Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cream Puffs!

Don't Cream Puffs just sound fun?  I first tried these a few years ago when I was living in Portland.  I served them for a girls-night-out we were having and filled them with a silky chocolate filling (the same one I use for my french silk pie).  I've tried different variations by using different fillings (lemon custard, whipped cream) and sauces (chocolate, vanilla).  You can also play around with the shape itself.  Because of all the different ways to make them, it seems like there's one to suit just about anybody.  The cream puffs themselves are surprisingly easy to make, as long as you have decent upper arm strength. 
Cream Puffs
1 stick butter, cut up
1/2 C whole milk
1/2 C water
1 Tbs sugar
dash of salt
1 C flour
4 large eggs
Preheat oven to 425.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
In  medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, bring the butter, milk, water, sugar, and salt to a boil.  Then dump the flour all at once into the pan and mix quickly with a wooden spoon to form a dough.  Continue stirring constantly over the heat for 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating after each addition.  The dough will be smooth and shiny.
You can use a pastry bag or a baggie with the tip cut off to pipe the dough onto the parchment.  Play around with the shapes.  But make sure they're consistent in size.  My dough was about 3 inches in diameter.
Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 and bake for about another twenty minutes.  Use your judgement on this, if you made them small, bake for less time, and vice-versa.  They should be puffed and well browned.  If they're only slightly brown, they will still be wet in the middle so be sure to give them enough time.

Once of the things I liked about making these this time is that I split it up into a two day project.  I made the filling (this time I went with a classic chocolate pastry cream) the day before and refrigerated it.  Then I made the cream puffs the next day.  It seemed a lot less labor intensive that way.  I could hardly wait for them to cool!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Molten Lava Cakes, revisited

You would think that one posting on Molten Lava Cakes should be sufficient, but I have been hooked on a new recipe and have to share it.  Who can say no to Molten Lava Cakes?  If you can, then I'm sorry, we can't be friends.  :)  This is one of those things that people assume you can't make at home, and if you can then they must be difficult.  Well as long as you have ramekins ( even muffin tins work), then yes, they can be made at home and quite easily too.
I have made these for company multiple times and everyone always Oohs and Ahhs.  Although I did have one guest who didn't know what it was and proceeded to smash and stir it up, then eat it with a spoon.  He got teased a lot after that.  I have also made these for myself on several occasions when Jared is gone for the night for a conference or camp out.  He is always impressed (shocked?) by just how many I can eat all by myself.  Most people can only handle one, but I've built up a tolerance over the years I think.
So what makes this new recipe so great?  I think it's three things- less sugar, a little salt, and the addition of cocoa powder.  I love the salt in this recipe, I think it really makes it, so don't leave it out.
So here's the recipe, so simple, so delicious.

Molten Lava Cakes
1/3 C flour
3 T cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 stick butter, cut up
2 large eggs and 1 egg yolk, at roomp temp
6 Tbs sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare 6 ramekins (mine are about 4 .5 ounces) by spraying with baking spray (the kind with flour in it).
Melt chocolate and butter over low heat until just melted.
In large bowl, whisk eggs, yolk, and sugar until well blended.  Add the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, and salt) and stir them in.  Then, slowly, stir in the melted chocolate.
Divide the batter evenly among the ramekins, I use a 1/3 C measure for this, and they come out perfect.  Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes.  The sides will have risen, but the center will still be sunken and look a little wet.  Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes before overturning onto plate.  Serve with whipped cream. 

Extra Tip!!  If you don't have ramekins, just use muffin tins!  Regular size is fine.

Coming Soon: Cream Puffs!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Toot Toot!

Not to toot my own horn or anything...but my Hot Mulled Apple Cider recipe was just published in this week's Food section of the Columbus Dispatch.  Every week readers request recipes they're looking for or would like to try, then other readers submit a recipe as an answer.  The editor then chooses the best one as the answer.'s not like it's a big deal, but I smiled when I saw my name in print this week.  :)