Sunday, May 30, 2010

Just between us...

First, I want to appologize for so few entries of late.  I've been dealing with moderately severe carpal tunnel syndrome for a long time now, and after being on the computer all day at work, getting on the computer at home was just painful and would result in a night of no sleep.  The good news is, I had surgery to correct it about a week and a half ago. While typing with a banaged hand is not ideal, I can mange for short amounts of time. Worse, I've had to resort to a lot of pre-prepped meals! Cooking with your dominant hand out of commission is challenging, at best. One handed baking is next to impossible!

With that said, I would like you to know that I am on the road to recovery and should be able to share some fantastic summer recipes very soon.  The stitches come out next week and it's all downhill from there.  Until then, have a great holiday weekend and unofficial kickoff to summer!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Chocolate Protiferoles

  When asked to bring a dessert for a small dinner party, I toiled over what to make. So many choices! The girls wanted chocolate and suggested brownies. Cake seemed too formal. We were going on a hike in the afternoon and were finishing the evening with some wine and a healthy dinner (our hostess made a wonderful Spanish Salmon with Rice, Asparagus, and Salad!), so I opted for something light, chocolate, and not-too-sweet: Chocolate Protiferoles. They are so easy to make, I wonder why I make them so infrequently!


They are done in two stages: the eggy puffed pastry shell and the light and creamy filling. As I was putting them together, I was reminded of a comment from years ago: “These are better than sex!” (I told my friend she must be doing it wrong if that were the case, but that’s a different tale completely!).




One batch of the Pate Choux will make approximately 48 protiferoles or 18-24 full sized cream puffs. This same recipe can be used for ├ęclairs (the filling will differ, however) or savory cheese puffs (not of the orange-glow variety!). Once added to your repertoire, you will certainly return to this over and over again.

Pate a Choux
Preheat oven to 425*

1 c all purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c water
1/2 c whole milk
6 TBSP (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
4-5 eggs

For egg wash: 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk

Bring water, milk and butter to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat. At the boil, remove from heat and add flour, salt, and sugar all at once. Using a sturdy spoon, stir vigorously to combine.

Return to medium heat and stir constantly in figure eights. Cook for at least 4 minutes or until the mixture has a smooth, mashed potato-like appearance.  This helps to break down the starch and devolop the gluten. Remove it from the heat.

Transfer to a standing mixer bowl fitted with paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed for 1-2 minutes or until the dough cools to 180*.  Add 4 or the eggs, one at a time. be sure to let the batter absorb each egg and scrape down the bowl after each egg.  Before adding the last egg, test for consistency.  Pinch off about 1 tsp of dough, hold between your thumb and index finger, pull finger apart, dough should stretch rather than break.  If it breaks, add the last egg.  Mix on low until thoroughly incorporated.  Dough should be be shiny and smooth.  it is now ready to pipe.  To store, cover the surface with plastic wrap and refigerate for up to 2 days.

Place dough in a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2" tip.  Pipe 1-1/2" puffs onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Pat down peaks with your finger dipped in water to smooth out. Cover lightly with egg wash.

Bake at 425* for 10-12 minutes or until the puffs begin to rise, then turn oven down to 350* and rotate the baking sheet.  Cool completely before filling.  Can be frozen for up to 2 weeks.


Chocolate Filling
 adapted from the King Arther Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook

1/4 c butter, unsalted
2/3 c sugar
2 eggs
2 cups milk
1/3 c flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp coffee flavoring
2-3 squares unsweetened or semi-sweet chocolate
Whipped Cream

In a saucepan over very low heat, mix the butter and sugar and cook for 3 minutes. Beat the eggs into 1 3/4 cups milk and slowly add to the butter/sugar mixture, stirring all the time.

Blend the flour with 1/4 cup of milk, add to the hot mixture and cook until thick. Add the chocolate and stir until melted and well blended.  Let cool, and add the salt, vanilla, and coffee. When cold, fold into stiff whipped cream. Pipe into cream puffs.




After all the cream puff shells have been filled, drizzle the tops with melted dark or semi-sweet chocolate. Serve immediately. Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container. Often, the chocolate will develop a glossy sheen after refrigerating.