Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Taste & Create: Profiteroles

***Taste & Create is a fabulous monthly blog event 
in which participants are randomly paired off 
to choose and prepare a dish from their partner's blog. 
 If you'd like to join us, please email me at 
cowgirlmin07 [at] gmail [dot] com for more information!  
We'd love to have you.**

For the December/January Taste & Create event, I was paired with Hannah of Bright Palate. It didn't take me long to decide on her Profiteroles with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream and Butterscotch Sauce. However, it did take me a long time to make it!!  Sorry, Hannah.

I fell in love with Profiteroles in France, and ate as many of them as my stomach could handle after sumptuous dinners and bottles of wine.  Each time, they were served with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.

I originally planned to make Hannah's Vanilla Pastry Cream, but the Butterscotch Sauce just didn't appeal to me at all, so I planned to substitute some type of chocolate sauce.  After mixing up the choux pastry for the profiteroles, I sort of lost my ambition for mixing the pastry cream, (and washing all the pans and bowls associated with it!), so I decided to use vanilla ice cream instead.  If you're feeling ambitious, by all means follow the link above or below and make her vanilla bean pastry cream, or you could make Julia's Crème Pâtissière, which likely has the same amount of stirring but perhaps less dishes.  ;-)

My husband and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary the other night, and I had made some chocolate-orange liqueur truffles, which we all know is just ganache that's slightly shaped and coated with cocoa.  I decided I'd use some of the ganache I hadn't gotten around to shaping, microwave it gently to soften it and use it as a topping for the profiteroles.  I added a little more cream before microwaving to loosen it up a bit, next time I'll just make it specifically for the profiteroles and a thinner mixture from the start.

My dough scoops were a little bigger than golf balls, so my profiteroles were generously sized.  I accidentally turned the timer off during the baking at 425 degrees, but they turned out just fine.  I ended up baking them for 20 minutes at 350 degrees at the end, and they were perfect, just keep an eye on yours.


From Bright Palate, who originally adapted it from Ratio 

Choux pastry
Yield: About 20 profiteroles

1 cup water
1/2 cup/1 stick unsalted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 scant cup flour
4 large eggs

Note: The choux pastry can be baked immediately once it’s cooked on the stovetop, or refrigerated for up to a day before baking.

Preheat oven to 425. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, tin foil, or silicone liners.

 In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring the water, butter, sugar, and salt to a simmer. Turn down the heat to medium, add the flour, and stir rapidly. As you stir, the dough will pull away from the sides of the pot. Continue stirring for another minute or two to continue cooking the flour and cook off some of the moisture.

Take the pot off the heat and let it cool slightly, a few minutes - it should still be warm to hot. Stir in the eggs rapidly, one at a time. It will take a few seconds of vigorous stirring for each egg to be incorporated. You can also use a standing mixer or electric mixer: transfer the dough to a bowl and mix in the eggs one at time.

Spoon golf-ball-sized portions of the dough onto the baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn oven down to 350 and bake for 10 to 20 minutes longer.

Taste or cut into one to judge its doneness: it should be airy inside and not too moist.

To assemble:
Slice each profiterole in half. Place a dollop of ice cream or pastry cream on the bottom half and sandwich with the top half. Spoon chocolate sauce over the top.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Pineapple Cake

This month my assignment for Secret Recipe Club was:

Dagny of Whisked Away.

Right away Dagny's Breakfast category pulled me in.  I noticed lots of cakey things...coffee cakes, muffins, fruit breads...and quickly decided to make this Pineapple CakeAnd I only needed two ingredients from the store!

This is a fairly quick and easy cake to pull together, I was interested to see how cooking the pineapple before adding the cake batter affected the outcome.  I didn't seem to have a ton of cake batter, so was a little concerned how it would all turn out (not too easy to spread over the pineapple/brown sugar liquidy mixture).

I should not have worried!  The cake crept over to the edges while baking and covered all the pineapple.  I was surprised given the butter and my nonstick pan that any pineapple stuck to the pan at all when I turned it out, but it did.  I just smoothed it back into the cake, which I suppose is easier than fitting the round slices back into their places on the cake.

This is a beautiful cake, different than a traditional pineapple upside down cake, but with similarly delicious flavors.  I know I will be making it again! 

Pineapple Cake
Via Whisked Away, originally adapted from Food and Wine Magazine

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup crushed pineapple, juices drained

3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
 1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter an 8-inch or 9-inch round cake pan.  Sprinkle the bottom with 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar.

In a large skillet, combine the remaining 3/4 cup of brown sugar with the 1/2 stick of butter and the vanilla  and cook over moderately low heat until the butter is melted. Add the pineapple and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour mixture into bottom of the pan.

In a bowl, beat 1 stick butter with the granulated sugar.  Add the eggs and vanilla, then the sour cream.  In another bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add to the wet ingredients and beat until smooth.

Spoon the batter over the pineapple mixture and spread it evenly. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the cake is deep golden. Let cool for 5 minutes on a rack. Run a knife around the edge of the cake, invert it onto a plate and remove the pan. Replace any pineapple that may have stuck to the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Secret Recipe Club

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sesame Chicken

I decided since we don't have a Chinese restaurant in town (I know, I can't believe it either!), I would search for a good recipe for Sesame Chicken.  I decided to try a recipe posted on about.com.  I didn't change the marinade for the chicken, which turned out fabulous.  I did make a few changes to the sauce, which I will note below, namely reducing the sugar by HALF.  Of course I couldn't find chili paste, so I had to improvise.  Please follow the link above for the original recipe.  I feel like the sauce needs a little something extra, not sugar!  When I identify it, I'll let you know.

For now, this recipe satisfied the cravings of three out of four family members.  Unfortunately, Sawed Off is the one who LOVE LOVE LOVES Sesame Chicken, and he did NOT love this rendition.  So the work continues to bring you a Sawed Off-approved Sesame Chicken.

However, if you're in the mood for Chinese, and don't have delivery, make this instead.

Sesame Chicken
Adapted from about.com
Serves 3-4

3 whole boneless chicken breasts  (ours were about 1 pound each)

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry
a few drops of sesame oil
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1/2 cup water
1 cup chicken broth
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons chili sauce
a few drops hot sauce
1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
 3 1/2 - 4 cups peanut oil for deep-frying

Lightly toast the sesame seeds and set aside.

Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes. Mix the marinade ingredients and marinate the chicken for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, make the sauce.  In a saucepan, mix together all of the sauce ingredients. Bring sauce to a boil, stirring constantly. Turn the heat down to low and keep warm while you are deep-frying the chicken.

Heat the peanut oil.  When oil is hot, add the marinated chicken pieces a few at a time, and deep-fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remainder of the chicken. Just before you are finished deep-frying, bring the sauce back up to a boil.

Place the chicken on a large platter and top with the sauce. (I didn't use all the sauce)  Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve with rice, if desired.
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