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16 March 2020

Lucky Charms Cereal Milk Cream Puffs


It feels so silly to be sharing cream puffs made with cereal milk. It feels silly to tell you that brown sugar makes a better craquelin on choux pastry and it seems extra silly to tell you that the consistency of your choux batter should resemble dried mashed potatoes. At a time like this, anything that is covered in lucky charms marshmallows just seems so trivial and I’m not sure if it is appropriate to be sharing it on this platform. 

Then I realized that just because this is a time of great uncertainty, conversations should not be cancelled, self-care should not be cancelled, hope should not be cancelled, and it is okay to share a little bit of magic that can help remind people that good things remain, even in times of darkness.

So here are some cream puffs filled with cereal milk pastry cream, topped with raspberry whipped cream, and studded with some lucky marshmallows. You might not have all the ingredients to make these today or tomorrow, but I promise you that even if you make them a later date, the magic still remains.







Lucky Charms Cereal Milk Cream Puffs
Yields 10 - 12 cream puffs

Cereal Milk
100g (about 3 cups) Lucky Charms cereal without the marshmallows
660ml (2 3/4 cups) whole milk
240ml (1 cup) heavy cream
¼ teaspoon salt

Place cereal into the bottom of a pitcher. Pour milk and heavy cream into the pitcher and stir vigorously. Let steep for 25 minutes at room temperature. 

After the cereal steeps, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, collecting the milk in a
medium bowl.  Using the back of a spoon or a rubber spatula, press down on the wet cereal gently to release any addition milk. Stir in salt until dissolved. 

Cereal Milk Custard
900ml (3 3/4 cup) cereal milk
1 vanilla bean 
8 egg yolks
100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
2 tablespoon cornstarch

Pour cereal milk in a medium pot. Using a sharp knife, split vanilla bean in half lengthways and scrape out seeds. Add bean and seeds to cereal milk mixture. Place over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until hot (do not allow to boil). Remove pot from heat.

Whisk egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch, in a large heatproof bowl until well combined. Slowly pour hot cereal milk mixture over egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly.

Return mixture to the pot over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 12 -15 minutes, or until custard thickens and coats the back of a metal spoon.

Transfer the custard into a large bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the custard (to prevent a film from forming). Transfer the bowl into the fridge and chill for 3 hours, or until the the custard is no longer hot.

Craquelin
25g (2 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
25g (2 tbsp) brown sugar
25g (4 tbsp) all-purpose flour

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix with rubber spatula until smooth.

Roll out the craquelin dough to 1/8-inch in thickness. Use a cookie cutter and cut out 12 2-inch circles. Set aside.

Pâte à Choux
57mL (1/4 cup) water
57mL (1/4 cup) whole milk
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
57g (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
70g (1/2 cup and 2 tbsp) all-purpose flour
110g (~2 1/2 eggs) large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a saucepan, combine the water, milk, sugar, salt, and butter. Bring to a light boil, remove from heat, and immediately add in all the flour. Quickly stir in the flour, using a rubber spatula, and return saucepan back over medium-high heat.

Continue to stir the mixture, without stopping, until the paste is smooth, about 1-2 minutes. It will pull away from the sides of the pan and leave a thin coating of cooked paste on the bottom when ready. The texture should resemble dry mashed potatoes.

Transfer the paste to a stand mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low for the choux to cool down.

While the mixer is running on medium, gradually stream in the lightly beaten eggs. Mix until well combined.

Transfer the pâte à choux to the prepared piping bag with a round tip. Pipe out 12 choux mounds onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving roughly 2 inches between each puff. If you are making choux with a craquelin top, this is when you want to add the craquelin to the choux mounds.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately bake choux puffs for 35 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet and turn down the oven to 325F, then bake for 10 minutes more until choux are deeply golden. Remove from oven and set on cooling rack to cool.

Raspberry Whipped Cream
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons freeze-dried raspberry powder

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk heavy cream on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.

Add powdered sugar and raspberry powder to the cream. Mix on slow speed until incorporated. 

Turn the mixture back on high until stiff peaks form.

Assembly
Trim the tops off of the cooled choux pastry with a sharp serrated knife. Set the tops aside. 

Transfer the chilled cereal milk custard into a piping bag fitted with a large round piping tip. Alternatively, you can use a spoon to to fill the puffs. Pipe the custard into the puffs until it reaches the brim.

Transfer raspberry whipped cream into a piping bag fitted with a large open star tip. Pipe two rings of whipped cream on top of the custard. Place choux hat on top.

Decorate with marshmallows and gold leaf. Serve immediately.


Stay safe and healthy. Sending many air hugs, 
Amy

10 March 2020

Crème Brûlée Cream Puffs


I rarely order crème brûlée when I am at a restaurant. I always opt for the more 'creative' dessert option and to be honest, I would most likely skip dessert if the menu options were only crème brûlée, chocolate mousse, profiteroles, and a slice of apple tart. This does not mean I dislike crème brûlée. Every time I do have crème brûlée, I am reminded of why it is a classic and why I should order it more often. It is creamy. It is rich. It is has textural contrast. It is speckled with beautiful flecks of vanilla bean.


These crème brûlée cream puffs are a new take on the classic French dessert. It is choux pastry with craquelin (the craquelin is optional because you remove a large amount of it when you remove the tops of the puff, but I find that craquelin helps the puff rise more evenly and craquelin is always delicious) filled with a super velvety and rich vanilla custard. The custard can be made with just whole milk but I find that using a 3:1 ratio of whole milk to heavy cream produces the best custard. After the puffs are filled to the brim with custard, sugar is sprinkled on top, and it is then torched to create a crunchy caramelized sugar layer. If you do not have a torch handy, you can sprinkle the sugar and place the puffs in the oven under the broil setting while keeping a close eye on them. Once the caramelized sugar had set, tackle it like how you would a classic crème brûlée — take a spoon to break the sugar shell to reveal the creamy filling.
Today's post is a little different! Going forward, I am going to try to incorporate more video elements into recipes where it makes sense that I do a step-by-step demo. This would mean a few less photos, but a lot more fun videos like me torching crème brûlée! Please bare with me and these very amateurishly recorded videos — I promise they will get better with each post!










Crème Brûlée Cream Puffs
Yields 10 - 12 cream puffs

Vanilla Custard
750ml (3 cup) whole milk
250ml (1 cup) heavy cream
1 vanilla bean 
8 egg yolks
135g (2/3 cup) granulated sugar
2 tablespoon cornstarch

Combine milk and cream in a small saucepan. Using a sharp knife, split vanilla bean in half lengthways and scrape out seeds. Add bean and seeds to milk mixture. Place over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until hot (do not allow to boil). Remove saucepan from heat.

Whisk egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch, in a heatproof bowl until well combined. Slowly pour hot milk mixture over egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly.

Return mixture to saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 12 -15 minutes, or until custard thickens and coats the back of a metal spoon.

Transfer the custard into a large bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the custard (to prevent a film from forming). Transfer the bowl into the fridge and chill for 3 hours, or until the the custard is no longer hot.

Craquelin
25g (2 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
25g (2 tbsp) brown sugar
25g (4 tbsp) all-purpose flour

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix with rubber spatula until smooth.

Roll out the craquelin dough to 1/8-inch in thickness. Use a cookie cutter and cut out 12 2-inch circles. Set aside.

Pâte à Choux
57mL (1/4 cup) water
57mL (1/4 cup) whole milk
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
57g (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
70g (1/2 cup and 2 tbsp) all-purpose flour
110g (~2 1/2 eggs) large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a saucepan, combine the water, milk, sugar, salt, and butter. Bring to a light boil, remove from heat, and immediately add in all the flour. Quickly stir in the flour, using a rubber spatula, and return saucepan back over medium-high heat.

Continue to stir the mixture, without stopping, until the paste is smooth, about 1-2 minutes. It will pull away from the sides of the pan and leave a thin coating of cooked paste on the bottom when ready. The texture should resemble dry mashed potatoes.

Transfer the paste to a stand mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low for the choux to cool down.

While the mixer is running on medium, gradually stream in the lightly beaten eggs. Mix until well combined.

Transfer the pâte à choux to the prepared piping bag with a round tip. Pipe out 12 choux mounds onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving roughly 2 inches between each puff. If you are making choux with a craquelin top, this is when you want to add the craquelin to the choux mounds.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately bake choux puffs for 35 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet and turn down the oven to 325F, then bake for 10 minutes more until choux are deeply golden. Remove from oven and set on cooling rack to cool.

Assembly
Trim the tops off of the cooled choux pastry with a sharp serrated knife. Set the tops aside. 

Transfer the chilled vanilla custard into a piping bag fitted with a large round piping tip. Alternatively, you can use a spoon to to fill the puffs. Pipe the custard into the puffs until it reaches the brim. Use the back of a spoon or offset spatula to smooth out the custard if necessary.

Sprinkle granulated sugar on top of the custard of the filled puff. Using a torch, brûlée the top of the puff until the sugar is deeply golden brown. The sugar should be bubbling and caramelizing. Allow the sugar to cool and set.

Serve immediately!


Happy baking!

25 February 2020

Mocha Dark Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes with Pug Cookies


If you look over on my phone screen at any given time, there is a 67% chance that I am looking at a pug video on Instagram or TikTok. If you look over on Rich's computer screen, there is a 110% chance he is looking up pugs up for adoption. I have a huge soft spot for these heavy-breathing doggos and I would never fail to give them a double (or triple) take when I see one in real life. I am not fully ready to adopt a pug of my own yet (maybe perhaps once all the book stuff calms down!) so Rich bought me a little pug cookie cutter from one of my favourite cake decorating and baking supplies stores. If you are ever in Langley, BC or you are close by, I highly recommend checking them out because they have two full walls of cookie cutters (organized by shape and occasion) and the largest sprinkle selection I have ever seen. All the sprinkles are sold by weight, so it is perrrrfect for buying small quantities of specialty sprinkles for my shaker cookies. The pug cookie cutter outlines the details of the tail and the ears, which you do not find in most dog-shaped cookie cutters, let alone a pug-shaped one.


When the BC SPCA (BC Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) reached out and asked if I would help spread the word about their annual Treat Week fundraising campaign again this year, I immediately said yes. Anyone can participate in Treat Week and the goal of the campaign is give treats (think cookies, cupcakes, anything really) in exchange for donations to raise money for the SPCA. If you are not a baker or treat-maker, you can buy treats to share with your friends in exchange for donations. Alternatively, you can register with friends as a team and make treats together. This year, I will be supporting my friends Kelsey and Kristie's fundraiser event. They are making dog treats in exchange for donations and the event is taking place at a local brewery. I hope you will be joining in on all the Treat Week fun this year and if you do not know what you want to make yet, these mocha cupcakes with the silkiest dark chocolate whipped ganache make the perfect treat. You can top the cupcakes with whatever decorations you like — I chose to top mine with little pugs wearing gold collars.


If you do choose to make little dog-shaped cookies for your cupcakes, here are some tips and things you will need!

What you will need:
Your favourite sugar cookie or shortbread cookie recipe (I like to use this one!)
Pug or any dog-shaped cookie cutter
Piping bags
Piping tips
Pale yellow royal icing
Black royal icing
Coloured sanding sugar

Make the cookie dough according to the instructions of your recipe and chill the dough for at least an hour. Between two sheets of parchment paper, roll out the chilled dough to 1/4-inch in thickness. Cut out pugs with cookie cutter. Transfer the cutouts to a large lined baking sheet. Transfer the baking sheet with the cutouts to the freezer for 15 minutes to help the dough firm up. A thoroughly chilled dough will ensure that the cookies will retain their shape when baking.

Bake the cookies according to the instructions of your recipe. Allow the cookies to cool completely before decorating.

Pour coloured or metallic sanding sugar into a shallow dish.

Fill a piping bag fitted with a small round piping tip with pale yellow royal icing. Outline the collar of the dog and dip the iced side of the cookie in metallic sanding sugar. It is important to ice the collar first before icing the rest of the dog because we do not want any sanding sugar to be stuck on the outline of the dog when we are dipping the cookie in sugar.

Fill a piping bag fitted with a small round piping tip with black royal icing. Outline the face and ears of the dog.

Using the same pale yellow icing from before, outline the rest of the dog. Make the rounded tail of the pug extra thick by stacking two rows of royal icing.

Allow cookies to dry completely before stacking or using on top of cupcakes.






Mocha Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes with Pug Cookies
Yields 8 cupcakes

Mocha Cupcake
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons sour cream

Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners and preheat oven to 350F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, espresso powder, and salt. Set side. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, stir together whole milk and sour cream. 

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together butter and brown sugar on high speed until smooth and homogenous. Add egg and mix until combined. 

With the mixer on low, slowly add in half of the flour mixture.  Mix until just incorporated.  Stream in the milk and sour cream mixture and add in the remaining flour and mix until just combined.

Using a standard ice cream scoop, portion the batter evenly among the cavities in the lined muffin pan. Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 of the way with batter, roughly one full ice cream scoop of batter.

Bake for 19 - 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes on a wire rack.

Whipped Dark Chocolate Ganache
1 cup (175g) coarsely dark chocolate
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup heavy cream

Coarsely chop the dark chocolate and place into a bowl. Add salt.

In a saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Once mixture has boiled, pour milk mixture over the chopped chocolate and let sit for 1 minute.

Whisk the chocolate mixture until thoroughly melted and combined. Set in the refrigerator to chill, at least 3 hours.

Once chilled and ready to use, transfer the ganache to the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Whip ganache to medium-stiff peaks. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large piping tip of choice (I like using the Wilton 4B or 6B). Pipe two rings of chocolate ganache onto the cool cupcakes.

Decorate with pug sugar cookies or any decorations of choice.


Happy baking!

10 February 2020

TUTORIAL: Hershey's Kisses Cookies


In elementary school, one of my favourite things to receive in my little Valentine's Day "mailbox" was a Hershey's Kisses chocolate. I did not care for cinnamon hearts or conversation hearts. All I wanted was one the iconic flat-bottom teardrop-shaped chocolate in its signature metal foil wrapping attached to my Valentine's Day card. I preferred the ones in the pink foil of course, but would not complain if I received a silver one. For this Valentine's Day I am not only gifting Hershey Kisses chocolates, but also Hershey Kisses-shaped sugar cookies. These cookies are extremely easy to make and they do not require a deft hand for the decorating component. The cookies are iced and then dipped in metallic sanding sugar to give the cookies the signature foil look. A Hershey's Kisses is not truly a Kiss unless it has its KISSES tag attached so I used the paper tags from the actual chocolates, which also meant I got to snack on a few while making these cookies.


What you will need:
Your favourite sugar cookie or shortbread cookie recipe (I like to use this one!)
Heart-shaped cookie cutter
Piping bag
Piping tip
Royal icing
Sanding sugar (preferably metallic)
Hershey's Kisses tags

Make the cookie dough according to the instructions of your recipe and chill the dough for at least an hour. Between two sheets of parchment paper, roll out the chilled dough to 1/4-inch in thickness. Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, press the bottom end of the heart cutter into the dough without pressing down the end with the two rounded halves. Using a small knife, connect the two ends to form the bottom of the Hershey's Kisses. Repeat. Transfer the cutouts to a large lined baking sheet. Transfer the baking sheet with the cutouts to the freezer for 15 minutes to help the dough firm up. A thoroughly chilled dough will ensure that the cookies will retain their shape when baking.

Bake the cookies according to the instructions of your recipe. Allow the cookies to cool completely before decorating.

Fill a piping bag fitted with a small round piping tip with royal icing. Draw an outline on each Hershey's Kisses cookie and then fill in the cookie with royal icing. Before the icing dries, dip the cookie into the coloured sanding sugar. Take a Hershey's Kisses tag and tuck it into one side of the cookie.

Allow cookies to dry completely before stacking.





Happy baking!

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