Give these sweet little choux puffs a try. They’re filled with custard, chopped strawberries and homemade rhubarb jam and topped with whipped cream. If you need me to say more then you’re not meant to be here! Go do some online shopping or whatever.
4 T. unsalted butter
1 t. fine sugar
1 pinch of salt
1/2 c. water
heaping 1/4 c. of flour
- bring butter, sugar, salt and water to a rolling boil. Add the flour until a dough forms.
- While still on the heat, vigorously beat the batter for at least 2 minutes with a wooden spoon and then transfer to another bowl. Continue to beat for a few more minutes until the batter is no longer steaming.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. The mixture should be fall off the spoon in a V shape.
- Transfer dough to a piping bag and pipe 1-inch rounds about 1 inch apart from each other.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Once removed from the oven, poke the bottoms of the puffs with a fork to help release the steam. Let cool.
1/2 t. vanilla bean paste
2 1/2 c. whole milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 c. corn starch
1 c. sugar
- Over medium-high heat, bring the milk and vanilla to a simmer.
- In the meantime, combine the eggs, yolks, starch and sugar until smooth.
- Remove the milk from the heat and pour over egg mixture while whisking the whole time.
- Transfer the mixture back to the heat and stir until thickened. It might take some time. Be careful to stir the whole time so that the mixture doesn’t burn.
- Transfer to a clean bowl and chill until ready to use.
STRAWBERY RHUBARB JAM
1/4 c. chopped strawberries
1/4 c. chopped rhubarb
1/2 c. sugar
- Place sugar and fruit in a small saucepan and add a tiny splash of water. Cook on low-medium heat until thickened. Set aside to let cool.
- Combine half of the jam and half of the cream together and put in a piping bag with the straight nozzle attachment.
- Insert in the bottom of each puff and squeeze until the puff is full.
- Dollop whipped cream on top of each one, topping with a strawberry slice.
What kind of person would I be if I didn’t make something with ale on St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve been to the Guinness brewery and the best thing I tasted there wasn’t the beer, believe it or not. It was the Guinness chocolate bar they had in their gift shop. My brother and I were mid-argument, something about directions, and this bar alone brought us together again. I’ve been dreaming of it ever since I took my last bite, and this is a cakeafied version of it.
That said, confession time. I didn’t use Guinness. Oops. I had to get you this far so you’d listen to me when I tell you that it’s equally as good if not better. Instead, I used a dark bitter chocolate ale that I found in a local market. The real kicker here is the molasses in the recipe. It keeps the ale very much alive, which gives the cake a real depth of flavor.
This is my second post in a row about chocolate cake, I know, but come on, what was I supposed to do? I even sprinkled a little gold dust on top. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
CAKE: (recipe used from Fine Cooking)
1 1/4 c. dark ale, like Guinness or chocolate ale (I used Old Tom)
1/3 c. molasses
1 2/3 AP flour
3/4 c. cocoa powder
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
- Line your pan with butter and dust it with cocoa powder (not subtracting from the specified in the recipe).
- Melt in a small saucepan on medium heat the molasses with the stout and set aside.
- In a medium bowl sift the dry ingredients together and set aside as well.
- In the mixer, beat the butter until smooth and then add sugar. Beat again until fluffy and smooth, about 2 minutes.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time waiting for each one to be incorporated before adding another.
- Then, alternate stout and dry mixture on low until both are gone and the batter is smooth with no lumps. Scrape down the sides if you have to.
- Pour evenly into a bundt pan and bake 40-50 minutes. the middle will spring back up.
- Release the cake from the pan as soon as it comes out of the oven.
- Starting with at least 2 c. of the icing sugar and vanilla, pour milk in, a tablespoon at a time until you get a thick paste like consistency. It shouldn’t fall easily from a spoon, but drip slowly.
- Drizzle over the middle of the ring and let it fall down the sides naturally.
I have to confess that this is sort of a recycled recipe. It’s almost exactly my pistachio cake recipe, but there’s more coffee and a different frosting. I came home with a longer lunch break than usual and couldn’t resist the need to bake. I’m an addict. The Kitchen Aid is my trigger. Once we lock eyes, it’s all over. Creepy, I know.
I used dark cocoa for this recipe because the dark, almost black color of the cake is as appealing as a red velvet cake. When you see it, you just know that you want to eat it. I’d call them black velvet, but that sounds a little dark and scary, which is not what these are. They’re pillows of goodness. Try and convince me otherwise.
CHOCOLATE CAKE: (from here)
1 3/4 c. AP flour
1 3/4 c. caster sugar
3/4 c. dark cocoa powder
1 t. baking powder
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1 c. hot water with 5 T. of instant espresso powder
350 F / 180 C
- In large mixing bowl, combine all wet ingredients ACCEPT coffee.
- Next, sift in dry ingredients and mix until combined.
- Add espresso mixture. The batter will become very wet, almost watery.
- Line 2 cupcake tins with papers and fill each one just over halfway. Bake 15-20 minutes until middle springs back when you push it.
SALTED VANILLA BEAN BUTTERCREAM:
3 c. icing sugar
1/2 c. room temperature butter, unsalted
2 T. whole milk or cream
1 1/2 t. vanilla or the seeds of 1-2 vanilla beans
1-2 generous pinches of sea salt
- Beat butter and sugar until combined.
- Add milk, vanilla and sea salt.
- If you want a frosting that is thicker or thinner adjust the sugar or milk amounts.
- Sprinkle tops of cupcakes with cocoa powder and more sea salt.
There is nothing better than making your own bread. I taught a class of 6th graders last week and one of them brought in cupcakes for a project. They were supposed to demonstrate something that they knew they weren’t good at, and she chose baking. I asked if she made them from scratch and she said no. Fine. Then a girl from behind us said in disbelief and with a little bit of disgust, “Who makes things from scratch anymore?!”
How did we lose touch with something as basic as making our own food? The idea that some people would rather buy something off of a shelf without ever knowing where it came from is unthinkable to me. I know I know, there’s a balance. We can’t all be amish. We can all, however, be educated and aware that our food doesn’t have to share an ingredient with our yoga mat or whatever.
To me, bread is the ultimate celebration of slow food. It’s about making something from some things with time and love and appreciation. So today these bagels are my way of honoring the process and a reminder that convenience isn’t always an acceptable answer.
BAGELS (makes 8 bagels)
2 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c. white flour
2 t. salt
1 T. instant yeast
3 T. caster sugar
Egg wash (1 egg with 1 T. of water)
Toppings: Sesame seeds, sea salt, cheese, herbs, etc.
425 F / 220 C
- In a stand mixer or glass bowl, combine flours, salt, yeast, sugar and water making sure to put the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the bowl before adding the water.
- Knead with the dough hook for about 6 minutes or 12 minutes by hand.
- Place in greased bowl covered with a bag or plastic wrap in a warm place and let rise for 2 hours or until double in size.
- Once risen, cut your dough into 10-12 pieces depending on how big you want your bagels to be. Roll them into smooth balls by pinching the sides and gathering them at the bottom of the ball.
- Once finished place your finger through the middle and roll the dough around both of your index fingers until you reach the size you want. NOTE: They will puff up in the second rise and boiling so, don’t underdo it!
- Cover with plastic again and let rise 20 minutes in a warm place.
- In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil and preheat your oven.
- Once the water is boiling, add the sugar and drop the bagels (4 or 5 at a time) into the pot and boil 90 seconds on each side turning with a slotted spoon. Place the boiled bagels on a pan lined with parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal or semolina.
- If you desire toppings: brush the top of the bagels with the egg wash and add what you’d like. In this case sea salt and seeds. If you don’t desire any toppings, just egg wash the bagels and bake them.
- Bake for 10 minutes and then flip and bake for 10 minutes again. Don’t worry, your toppings won’t fall off.
ROASTED RED PEPPER CREAM CHEESE:
4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 roasted red pepper
- Pulse in a food processor the pepper and cream cheese until smooth.