March 18th, 2010 — 10:59pm
My friends, knowing I love to cook, often ask if I want to take cooking classes with them. I’ve taken casual cooking classes before, and they’re fun and you make nice dishes, but they’re expensive. And at this point I’m comfortable trying new things in the kitchen. I’d rather just pay for ingredients and try a recipe on my own.
So when my friend Annabelle asked if I wanted to go an eclair-making class, I said no. I invited her over to make them at my house instead. I’d made choux pastry, custard and ganache before for different desserts anyway. In the spirit of cooking class, I turned to a recipe from the Culinary Institute of America.
Annabelle and I made tasty eclairs without any disasters, but I won’t be using the CIA recipe again. I didn’t like the texture of the pastry filling with all that cornstarch, and I had some issues with the choux, which baked way too thin on the bottom. (Though, maybe if I had parchment paper it wouldn’t have stuck as much.)
Anyway, I can buy ingredients to attempt eclairs a few more times before spending as much as a class would have been. And we did eat them all. When the custard ran out and we still had pastries left, I filled them with whipped cream, and I liked that even more.
I won’t post the recipe because, as I said, I wasn’t completely pleased with it. (You can find it here.) I’ll revisit the recipes I riffed off of when I made Chocolate Dulce De Leche Puffs. Or if you have a favorite eclairs recipe, pass it on.
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January 22nd, 2010 — 2:57am
(This is my friend Alex's first post on He Cooks, She Cooks. Let him know how much you enjoyed it.)
A brief introduction: I’m a 21 year old college student at the University of Missouri. I’m an untrained (dangerous, I know) and often confused cook. I like just about all eatable things if they’re put together in the right way—which happens to be the tricky part and what I’m generally interested in finding out.
I love snacks. They’re the practical, any-time-of-day dessert. Moreover, they’re portable and easy to eat. If you can’t eat it out of your hand, it’s not a snack. I mean, desserts are great—it’s hard to beat warm pie after a filling meal—but they’re more ceremonial and require plate and fork. Cookies bring the best of both worlds into something sweet, portable and generally circular.
If I say there are a thousand different cookies, there’s probably a thousand and one. So, universal perfection is really something impossible to achieve—or claim. Really, it’s about individual food preference: if you like cherries, make a cookie with cherries, if you like peanut butter, find a great recipe for a peanut butter cookie. If you like it, you can probably find a way to put it into a cookie.
- Here's what you need, the beer is optional…and for the chef, not the cookies. If you want beer cookies see here.
So, although I’ll never believe in an “ultimate” cookie, I did believe in finding an “ultimate” cookie dough to receive any number of delicious culinary delights (for me, nuts and chocolate). Really, I was trying to find the best chocolate chip cookie recipe; but what you decide to put in the dough doesn’t matter, it’s the dough itself I was concerned with. It seemed simple, but every recipe I found claiming to be the “World’s Greatest Chocolate Chip Cookie” with references to grandmothers or Eastern Europe fell flat. They were too thin, or too puffy—too dense or too light. I’ve probably made 15 different versions of the same cookie.
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What follows is the surprisingly simple, combined-from-many-cookies recipe for walnut-chocolate chip cookies. But I’d say throw in whatever you like, or whatever’s in your pantry.
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4 comments » | Cooking Basics, Recipes
December 21st, 2009 — 8:55pm
For years, whenever I smelled almond extract, I thought of these chocolate-cherry cookies my mom used to make for Christmas. Michael bought me a Burt’s Bees almond milk hand cream a while ago, and every time I use it, I start thinking of chocolate and Christmas.
Now that it’s actually Christmastime, I pulled out the cookie recipe only to find that it doesn’t call for almond extract. And my mom doesn’t think she ever added it. I guess the smell of maraschino cherry syrup is similar to almond extract, and the whole thing got mixed up in my memory.
Nonetheless, I added almond extract to the cookie dough this time around.
The cookies are brownie-like and best made small enough to be eaten in one or two bites. We served them to guests last night with vanilla ice cream.
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8 comments » | Recipes
November 7th, 2009 — 11:33am
These cookies need a milk chaser, and that's a good thing. I prefer desserts that demand a cold glass of milk.
By that I mean, rich, dense and chocolatey. For me, there is definitely such a thing as “too sweet” — many commercially made desserts fit this category — but there is no chocolate “too rich.”
The cookies are bittersweet with subtle cinnamon and cayenne pepper. They're okay on their own, but the dulce de leche adds a needed creaminess. I have had the recipe bookmarked for two years, but you shouldn't wait anywhere near that long to make a version of these.
Chocolate and dulce de leche previously: Chocolate and Dulce de Leche Layer Cake and Chocolate Dulce de Leche Custard Puffs
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17 comments » | Recipes
October 20th, 2009 — 12:01am
Today is my friend Marissa's birthday, and in her honor I created this dessert: chocolate choux pastry filled with dulce de leche custard.
Marissa lives in Kansas now, but our nightly chats on Skype have kept me from feeling lonely while I am on my own in Buenos Aires. She deserves something spectacular, and I think this dessert qualifies. The pastry is light, the custard is thick and creamy, and it's all covered with chocolate and dulce de leche. Totally decadent without being overly sweet.
I wasn't able to make these look refined, but I think they match our friendship more this way. Marissa and I write silly raps, wear hats while we do Mad-Libs and generally cause a playful ruckus wherever we go
I've already enjoyed a few of these on the birthday girl's behalf, but I've got some in the freezer for when she comes to visit in two weeks. So Marissa, if you weren't looking forward to your trip enough already…here's one more thing to get excited about. I can't wait to share this with you. Happy Birthday!
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11 comments » | Recipes
October 13th, 2009 — 5:35pm
Sometimes you just want cake.
Last week I randomly got an intense craving for cake. Well, maybe one of the 50-or-so food blogs I read had something to do with it. Regardless, I needed get baking.
I browsed through my bookmarked recipes and saw the LA Times' Celestial Chocolate Cake — chocolate with a whipped cream center and chocolate frosting. It made me think to do a chocolate cake with whipped cream both in the center and coating the entire thing.
Then as I was walking to the store to get cream, I thought I smelled strawberry shortcake. It is unlikely there was any strawberry shortcake in the vicinity, but whether there was the faint scent of another cake in the air or just in my head, it was enough to change my plans.
So chocolate cake with whipped cream and strawberries it was. And it absolutely hit the spot. Continue reading »
9 comments » | Recipes