Chocolate Cream Puffs

Pastries, Chocolate | March 31, 2019 | By

Hey guys! Today we’re on cream puffs, and if you’ve never made them, today is the day! I think with all pastry, I always get pretty nervous, but really it’s not as difficult as you might think.

And cream puffs are a great place to start if you’ve never made any kind of pastry before. I’d have to say this is probably the easiest option. That being said, if you’re more into the classic, click on over to my original cream puff recipe for a fantastic vanilla version!

There’s two main points to focus on when it comes to getting these right. The first is the dough. I pretty much always find that 3 eggs is right for this recipe, but you want to pay close attention to the FEEL of the dough. Once the eggs are mixed in, grab a little bit of dough between your thumb and first finger. Mush your fingers to together lightly, and pull them apart- you should have a stretchy dough here. If the dough breaks right away, go for another egg.

The next problem area is baking time. If you under-bake here, your puffs will collapse when they cool, and you won’t have those much needed pockets on the inside. On a classic dough, you’re looking for a deep golden brown, but on chocolate, things get tricky. Here’s my tip- wait until the dough looks completely dry. And if you aren’t sure, carefully pick up a puff. It should be very light!

So, onto the filling. If you’ve made my other cream puff recipe, you know I take a shortcut here. We don’t all always have time to make pastry cream do we? So, I actually use instant pudding mix and add in heavy cream with the milk. You get a fluffy, mousse-like filling that you’ll absolutely love!

We’re ready, okay guys? You got this, I got this, we can all eat cream puffs tonight and dazzle our friends, k?

Chocolate Cream Puffs

Ingredients

For the puffs:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1 tbs. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs

For the filling:

  • 1 box instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

For the ganache:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

For the puffs:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and line a large baking sheet with a nonstick mat or parchment paper. Set aside. 

  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. Set aside.

  3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, and then add in the water and vanilla extract. Bring the mixture to a boil, and remove from heat. Immediately stir in the flour mixture, using a wooden spoon or spatula to fully incorporate. Cool for about 10 minutes. 

  4. Using a hand mixer, a stand mixer, or just a spatula, work in the eggs one at a time. This will take a few minutes, and you want to fully incorporate each egg before adding the next. The dough should be sticky and very stretchy. 

  5. Transfer to a piping bag with a large tube tip on it (I use the Ateco 808 tip), and pipe the puffs onto your prepared baking sheet, about 3 tablespoons of dough per puff. You'll end up with some pointy tops or edges no matter how you pipe them. Wet your fingers with water to press down any pointy edges and further shape the puffs if needed.

  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the puffs are puffed and the dough looks completely dry. Cool completely before filling. 

For the filling:

  1. In a large bowl, beat together the pudding mix, milk, and heavy cream until the mixture is thick and slightly fluffy. This takes about 5 minutes for me with a hand mixer. Chill until ready to fill puffs.

  2. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip, and poke into cooled puffs to fill. Alternatively, slice the puffs in half and spoon the filling in. You will have leftover filling- it's great on it's own.

For the ganache:

  1. Heat the heavy cream, vanilla, and salt in the microwave until boiling. Add in the chocolate chips, and whisk until smooth. Pour over the filled puffs, and allow to chill until ready to serve. Enjoy! 

Chocolate Millionaire Bars

Bars, Chocolate | March 5, 2019 | By

Hey guys! It’s Monday, and let’s make something, okay?

Today we’re talking about millionaire bars, which are a classic bar dessert. Here’s how it typically goes down: a base layer of vanilla shortbread, topped with a thick layer of chewy caramel, and capped off with chocolate, or chocolate ganache. It’s messy, it’s delicious, and it’s really sweet.

So today, we’re giving it a little twist. First up, the shortbread base today is chocolate shortbread instead of the classic. It’s the beginning of the week, let’s all just get that much-needed treat in, k?

Now, we’ve got that trademark caramel layer, and it’s a thick one. Let’s be real, caramel is the star of a great millionaire bar. What I really love about this caramel recipe is that it uses sweetened condensed milk. Caramels that use condensed milk are WAY easier, and they are WAY harder to mess up.

If you’ve ever tried making classic caramel, it’s no easy task. I would like to say I have figured it out, but the reality is that there are so many tiny factors that can mess up a classic caramel, it’s hard to really become an expert.

The condensed milk, combined with brown sugar, and the cooking method here- they all make for an easy caramel that comes out smooth, silky, and flavorful every time. It is, however, a bit of a labor of love- you have to stir it constantly for about 15 minutes. Worth it, I promise.

To combat the sweetness overload here, we’re adding a healthy dose of salt to our caramel layer, as well as the ganache topping. And even further, we’ve added crushed pecans to the top. Think about it- chocolate on caramel on chocolate? We need some balance guys, even though we love those things.

And so another tip here- the instructions say to freeze the bars before removing from the pan and cutting. This makes it MUCH easier to handle. Caramel is sticky and stretchy, and chocolate ganache can be messy as well if it hasn’t fully set. It’s worth waiting, otherwise you’ll have a huge mess on your hands.

So it’s the beginning of the week, we made it through Monday, we got this. Enjoy!

Chocolate Millionaire Bars

Servings 20 bars

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbs. dark cocoa powder
  • 1 cup flour

For the caramel:

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1 tbs. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt

For the topping:

  • 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Instructions

For the crust:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Generously grease an 8 by 8 inch square pan, and insert parchment paper with overhanging edges. This will help to remove the bars. 

  2. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add in the salt, cocoa powder, and flour, and beat for several minutes until a crumbly dough has formed. 

  3. Spread the dough evenly in your prepared pan, and press down with the bottom of a glass for a flat, even layer. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the crust looks dry and just slightly darkened on the edges. Set aside. 

For the caramel:

  1. In a large, high-sided skillet (you can use a saucepan as well, but it may take longer), combine the butter, sweetened condensed milk, dark brown sugar, heavy cream, dark corn syrup, and vanilla extract. 

  2. Whisking constantly, bring the mixture up to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the temperature to medium heat, and cook for 10-15 minutes, whisking constantly. The mixture will thicken, and become slightly darker. When you whisk the mixture, it should be thick enough that you can clearly see streaks of the bottom of your pan. 

  3. Remove from heat, and continue stirring for another couple of minutes. Pour over your baked crust, and let the caramel set for about 30 minutes in the fridge. 

For the ganache:

  1. Heat the heavy cream in the microwave until boiling, and pour over the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the salt and vanilla. 

  2. Pour over the caramel layer, and smooth out using the back of a spoon to cover the caramel layer entirely. While the mixture is still wet, sprinkle the pecans evenly over the top. 

  3. Cover and freeze for at least an hour. Run a knife along the edges to remove the bars, and slice to your desired size. These are very dense, so I'd go small. Enjoy! 

Pistachio Chocolate Layer Cake

Cake, Chocolate | February 17, 2019 | By

Hey guys! I hope you had a wonderful weekend, and that you’re lucky enough to have this President’s Day off work, just in time to make this cake!

It’s my mom’s birthday, and normally I do some kind of chocolate marshmallow situation for her, but this year I’m switching it up.

This cake is pure you guys. The ground pistachios give the cake texture and a wonderful flavor, and the fudgey chocolate frosting is too good to be true. Here’s what I know to be amazing about the cake; it’s super easy to whip up, and it actually bakes up without a dome on top- no need to trim before stacking!

We’re using the reverse creaming method for the batter today, which is not my norm, but I actually really love the results in this cake. Just be sure to beat for a few extra minutes at the end to reach a light, fluffy batter.

And so this frosting. I don’t normally like American buttercream, as most bakers these days seem to agree, but I think it actually works really well for chocolate.

By using dutch cocoa powder and semi-sweet chocolate, as well as a pinch of salt, you don’t end up with something so terribly sweet as a vanilla option. In this recipe, I’ve also added cream cheese for a little tang, and for a super silky beautiful texture.

I’ve garnished the cake with whole shelled pistachios, but you can also use ground pistachios or even some pretty sprinkles! But honestly, the frosting carries this cake to the finish line, don’t even garnish if you don’t feel like it.

Pistachio Chocolate Layer Cake

Servings 16 slices

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 2 cups pistachios, shelled, and ground to a fine crumb
  • 2 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 tbs. canola oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk

For the frosting:

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 tbs. dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Instructions

For the cake:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and grease three 8-inch round cake pans. Set aside. 

  2. In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the ground pistachios, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Beat in the softened butter until completely combined, several minutes. The mixture should be crumbly and slightly yellow in color from the butter. 

  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, sour cream, vanilla extract, and buttermilk. Add the wet mixture into the dry in three parts, mixing well between each addition. Beat for several minutes after all the liquid has been added until the batter is well mixed, and slightly lighter in color. 

  4. Spread evenly in your prepared pans, and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely before removing from pans and frosting. 

For the frosting:

  1. In a large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese together until combined. Add in the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt, and beat until completely combined and smooth. Add in the melted chocolate, beating until combined. Then add in the heavy cream, and whip for several minutes until fluffy. Frost the cake as desired! 

Valentine’s Day Chocolate Cake

Cake, Chocolate | February 10, 2019 | By

Hey everyone! I know I’ve been making a lot of bundt cakes lately, sorry not sorry, but this one. This is the one you guys.

This isn’t just chocolate cake. It’s not even just chocolate chip cake. It’s chocolate cake, spotted with chocolate chips and crushed Oreos, and topped with chocolate sauce. And if that’s not giving you enough motivation to bake for v-day, I don’t know what will.

I’m using this pretty heart shaped bundt pan today, but you can use any bundt you’ve got, as long as it’s at least 10 cups. It’s gonna be just as fantastic, I promise.

Another note on baking in bundt pans- I used to spend a good amount of time greasing every little pocket with butter and then flour, and often even then they would stick some. But I recently switched to using Pam Baking Spray, and I love it! It’s easy and fast, and I haven’t an issue with a cake sticking since.

So anyways, this cake recipe has kind of a long ingredient list, but it’s all pretty normal stuff, and it all builds up a very strongly chocolate flavor that you’ll love. Of course, you can also skip the Oreos or chocolate chips if you want, but together, it’s a really indulgent combo that I think you’ll love.

Also though, you could add in chopped pecans or walnuts, or even chopped up chocolate chip cookies! Whatever you decide, this cake is best served up warm, when the chocolate chips are melty and the sauce is hot.

No matter what you’re doing for Valentine’s Day this year, this is the dessert you want to be eating, I promise. Enjoy!

Cookies & Cream Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. instant espresso powder
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 2 cups roughly crushed Oreos
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

For the chocolate sauce:

  • 3 tbs. whole milk
  • 1 tbs. butter
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 oz. chopped chocolate or chocolate chips

Instructions

For the cake:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 10-12 cup bundt pan. Set aside. 

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder. Set aside. 

  3. In a large bowl, beat together the oil, sour cream, and sugar until combined. Add in the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. 

  4. Add in about 1/3 of the flour mixture, and beat until combined. Then add in about 1/2 of the buttermilk, beating until combined. Repeat the process with the dry and wet until completely mixed in, reserving about 1-2 tablespoons of the dry mixture roughly. 

  5. Slowly beat in the hot water, and beat until the batter is smooth. Toss the crushed Oreos and the chocolate chips in the reserved flour mixture to coat, and then fold into the batter. 

  6. Pour into your prepared pan, and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 10-15 minutes in the pan before turning out onto a serving platter. 

For the sauce:

  1. In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the milk, butter, salt, and vanilla until just boiling. Whisk in the chocolate until completely melted and smooth. Pour over the cake while still hot, and serve warm. 

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookies, Chocolate | January 13, 2019 | By

Hey everyone! I’ve recently ventured into vegan baking for some chocolate chip cookies and guys, you wouldn’t even know the difference!

I don’t actually know any vegan eaters, but I do have a family friend who has some diet restrictions that, in baking, may as well be vegan. Plus, I find it really intriguing to bake vegan recipes- it kind of turns everything you know about baking upside-down, and it’s fun to experiment with egg and dairy replacements!

Add on top of all that the high-altitude factors, and we’ve got some science up in here this week. So, here’s what I’m swapping out:

  • Egg= chia seeds soaked in water
  • Butter= margarine
  • Milk= almond milk
  • Chocolate chips= non-dairy chocolate chips

I have to say, of anything, the chocolate chips are like. Entirely not noticeable as a substitute. So much so that it makes me wonder why we even need milk in chocolate to begin with- these taste EXACTLY the same as your normal semi-sweet chocolate chips. Also, they’re available in all my normal grocery stores!

And a note on the egg substitute- there are a lot of options for egg subs. Chia seeds just happened to already be in my pantry (instead of applesauce) but it’s really easy to find egg swap charts online!

These cookies are chewy, soft, and chocolatey. I actually really loved them, and I ate plenty on my own- they taste very indulgent, and while the flavors are just slightly different from your classic chocolate chip cookies, the different is minimal to be honest. Score!

So let’s call it a high-altitude-vegan-chocolate-chip-cookie kind of day, shall we? Enjoy!

High Altitude Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 tbs. chia seeds
  • 3 tbs. water
  • 1/2 cup room temperature dairy-free margarine (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups dairy-free mini chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life)

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the chia seeds and water, and set aside. It will thicken while you prepare the rest of the dough. 

  2. In a large bowl, beat together the margarine, brown sugar, sugar, vanilla, and almond milk until smooth. Add in the soaked chia seed mixture, and stir until combined. Add in the flour, baking soda, and salt, and beat until completely incorporated. The dough will be fairly soft. Fold in the mini chocolate chips. 

  3. Cover the bowl, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 

  4. Scoop the batter in two-tablespoonfuls onto your baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges just start to become golden brown. Cool and enjoy! 

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