Monday, December 12, 2011

Pâte à Choux: A Lesson in Cream Puffs

Pictures by Becky Rosenthal
Pâte à Choux sounds fancy and French (Well, it is French), which I have to admit is part of it's appeal to me. It can seem daunting to make if you've never done it before. So when my friend Becky asked if she could join me when I made them, I was thrilled to share. 

Pâte à Choux is a light pastry dough used for making eclairs, profiteroles (or cream puffs, but profiteroles is fancier), and beignets. I'll share the recipe and important techniques and then you can hop over to Becky's blog to learn how to make different variations of a fantastic pastry cream to fill them!

Pâte à Choux (Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking)
Makes 20-24 puffs


1 cup water
6 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup flour
4 eggs


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment, a silicone baking mat (works best) or grease WELL, so that your puffs don't stick.

Bring water, butter, salt, and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan until all of the butter is melted.

Remove from the heat and add the flour all at once. Beat vigorously until completely combined. Return to heat and stir over medium-high heat until the mixture pulls away from the side of the pan.

Remove from heat. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring constantly to prevent the eggs from cooking (it helps to have a friend help you during this step!). Stir until completely combined.

Spoon warm batter into a pastry bag fitted with a medium to large round tip. Pipe circles (1 1/2 to 2 in) on the lined baking sheet, like below. (Note: they will spread very little so they can be placed fairly close together)

Bake about 25 minutes, or until golden brown and hollow-sounding when the bottom of the puff is tapped (this is VERY important so that they don't sink).

Turn the oven off and prop the door open for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven. Cool.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip with pastry cream or other filling of your choice. Insert into the bottom of each puff. Squeeze until full. Dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with chocolate, if desired.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake: The New Pumpkin Pie

Now that the madness of Thanksgiving is over and I don't have 500+ pies to make, I can share with you some pictures and recipes of what I made for the day, like this one for pumpkin cheesecake. My day was filled surrounded by the love of good friends and food here in Salt Lake. I, of course, offered to do the desserts.

Because I didn't have the time to make all of my desserts gluten-free, my dessert of choice to eat was the pumpkin cheesecake, which is a fun take on the traditional pumpkin pie. After talking to a few people, it seems that they opted to make a pumpkin cheesecake instead of pumpkin pie this year. Perhaps it is because it's much easier to make a cheesecake crust deliciously gluten-free. Or perhaps it's the (amazingly) creamy texture as opposed to the grainy-er one of pumpkin pie. Whatever the reason, it's a darn good choice. As soon as you bite into this dessert, you get all of the spices and flavor of the perfect fall pumpkin pie, but with a light and creamy texture, and an added crunch and sweetness from the snickerdoodle-almond crust.

Pumpkin Cheesecake:

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 package Eat Well snickerdoodle cookies (or other cookie of your choice)
4 oz butter, melted
1/3 cup slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 345 degrees F and grease a 9" springform pan

Crush cookies and combine with the rest of ingredients, by hand, until well-combined. Push mixture into bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool.

3 8-oz packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 15-oz can pumpkin
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup heavy cream

Combine cream cheese and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed several minutes, until well-combined. Scrape down bowl. Add eggs one at a time and mix just until incorporated. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, and nutmeg. Mix on low speed until incorporated. Scrape down bowl. Add cream in a steady stream and mix just until it's no longer streaky.

Pour mixture into cooled crust. Wrap crust in double layer of aluminum foil. Place cheesecake in a roasting pan and place in oven. Fill roasting pan with hot water until the water reaches about halfway up the sides of the pan.

Bake for 55-60 minutes. When done, the outside will be puffy while the inside is still jiggly. At this point, turn off the oven and prop the door open for 1 hour. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and the roasting pan and allow to cool, at room temperature, for 2 hours. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

If desired, top with whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Cake for Fall, to Begin

This is my first blog post on my first blog. Ever. So, I'm going to start things off right, with a cake that I made as an ode to fall.

I should start by telling you that I love everything about fall: The weather, the clothes, the food, the leaves, the colors, the holidays. I could go on and on. So, being in Utah for my second "fall" had been extremely difficult until about a week ago when the temperatures dropped from the 80's and the leaves FINALLY began to change color and fall from trees.

This has been a big change from me, living my whole life (until almost 2 years ago) in upstate New York, where September hits and it's time to pull out your sweaters and hit the pumpkin patch with a cup of hot cider in hand. Now that Utah has finally come around as October comes to an end, I thought it would be appropriate to make a cake for my favorite season.

The recipe for this maple pecan cake is adapted from a cupcake recipe from my new favorite cookbook, "Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented." Try it out and I promise you won't be disappointed.

Maple Pecan Cake and Maple Cream Cheese Frosting:

3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup salted butter, softened and cut into chunks
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups pure maple syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 egg yolks and 1 whole egg, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
4 tablespoons corn syrup

1/2 cup salted butter, softened
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla

For the cake:
Preheat oven to 335 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8" cake pans.*

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening until smooth and combined. Turn the mixture to low and stream in the maple syrup. Increase speed to medium and mix until mixture is uniform in color. 

Add egg yolks and egg, one at a time, until incorporated. Scrape down sides of the bowl and paddle. Add half of the flour mixture and mix on low until combined. Stream in the milk. Add the rest of the flour mixture. Scrape bowl and fold in chopped pecans.

Divide batter evenly into pans and bake about 35 minutes, until cake springs back when poked.

*note, if you want to make 2 different-sized tiers, like I did, fill a 6" and 8"cake pan each 2/3 full, decrease temperature to 325 and increase baking time at least 5 minutes.

For the frosting:

Heat brown sugar, maple syrup, 2 tablespoons of butter, and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir occasionally just until it boils. Cool slightly.

Mix softened butter, cream cheese, and vanilla in a bowl fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until smooth and well-combined. Scrape down bowl. Decrease speed to low and stream in caramel-maple mixture until uniform in color. Add powdered sugar, once cup at a time and mix until well combined. If you prefer a stiffer frosting, increase the powdered sugar by another cup.

Allow cakes to cool at least an hour before frosting.

Gumpaste fall leaves over marshmallow fondant


About Me

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Salt Lake City, Utah
As a pastry chef by trade and by hobby, being diagnosed with Celiac Disease has not been easy. But through some experimental baking and a whole lot of faith, I'm living a full(er) life.