cheese cake filling.

I didn’t want a huge cake, so I opted for these mini cakes so my hubby could unload take them to his coworkers! I didn’t need to create the water bath, just had to keep an eye on them while they were in the oven. I also decided to top each with chocolate ganache, which absolved me of any cracking issues 😉

First up, the graham cracker crust. The crushed cracker crumbs were combined with vanilla sugar and butter. Sally used regular sugar, I just prefer to reinforce the vanilla flavor by baking with the vanilla sugar I always keep on hand for dessert preparations.

The result is a sandy, textured mix that is spooned into a paper lined muffin tin.

 

This recipe makes about 9 cakes, and they were pre-baked for 5 minutes at 350ºF.

IMG_7641

While these cooled, I made the filling. This was so fast and easy! Cream cheese, more vanilla sugar, sour cream, vanilla, lemon juice and an egg were placed into the bowl and mixed until just combined.

IMG_7643

Try not to whip this! No extra air should be incorporated to avoid cracking while baking and this is a very thick mixture. Just a few tablespoons are needed to cover each of the crusts.

IMG_7644

The pan goes into the 350ºF oven for about 20 minutes. The cakes are done when the edges are just set, and the center is still a little jiggly (just like a full cheesecake). Make sure these cool completely by placing them in the fridge for, at least, 2 hours. I actually made the cakes and refrigerated overnight. They will sink a little in the center, but just add a topping of fruit or chocolate and they will be perfect!

IMG_7702

IMG_7803

IMG_7703

 

IMG_7805

So easy and tasty 😋! Another awesome Sally recipe. Try either the full cake, or these minis, for a fast and delicious dessert, and let me know what you think👩🏻‍🍳 💕

Something Delicious and Different for your Easter Table 🐰

I made these Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Eggs last year. My blog was pretty new at the time, so I am guessing most of you haven’t seen that post. I talked about my grandmother as the  inspiration for making these decorated eggs. She was rather unique, so if you are interested, take a look at those first couple of paragraphs💕

IMG_5958

This is barely a recipe, they are that easy! You can find numerous recipes for homemade Reese’s all over the internet. I followed The Recipe Critics formula. Simply combine smooth peanut butter, powdered sugar,  melted butter and a small amount of milk. Mix on low speed with a paddle attachment, the dough will be crumbly and that is ok!

Pull the dough together on a floured board and roll out to, roughly, 1/2 inch thickness. Use an egg shaped cutter to stamp out the shapes. I didn’t have one, so I made templates out of parchment paper. I traced around the circumference of a large egg and cut out the patterns.

IMG_5935

I then used the templates, and a sharp knife, to make the peanut butter eggs.

The eggs need to be refrigerated for, at least an hour. This will help with the chocolate dipping process. Melt 1 bag of milk chocolate chips with 1 Tablespoon of shortening. The shortening will give the eggs a nice shine.

IMG_5938

I used a fork to submerge the eggs into the chocolate. I did have to use a second bag of chips to have enough chocolate coating for 21 eggs.

Honestly, you could stop right here and devour these after the chocolate sets. There is no shame in that 😋 Your family and friends would be thrilled with them, just as they are!

IMG_5943

This is a giant Reese’s Cup! 

If you want to go the extra step, this is how I decorated my eggs. I used a royal icing recipe that makes a firm consistency. Some royal icing formulas are soft and have a marshmallow type texture. Delicious, to be sure, but those won’t hold the definition of the piping tips particularly well. You will have softer lines, like the leaves in this picture.

IMG_5949

They are leaves, but without veins. My icing was too warm at this point 😞

I like Antonia74’s recipe for this project. It is still tasty, but with a stronger consistency.

I made a batch, divided it up and started coloring! The icing was bagged up, with a variety of flower tips, and I was ready to go.

IMG_5941

I like to use disposable bags with coupler attachments. I can then change my flower tips to make different colored flowers, lines and flower petals.

It may take a few tries for you to get the look you want. I tend to practice a few times on my cutting board or parchment paper to see how the flowers will look before moving to the eggs. If you do make a mistake, not big deal! Wait for the icing to dry and pop it off the surface of the chocolate!

IMG_5956

IMG_5960

IMG_5946

This is a better example of leaves with the details I wanted. See the veins in the leaves?

IMG_5952

IMG_5951

IMG_5950

As I said before, if you don’t have the time for all the decorating, just eat them plain! I want to wish you all a Happy Easter🐰🐥💕!

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Easter eggs

  • Servings: About 20 large eggs
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Beautiful, festive and with all the taste of a Reese's peanut butter cup! These Eggs will be the highlight of your Easter Buffet

Credit: The Recipe Critic and invisible-no-more.com

Ingredients

-3 cups Powdered sugar

-1 and 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

-1/4 cup butter, melted

-2 Tablespoons milk

-1 to 2 bags milk chocolate chips

-1 to 2 Tablespoons vegetable shortening

 

Directions

  1. Beat together powdered sugar, peanut butter, and butter together. At this point the dough will be crumbly. Add two tablespoons of milk and continue to beat together until the dough softens. If the dough still seems crumbly that is ok.
  2. On a floured surface, roll the dough out to desired thickness. About ½ thickness. You can use egg cookie cutters or with a knife, shape the dough to look like eggs.
  3. Place eggs on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer for an hour.
  4. When you are ready to dip them, add the chocolate and 1 Tbsp shortening in a microwave and melt 30 seconds at a time. Stirring it after every 30 seconds and being careful not to cook the chocolate to burn. Of, melt chocolate and shortening over a double boiler
  5. Dip each egg in chocolate. I used a fork to help cover in the chocolate. Place them on parchment paper to set.
  6. If more chocolate is needed, melt the second bag with the shortening. Enjoy!

Antonia74's Royal Icing recipe

Ingredients

-3/4 cup warm water

-5 Tablespoons meringue powder

-1 teaspoon cream of tartar

-1 kilogram (2.25 pounds) of powdered sugar

 

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, pour in the warm water and the meringue powder. Mix it with a whisk by hand until it is frothy and thickened…about 30 seconds.
  2. Add the cream of tartar and mix for 30 seconds more.
  3. Pour in all the powdered sugar at once and place the bowl on the mixer.
  4. Using the paddle attachment on the LOWEST speed, mix slowly for a full 10 minutes. Icing will get thick and creamy.
  5. When the icing is just sitting on the counter, be sure to cover the bowl with a dampened tea-towel or paper towel, to prevent crusting and drying.
  6. Tint with food coloring* or thin the icing with small amounts of warm water to reach the desired consistency.

*I prefer gel colors so they will not change the consistency of the icing, and the colors are more intense.

 

Sally’s Baking Addiction: February, 2018 Challenge: Cake Pops!

IMG_4896

I now have to include the year in the title of my baking challenge posts because I have completed one full cycle of Sally’s monthly tasks! I am kinda proud of that fact. Sally launched her Baking Challenge in February of 2017, and I have managed to complete all 12, so far! It has been tricky to stay on track over the last 12 months as we have travelled, bought a new home and have had some really busy months. But I have persevered, and managed to not gain 10 extra pounds 🙂

This month’s challenge was not too tough as Sally set cake pops as the perfect Valentine’s Day treat for us to create. My plan was to omit the stick and go with cake pop truffles. I felt this would be easier, and slightly more professional, for my hubby and his coworkers to pop into their mouths, as opposed to sitting in a client meeting eating cake on a popsicle stick!

Sally’s chocolate cake and chocolate icing were scrumptious, and so simple!

The first step was to bake the cake, which I did a day ahead. This was cooled and crumbled into a bowl of Sally’s chocolate icing.

IMG_4165

The mixture was rolled into balls and refrigerated overnight.

IMG_4169

At this point you can insert the stick, but I skipped that! I made rather small truffles and had a yield of 65 balls to be dipped into melted chocolate.

I happen to have milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate and red chocolate melting discs at my home. Yes, I have too much chocolate on hand at all times!

IMG_4880

I also have way too many candy decorations! So, my daughter came over to make and decorate truffles with me, and make some candy apples for her boyfriend for Valentine’s Day.

IMG_4881

We made quite the mess, but so worth it!

IMG_4882

We had a blast dipping and decorating these little guys.

IMG_4894

 

IMG_4899

They were also delicious! I was impressed that they were not dry inside-as I have purchased cake pops from bakeries before that required a full glass of water in order to choke them down.

IMG_4898

Another great Sally creation! If you can’t tell, I am a fan of her recipes!

They are all simple, delicious and accessible for any level of baking skills you may possess!

I hope to keep baking with her through 2018!

 

SaveSave

King Cake for Mardi Gras!

IMG_4730

This is my first King Cake. I don’t know why, but I had it in my head that a King Cake was complicated and took days to make. One of my good friends from culinary school, Jen, makes one every year and has a condo in Phoenix. This is my first February in Tucson, so we decided to get together and make King Cakes at her place.

The recipe is straight forward and the dough comes together quite easily. Here is the problem. Phoenix is 2 hours from Tucson, so we decided I would mix my dough, at my house, and then drive to Phoenix while the dough was rising. Jen would make her dough and then we could stagger the baking times in her oven. Makes sense, right? The dough should take an hour to rise before I needed to move to the filling stage. But the drive is 2 hours, remember?

So, I started at 8am and had the windows down until I hit the freeway. At that point I put the air conditioner on and trained the vents to directly hit the dough container. That worked well for about an hour, and my feet were frozen! At that point I turned off the air and let the dough finish doubling for the last 45 minutes of the drive.

It looked pretty good when I got there.

It had doubled and was ready to be rolled out into a 14in X 18in rectangle. The filling, which is cinnamon, butter and sugar was spread out leaving an inch border.

This is basically just a big cinnamon roll! I rolled it up, length wise into a cylinder, and sealed the edges to make the wreath.

IMG_4710

This is left to rise for another 30 minutes

Then into the oven and 25 minutes later, I had my first King Cake.

IMG_4124

Looks good from this side!

IMG_4125

But over here, it looks like I forgot to put it seam side down on the baking sheet!

 

A simple icing of powdered sugar, milk, vanilla and melted butter was whisked up. The important part is getting the colored sugars applied before the icing sets. So, I had to work with a little urgency.

IMG_4716

How cute is Jen’s spatula! She loves those little baking implements!

I tried to apply the three, traditional colors in equal amounts.

IMG_4126

IMG_4721

I said I tried to have equal amounts, not that I succeeded in doing so!

While we waited for the icing to set, Jen gave me a taste of the Nutella Babka she made using Sally’s Baking Addiction Recipe.

IMG_4740

Seriously, is this artwork or a quick bread! It was delicious and beautiful!

Now, the time of the big reveal!

IMG_4130

I love the swirl!

 

IMG_4730

And the taste! Of course I had to have mine with a cup of coffee 🙂

IMG_4139

Macarons copy

I was pretty happy with the result and the recipe was really simple. Not sure if it is a traditional King Cake, but I do recommend this recipe for a quick way to partake in the Mardi Gras season.

If you would like to see more creations from my friend, you can find Jen on Instagram.

SaveSave