Cream Puffs

Cream-Puffs-3-puffs

recipe courtesy of Epicurious

Cream Puffs are a lot easier to make than most people think, and you can fill them with all sorts of yummy stuff; whipped cream, pastry cream, pudding, custard, ice cream, cheese, and even chicken or tuna salad.

The first time I made choux pastry, I was a little apprehensive.  I was afraid that the process would be too complicated and that they would come out looking like something that no one wanted to eat.  Surprise, surprise…yes, they are a tad bit time-consuming (and messy), but they are easy to make, and it’s really cool to see how much they puff up when they bake.  I will suggest that you read through this recipe and get a pretty good idea of the process before you start (I would print out the recipe and keep it next to me).  This recipe makes lots of cream puffs, but you can freeze the extra puffs once you have piped them on the baking sheet, and then bake them at a later time.

No longer will you walk past the pastry case and drool when you see the beautiful delicacies on display.  Once you get the hang of making choux pastry, you’ll be pumping out not only Cream Puffs, but also Profiteroles (cream puffs filled with ice cream and topped with warm chocolate sauce), Gougeres ( cheese and herb cream puffs), Eclairs (elongated cream puffs filled with whipped cream or pastry cream and topped with a chocolate glaze) and perhaps even a big, beautiful Croquembouque (cream puffs filled with pastry cream, topped with caramel, and stacked in the shape of a tree, then surrounded with spun sugar).  Enjoy!

Ingredients

Choux Pastry

1 cup water

5 1/3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

4-5 large eggs

 

Fillings  (a few suggestions)

Whipped cream

Pudding

Pastry Cream

Ice Cream

Custard

Chicken Salad, Tuna Salad, Shrimp Salad

 

Toppings  (a few suggestions)

Various Ice Cream Sauces

Chocolate Ganache

Powdered Sugar

 

Cream-Puffs-heart-shaped-puff

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Line one baking sheet with a Silpat, and the second one with parchment paper.  If you don’t have a Silpat, just use parchment paper on both baking sheets.  Set up a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.  If using a hand mixer, set it up and have a large heat-proof bowl next to it.

Cream-Puffs-flour-added

3. Sift flour and set aside.  Combine the water, butter, sugar, and salt in a saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium to high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the flour, all at once.  Stir rapidly with a wooden spoon until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan and the bottom of the pan is clean, with no dough sticking to it.  The dough should be glossy and smooth, but still damp.

Cream-Puffs-cooked-dough

4. Continue to cook for 5 minutes, to allow the moisture to evaporate.  Adjust the heat as necessary to prevent the dough from browning.  A thin coating will form on the bottom and sides of the pan.  When enough moisture has evaporated, steam will rise from the dough and you will smell the nutty aroma of cooked flour.  At first you will smell the butter-yes, stick your nose down there and smell it-then the smell will change once the flour has been cooked.

5. Immediately transfer the dough to the mixer bowl and mix for a few seconds to release some of the heat.  Check to see if the dough is ready by placing your finger in it.  You should be able to touch down in the dough without getting burned.  On medium speed, add 4 eggs, one at a time, beating well and completely incorporating each egg before adding the next one.

Cream-Puffs-5th-egg

6. Turn off the mixer and lift some of the dough on a rubber spatula.  Turn the spatula to let the dough run off, it should fall off the spatula very slowly.  If it doesn’t move at all or is very dry and falls off in one clump, beat in the 5th egg.

Cream-Puffs-pastry-bag

7. Place the dough in a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip (you all see my pastry bag; it is a gallon-sized Ziploc bag with the corner cut off and a large tip and coupler set attached).  If you don’t have a pastry bag or tips, use a Ziploc bag with a small piece snipped off of the corner.

Cream-Puffs-raw-puffs

Cream-Puffs-smooth-puffs

8. Pipe the dough into a V-shape if you would like heart-shaped cream puffs, a rectangle for eclairs, and a round disc for regular cream puffs.  This dough is supposed to make about 4 dozen cream puffs, if you keep the size to about 1 1/2 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick when you pipe them.  Mine were bigger so I added 5 minutes to the baking time.  Space them a couple of inches apart so that they have room to expand while baking.  Using your fingertips dipped in water, you can smooth the surface of your piped cream puffs should they have lines.

 

Cream-Puffs-puffs-for-freezer

If you do not wish to bake them all now, just pipe them onto the baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper, smooth them with wet fingers, and then place them in the freezer.  Once they are frozen, you can place them in a freezer storage bag until you are ready to bake them.   To bake the frozen cream puffs, place the frozen puffs on a silpat and bake as directed below.  You will probably need to add a few minutes to the baking time at the end.

Cream-Puffs-baked-puffs

9. Bake the puffs for 10 minutes, turn the baking sheet around, turn the oven down to 350 degrees, and bake for 15 more minutes.  Remove one puff and cut it open with a very sharp knife; it should be hollow inside and not gooey or eggy.  If it is still moist, return it to the oven and check it in 5 minutes.  Cool the puffs completely on the baking sheet.  Store in an airtight container until serving time.

Cream-Puffs-heart-shaped-puff

10. When ready to serve, slice the puff in half with a very sharp knife.  Fill as desired, place the top back on the puff and top it as desired.

 

Unbaked Blueberry Pie

Aunt-Mollys-Unbaked-Blueberry-Pie-pie-with-ice-cream

Blueberry Pie recipe adapted from “Aunt Molly’s Unbaked Blueberry Pie” by Diana Travisono, named for Amalia Femino

courtesy of The Providence Journal, Gail Ciampa Food Editor/ Providence, Rhode Island

Pastry Crust recipe adapted from Kitchenaid Food Processor Cookbook

I never really cared for blueberry pie before because it was always sticky, gooey and gummy, without the beautiful taste of the fresh berry.  Then I made this pie…what a difference, we look forward to blueberry season just to eat this pie.  The berries taste so fresh and the pie is not overly sweet.  This pie is very quick to put together, you don’t even have to bake a crust if you really don’t want to, just use a graham cracker crust (the author of this recipe does say that a baked crust holds up better, though).

However, when the weather is stifling hot, turning on the oven can be a deal breaker.  The pie will still taste just as yummy with an unbaked ( graham cracker) crust, it just may not look as pretty when you slice it.  I’m including my pie crust recipe if you prefer a classic baked crust;  it is the recipe that came with my Kitchenaid food processor and it’s great.  The most difficult thing about making this pie is waiting for it to set.  You will be tempted to sneak a bite or two, but hold off and allow it to set up properly, it is worth the wait.  Enjoy!

Aunt-Mollys-Unbaked-Blueberry-Pie-blueberries

Blueberry Pie Ingredients

1 deep dish pie crust, baked and cooled (recipe follows)

6 cups blueberries

3/4 cup water

2 Tablespoons flour

1/2 cup sugar

 

Blueberry Pie Directions

1. Bake pie crust and allow to cool.

2. Remove 1 cup of the blueberries, set aside.

Aunt-Mollys-Unbaked-Blueberry-Pie-cooked-berry-mix

3. Mix the flour and water together in a medium-sized saucepan.  Add sugar and the 1 cup of blueberries.  Bring to a boil and then immediately turn down to a simmer.  Cook over low heat for 7-10 minutes.  Stir constantly at first and be careful that it does not stick or burn as it thickens and deepens in color.

4. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.

5. Add the rest of the blueberries;  gently mix the fresh berries with the cooked berry mixture.  Pour into prepared pie crust, using a rubber spatula to smooth the pile of berries.

6. Allow pie to sit until completely cooled.  This could take hours, but it is very important for you to allow it to cool before cutting it or it may not set up correctly.

Aunt-Mollys-Unbaked-Blueberry-Pie-pie-with-ice-cream

7. After the pie has completely cooled, refrigerate.  Serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

 

Pie Crust Ingredients

This makes 2 crusts, plus a little extra for cutting out shapes

3 cups flour

1 1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup cold shortening

4 1/2 Tablespoons cold butter, cut up

7 1/2-10 tablespoons ice water

Pie Crust Directions

1. Put flour and salt in food processor bowl fitted with the multi-purpose blade.  Process until mixed, about 3 seconds.

Aunt-Mollys-Unbaked-Blueberry-Pie-food-processor

2. Add the shortening and butter, pulse 3 or 4 times, about 3 seconds each.  The mixture should be crumbly.

3. Sprinkle about 5 Tablespoons of the ice water over the mixture.  Pulse about 3 times, for 3 seconds each time, or until mixture pulls away from the sides in the bowl.  Everything should be moistened, add more water as necessary.

Aunt-Mollys-Unbaked-Blueberry-Pie-ball-of-dough

4. Shape dough into 2 balls.  Flatten one ball of dough into a thick disc, wrap with plastic wrap, and place in a zip bag and freeze it for future use.

5. Place the other ball of dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out into a circle that is larger than your pie plate.

6. Loosen the dough from the surface and gently fold in half and then half again.  Lay dough in pie plate and gently unfold.  Press the dough into the pie plate, correcting any tears as you go.

Aunt-Mollys-Unbaked-Blueberry-Pie-unbaked-crust

7. At this point you can either pinch the dough all around the edge of the pie plate, or slice it off even at the top and use cut-out dough as a decorative touch.  I’ve always been lousy at crimping pie dough, it never looked nice enough for me.  So years ago I gave up trying and just started using cut-out pie dough in various shapes to decorate the edge of the pie pan.

8. Attach the cut-out pieces to the pastry in the pie pan with a bit of water.  Using a fork, pierce the crust on the sides and bottom (so that the crust does not puff up).  Using a pastry brush (mine is a paint brush), lightly brush the cut-outs with water and immediately sprinkle with sugar.

Aunt-Mollys-Unbaked-Blueberry-Pie-baked-crust

9. Bake empty shell at 425 degrees for about 12-15 minutes, or until light and golden.  Place on a cooling rack until ready to use.

Apple Tart

Apple-Tart-glazed-tart2

Recipe courtesy of CLEAN FOOD by Terry Walters

Published by Sterling Epicure, New York, N.Y.

This book is a great guidepost for healthy life choices, with a heavy nod toward gluten-free and vegan, tips for seasonal eating, and info about buying local produce.  This Apple Tart is a gluten-free goodie and it tasted so good.  You can check out Terry’s blog here.

 

Ingredients

CRUST
1 cup millet flour
3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1/4 maple syrup
( I didn’t have any millet flour, so I increased the almond flour to 1 cup, and used 3/4 cup brown rice flour)

FILLING
4 apples
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 Tablespoons sliced almonds (I had slivered almonds so I used them, but sliced almonds look prettier)

GLAZE
1/2 cup apricot jam or preserves
2 Tablespoons water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

1. Place millet flour, almond flour, and salt in food processor and combine.

2. Melt coconut oil over very low heat, and whisk together with maple syrup.  Add to food processor and pulse to combine and form dough.

Apple-Tart-crust-in-pan

3. Transfer dough into 9 inch oiled tart pan.  Press dough into tart pan to form the crust.  Pierce several times with a fork and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

Apple-Tart-before-baking

4. Peel apples, slice in half ( from stem down), and remove stems and cores.  Slice apples crosswise and then into 1/4 inch slices.  Keeping sliced halves together, fit apples into tart crust and fan them out.

 

Apple-Tart-after-baking-but-before-glazing

5. When crust is full, combine lemon juice and maple syrup and brush over apples.  Sprinkle with sliced almonds and bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour, or until apples are soft and lightly browned.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

6. In a small pan over low heat, thin apricot preserves in water.  Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.

Apple-Tart-glazed-tart2

7. Strain mixture, stir in lemon zest, and brush glaze over the tart.

Super Berry Crisp

Super-Berry-Crisp-my-bowl-of-crisp

Recipe courtesy of 101 Farmhouse Favorites

by Gooseberry Patch 

If you are looking for a quick and easy dessert that not only tastes great, but is also pretty…this is it! I usually think of a fruit crisp as a Fall dessert, because I almost always make them with apples.  However, this recipe is a nice twist on that classic.  The fresh blueberries in this recipe balance out the cherry pie filling and keep this crisp from being overly sweet.  There is a nice tart after-bite, perhaps it would be a little less tart with riper berries, but I really liked that about it.  Enjoy!

Super-Berry-Crisp-blueberries

Ingredients

21 ounce can cherry pie filling
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup long-cooking oats, uncooked
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Optional Garnish : Whipped cream (Cool whip or ice cream would be good, too)

 

Directions

Super-Berry-Crisp-berries

1. Pour cherry pie filling into an ungreased 9-inch pie pan; fold in blueberries.

 

Super-Berry-Crisp-topping-mixture

2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add remaining ingredients, except garnish, to melted butter, stirring to coat well.

 

Super-Berry-Crisp-before-baking

3. Spread oat mixture over fruit in pie pan.

 

Super-Berry-Crisp-my-bowl-of-crisp

4. Bake at 350°F. for 35 minutes, or until topping is crisp and golden.  Optional: Garnish individual servings with whipped cream.

 

 

Super-Berry-Crisp-topping-ingredients

Cheesecake Berry Baskets

Cheesecake-Berry-Baskets-garnished-with-chocolate

Recipe courtesy of Pepperidge Farm

Ingredients

10 ounce package Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Shells

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

6-8 Tablespoons powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-4 Tablespoons milk

raspberry preserves

raspberries

optional garnishes: chocolate sauce, mint leaves, sifted powdered sugar

 

Directions

Cheesecake-Berry-Baskets-baked-puff-pastry-shells

1. Bake, cool, and remove “tops” of pastry shells according to package directions.

Cheesecake-Berry-Baskets-cheesecake-filling

2. Using a mixer, blend cream cheese with powdered sugar and vanilla extract, mixture will be quite thick (I did not wait for the cream cheese to soften).  Slowly add milk until mixture is of desired consistency.

Cheesecake-Berry-Baskets-1st-layer-cheesecake-filling

Cheesecake-Berry-Baskets-raspberries-preserves-layer

3. Layer cream cheese mixture and preserves into cooled pastry shell, starting with cream cheese and ending with cream cheese. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Cheesecake-Berry-Baskets-filled-and-topped-with-berries

4. Add fresh berries just before serving.

 

Cheesecake-Berry-Baskets-garnished-with-chocolate

5. Garnish as desired.

 

The nice thing about this dessert is that you can do all the prep work early, and the baskets can remain in the fridge all day until you garnish them with fruit and or a sauce of some sort, just before serving.  I got this recipe from the side of the Pepperidge Farm box, it is not on their website.  Enjoy!

This could be a cute Easter basket;

1. Use licorice to make a handle.

2. Sprinkle some green tinted coconut on the top layer of cheesecake.

3. Top the Easter grass with mini chocolate eggs, jelly beans, or a Peep©.

Pumpkin Mousse Pie

Pumpkin-Mousse-Pie-slice-of-pie

Pumpkin Mousse Pie is courtesy of Lisa H. and Alton Brown

@ CookEatShare

Pumpkin Mousse

1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled

15 ounce can pumpkin puree

1/3 cup milk

1 box (3.4 ounces) Jello-O© Pumpkin Spice Instant Pudding and Pie Filling

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Gingersnap Pie Crust

30 Gingersnaps

2 Tablespoons butter, melted

1 Tablespoon sugar

 

 Gingersnap Crust-Directions

Pumpkin-Mousse-Pie-Gingersnap-crust

1. Crush cookies;

Either place the cookies, about 10 at a time, in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to crush the cookies, or you can use a food processor to break up the cookies. Mix crushed cookies with butter and sugar.

2. Press mixture into a deep dish pie pan and bake for 10 minutes @ 350°F.

3. After the crust cools, add mousse filling and chill for at least 4 hours.

4. If you are making miniature pumpkin parfaits in mini dessert glasses, you do not need to bake the crust mixture. Instead, press about 1 Tablespoon crust mixture into the bottom of each mini dessert glass dish, add the pumpkin mousse filling and allow them to chill for at least 4 hours.

5. To garnish; top each mini dessert dish or serving of pie with a dollop of whipped cream or Cool Whip©, and sprinkle with Gingersnap cookie crumbs.

Pumpkin Mousse-Directions

Pumpkin-Mousse-Pie-pumpkin-and-milk

1. With a stand or hand mixer, whip the cold cream until the mixture forms medium high peaks that hold their shape when the beaters are removed, set aside. Combine the pumpkin puree and milk in a bowl. Whisk together until smooth.

Pumpkin-Mousse-Pie-add-the-pudding

2. Add dry pudding mix and vanilla extract to the pumpkin/milk mixture and whisk until smooth.

Pumpkin-Mousse-Pie-add-the-cream

3. Add whipped cream to pumpkin mixture and stir together until well incorporated.

Pumpkin-Mousse-Pie-pie

4. Spoon into ramekins, cooled pie crust, or mini dessert glasses and chill for at least 4 hours, or until set.

After 4 hours, my pie was still soft, but very good.  I added a little cinnamon and sugar to the cream as I whipped it for the garnish. The Gingersnap cookies and the cinnamon were the perfect flavors and texture to compliment the velvety richness of the pumpkin mousse.  Enjoy!