Monday, April 12, 2010

son of a cream puff

First: the new face of cooking won't be sorry if you watch the entire ten minutes. Trust me on this.

(Note: chocolate chip cookie baking in my kitchen bears more than a slight resemblance to this video. Minus the gratuitous chocolate chip cramming in mouth part in the middle. Just kidding to both points. Although if you see me throwing my eggshells on the floor instead of in the trash can from now on, you know why.) (Favorite line at 2:51..."son of a biscuit", which I am totally going to start saying instead of, well you know. Not that I say that anyway. I hereby pronounce this little girl Sass Queen 2010.)

Where was I? Baking...the past week...oh yes. Our home hosted an "Iron Chef" competition last Thursday, which was messy good fun. 1 kitchen, 8 people, 2 teams, 2 bags of unknown groceries, 7 final dishes comprising 1 gut-busting meal. At the risk of sounding horribly bossy, I strongly suggest that you call up your friends now and set a date (this week?) for your own cooking party, competition optional. (This was way more enjoyable than I thought it would be!)

Random ingredient usage highlights: dried mango slices transformed into a cinnamon/nutmeg chutney? compote? of sorts, starfruit smashed into lemon vinaigrette for salad, stealing greens from the salad for pesto (remember, all's fair in love and pesto).

Of course I made dessert...the day before. (Loads of prior history dictates that dessert never be made in a hurry.) I will not bore you with the sordid details of my spotty record of successful pate a choux baking; just know that the record was spotty. But what to do with a dessert request--ignore it? Deny it? I swallowed my choux pastry fears and hopped to it.

A profiterole, if you've never had one before, is like the child of the cream puff...a beautiful, tiny, smothered in chocolate sauce cream puff child. Oh lordy. They're both made from choux pastry, which are those balls you see up there: dry and crusty on the outside, light and airy on the inside. Basically, a perfect vehicle for whipped cream (cream puff) or ice cream and chocolate sauce (profiterole). Relatively easy and super impressive. (Note: do not try to serve any more than two apiece to a person after an extremely large meal. Mild curse words may be tossed your way.)

(adapted from Joy of Baking--this recipe is enormously informative and useful. Read the top part through; it'll tell you everything you need to know!)

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup water
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400 and position a rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, and salt.

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt together the butter and water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add the flour mixture all at once. Returning to heat, stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a smooth ball.

Transfer dough to the bowl of an electric mixer and with the paddle attachment, beat on low for a couple minutes to cool down the dough. (Alternately, beat on low with a hand mixer.) With the mixer still running, slowly stream in the eggs and continue beating until dough turns into a smooth paste. (It will look a little curdled and scary for a bit, but don't worry, just keep going.)

Spoon 12 mounds of dough onto the sheet (I found my medium sized cookie scoop worked great for these purposes). (You could also pipe it onto the sheet, but I would never ask you to do this.)

Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven temperature down to 350 and bake for another 30-40 minutes until the exterior of the little puffs are golden and the interior fairly dry. (To check, just slash one open and check.) Turn off the oven and leave the door slightly open for 10-15 minutes to let the puffs dry out, then remove from sheet to a cooling rack for an additional 5-10 minutes.

To serve, you can reheat them in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes, then split open and fill with little scoops of vanilla ice cream. Drizzle warm chocolate sauce over the tops (or just make a pool of it on the plate) and be generous with it, please.

Okay so exciting: my very first cake decorating class starts tomorrow! You will definitely be reading all about it here, so get amped!!


  1. Reason number 8,583 to come to Minnesota: finding this little girl! She sang about the Mall of America!


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