Monday, August 27, 2012

pâte à choux swans

It's Daring Baker's reveal day!

I was very excited when I saw August's challenge! Kat of The Bobwhites was our August 2012 Daring Baker hostess who inspired us to have fun in creating pate a choux shapes, filled with crème patisserie or Chantilly cream. We were encouraged to create swans or any shape we wanted and to go crazy with filling flavors allowing our creativity to go wild!

A couple weeks prior to the challenge being announced, I had played with pâte à choux for the first time, planning on making eclairs to bring to a family gathering. Although my eclairs shells turned out fine, I undercooked my pastry cream and it was too soupy to pipe in the shells. So that was a fail!

I was quite ready to give it another go, and this time, it did turn out!

I used the pâte à choux recipe provided by our hostess, but took the lazy way out, and used the stand mixer to finish the dough. There doesn't seem to be much variations between pâte à choux recipes, so you can't go wrong!

Pâte à choux

½ cup (120 ml) (115 gm) (4 oz) butter
1 cup (240 ml) water
¼ teaspoon (1½ gm) salt
1 tsp sugar
1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm) (5 oz) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

Line at least two baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper, or grease pans well.
Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F/190°C/gas mark 5 .
In a small saucepan, combine butter, water, salt and sugar. Heat over medium until butter melts, then remove from stove.
Add flour all at once and beat the mixture until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pot.
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer, and using the paddle attachment and a low speed, mix briefly before adding the first egg. Beat for about a minute, until well combined. Add remaining eggs one at a time, beating for about a minute after each addition. Resulting mixture should be somewhat glossy, very smooth, and somewhat thick.

Scoop or pipe the mixture in desired shapes and bake in a 375 F oven. Start checking the progress at 20 minutes (10 minutes for the swan heads). The dough should be golden.

To make the swan bodies, pipe the dough in a tear drop-like shape, about 1.5 inch long and 1 inch wide.

The swan heads are piped using a much smaller plain tip, in a 2 shape.

I chose a crème chiboust to fill my pastries with. I had never heard of this kind creamy filling before researching pâte à choux, but a crème chiboust is a pastry cream combined with italian meringue. It's traditionally used to make St-Honoré cake.

The pastry cream is made by combining flour, salt, sugar, egg yolks and  milk in a saucepan, and cooking it while constantly stirring until thick. Gelatine is then added in, with vanilla, and a bit of heavy cream. The pastry cream is kept warm while the italian meringue is being made, by heating water and sugar to 240F degrees, then adding it to whipped egg whites and whipping the resulting meringue until the mixture is cooler, but still warm. The two mixtures are then combined to make chiboust cream.

Crème Chiboust
recipe adapted from Tartelette and Gary Rhodes

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
1 Tbsp vanilla
¼ cup whipping cream

5 egg whites
dash of salt
1 cup sugar

Bloom the gelatin in the 1/4 cup of cold water.
Put the sugar, flour, and salt into a saucepan and stir together with a whisk. Add the yolks and enough milk to make a paste. Whisk in the remainder of the milk. Place over low heat and stirring constantly, cook until thick. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and the gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in the whipping cream.

In another saucepan, boil together the sugar and water to around 240°F, which takes 2-3 minutes. While the sugar is boiling, whisk the egg whites to firm peaks. Gradually pour the boiled sugar onto the egg whites, whisking all the time; slowly continue to whisk the egg whites until just warm. Fold the meringue into the custard.

I was afraid the crème chiboust would set solidly if I let it cool, so I used it immediately. It was a bit soft for piping, but held up anyways. I should have strained the pastry cream before combining it with the italian meringue, as it was a bit lumpy, but still, super delicious! Once cold, it did set very solidly, so next time I would decrease the amount of gelatine, but it was still very delicious!

Now that I know how simple make cream puffs can be, and what pretty creations you can make with them, this could get very, very dangerous!

Thanks for the challenge Kat. Can't wait to see what challenge September brings!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

heartland turtle bars

It's been a while since I blogged with the Baked Sunday Morning crew, but after a short hiatus, I decided to jump right back in, and make these Heartland Turtle Bars. I really like desserts with oats in them, and this one is also chock full of chocolate, caramel and pecans.

One of the easier recipes in Baked Explorations, it's way less involved than most of them, and quite simple to make. The dry ingredients are combined together with melted butter, and 2/3 of the mixture is pressed in the bottom of a pan to make the crust, while the rest is reserved for the topping. The crusts bakes for 10 minutes, and once it's cool, chocolate chip and pecans are sprinkled on top.

The caramel layer is a mixture of butter and brown sugar, with a touch of cream. Mine was quite liquid and immediately blended in with the chocolate. So there was no distinct caramel layer like I was expecting. The rest of the topping was sprinkled on top of the caramel, and the bars were baked once more until golden brown.

Maybe I didn't bake them enough, but they were quite softer than I had imagined. I have to admit that they didn't get to cool down very much either, as it was quite warm and the house. (And I didn't read the part about chilling the bars for an hour so that they firm up) The chocolate stayed very soft.

It's very, very sweet. My husband said that it reminded him of an apple crisp, and said that the bars would be awesome, slightly warm, under a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

The recipe can be found on the Baked Sunday Mornings blog. Click on though to see how the other bakers enjoyed this one.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

chocolate ice cream

A UK based blog, Domestic Sluttery, started this new "pudding club", where once a month, they are going to announce a new pudding theme, and participants are to make a recipe, photograph and blog about it.

So of course, I decided to join in! I like that it's very lax in its rules. You make something, post it whenever, the Domestic Sluts share the posts when they can, and recap the first Monday of every month. Plus, I'll get to discover new blogs! Always fun!

My only issue is that the Canadian in me is not so familiar with the "pudding" term. I assume that it refers to their word for dessert. But then, in their inaugural post, they used the word "puddingy". And examples of puddings for this month's theme "chocolate", were a soufflé, a mousse, or a chocolate fondant pudding. Sure, they're desserts, but they are also like actual puddings (my understanding of pudding, a creamy, egg, milk or cream based concoction...).

In honor of this month's chocolate theme, I made chocolate ice cream. See, until I can understand this better, and see what the other participants in this club made, I made something safe. It's pudding (custard) based and I eat it for dessert, so yeah. Safe!

The recipe is out of a book from a famous ice cream shop in the states that I've never actually been to. I've made a couple recipes out of it so far, and they were very good. 

Chocolate Ice Cream

6 egg yolks
12 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup milk (1%)
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla

Their method is pretty traditional, where egg yolks and half the sugar are whisked together and set aside, and a mixture of cream, milk, sugar, salt and flavorings, in this case, cocoa powder is brought to an almost boil. The cream mixture is gradually whisked in the egg yolks to temper them, and the whole thing is transferred back to the saucepan to cook until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.

The mixture has to be completely chilled before being churned in an ice cream maker. Right out of the ice cream maker, the chocolate ice cream was super smooth, yet was slightly chewy. It looked like the perfect soft serve ice cream. I stuck it in the freezer overnight, and it came out perfect! The chocolate flavor isn't very pronounced, but it tastes like a milk chocolate ice cream.

For more information about the Sluttery Pudding Club, click on through to their site, and please visit the blogs of other participants in this club!