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! 

Toasted Marshmallow Pound Cake

Uncategorized | March 27, 2019 | By

Hey guys!

We’re just over here creepin’ up on summer, and it’s about time to make everything taste like s’mores, amirite?

You guys know I’m into cake, and I’m into pound cake specifically like a lot. Here we are again. I’ve got an amazing recipe for toasted marshmallow cookie bars in my book Sugar High, but I wanted to know what else we could throw ’em into.

There’s a lot of s’mores flavored things out there, but I think very few of them are done well. If it’s not toasted marshmallows, it’s not right. So when you want to toast some indoors for a recipe like this, there’s a couple of options. If you have a torch, go at them. If you have a stove of any kind, you can put them on sticks and toast them over your burner (even electric stoves!) And if you want, you can lay them out on a pan and put them under the broiler in your oven, watching carefully. No matter what you do, get them good and browned, that flavor is important!

And all that said, since we’re going with vanilla cake here, the toasted marshmallows are definitely a subtle flavor in this one. Trust me though, everything comes together.

We’re using chocolate chunks here, which I love using in cake because when you chop, you get a bunch of different sized pieces and crumbs, and they scatter all through the cake, it’s good. That was a run-on, this is how I talk, okay? Also, IMPORTANT NOTE- don’t skip the step where you toss the chocolate chunks into a little bit of the flour mixture- it really matters for making sure the chocolate doesn’t all sink to the bottom. Life lessons you guys.

So. Instead of doing a typical chocolate cake here, we’re going vanilla with chocolate chunks and toasted marshmallow. Things get messy with marshmallow, and the easiest way to work it in evenly is to do it in the first step with the butter and sugar. You still might have some bits stuck to the side of the bowl, that’s totally fine, we’re managing.

This pound cake is a simple one, and it doesn’t rise too much in the oven, but you still need to make sure you’re using a 10-12 cup pan. As always, Bundt pans are tricky, and you need to be sure to grease it generously! Alternatively, you can also make this into two 9 inch loaf pans, works beautifully.

And so what we end up with is a beautiful pound cake, dense and close-crumbed, with chocolate pieces running throughout, and a little toasty, marshmallowy flavor in the background. Life is good, we’re eating cake, and have a good rest of the week you guys!

Toasted Marshmallow Pound Cake

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups softened butter
  • 2 cups marshmallows (about 35 regular size) toasted
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped chocolate chunks

Instructions

  1. To toast the marshmallows- You can either use a kitchen torch to toast until golden, toast on a skewer over a turned-on burner of your stove, or place the marshmallows on a lined sheet pan and put under the broiler of your oven for 2-3 minutes, or until toasted and puffed. Set the marshmallows aside to cool completely before starting the recipe. 

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

  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. 

  4. In a large bowl, beat together the softened butter, toasted marshmallows, and sugar until combined and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing between each addition until combined.

  5. Reserve about 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture. Add in the flour mixture and the whole milk in alternating additions, starting and ending with the flour mixture, and beat until the batter is smooth. Toss the reserved flour mixture with the chocolate chunks to coat, and fold the entire mixture (including any excess flour) into the batter until well distributed. 

  6. Pour the batter into your prepared pan, and spread evenly. Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. If the cake begins to get fairly dark, gently cover in foil to stop browning. 

  7. Cool the cake for 30 minutes in the pan, and then turn out onto a cake stand or cooling rack to finish cooling. Slice and enjoy! 

 

Dulce de Leche Chocolate Meringue Pie

Uncategorized | March 19, 2019 | By

Hey everyone! It’s mid-week, and it’s pie time. I don’t make pies that often, and there’s a reason- it’s just a lot of work. Truth be told, I really am not a huge fan of recipes that involve rolling something out, and that includes pie crust. It is what it is guys.

But today, I gotta say, this pie is too good to not share. And I’m using a couple of shortcuts along the way to make that pie life a little bit more manageable. The first is, you guessed it, store-bought pie crust. I have a wonderful pie crust recipe that I love, but listen. I’m just not always ready to do the whole shebang. You guys get it, right? Right. So today we’re using that refrigerated, rolled up crust, and it’s legit really, REALLY good.

The other major shortcut I’m using here is canned dulce de leche. I’ve made it myself a few times, and it’s really good, but the canned stuff is really good too you guys. And more importantly, making it from scratch takes a LONG time. Even recipes that just use straight sweetened condensed milk usually require that you cook it for 3+ hours. It’s too much! We just want pie! One thing I do recommend is adding a healthy pinch of salt to the dulce de leche before spreading it into your pie crust- it goes a long way.

So, here’s how things come together on this one. First up, roll the crust into an oblong shape that fits into our rectangle tart pan. You can definitely use a round tart pan as well here, totally doable. Then, we’re blind baking the crust until it’s completely cooked. You will absolutely want to line the crust with foil, and then fill it with the pie weights of your choosing- either pie weights, beans, rice, or even sugar (it becomes lightly toasty, and it’s really nice to use later).

Up next is a healthy layer of our dulce. Spread it evenly in the bottom of your crust.

The dulce is thick enough that we can actually pour the chocolate layer right on top without any chilling. Onto that chocolate layer- it’s a simple ganache. You’ll use bittersweet chocolate, heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt, and heat it until super smooth and silky. Pour it over the crust, and chill for about an hour.

In the meantime, we’re topping this bad boy with a Swiss meringue. You cook the egg whites and cream of tartar, and sugar over a double broiler, and then you whip it up slowly while it cools, until it’s some beautiful silky cloud of sugar. Add a bit of vanilla, and a pinch of salt, and heap it high on the pie.

And then ya know, torch it baby! By the way, if you don’t have a torch, you can put under a broiler set oven, but keep a VERY close eye on it!

This is a very sweet pie you guys, it’s indulgent, and it’s totally worth it. Enjoy!

Dulce de Leche Chocolate Meringue Pie

Servings 12 slices

Ingredients

For the dulce layer:

  • 1 pie crust, fully baked and cooled, in a shallow tart pan
  • 1 can dulce de leche
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

For the chocolate layer:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

For the meringue layer:

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp. salt

Instructions

For the dulce layer:

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the dulce de leche and salt until combined. Spread a generous, even layer into the bottom of your cooled crust. Set aside. 

For the chocolate layer:

  1. In a microwave safe, medium bowl, heat the heavy cream until boiling in the microwave. Pour in the bittersweet chocolate, vanilla extract, and salt. Let it sit for a couple of minutes to allow the chocolate to start melting, and then whisk until completely smooth. Pour over the dulce layer in the tart crust. Cover with plastic wrap, laying the plastic directly onto the chocolate layer, and chill for at least an hour. 

For the meringue layer:

  1. In a large heat-safe bowl over a double-boiler, whisk the egg whites, cream of tartar, and sugar for about 5-8 minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved. Transfer to a stand mixer, and whisk on medium speed for 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture is cool, and has stiff peaks. Beat in the vanilla and salt. 

  2. Pile the meringue on top of the chilled pie, and use a fork to fluff the meringue and create peaks. Use a torch to toast the top of the meringue, or place the pie under a broiler in the oven for 2-3 minutes until it has become toasted. Enjoy! 

Cookies and Cream Crumb Muffins

Muffins | March 11, 2019 | By

Hey guys! It’s recipe day, and today we’re on muffins. These ones are filled with crushed Oreos and chocolate chunks, and topped with a crisp crumb, that, you guessed it, is also filled with Oreos. If you don’t like ’em, today isn’t for you!

Alright so today I’m taking my classic muffin recipe and making it, well, better. I have no clue why I didn’t add sour cream the batter before, I always add it to things like this, but it really, REALLY helps things out.

I think traditionally muffins just weren’t supposed to be as cake-like as they are now. But like, there’s a time and a place for dry baked goods (think biscotti… and… that’s all I can think of), but muffins? Let’s make them taste amazing. I mean, it’s not as though they’re healthy when they’re less cake-like guys.

So anyways, here’s how this goes down. First, we’re mixing up the dry ingredients in a big bowl, and the wet ingredients in a small bowl, and then throwing them together.

Before mixing them up though, add in the chocolate chunks and the crushed cookies. This allows them to get lightly coated in flour as you mix, and it helps to keep everything from sinking to the bottom.

Then fold it all together. Now, this is important with all quickbread-type baked goods- DON’T OVERMIX! It’s going to be thick and lumpy, and that’s totally okay. If you beat it to death to get the batter smooth, you’ll end up with a tough, dense muffin. We don’t like those.

So then scoop it out into a lined muffin tin- we’re making 12 big ol’ muffins today. And we’re topping them with a beautiful crumb- it’s got turbinado sugar in it, which helps give us that crisp top. And more cookies, we talked about this right?

You bake them up, and it’s too good you guys. I mean, and that’s not surprising considering what we’ve got going on in here. Bake these, eat them every morning this week, you deserve it.

Cookies & Cream Crumb Muffins

Servings 12 muffins

Ingredients

For the muffins:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup roughly crushed Oreos
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chunks

For the crumb:

  • 1/2 cup shortening, room temp.
  • 1 tbs. honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup crushed Oreos
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Instructions

For the muffins:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line a 12 -cup muffin pan with liners of choice. Set aside.

  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, vanilla extract, egg, melted butter, and sour cream until combined. 

  3. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Add in the Oreos and the chocolate chunks, and stir the whole mixture together with a spatula until there are no dry pockets. 

  4. Scoop the batter evenly into your prepared tin, filling each cup about 3/4 full. 

For the crumb:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix the shortening, honey, brown sugar, turbinado sugar, flour, Oreos, and salt with an electric mixer until completely combined- you should have large crumbs.

  2. Evenly and generously cover each tin of muffin batter with crumbs. Bake muffins for 18-20 minutes, or until just golden. A cake tester should come out clean. Cool and 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! 

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