Dark. Chocolate. Eclairs.

Dark: this is the glaze on top.

Chocolate: this is the filling.

Eclairs: this is choux pastry.

Oh my! This is chocolate. For some reason I did not think that the pastry cream would be that chocolate-y. Sometimes my brain does not seem to process the information as well. Or I imagine it to be one thing and go with that thought!  After all the pastry cream has two types of chocolate in it! I think I looked at the picture and imagined the pastry as the filling. As I was making these I was debating as to whether or not to include the chocolate glaze on top. These deserve to be eaten with a cold glass of milk.

I decided to make the King Arthur Flour February bakealong recipe.Here is the link, February: dark chocolate eclairs.

Their recipe said to pipe these into 5 inch strips and it would make 12-18 eclairs. Well, I piped into 5 inch strips, had to pipe a strip along side to use up all the pastry, and this made 24 for me. The whole in my pastry bag could have been bigger.

20170220_191714873_iosEasy choux pastry: 1 cup water, 1/2 cup butter, 3/8 teaspoon salt, 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour, 4 large eggs; bring water, butter, and salt to boil. Add flour and stir until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time until smooth. KAF instructs to let the flour mix cool for 5-10 minutes before adding the eggs. Pipe this mixture out into 5 inch logs on parchment paper. This will take two baking sheets. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes; lower the temp to 350 and bake for an additional 25 minutes. KAF then instructs to cut small slit in tops and return to oven for 5 minutes to let steam escape. Well mine did not have any escaping steam so I skipped this step. Let cool slightly and then slice in half to cool completely.

20170220_195654520_iosMeanwhile make the pastry cream. This should be made first, actually, so that it cools. 1/2 cup sugar, 5 tablespoons cornstarch, 4 large egg yolks, 2 cups whole milk, 1/2  cocoa powder, 1/3 cup chopped unsweetened baking chocolate, and 1 tablespoon butter.Bring milk and cocoa to simmer. Combine sugar and cornstarch and whisk in the egg yolks. Pour some of the hot chocolate mixture into the yolks and then return to the pan and cook until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add butter and chopped chocolate and stir until smooth. Transfer this to a bowl, bring to room temperature, and refrigerate for about two hours. I was impatient and began assembly prior to the two hours.

Make the glaze with 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate (I used chips), 1 12 teaspoon light corn syrup (this is to make it shine), and 1/2 cup heavy cream. Bring the cream to just simmer and pour it over the first two ingredients. I just put all three in my sauce pan and brought to just boil, and then stirred until smooth. I forgot to read the instructions clearly! It worked out fine.

And the final product is….

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So I now have to decide if I will assemble all of them and refrigerate them “ready to eat” or assemble them “as needed”. Hmmmm?

Thoughts from my kitchen: this is a rich pastry cream filling. It is not pudding or whipped cream. To make these “lighter” one could use a favorite pudding or mousse. I think my Betty Crocker Cookbook has a choux pastry recipe that makes less so that would be better for just the two of us here at home. And for quick and easy just use whipped cream or a pudding mix. Jello brand is making a simple mix with no artificial flavors and preservatives now. But you must absolutely use cow’s milk and not nut milks for that mix.

 

 

Pound Cake for the New Year: everything is better with cake!

 

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Hubby’s favorite cake is pound cake.I wanted to bake something. We ran our Saturday morning errands, spent a bit of money on pet food, took the dog to a play date at the local dog park, and came home. We will not go out this New Year’s Eve. But I will bake a cake.

The latest King Arthur Flour’s sales flyer has a recipe: King Arthur Flour’s Original Pound Cake. (They probably have it on their website as well, but I did not look for it.) Heat oven to 350 F and grease or cooking spray your Bundt pan.

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar; I use the organic fair trade sugar from Aldi which has a slight caramel color
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

Beat butter until very light. I softened my butter by putting it in a bowl and in the microwave for 30 seconds. I know this is a cake-baking “no, no”. But that is what I did. Then gradually add the sugar, then the eggs, one at a time.

  • 2 cups flour; with all respect I changed this up to 1 cup all-purpose and 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour; we had just been talking about adding fiber to our diet. I did notice that the high end pet food we bought features “no grain”
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Sift or whisk these ingredients in a separate bowl.

  • 1/2 cup milk; I did not want to use almond milk so I used 1/4 cup half-and -half diluted with water to make 1/2 cup.
  • 1 Tablespoon your choice liquor such as brandy, sherry, rum; (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Hubby brought home a bottle of Jim Beam maple bourbon, pure Kentucky whisky! I am not much for the drinking of spirits but this has been an exception! Just a finger of this to sip on while watching some good, some bad, TV…yum! But nights kept awake with heartburn (both of us) made us put this back on the shelf. But it sounded like the perfect “liquor of my choice” for the pound cake.

Whisk these three ingredients together in a small bowl. Alternately add the wet and dry ingredients to the egg/sugar/butter mixture, stirring after each addition. End with the flour. Well I stirred quite a bit with the “stir” setting on the KitchenAid. Pour into the prepared pan smoothing the top. Bake 60-65 minutes. You can tent with foil for the last bit of baking if you think it is browning too fast.

Remove cake from oven and loosen the sides. Wait five minutes and turn out onto rack to cool. The recipe says to wrap in plastic wrap and store for a day or two before serving. I’m not doing that! Why bake a cake if you are not going to eat it?

Now my cake does not look as pretty as the one in the KAF flyer. I decide to add a glaze using maple syrup and the bourbon. This is an adaptation of a glaze for the cake I made in September. Take one tablespoon of butter, 1/8 cup bourbon, and 1/8 cup maple syrup and bring to boil. Keep boiling for 5-8 minutes until reduced to syrup consistency. Brush this over the warm cake.

We did not wait for the cake to cool completely before having a taste. I whipped up some cream with a touch of maple syrup for the topping. Delish!

Happy and blessed new year to all. Thanks for reading my food rantings this past year. I plan to keep them coming: I hope you do too! And may God bless us, everyone.

Thoughts from my Kitchen

I had a fabulous baking weekend. Well, on Saturday I roasted a big chicken, with Mediterranean vegetables. Yum! I was so tired after winterizing the trailer which included arguing about how to drain all the plumbing properly and running off to the store to buy more RV/Marine antifreeze to be effective that I did not want to make anything else. Wow! That is a run-on sentence if I ever wrote one! As I write this we are waiting for all the little goblins and ghouls to show up to beg for the $20 worth of candies I bought. Then I will turn off the porch light and relax.

After a tiring first half of the weekend I set to work in the kitchen. First I did a bit of cleaning and then got out the sourdough starter to make rolls. I used a recipe that looked good and as luck would have it I had powdered milk and potato flour. If you don’t have these ingredients there are plenty of other sourdough bread and rolls recipes. I had fed the starter the day before so I figured it would be just fine. I let it set out for the entire morning of the day I made the dough: sourdough dinner rolls from King Arthur Flour. This makes two pans of eight. Here is the one for the future!

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I have found the chocolate cake recipe that bests the  Best Ever Chocolate Cake. I hang my head in shame as I write these words. I had to look again and again at the ingredient list to note the differences.Best Ever uses 1/2 cup more flour and twice the baking soda. I looked into the explanation of using baking soda in cakes in the book BakeWise by Shirley Corriher. She explains that 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda is sufficient for each cup of flour. The new best chocolate cake recipe rises nicely and even has better body than Best Ever.

So what is this rogue recipe that has come to shake up my baking world? It is basically King Arthur Flour’s version of Texas Sheet Cake baked in a 9 x 13 pan. I found this in their sales catalog/flyer that arrives by the post ever so often: King Arthur Flours Favorite Fudge Cake. And its not just because of the fudge frosting, although that makes it awesome!

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I actually followed both of the recipes exactly although I don’t always use KAF products.

I am not advertising for them; I just recently got their flyer and was organizing recipes for my recipe notebooks. And these were two of the ones I had marked to try.

 

Maple Pound Cake

I have been baking, and cooking, just not writing! We got a late start on camping this summer so are trying to make up with the weekends that are remaining through October. There’s something about camping that makes sitting around doing nothing very productive. This is compared to sitting around at home doing nothing which is just plain laziness.

I am back to using King Arthur Flour recipes. I have not yet taken up their current bake-along challenge but may do so in the future.The catalog flyer they send each month has a few recipes in it along with the promotions of their products for sale. This latest had a Maple Pound Cake with Maple-Rum Glaze recipe which looked and sounded tasty and seasonal. It is definitely fall in New England and the Sugar houses will be full of maple syrup soon. Here is the link to the recipe on their website. http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/maple-pound-cake-with-maple-rum-glaze-recipe

I followed the recipe almost exactly because that is just the kind of baker I am! Mise en place is essential for baking and I failed to pay attention to the recipe and what ingredients I had in the house. What type of baker runs out of butter! I had only some butter so I substituted coconut oil. This was solidified being less than 70 degrees F in my pantry. I also made my own cake flour using the directions from Mark Bittman’s book How To Cook Everything.

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour whisked with 1/4 cup cornstarch (OR 2 cups cake flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons coconut oil and 2 tablespoons butter (OR 3/4 cup butter, softened)
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup dark maple syrup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (the recipe also calls for 1/4 teaspoon maple flavor but this I do not have)

Sift the first four dry ingredients in a bowl. Cream the coconut oil/butter with the brown sugar in separate bowl. To this add and beat eggs one at a time and then add the maple syrup. Now add half the flour mixture followed by the sour cream and vanilla. Then add the remaining flour. Mix just until combined.

You will have preheated the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly greased a 9-10 cup bundt pan. Pour batter into the pan and bake for 45-50 minutes until cake test done. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes and then turn out on a cake plate. My cake did not come out cleanly. I had to patch some of the pieces of the top (or bottom, depending on your perspective) of the cake back to the cake like a puzzle. Luckily this does not affect the taste. No Star Baker for me though!

While the cake is baking, or actually when you pull it out of the oven, make the glaze by combining 2 tablespoons butter (I found a partial stick of butter in the camping butter container), 1/4 cup maple syrup, and 1/4 cup rum (or water) in a saucepan. Bring this to a rolling boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 5-8 minutes until thickens to a syrupy consistency. I forgot to check the consistency and just simmered it for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and pour over the warm cake.

The directions say to let the cake cool completely before serving. What? Why?

I let it cool just a bit while finishing an episode of the current Binge Watch on Amazon!

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This is a flavorful and moist cake. Hubby asked for a piece to put in his lunch the next day. This recipe is a definite keeper. Ice cream or real whipped cream could be added but is not necessary.

 

 

Red Meat and Chocolate Cake

This weekend we did a major meat shopping at a local meat market. Hubby likes red meat and when the weather is warming up, cooking steaks on the grill is a favorite meal. Actually we use the grill all year round. This is New England after all. We got a good price on the sirloin because hubby cuts it up himself.

We have plenty of steaks to hopefully last awhile. But son is coming home soon and he enjoys a nice steak too!

Ordinary Saturday evening meal: steak, potato, and green beans. By “ordinary” I mean no special recipe. (We do not eat steak every week, usually, but we may until this meat runs out.)

Now for the chocolate cake. I have had the urge to make a chocolate cake with frosting for awhile. I told the people at work that they may be eating chocolate cake at morning report someday soon. That day will be Monday!

In the King Arthur Flour sales catalog that they send out every so often there was this recipe. It is similar to a Texas Sheet Cake in that the frosting is poured on the cake in the pan. It is to make a 9 x 13 cake but I thought I would make two small cakes, one to eat and one to take to work so that I wouldn’t find myself eating an entire cake.

This is King Arthur Flour’s Favorite Fudge Cake. http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/king-arthur-flours-favorite-fudge-cake-recipe. This is very good. Really good. Very rich and very fudgy.

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

It is an interesting recipe because the butter is actually melted and not creamed with the sugar. The butter is melted in a saucepan or a bowl in the microwave. Then the cocoa, and hot water are mixed with the butter, and then the dry ingredients are added, and then the eggs and buttermilk and vanilla. Put in greased pan and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F. I used one 8 inch square pan and one 9 inch round pan. In hindsight I should have used an 8 inch round pan instead. I do not have two 8 inch square pans. I do have two 8 inch round pans but I was not certain if there would be enough room to pour the frosting on top. Now I know they would have worked out just fine.

The frosting is also made by melting the butter. Melt 1 stick of butter is a small sauce pan. Stir in 1/4 cup cocoa (I used Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder) and 6 tablespoons buttermilk. Then beat in 4 cups powdered sugar until smooth. I did this by hand.Pour the frosting over the cake while the frosting is still warm. The cakes are supposed to be cooled completely. Mine were almost completely cooled.

The frosting settles into a smooth glaze that does not remain sticky. It did not stick to the plastic wrap I used to cover the cake.

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Second piece!