Sunday, August 31, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge: Bite Sized Eclairs!

I'm back!!! After skipping out on the last challenge I was very excited that this challenge was eclairs! My dad loves eclairs so I was upset I didn't see what the challenge was when I was home! Oh well, my officemates gladly ate them!! The recipe says it makes 24; however, I only got 14 small ones! I loved the way the dough and the chocolate came out but I didn't love the vanilla filling....I even added a little extra vanilla at the end but still didn't love it. So overall I liked these but didn't love them! However, there were no complaints from my officemates.

For the challenge you had to use at least one chocolate element, so I made a Vanilla Bean filling; however, I have included both the Chocolate and the Vanilla filling Recipes below.

After reading the helpful information from fellow Daring Bakers I realized I didn't have to go buy a new tip to pipe these; instead, I used a coupler without a tip and it worked out well. I also have a lot of chocolate sauce left and a lot of chocolate topping.....I might just have to make another batch! Check out the lovely and prettier eclairs other Daring Bakers made!

Finished Product!

Before the oven!

Right out of the oven!

With the Vanilla Bean Cream!

Ready to go to work!

Some mini round ones!

Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

Cream Puff Dough (see below for recipe), fresh and still warm

1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds by
positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with waxed or parchment paper.

2) Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough.
Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 41/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers.
Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff. The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.

3) Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking time should be approximately 20 minutes.

1) The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.

Assembling the éclairs:

• Chocolate glaze (see below for recipe)
• Chocolate pastry cream (see below for recipe)

1) Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside the bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.

2) The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F or 35 – 40 degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops of the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the bottoms with the pastry cream.

3) Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream and wriggle gently to settle them.

1) If you have chilled your chocolate glaze, reheat by placing it in a bowl over simmering water, stirring it gently with a wooden spoon. Do not stir too vigorously as you do not want to create bubbles.

2) The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.

Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

• ½ cup (125g) whole milk
• ½ cup (125g) water
• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
• 5 large eggs, at room temperature

1) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the boil.

2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. You need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough will be very soft and smooth.

3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your handmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough.

You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.

4) The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.

1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.

2) You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

Chocolate Pastry Cream
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by PierreHermé

• 2 cups (500g) whole milk
• 4 large egg yolks
• 6 tbsp (75g) sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
• 7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted
• 2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.

2) Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture.Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.

3) Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.

4) Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.

5) Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.

1) The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

2) In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.

3) Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.

Vanilla Pastry Cream:

• 2 c. whole milk
• 6 large egg yolks
• 1/2 c. sugar
• 1/3 c. cornstarch
• 1 1/2 pieces of vanilla bean (or 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract)
• 3 1/2 Tb unsalted butter, but into pieces and at room temp.

1) Boil the milk and the vanilla (if using beans, scrape the seeds into the milk and include the pods)in a small saucepan. As this is heating, in a medium saucepan whisk the yolks with the sugar and cornstarch, until thick and well blended.

2) Still whisking, drizzle in about 3/4 cup of the hot milk in order to warm the yolks.

3) Continue whisking as you slowly add the rest of the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and whisk constantly, bringing it to a boil.

4) Keep mixture at a boil, continuing to whisk, for about 1-2 minutes, and remove from heat.

5) Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the butter until they are fully incorporated.

The pastry cream will be smooth and silky, not clumpy. Scrape cream into a bowl and let it cool off. You can place a piece of plastic wrap right on the surface of the cream so you don't get a skin. Refrigerate until it is cold and ready to use. You can keep it for up to 3 days.

Chocolate Glaze
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1 cup or 300g)

• 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream
• 3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
• 7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature

1)In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.

2) Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.

1) If the chocolate glaze is too cool (i.e. not liquid enough) you may heat it briefly
 in the microwave or over a double boiler. A double boiler is basically a bowl sitting over (not touching) simmering water.

2) It is best to glaze the eclairs after the glaze is made, but if you are pressed for time, you can make the glaze a couple days ahead of time, store it in the fridge and bring it up to the proper temperature (95 to 104 F) when ready to glaze.

Chocolate Sauce
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1½ cups or 525 g)

• 4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 cup (250 g) water
• ½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream
• 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar

1) Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly. Then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.

2) It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon.

1) You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for two weeks. Reheat the sauce in a microwave oven or a double boiler before using.
2) This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Vegan Molasses Cookies

Earlier this summer one of our interns made these delicious cookies that impressed everyone, especially when people found out they were vegan. So when I needed a good vegan recipe to make for my officemate (his daughter is vegan) to thank him for the awesome Redskin tickets he gave me a few weeks ago I thought these would be perfect (so were the seats 47 yard line and 10 rows back definitely the best seats for my first NFL game even if it was preseason)!! As I mentioned before I am a cookie snob but these are delicious and extremely soft, my mom thought they weren't baked all the way but they were!

I of course didn't have all the ingredients, seems to be a common theme lately, and didn't have any ground ginger so I just added some extra cinnamon and they still came out delicious! The vegan and nonvegan ingredients are listed below, I have only eaten the vegan recipe!



2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 cup butter (for vegan version use equal parts vegan earth balance and coconut oil - I used just 3/4 C. of Vegan Earth Balance)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg (or a rounded 1/4 cup pumpkin - I used canned pumpkin)


- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Mix together dry ingredients and set aside.
- Cream together butter and sugar.
- Beat in the molasses and egg/pumpkin.
- Stir in dry ingredients, cover dough and chill several hours (this is totally a crucial step, otherwise the cookies melt all over the baking sheet and don't look cute)
- Take dough by heaping tablespoons and roll into small balls, place on lightly greased baking sheets (I just used my trusty ice cream scoop and didn't grease the baking sheets)
- Bake 7-8 minutes, let cool on sheet 5 min before transferring to cooling rack.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Cupcake Envy!

One of my favorite blogs is Good Things Catered. I am always thoroughly impressed just not what she can pull off but how beautiful everything looks. As we all know I am the first admit my stuff tastes excellent but is not pretty!

She had these beautiful cupcakes that I caught myself just going to stare at how pretty they were so I finally bit the bullet and made them!! Now mine were not pretty like Katie's but they were delicious! I made one change to the cupcake recipe and left out the rum; I didn't have any at home and just kept forgetting to buy it and they were still delicious!

Now I had some issues with the frosting and ended up making 2 batches! The first one I followed to the T and used light brown sugar and it just came out hard and gross! :( The second batch was delicious!! I used dark brown sugar, a tiny bit extra butter and some buttermilk (it is all I had in the house!). I didn't use it all but it worked out well and added just the right amount of sweetness. The cupcakes tasted like a yummy apple muffin with tiny bites of apple! These will definitely be made again, thanks Katie!

This is my traveling cupcake container and you should see the looks I get out on the metro with it!!

(Source: Good Things Catered)


1 c. plus 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 pinch salt
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp spiced rum
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c. apple, finely diced (about 1 large apple)

1/4 c. brown sugar
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 c. powdered sugar


-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
-In large bowl combine flour, brown sugar, soda, powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt.
-Whisk to combine thoroughly and break up all pieces of the brown sugar.
-Add milk, oil, rum, and vanilla and stir until just incorporated.
-Fold in apple until just incorporated.
-Spoon into fill cupcakes liners about 3/4 way full, dividing evenly among all liners.
-Bake in oven until cooked through, about 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cupcakes comes out clean.
-Meanwhile, make caramel glaze: In small saucepan combine brown sugar and butter over medium low heat.
-Bring to a boil, remove from heat, stir in powdered sugar and glaze cupcakes before mixture cools.

Makes 12

NOTE: You can certainly make these "lighter" by using a mixture of all purpose and wheat flours, subbing splenda brown sugar mix at half capacity and subbing applesauce for oil. We have noticed no compromise in taste with this.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

O What A Day!

The other day was just one of those days! I was in the supermarket picking up a few things and the only thing I wanted was something chocolatey, minty, and ice cream! But because it was one of those days I could not find something I truly wanted so I decided to take matters into my own hands!

A few years ago the supermarkets briefly had chips that were made out of Andes Mints, now this was my idea of nirvana! However, I have not been able to find them in years so instead I took a box of Andes Mints chopped them up and threw them into some brownie mix! I also found these mini containers of ice cream, now this was heaven!! I bought one box and used most of it, minus a few that I ate along the way!

I thought that these brownies could possibly be too minty but none of my taste testers (aka coworkers) said anything about that! Though my officemate's 8 year old daughter said they smelled a little funny, that my dear is the delicious smell of mint!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Delicious Oatmeal Cake with Caramel Pecan Frosting!!!

I love this cake!!!! When I tell most people what it is I get weird faces looking at me like I am nuts but once they have their first bite they are true believers! This was made recently for a birthday at work but in the past I have made it for Thanksgiving and with some vanilla ice cream on the side it is delicious!!

The caramel frosting is delicious and this time I added a little extra (2 1/2 tablespoons) of evaporated milk to make it a little thinner but this icing is definetly not good for a piping is too thin! Also, I think my biggest excitiement when making this cake was I discovered small cans of evaporated milk at Whole Foods, one was almost perfect for this cake and instead of throwing away a whole can I only had a little bit left over!

Source: Cooking Light)


Cooking spray
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups boiling water
1 cup quick-cooking oats
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup vegetable shortening (I use butter)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk


Preheat oven to 350°.
Coat bottoms of 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray (do not coat sides of pan), and line bottoms of pans with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray, and dust with 1 tablespoon flour.

Combine water and oats in a medium bowl; let stand 20 minutes. Beat granulated sugar, brown sugar, shortening, and vanilla at medium speed of a mixer for 5 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add oatmeal, beating until blended.

Lightly spoon 1 1/2 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Pour batter into prepared pans. Sharply tap pans once on counter to remove

(Source: Cooking Light)

1/4 cup butter or stick margarine
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons evaporated fat-free milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar. Cook 3 minutes; stir constantly with a whisk. Add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time; cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Cool. Stir in vanilla. Combine butter mixture and powdered sugar in a bowl; beat at high speed of a mixer until smooth. Frost cake as directed; sprinkle with pecans.
Note: If it's too thick, add 1 tablespoon evaporated fat-free milk.

2 cups

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sinfully Snickers!

Whenever I go home in the summer my parents' friends always ask/expect cookies at the beach. Thanks to the rain there were no beach days when I was home two weeks ago but I still made the cookies and dropped them off at their houses. These cookies are delicious, even for a non-snickers fan! Unfortunately, my dad got a hold of the bag of the mini snickers and ate some so with the extra dough I threw in some chocolate chips and made chocolate chip cookiea, which came out delicious!

The recipe said that it makes 2 dozen but I definetly made more then that, I don't put alot of dough around each snickers. Also, the recipe states 10-20 minutes but the problem with these cookies is that they harden up after they cool down so the key is to take them out when they are just lightly brown, I always take them out at the 10 minute mark. If need be you can put them in for a minute or two.

Snickers are ready to go!

Preparing to be covered!

Balls of dough and snickers, pre-oven!

Cookies right out of the oven!

Inside the cookie!!!

Yummy Melted Snickers!

Extra chocolate chips cookies

(Source: A TO Z Teacher Forums)


1 cup butter, softened

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

24 Snickers miniature candy bars

24 servings 2 dozen


1. Preheat oven to 300 degree Fahrenheit.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.
3. In a large bowl, mix together butter, peanut butter, and sugars until light and fluffy.
4. Add eggs and vanilla and combine thoroughly.
5. Then mix in flour mixture.
6. Cover and chill dough 2-3 hours.
7. To form cookie, scoop a tablespoon of chilled dough and flatten.
8. Place a miniature Snickers in the center and form the dough into a ball around the Snickers.
9. Place on a greased cookie sheet.
10. Bake for 10-20 minutes.
11. Cool cookies on a rack.
12. Optional: Decorate cookies with powdered sugar or drizzled melted chocolate or both.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Easiest and Most Delicious Chocolate Chip Cake!

This week we had a small pizza party for our interns and it was assumed that I was going to make a dessert for the party, I of course happily obliged and brought in my favorite Chocolate Chip Cake. Now this cake is actually one of my #1 requested items and I LOVE it because its so moist, not too overpowering with chocolate but just the perfect amount, and it is so simple to make. My mom always says that best desserts are the simple and not overly complicated and she is definitely right! This cake is always a huge hit and I also used it when I made my onesie cake; however, that cake seemed to sink a little bit!

So next time you need a delicious and easy cake this is definitely a winner!



1 pkg. Deluxe Yellow Cake Mix
4 large eggs
1 C. vegetable oil
1 C. milk
1 box instant vanilla pudding
1 - 4oz bar German's Sweet Chocolate grated (grate it by throwing it in the blender)
Handful of Chocolate Chips (I use usually 2 handfuls)


- Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips.
- Fold in chocolate chips
- Pour into a greased Bundt pan
- Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes.....(50 minutes is usually enough)


3/4 C. semisweet chocolate chips
3 T. butter
1 T. light corn syrup
1/4 tspn. vanilla extract

There are two different ways to do the glaze - the official directions are first then my short cut ones are second


- In a double boiler over hot, but not boiling water, combine chocolate chips, butter, and corn syrup. Stir until chips are melted and mixture is smooth, then add vanilla.
- Spread warm glaze over top of cake, letting it drizzle down the sides.


- In a microwave safe bowl melt chocolate chips and butter, occasionally stirring.
- After melted add corn syrup and vanilla.
- Spread warm glaze over top of cake, depending on the thickness either drizzle it or just spread it over the top and down the sides.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Surprise Surprise......Cookies with Mojo!

I have a confession: I am a cookie snob!!! I didn't realize this until recently but I really am picky when it comes to other people's cookies, I think it happened when I started to bake all the time. Therefore, when my officemate brought in some cookies that his girlfriend made for us,I had one expecting to like it but not love it and BOY WAS I WRONG!!!!! I couldn't stop eating them and that is when I then recruited other people at work to come and eat them to help save me from myself! So when I was home this weekend I decided it was the perfect time to try them out and boy were they delicious! My dad said they were just as delicious cooled as warm. Also, I think it helped break me out of my non-baking funk......lots of baking to come now!

They are called Michael's cookies named after my co-workers girlfriend's (Lauren's) brother......



1 box fudge marble cake mix (I like Duncan Hines brand)

1 egg

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3 tbsp water (+ 1 tbsp water used later)

1 cup chocolate chips (half of a 12 oz bag).

Optional: 1/2 cup chopped walnuts


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees

2. In a large bowl, combine white part of cake mix with all ingredients above (set aside the chocolate part of the cake mix and the extra 1 tbsp water). Mix with a wooden spoon until blended. (you can use a food processor, just leave the chips and nuts out and add by hand later). Batter should feel like cookie dough - if it is too wet, add a little flour and refrigerate until it hardens. If it is too dry, add a little more water.

3. Transfer 1/4 of the white dough to a small bowl. Add the chocolate part of the mix, plus 1 TBSP water, to the white dough and blend well, until you create a chocolate dough.

4. Swirl the chocolate dough into the remaining white dough until it looks marble-like.

5. Place generous spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet and cook for 10 minutes (the recipe says 12 to 13 minutes for small cookies and 13- 14 minutes if you made big cookies but I like to check them at 10 and make sure they are just a little firm). If it is too sticky to work with, put the bowl in the refrigerator or freezer for a little while and it will harden.

6. When they are done, take out of oven and let rest on the cookie sheet for a minute, to set, then transfer to a rack to cool.

That's it. It makes 3 dozen small or 2 dozen large cookies. This recipe doubles (two boxes) easily. If you want to make more than two batches, it is better to split it up and only have two boxes of mix in a bowl at one time. More than that, and the dough gets worked too much and gets tough.