Posts tagged desserts

Raspberry Cream Cheese Brownies

Prep time: 20 minutes + 30 minutes baking

Servings: 14-16 brownies

Brownie Batter

1 stick (4 ounces) butter or margarine

½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

3 eggs

1 ¼ cups sugar

2/3 cups flour

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon almond extract (optional)

½ cup chocolate chips (optional)

Cream Cheese swirl

2 tablespoons butter, softened

4 ounces cream cheese, softened (or at room temperature)

¼ scant cup sugar

1 egg

1/3 to ½ cup raspberry jam

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium- to large-sized mixing bowl, melt the butter and the ½ cup of chocolate chips for 1 to 2 minutes at half power in the microwave. Once the chips just begin to melt, stir vigorously with a fork until they are fully incorporated into the butter. Set aside to cool.

In a small mixing bowl combine the cream cheese and butter using an electric hand mixer set on high. Add in the sugar and then the egg. Turning the hand mixer to low power mix in the raspberry jam (or whatever jam you choose to use). Set aside.

Using the same beaters (hey, why clean ‘em if you don’t have to), mix the sugar into the chocolate and butter at medium-high speed. Add the eggs, mix. If you’re using it, add the almond extract and mix thoroughly. Measure and add the flour and salt, but stir the batter instead of mixing it just until the flour streaks disappear. Add additional chocolate chips, if you’re using them.

Lightly coat a 8×8” baking pan with cooking spray (mine is more like 10×6”, but whatever smaller baking pan is your favorite). Pour the brownie batter into the pan. Next, pour the cream cheese swirl batter on top of the brownie batter—don’t worry if the batter seems thin. Take a fork and swirl the cream cheese into the brownie batter.

Bake the brownies for 25 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. While these brownies are really good the day you make them. I like to cut them into neat squares and refrigerate them for a day before taking any big bites—the flavors are richer and the brownie moister after a little time to chill.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Raspberry + Cream Cheese = Decadent Brownies

The other day I made chocolate raspberry brownies for a get-together with friends. Here’s the problem: with the dark color of the brownie batter and the equally dark color of the raspberry jam swirled into the batter these looked like your standard brownies. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a regular brownie—I could eat them all day (I shouldn’t, of course, but if you forced me—or asked–I’d be happy to).

But part of the experience of eating dessert should be a bit of visual appeal, right? So I set out to find a brownie that would show off the raspberry punch without adding too much extra work. While I wanted to stick strictly with raspberry jam, there’s just no way to lighten the color without a little help…enter cream cheese. My oldest daughter loves cream cheese swirled brownies, why not raspberry cream cheese? I used my standard brownie recipe and added a cream cheese swirl that I spiked with raspberry yumminess.

The finished brownies didn’t necessarily scream—“Hey there’s raspberry in here!,” but with baked on swirls the brownies did hint there’s more than just chocolate inside. I will say, the cream cheese does take out a bit of the tart flavor and fruitiness of the raspberry jam but in return it gives a richness and creaminess it didn’t have before. The recipe also passed the “asking-for-seconds” test. Of course, where chocolate is concerned I haven’t had my kids not ask for seconds, but hey, they still passed.

If raspberry’s not your favorite flavor you can use just about any jam to perk up the cream cheese (although grape wouldn’t be my top choice). Apricot, strawberry, mixed berry, any would make for a tasty brownie.

Recipe

Prep time: 20 minutes + 30 minutes baking

Servings: 14-16 brownies

Brownie Batter

1 stick (4 ounces) butter or margarine

½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

3 eggs

1 ¼ cups sugar

2/3 cups flour

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon almond extract (optional)

½ cup chocolate chips (optional)

Cream Cheese swirl

2 tablespoons butter, softened

4 ounces cream cheese, softened (or at room temperature)

¼ scant cup sugar

1 egg

1/3 to ½ cup raspberry jam

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium- to large-sized mixing bowl, melt the butter and the ½ cup of chocolate chips for 1 to 2 minutes at half power in the microwave. Once the chips just begin to melt, stir vigorously with a fork until they are fully incorporated into the butter. Set aside to cool.

In a small mixing bowl combine the cream cheese and butter using an electric hand mixer set on high. Add in the sugar and then the egg. Turning the hand mixer to low power mix in the raspberry jam (or whatever jam you choose to use). Set aside.

Using the same beaters (hey, why clean ‘em if you don’t have to), mix the sugar into the chocolate and butter at medium-high speed. Add the eggs, mix. If you’re using it, add the almond extract and mix thoroughly. Measure and add the flour and salt, but stir the batter instead of mixing it just until the flour streaks disappear. Add additional chocolate chips, if you’re using them.

Lightly coat a 8×8” baking pan with cooking spray (mine is more like 10×6”, but whatever smaller baking pan is your favorite). Pour the brownie batter into the pan. Next, pour the cream cheese swirl batter on top of the brownie batter—don’t worry if the batter seems thin. Take a fork and swirl the cream cheese into the brownie batter.

Bake the brownies for 25 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. While these brownies are really good the day you make them. I like to cut them into neat squares and refrigerate them for a day before taking any big bites—the flavors are richer and the brownie moister after a little time to chill.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Thank you, Jeff Potter for cooking like a geek!

Photo credit: Amazon

No, no, I’m not knocking Jeff Potter, after all, his book is called Cooking for Geeks.


I heard him interviewed on NPR’s Science Friday and I must admit, anyone who’s taken a piece of a rocket to refashion his oven so that it can reach temperatures hot enough to mimic a wood-fired stove, well, I want to know/read more.

So far, I’m only a few pages in, but flipping through the book is like having science experiment after delicious science experiment all centered around one of my favorite things–cooking. There are few recipes in the book, which I like. Instead of giving an ingredient list and directions, as a cookbook would, Potter explains the whys and hows of certain food techniques. Do you know why you use baking soda for some recipes and baking powder at other times–sometimes both? Nope, neither did I.

The section on flavor is not to be missed (and there’s an explanation of how to make your own Lego ice cream maker tucked in those pages–who knew?!). When my middle daughter spied me looking through the book, she asked what it was about. I happened to be on the page explaining the primary tastes–bitter, salty, sour, sweet, umami–so I gave her a quick lesson. She seemed disappointed that chocolate hadn’t earned its own category. (I’m with her on that.)

We’ve already had one success pulled from the pages–orange brownies. Get this, you hollow out oranges and pour brownie batter inside and bake. Easy, easy. Potter used one orange and trimmed it from the top. Instead I cut the oranges in half before filling. The kids could not wait to eat these. Okay, now back to reading…

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Brownie stuffed oranges

This idea comes right from Cooking for Geeks, which has been a hit at our house. Thank you, Jeff Potter!

Oranges + Brownie Batter = Yum. That’s it!

Well not quite. Here’s how we did it.

  1. Prepare your favorite brownie batter. (Add lots of Ghirardelli chocolate chips.)
  2. Cut 3 oranges in half. (I used the extra brownie batter to fill an 8×8″ pan).
  3. Hollow out each orange until you reach the white interior (if you don’t get quite to the white part, no worries, more orange flavoring in your chocolate!).
  4. Place the orange halves on a shallow baking dish.
  5. Fill the orange pieces half way up with batter (don’t fill to the top since the brownies will grow).
  6. Bake as directed in your brownie recipe. The orange brownies will take slightly longer to cook.
  7. Eat happily!

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Easy Chocolate Bundt Cake

I’m ready to get baking, how about you?

After a long summer, I’m itching to heat up the oven and start baking cookies and cakes. Seriously, when does the snow start so I can justify cranking up the stove to 375 for an afternoon? I’ve had to temper my baking fixation with the occasional batch of blueberry muffins and of course a cobbler or two. But it’s just not the same as putting together something seriously sweet for a special occasion: my solution, an easy chocolate bundt cake.

I’m usually not the one to reach for a box instead of the flour, but with this cake you really can’t tell the difference so why go to all the work of making a cake from scratch? Plus, I pack on a smooth, gooey chocolate icing.

My mom has been making this chocolate cake since I was little. My copy has her handwritten instructions right from off of the box of a Duncan Hines cake mix. Of course, I’ve made a few adjustments to the original to put my own spin on the recipe. Around my house, this isn’t just cake—it’s comfort food. (Make your kids really happy by letting them have it in a bowl with milk for breakfast.)

And make a mental note for once the school year starts—this recipe comes together quickly so I always have the ingredients on hand for those times when one of my kids says, “Oh, yeah, mom I’m supposed to bring something in to class/soccer/girl scouts tomorrow. Can you make something?” One last note: It also freezes well, minus the icing, so you can even make one ahead if you can stand baking one and not eating it right away!

Recipe

Servings: 12 pieces

Preparation time: 15 minutes + baking time

Ingredients:

1 box chocolate cake mix (fudge is my favorite)

1 package instant chocolate pudding

½ cup oil

1 ¼ cup water

4 eggs

½ teaspoon almond extract

Optional add-ins: 1 ½ cups miniature chocolate chips, 1 cup coconut, 1 cup chopped nuts or all of the above (just avoid marshmallows, it doesn’t work well as a mix-in)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a bundt pan with cooking oil then dust the pan with flour (the flour should coat the pan). Remove any excess flour by turning it upside down and tapping the bottom.

In a large bowl, blend all of the ingredients together (except the mix-ins) using a handheld mixer on high speed. Add your mix-ins. Pour the batter into the bundt pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted near the center of the cake.

Let the cake cook for about 25 minutes and then invert onto your serving dish.

Chocolate Icing:

4 Tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon Espresso powder (optional)

2 ½ Tablespoons water

2 Tablespoons oil

2 Tablespoons corn syrup

¼ cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet)

2 cups powdered sugar

In a medium-sized saucepan, gradually bring all the ingredients to a medium-high heat and stir until smooth (about 4 minutes). Remove from the heat and add in the powdered sugar. Whisk until smooth. Allow the icing to cool until it thickens enough to pour over the cake. Dribble onto the cake allowing some icing to pool in the center. You can also garnish with nuts.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Why aren’t you eating…ZBars

If manna ever falls again from the heavens I think it will be in the form of ZBars.

I had intended to have one right beside me to look at, refer to–eat–while I wrote this post but they’re all gone. And I started the week with two full boxes of six a piece. I first discovered ZBars in the health food section at my grocers (I’m a Luna bar fan too–Nuts Over Chocolate is my all-time favorite). I thought I’d pick up a box as an after school snack for my kids–after all, they are supposed to be energy bars for youngsters. My husband found them–and promptly hid them–after downing just one. They are that addictive. My kids noticed my husband’s (okay, mine too) need for ZBars and wanted to try them too. Now we have a house rule of only one a day. But with five of us….well, we go through boxes quickly. (I found the best price for ZBars is at Target.)

Haven’t tried a Zbar yet? Let me describe the addiction. ZBars are organic granola bars put out by the folks who craft Clif bars. They’re designed for kids, packed with rolled oats, chocolate, oat fiber, fig paste and all sorts of good-for-you ingredients. Each bar has two grams of fiber, no cholesterol (and no undecipherable ingredients either). There’s only 3.5 grams of fat per serving and less sugar than a slice of bread. But I’ll admit, that’s only part of the reason I buy them. The real reason? They taste just like brownies. I should back up and say my flavor of choice is the Chocolate Brownie bar (Chocolate Chip isn’t nearly as satisfying–I promise).

So for after school, after dinner, after soccer practice, after a long day, after pretty much any activity, ZBars are great for kids, but you should really try one too.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Q&A with the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital’s Top Chef, Frank Turner

Spinach-Blueberry Brownies

Would you choose hospital fare for your next date night? Maybe you should. The Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, which opened its doors just over a year ago, features not only a restaurant, Henry’s Cafe, where chefs are on hand to craft your meal as you watch, but they also offer a state-of-the-art kitchen demonstration area where you can learn a variety of cooking techniques and nutritional helps to improve what you offer at home.

The chef behind the new concept of tastier, better-for-you hospital food is Frank Turner, a Michigan native and a passionate advocate for locally produced, sustainable products. Chef Turner has a long history in Michigan’s top restaurants as well as volunteering in Detroit-area food kitchens. Today, as the Director of Food and Nutrition and Executive Chef at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, Chef Turner is helping patients learn how to choose foods that will help aid in their recovery and he’s lending his expertise to cooking courses offered to the public at the demonstration kitchen. Classes fill up quickly, so enroll early. But to get your own experience with fresh fare, head to Henry’s Café any night of the week or stop by on Wednesdays from 10am to 4pm, when there’s a farmers market open onsite.

What three ingredients do you always keep stocked in your pantry?
Olive oil, quinoa, and dried fruit. I love dried Turkish apricots, as long as they’re sulfate free.

How about your favorite meal?
Chicken dumplings. It’s my grandmother’s recipe and she always served it, and then my mother. You make it by poaching chicken in stock [gently simmering the meat in the flavored liquid]. Then you take out the chicken, pull the meat off the bone and reserve it while you cook the dumplings. Once the dumplings are cooked, you take them off and cook down the broth until it thickens—and there’s your stock. The chicken is always tender. And my mother would serve it with some sort of braised vegetable to the side.

We all have a favorite indulgence, for a foodie like you it must be something spectacular?
Snickers. I don’t have them very often, but I like a great big, king size classic Snickers bar with a glass of milk. But it’s a toss up between that and Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies.

What’s one of your worst cooking mistakes?
I’ve done it all—burnt the soup, opened the blender when it’s going, burned the heck out of myself. The silliest thing I ever did, though, was when I forgot to label some stock [broth] that I made for a sauce that went with a special recipe. It was a short rib lamb dish. I had to get the pieces cut especially for the dish. I had created this stock using boar bones and fowl venison. It was probably the best stock I’ve ever made. Well, someone used it in the soup that day and I didn’t have anything for my special dish so I had to improvise. The dish turned out fine, but I must say that was one really good soup. Great beef barley!

There are so many great Michigan-made food products, what is your pick?
Asparagus. Michigan asparagus has a distinct flavor that you don’t find anywhere else. It has a nutty flavor. I like to grill it and then serve it with cracked pepper, citrus zest and a splash of Manchego or Parmesan cheese.

The American station, burger of the day—you’ll find that it’s never a beef hamburger. It’ll be something besides ground beef—white fish burger or a chickpea burger, quinoa and black bean burger, but it won’t be a ground beef burger. [There are seven chef-manned stations to choose from.]

If you’d like to sample one of Chef Turner’s recipes at home, try putting together his nutritional-packed brownies. The dessert includes a puree of blueberry and spinach for a boost of anti-oxidants that blends perfectly with the intense chocolate flavor.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Brownie Bacon Cookies—You know you want to try it!

MMmmmm, brownie bacon cookies.

So we had a little bacon left over from BLT night, and of course I thought, Why not add it into cookies? The idea isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds. I’d watched some Food Network show with my kids a while ago where they featured chocolate-dipped bacon served at some high-end restaurant. There’s something about adding a bit of smokiness and salt to chocolate that intrigued me (and my crew). Since then, I’ve been wondering how adding a some bacon to my favorite chocolate cookie recipe would go over.

My kids were game—in fact, my oldest has been bugging me for weeks to give the cookies a try ever since I mentioned the idea. You see at her middle school cafeteria table there’s a bit of a competition going to see who can bring in the most unusual—and tasty—foods. Last week one classmate brought in blueberry-banana smoothies in a couple of thermoses, while another girl brought Korean sushi and another treated the group to ribs. This is no typical middle school group—they’re a table of foodies-to-be. (Those who have the audacity to buy the cafeteria fare have to share their French fries with the group as penance.) She’s thrilled to take in the brownie bacon cookies to school (I think they’ll go over better than the spinach brownies, but we’ll see).

Now just how do you add bacon to cookies? I chose a cookie recipe with plenty of melted dark semi-sweet and then upped the chocolate flavor with some black onyx powder (I buy this at a local spice shop but you can substitute Espresso powder or even cocoa powder to get the same kick).

Chocolate bacon bits!

The recipe also calls for mini-chocolate chips. I never seem to have minis anyway, so I always use the food processor to crush down regular-sized chocolate chips. This time, I added the cooked bacon pieces to the processor first, gave it a few pulses and then added in the chocolate and pulsed until the chips were broken down and infused with bacon. I folded this mix into the dough as the last step before forming logs of cookie dough that went into the fridge.

Dough formed into logs, ready for the fridge.

The rest was easy—I cut the cookies and put them on baking sheets then played with some of the toppings. To some, I added pecans for extra texture; others got a dusting of raw sugar.

The cookies turned out perfectly shaped, nice crispness and without an overwhelming bacon flavor. Instead, the bacon adds a hint of earthiness to the cookie with the initial bite and then a stronger smoky flavor as an aftertaste. I was surprised my oldest daughter had a so-so reaction to the cookie, my middle daughter asked for seconds—and thirds (my youngest just asked for more Cheerios because that’s truly her favorite dessert anyway, but that’s another story). I would definitely make these cookies again to serve as an unusual dessert after a casual meal.

Recipe
Ingredients
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips + ¾ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ½ cups flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons Espresso powder or Black Onyx powder (optional)
4 pieces fully cooked bacon

Directions

  1. In a large, glass measuring cup melt together the sugar, butter and 1 cup chocolate chips in the microwave. Heat at medium-power for 2 minutes, stir and then repeat in 30-second intervals or until the mixture becomes smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the dry ingredients.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla into the cooled chocolate mixture. Mix the dry ingredient into the chocolate mixture using a hand mixer at medium speed.
  4. In a small food processor, pulse the bacon slices a couple of times then add in ¾ cup of the chocolate chips. Pulse until the pieces become broken up to the size of mini-chocolate chips. Stir the chocolate-bacon bits into the dough.
  5. Divide the dough in half and form into two, 9-inch logs on wax paper. Roll the logs in the wax paper and store in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
  6. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a sharp knife cut the cookies into 3/8” slices. Add these to a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for about 9 minutes or until the edges become just barely browned. Allow to cool a few minutes on the pan before removing. Eat! Our crew found that the cookies were much better on day two.

*Makes about 3 dozen savory-sweet cookies.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Swan Cream Puffs

Inspired in part by a recipe, which appeared in Mexican Border Flavors: The Beautiful Cookbook (HarperCollins, 2003).

Dough for the puffs
2 cups water
1 cup butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
8 eggs

Chocolate cream
2 cups semi-sweet or white chocolate chips
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
¼ cup raspberry jam (optional, but good)

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. To make the dough, place butter and water into a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Slowly, bring the water and butter to a boil.
    As soon as the mixture begins to boil, remove it from the heat source and add the flour in all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together to form a ball.
    Let the ball cool for around four minutes, then add the eggs one at a time. Beat after each egg is added.
    At this point, you could just drop the dough in heaping tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet, but if you’re up for a challenge, break out the pastry bag! I use what’s called a ‘Mechanical Pastry Bag’ I bought on sale at Michaels to create the swan shapes.
    Assembling the swan: You’ll need four large, ungreased baking pans (I highly recommend using parchment paper to line the pan, even though the dough shouldn’t stick to an ungreased pan it may). One pan will contain the swan necks, one and a half will contain swan wings and the rest of the space can be used for the base and regular puffs.
    First baking pan: Swan necks. Place 1/3 of the puff dough into your pastry bag fitted with a large, straight tip (you want a tip that is about the diameter of a pencil eraser top). Draw ‘2s’ in three rows on the pan–each one stretching to about two inches in height. The curved part of the ‘2’ is the swan’s neck and head while the bottom of the ‘2’ will tuck between the wings to support the weight of the head. Place this pan into the oven while you prepare the rest. The necks should cook for only about nine minutes or so—keep a close watch because these thinner puffs cook (and burn!) quickly.
  3. Second baking pan: Swan wings. Change the pastry tip to either a large open star tip or even a large leaf tip (I’ve never purchased tips, I always just use what’s available in my kit). Working left to right, start with a thicker, rounded portion of dough and then draw the tip upwards and to the right—the winged shape should look like a sideways, slightly curved teardrop (these should be about one-and-a-half inches in length). Again, make three rows of wings. Keep in mind that the dough will grow to at least double what’s on the pan. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until slightly browned.
  4. With the remaining pans and dough: Using open star tip create circular cream puffs (these should be about two inches in length). Some of these puffs you’ll use as the base for your swan; the others you can make into regular puffs. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until slightly browned.
  5. Making the cream: Melt the chocolate and the heavy cream in the microwave at full power for about one to two minutes. Stir. If there are any lumps, microwave the mixture again at 10-second intervals or until the chocolate melts completely. (Stir in the raspberry jam if you’re using it.) Set aside and allow to cool.
  6. Beat the cream cheese and the sugar together in a medium-sized bowl. Once the mixture appears light and creamy, gradually add in the chocolate. (**Keep the chocolate pan handy with just a little chocolate inside to make swan eyes and beaks.) Whip the entire mixture again and place into a pastry bag fitted with a large open star tip.
  7. Assembling your swan: Now for the fun part! Gently remove the swan necks from the pan (some may break, but that’s why you have several). Dip the swans ‘beak’ (the end of the ‘2’) into the chocolate mixture. (Obviously, if you’re using white chocolate you’ll have to melt some additional darker chocolate.) Allow the swan necks to harden on wax paper.
  8. Carefully cut the base pieces in half. On the bottom portion, add a generous swirl of the chocolate cream. Gently cut a swan wing in half. Pushing in gingerly with your fingers, place the swan neck base (so the bottom of the ‘2’) into the cream swirl. Place a wing on either side of the neck base to cover it. Repeat with the remaining parts. Once you’ve assembled all of the swans, use a toothpick to dot each side of the swan head with a chocolate eye. Refrigerate until firm. Just before serving, dust with powdered sugar, if desired.
  9. At the end you’ll have mismatched cream puff tops (leftover from the bases), which you can use to create regular cream puffs.

For white swans, use white chocolate in the cream filling and omit the raspberry jam. For a stronger chocolate flavor, opt for semi-sweet.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Creative Cream Puffs—Swans, Anyone?

I know, I know, it’s nearly Mother’s Day and I’m explaining how to take cream puffs to a whole new level by crafting the dough into swans. Here’s the thing, for me, an afternoon baking, undisturbed is nearly as relaxing as an hour of yoga. But even if you don’t enter a baking zen when you break out the flour, there’s another reason I like to make these eggy animals—they look impressive. There are some desserts that you make, they taste great, but there’s no ‘wow’ factor. No worries about that on this recipe. The swans will illicit ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from your family and friends.

Now, I didn’t dream up the swan cream puffs on my own. Years ago, I was at a friend’s baby shower where she’d bought some at a high-end New York City bakery. My first thought, after I did my own ‘ooh’ was, ‘Hey I bet I could figure out how to do that.’ (I noticed at the shower everyone was reluctant to take a swan because they looked so delicate and almost too pretty to eat). When I started trying to mimic the swans at home, it took several tries to master constructing them—my kids were more than happy to eat each and every crooked-necked mess up.

So if you’re ready for a little baking challenge, these swan cream puffs are fun to put together. They require more than a little patience, but the end results are tasty—and cool. Make sure to read through the directions completely before you get started. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to whip up the puffs for all sorts of occasions. I even made them once as sandwiches for my daughter’s 3rd grade class. Instead of a creamy dessert filling, I used chicken salad. The sandwich swans were an instant success!

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)