One of my favorite things about writing a food blog is "meeting" so many wonderful people. I've made some great friends through the food blogging community, and it makes me sad that I most likely won't ever meet most of them. Apparently Annie of Annie's Eats fame had similar feelings recently, because she decided to host a virtual holiday party and she invited me! Obviously I jumped at the chance to get to "cook for" some of my favorite food bloggers. If I can't actually go to a blogger holiday party, attending a virtual one is the next best thing.
Smells Like Home made these cranberry-lime bellinis. I love bellinis, and this twist looks really delicious. We typically drink mimosas at my mother's house on Christmas morning, but maybe I'll mix things up this year and serve this variation instead.
Apple a Day went outside the box as well, with Pepper Berry Cocktails. They sound intriguing and look gorgeous, so I know I'd be a fan. I love cocktails that have a savory edge.
Elly Says Opa was kind enough to serve us a Greek specialty, Dolmades. They are grape leaves stuffed with rice and herbs. I love Greek food, and while I've never even had a dolmade, I'd love to try some made by a Greek food queen like Elly!
Pennies on a Platter really spoke to me by making Baked Fontina. This is probably my favorite appetizer ever, so I would have just planted myself in front of the melted, gooey cheese and not moved all night.
Annie's Eats is a dessert maven, and while I've not yet tried to master the infamous macaron, I certainly can devour them. Candy cane macarons sound heavenly, and this variation might just force me to try my hand at them by Christmas.
I had never made pate a choux, and I know pastry can be fairly finicky, so I was a little nervous. Whenever I'm making a complicated recipe I just break it down and go one step at a time. It really makes it seem less daunting. So I first made the pastry cream, which I've made many times, then just went step by step for the puffs. No problems, easy as pie. I actually just adapted my favorite vanilla pastry cream to be raspberry flavored by adding some raspberry puree and preserves. It thinned out the pastry cream a little, but it still tasted wonderful.
Thanks so much for hosting us Annie! I really hope that one day I'll be able to cook with these ladies - seriously, how fun would that be?
One Year Ago: Herb and Goat Cheese Biscotti
Raspberry Cream Puffs
Pate a Choux and chocolate glaze from Baking Illustrated
Pastry Cream adapted from Baking Illustrated
makes about 24
Raspberry Pastry Cream
- 1 1/2 cups half and half
- 5 Tbs + 1 tsp sugar
- pinch salt
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 Tbs cornstarch
- 2 Tbs butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 ounces fresh raspberries
- 2 Tbs seedless raspberry preserves
Heat the half and half, 4 tablespoons of sugar, and the salt in a medium heave-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until simmering, sitrring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the remaining 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of sugar and whisk until the sugar has begun to dissolve and the mixture is creamy, about 15 seconds. Whisk in the cornstarch until combined and the mixture is pale yellow and thick, 30 seconds.
When the half-and-half mixture reaches a full simmer, gradually whisk into the egg yolk mixture to temper. Return the mixture to the saucepan, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula. Return to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until a few bubble burst on the surface and the mixture is thickened and glossy, about 30 seconds.
Off heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla. Strain the pastry cream through a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl, and whisk in the raspberry puree. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until cold and set, at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.
- 2 large eggs, plus 1 egg white
- 5 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
- 2 Tbs whole milk
- 6 Tbs water
- 1 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
Beat the eggs and egg white in a measuring cup with a pourable spout. You should have 1/2 cup - discard the excess and set aside.
Combine the butter, milk, water, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. As soon as the mixture reaches a full boil, remove from heat and stir in the flour using a wooden spoon. Stir until the mixture is well combined and clears the sides of the pan.
Return the pan to low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is slightly shiny, looks like wet sand, and tiny beads of fat appear on the bottom of the saucepan, about 3 minutes (the paste should register 175-180 degrees)
Immediately transfer the mixture to a food processor and process with the feed tube open for 10 seconds to allow the mixture to cool slightly. With the machine running, slowly add the eggs in a steady stream through the feed tube. Once all the eggs have been added, scrape down the sides of the bowl, then process 30 seconds, until a smooth, thick, sticky paste forms.
Transfer the paste to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip. Pipe the paste into 1 1/2 inch mounds on the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between them. You should be able to fit 24 on each sheet. Dip the back of a spoon into a bowl of cold water and smooth the surface of the mounds.
Bake for 15 minutes without opening the oven door. Reduce the heat to 375 and bake an additional 8-10 minutes, until the pastries are golden-brown and fairly firm. Remove the puffs from the oven, and using a paring knife, cu a 3/4-inch slit into the side of each one to release steam.
Turn off the oven, return the pan to the oven, and prop the door open with the handle of a wooden spoon. Allow to dry until the centers are just moist but not wet, and the puffs are crisp, about 45 minutes. Transfer the puffs to a wire rack to cool completely.
- 3 Tbs half-and-half
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
To assemble the cream puffs, use the tip of a paring knife to cut an "x" into the side of each puff. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch round tip with pastry cream and pipe into each X until the cream starts to ooze back out.
Dip the tops of each cream puff into the chocolate glaze, and allow to sit at room temperature until the chocolate is set. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.