Archive for March, 2010

Raspberry Meringue Bars

What’s my favorite fruit?

Funny you should ask because I have two. Peaches for fresh or stand-alone fruit. Raspberries for baked goods or to pair with chocolate.

The peach story is actually a nice one. I studied abroad for a summer in college once. Madrid, Spain. I lived with a host familia who were awesome. The mom was stay-at-home and made the best Tortilla de Espana (how do I get the tilda over the n?) I will ever eat. If you’re not sure aforementioned dish is, read on! It’s a potato omelet which sounds plain but somehow it’s this buttery melt-in-your-mouth bite and you’d swear there was cheese or some other form of fatty goodness but no such thing. One of these days I’ll work up the nerve to try and make one but for now, even years later, I’d rather cherish the memories of that Tortilla. (I’ve had others in restaurants and tapas bars both stateside and in Spain — Not the same. Not by a longshot.) Anyway, she was awesome also because every day I’d come home from school at 2 or 3 in the afternoon and she’d say (in Spanish obviously), “Will you be taking a nap? When do you want me to wake you?” BLESS YOU, WOMAN! Yes! I think I will take a nap! Thank you for asking! She also did my laundry and didn’t bat an eye if I told her I was going out to dinner. Can you tell I adored her?

Moving on.. The dad was a musician and had a little music studio in the apartment with all this electric stuff, knobs, dials, and sliding things included. The two daughters were grown and one had moved out. The other was studying to become an English teacher (go figure) but she wasn’t around much either.

Back to the peach thing. Every morning I was left to my own devices on what to do about breakfast and lunch. The fridge was always stocked with cheeses, meats, and breads for lunch so I just made myself a little sandwich while I made breakfast: toast and peach jam. Every day. Toast and peach jam. I was in love! Why hadn’t I ever had peach jam before? And for a long time after returning from Spain I couldn’t stand the idea of any other kind of jam besides peach on my toast. This led to a lot of toast-less meals at the diner. I’ve since moved on but still buy peach jam every once in awhile and I’m taken back to that little apartment off the Estrecho metro stop on the yellow line in Madrid.

Unfortunately, this story isn’t really relevant since this recipe called for raspberries. (Wasn’t it a nice story though?) But really, raspberries are my favorite fruit to bake with because they always lend a bit of tartness that perfectly complements the sweetness of chocolate. I instantly knew I needed to bake these the moment I laid eyes on them. They’re actually called “White Chocolate Brownies” but the white chocolate flavor is barely, if at all, noticeable and they’re not brown in the least so I’ve renamed them appropriately. Despite the lack of a pronounced white chocolate flavor, however, these bars are delicious. Scrumptious. Finger-lickin’ good.

Boy agreed.

Dorie’s Raspberry Meringue Bars
adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours, Dorie Greenspan


Ingredients
For the brownies:
2/3 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c almond flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
4 oz white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 c sugar
2 tsp grated orange zest
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 c fresh raspberries

For the meringue:
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1/2 c sugar

Instructions

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325F.

Butter a 9×13-inch pan and line the bottom with parchment or foil. Put the pan on a baking sheet.

Whisk together the flour, almond flour, and salt.

Melt the butter and chopped chocolate in a bowl over simmering water, stirring frequently until the ingredients are just melted. Be very careful as white chocolate quickly separates when it gets too hot! Remove the bowl from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and aromatic. Add the eggs and beat with a hand or stand mixer on medium-high for about 3 minutes or until pale and foamy. Add vanilla. On low, mix in the dry ingredients just until they disappear. Pour into pan and add a layer of raspberries (they’ll likely sink). Set aside to make the meringue.

In a clean mixer bowl with clean whisk attachments for a hand or stand mixer, beat the egg whites and salt on medium until foamy and just opaque. Increase the speed to medium-high and add the sugar in a slow, steady stream. Whip the whites until firm but glossy peaks. Spread over top of the batter.

Bake 30-35 minutes according to Dorie but this took much longer for me to set, more like 45-50 minutes in my opinion. The meringue should be browned and crackly. Cool to room temperature in the pan.

For serving, Dorie suggests you cover a cooling rack with a piece of parchment or wax paper, dust with confectioners’ sugar and gently turn the pan out. Take care not to squish the meringue! Peel away the lining and invert onto a cutting board. She suggests 32 bars.

Love it!

– Sharlene

Cocoa Almond Meringues

Spring has sprung in New Jersey!

To celebrate, I made my first ice cream purchase of the year. Neapolitan was the lucky flavor. Boy loves Neapolitan.

Way back when- as in, beginning of second year of medical school- we instituted this policy of dinner on Tuesday nights. Boy would go off to the gym around 8.30 every Tuesday (as well as other days.. don’t want you to think he’s a one-time-a-week gymming kinda guy) and in an effort to see him more often (we weren’t REALLY dating yet) I offered to make him dinner and have it on the table by 6 so that his belly could rest up before exercising. And every Tuesday we did just that. Even when we became official. When was that, you ask? No one knows. We have no anniversary date. It sort of just.. happened.

But then third year sort of just happened and Tuesday night dinners fell apart. I had no time to cook (and I was not home by 6 half the time let alone have time to cook a meal by then). And he stopped going to the gym at the same time every week. So no more Tuesday night dinners. Until last week. I happened to have the afternoon off (yippee skippee!!) so I offered to make dinner and he agreed. I settled on these meringues by Dorie to accompany the ice cream I already knew I wanted to buy since the weather had warmed up a bit. (Also, I decided to make dessert POST-trip to the store and happened to have all these ingredients on hand. Sweet!) Big hit. The fluffy and crunchy meringues went really well with the different flavors of smooth, silky ice cream. We’ve been eating bowls of the stuff all week.

And have been running every other day.

Win/win.

Cocoa Almond Meringues
adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours, Dorie Greenspan

Makes about 30.

Ingredients
1 c confectioners’ sugar, plus extra for dusting
1/3 c almond flour
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
4 egg whites, at room temperature
pinch of salt
1/2 c sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 c finely chopped bittersweet chocolate [I used 3 squares of a bittersweet Ghirardelli baking bar]

Instructions
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 300F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Sift confectioners’ sugar, ground almonds and cocoa. Set aside.

Using a hand mixer or stand with whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and salt until the whites are opaque. Increase to medium-high speed and continue to whip while adding the granulated sugar 1 tbsp at a time. Whip until stiff peaks form but they are still shiny/glossy. Beat in vanilla extract.

Remove bowl from mixer and gently fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the chopped chocolate, with a large rubber spatula. The whites will inevitably deflate a bit, but fold quickly and gently to minimize this.

Drop the batter by tablespoonfuls onto your prepared baking sheets spacing them about 2 inches apart. Dust the tops lightly with confectioners’ sugar.

Bake at 300F for 10 minutes, then, without opening the oven door, lower the temperature to 200F and bake for 1 hour more. Remove from oven and allow meringues to cool completely on the baking sheet. Carefully peel meringues off the parchment.

Con helado, por favor. (With ice cream, please.) Perfect springtime dessert!

– Sharlene

Cocoa Brownies

Med school is hard.

I don’t mean in a study-all-the-time-and-sleep-for-4-hours-if-you-want-to-not-get-yelled-at-the-next-day-for-not-knowing-the-answer-to-the-question-you-didn’t-know-existed-because-it-wasn’t-in-the-book-you-read kind of way. I don’t even mean in a four-years-of-misery-to-graduate-100,000-dollars-in-debt-and-an-M.D.-after-your-name-that-means-nothing-if-you-don’t-submit-yourself-to-cheap-labor-in-the-form-of-residency kind of way. Not an everyone-else-my-age-is-vacationing-with-spending-money-to-boot-and-possibly-getting-engaged-and-having-babies-before-the-risk-of-conceiving-difficulties-and-congenital-abnormalities-skyrockets-at-age-35 kind of way either.

I mean in a I-have-no-social-life-and-therefore-bake-solely-for-my-lonesome-self-and-sometimes-Boy-except-he-has-3-of-something-max-because-he’s-health-conscious-and-I-have-to-eat-the-rest kind of waybecause-I’m-the-chub-chub way.

Here’s the thing. I read blogs. Blogs of women who are married, who have families, who have jobs with coworkers, who have neighbors/friends who throw get-togethers or have birthdays. I? Am not one of those people.

Marriage/families? P’shaw! I have apparently chosen the life of a career-driven human being who may or may not be thought of as a workaholic except it’s not really by choice anymore. Coworkers? Not likely! While I would love to give residents and attendings some baked treats, it isn’t appropriate in terms of grading. And besides, you can’t bring treats for some without bringing for the whole class, can you? Where would it end? Residents? Attendings? Nurses? And neighbors? Haven’t spoken to a single one. Mostly because I’m holed up in my cocoon of staring at books and doing questions at all times. Also because one of them tends to yell and scream and an FBI agent came by once asking if I knew anything about her (true story that I’ll save for later). Friends? Yes, I have those. But we’re all so busy nowadays and have such varied schedules that we don’t even always celebrate birthdays anymore.

So I’m stuck with me, Boy, and sometimes my family. Except right now. Because my mom won’t eat chocolate during Lent. And all I seem to want to bake is chocolate things. Oh, the irony. Buuuuuut, I don’t really mind eating an entire batch of brownies by myself. So, GO LENT!

These brownies are quite possibly my quintessential brownie. No solid chocolate whatsoever because no fat added from cocoa butter in the chocolate bars means you control the fat content completely. The top was hard and chewy and the inside literally melted in my mouth and lingered on my tongue. It’s one of those things that you can eat over an extended period of time, little morsel by little morsel, because it’s so good you don’t want to waste any tiny bit of it on a hastily scarfed down bite.

I’m already craving another one just thinking about it. Except I already ate them all.

Best Cocoa Brownies
adapted from smitten kitchen who adapted it from Alice Mendrich’s Bittersweet

Makes 16.

Ingredients
10 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/4 c sugar
3/4 c plus 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 eggs, cold
1/2 c all-purpose flour
2/3 c walnut or pecan pieces (optional) [I dislike nuts in my brownies.]

Instructions
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside until the mixture is warm to the touch.

Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes. Stir in the nuts, if using [ewww]. Spread evenly in the lined pan.

Bake until toothpick comes out slightly moist with batter, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack. [Or if you can’t wait, just dig in. That’s what I do. Brownies are best warm and still oven-gooey in my humble opinion.]

[Helpful hint: It’s MUCH easier to get a cleaner cut in brownies if you use a plastic knife. You’ll thank me later.]

MMMMMMMM-mmmmm good!!

– Sharlene

Cinnamon Rolls

Lent. It’s a period of reflection, devotion, sacrifice, and non-chocolate goods. Why, you ask? Every year my mom gives up chocolate for the season and every year she makes it through unscathed. The task used to be much more difficult. When I was younger, chocolate wasn’t even in sight and we’d all have to be careful about sneaking some here and there so as not to make her long to share in our chocolate-covered happiness. Nowadays, we eat chocolate in front of her without fear of repercussion and even consume entire boxes of chocolate goods without saving any for her to have later. Mean, I know, but COME ON. Can’t let good chocolate just sit there.

When I bake, however, I always want my Mom to be able to share. Unfortunately I’ve been on a chocolate kick lately so picking out a non-chocolate recipe was a bit difficult. Difficult, that is, until Pioneer Woman showed up with these cinnamon rolls.

OH MY GOODNESS.

Goodbye Cinnabon, HELLOOOOOOOO PIONEER WOMAN!

These rolls were uh-may-zing. My brother said, “This is the most cinnamon-y roll I’ve ever had. Usually cinnamon rolls are sugary. This one is cinnamon-y. And.. buttery.” Pretty accurate analysis. He did, however, leave out that fact that they’re completely melt-in-your-mouth satisfying and while you’ll feel guilty reaching for a fourth second helping you won’t feel that guilty because they’re that good.

Make them. NOW.

Cinnamon Rolls

adapted from the Pioneer Woman, recipe halved because the original makes 40-50

Dough
2 c whole milk [I used 2% as I keep nothing else on hand.]
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/2 c sugar
1 package active dry yeast
4 c flour, plus 1/2 c separated
1/2 heaping tsp baking powder
1/2 scant tsp baking soda
1/2 heaping tbsp salt

Filling
1 c melted butter, plus more as needed [really??.. YES]
cinnamon, a lot of it
1 c sugar, plus more as needed

Maple Icing
3 c powdered sugar
1/4 c milk
2 tbsp butter, melted
1/8 c brewed coffee, plus a tablespoon or two to taste
[I used about 1/4 c because I looooove coffee and didn’t have the maple flavoring. Does this substitution make sense? Not really. But it was still delicious.]
Pinch of salt
1 tsp maple flavoring or maple extract [apparently this makes the frosting but I couldn’t find any in my grocery store so I substituted vanilla]

Instructions


Mix the milk, vegetable oil and sugar in a medium saucepan. Heat until just before the boiling point then turn off heat and leave to cool 45 minutes to 1 hour or until lukewarm.

Sprinkle in yeast and let sit for a minute. Add 4 cups of all-purpose flour, stir, and cover with a towel to let rise for at least an hour.

After rising, add remaining 1/2 cup of flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate up to two days or make right away. [I refrigerated overnight.]

Sprinkle rolling surface generously with flour. Form a rough rectangle by hand with dough (if using full recipe, work with dough in halves). Then using a rolling pin, roll into a thin rectangle. Drizzle melted butter over the dough. [This will be messy!] Then sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over dough.

Now, starting at the opposite end, begin rolling the dough in a neat line toward you. Keep the roll relatively tight as you go. Pinch the seam of the roll to seal it.

Cut the rolls approximately 3/4 to 1 inch thick and lay in buttered pie pans. Let the rolls rise for 20 to 30 minutes, then bake at 375 degrees for aluminum or 350 for glass pans until light golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes [mine took 16].

For the frosting, mix together all ingredients listed and stir well until smooth. It should be thick but pourable. Taste and adjust as needed. Generously drizzle over the warm rolls. Go crazy and don’t skimp on the frosting.

Absolutely perfect on a cold winter day. Or anytime you get around to making them.

Mm-mm good.

– Sharlene

Green Tea Cupcakes

Last weekend was my first full-sized baking event. Ever. (Well, beyond the occasional school bake sale that I may or may not have volunteered for.)

70ish cupcakes along with animal heads made of cake and cookies to spell “CONGRATULATIONS.”

Slight overachiever. (In case you’re wondering, medical school does not require one to be an overachiever. I’d actually classify myself as an underachiever in that regard seeing as how I obviously spend more man-hours baking than studying.)

Wednesday:

  • Bake almond cakes for snacking while baking on Friday.
  • Bake cake to make animal heads.
  • Bake sugar cookies.
  • Make royal icing for the first time ever (what a time-consuming spontaneous idea).
  • Ice cookies in green, brown, and blue.

What really happened: I did all the above with a two-hour break to have dinner with an old roommate. Dinner was good. Consequences of leaving the kitchen for 2 hours in the midst of baking were not-so-good. I had to stay up until 1 and still wake up at 5.30 to drive an hour to the hospital. Icing cookies with royal icing took MUCH longer than anticipated (a.k.a. all night). No one warned me of this!

Thursday:

  • On call at the hospital until midnight.
  • Attempt to get some sleep.

What really happened: Got out of call at 10 but was exhausted due to the lack of sleep the night before. When did I turn into an old fart? On my Surgery rotation (the first one of the year) I got 4-5 hours routinely and made it through the 6-day work-week! Now? Give me 8 hours or someone’s going to lose an eye (which translates into: Give me 8 hours or I’ll repeatedly whine via texting to Boy the next day which I’m sure makes him want to poke his eye out.) After having 4 cups of coffee that day I still had to chug a Mountain Dew in a last ditch effort to stay awake while on my 12th hours at the hospital. And yet, with all that caffeine, I slept like a log (when I got home).

Friday:

  • Bake green tea cupcakes (subject of this post), fill, and top.
  • Bake banana chai cupcakes and ice.
  • Coach Boy and friend (Ashley) on how to make animal heads and hope it turns out okay.

What really happened: A 6-hour baking event complete with misplacement of sanity, sneaking pizza slices, and the Gaga challenge on America’s Best Dance Crew, a million and one dirty dishes, monkeys that looked genetically deformed, veritable wars against chocolate, heavy cream, exhaustion, and the clock, and sugar overload.

Saturday:

  • BABY SHOWER!


Didn’t Ashley and Boy’s animal heads come out cute? I love the Asian lion! And Tony the Tiger!

What really happened: Success! People loved the cupcakes and the animal heads (which also tasted delicious)! Yay!

Moral of the story: It was all worth it.

Seriously. I’d do it again. Chalk it up to the little-engine-that-could-overachiever in me. Or perhaps I have yet to find my sanity.

But really I put the green tea cupcake together piece by piece, pulling and adapting from various recipes, JUST for the shower and am elated with the results. It’s the first time I’ve ever come up with a concept on my own and carried it to fruition. The green tea flavor is there but it’s not overpowering, the strawberries add just the right amount sweetness and creaminess, and the mint whipped topping gives it a hint of freshness. It’s well-balanced and crazy good. (Oh! Do you hear that train? That big, loud obnoxious train? I believe that’s the Sharlene Happy-train and I’m tooting my own horn.) They’re absolutely delicious. Go bake them NOW!

Note on the animal heads: I didn’t take pictures while I was prototyping them and was too busy to take pictures while Ashley and Boy made them proper so sorry about that. Essentially, I took Bakerella‘s cake pop posts and created a lion, a tiger, and a monkey. The balls were made of crumbled yellow cake from a box, lemon frosting from a tub, melted chocolate candies, sweat, tears, and perhaps a few drops of blood. They were refrigerated for about an hour and then covered in various melted chocolate candies: dark chocolate for the monkey with a peanut butter face, peanut butter for the lion, and orange chocolate for the tiger. Ears for the lion and tiger were made of diamond shaped sprinkles pressed into the ball so that only a triangle was seen. The lion mane was made of caramel popcorn pressed on while the chocolate was still wet and the monkey ears were made of dark chocolate candies. Facial features were painted on with melted dark chocolate. Instead of putting them on sticks, since the plan was to have them rest atop the cupcakes, we coated them and laid them on parchment figuring the bottom wouldn’t be visible anyway. Holler if you have questions.

Note on photography: For fear of the whipped cream melting before the actual baby shower, I sent Ashley home with the whipped cream in an airtight container, 2 disposable decorating bags, decorating tips, and 35 un-topped green tea cupcakes. As such, the only finished product pictures I have are Ashley’s photos of the baby shower. The green tea ones have ridge-less tops (as in the picture below).

Green Tea Cupcakes with Strawberry Mascarpone Filling and Mint Whipped Cream

adapted from Chockylit, Giada, and Dorie

Cupcake
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
3 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp matcha
1 c milk
[I used 2% because it’s all I keep stocked.]

Filling
8 oz mascarpone cheese
1/2 c thawed and drained frozen strawberries
1/4 c sugar
Juice of half a lemon (approximately 1 tbsp)

Topping
1 2/3 c heavy cream
5-8 fresh mint leaves [or a few drops mint extract]
1/3 c sugar

Instructions


Cupcake:
Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds. Add sugar and beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs/egg yolks one at a time, beat for 30 seconds between each.


In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and matcha. Mix 1/3 of flour mixture into batter followed by 1/2 of the milk. Repeat and then add in last of the flour mixture, each time mixing until just combined.

Bake for 22-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.


Filling:
In a food processor [or blender if you want to make your life difficult but have nothing else in your tiny kitchen; for this, I suggest chopping up the strawberries into small pieces and let the mascarpone soften a bit and you’ll be just fine] , combine mascarpone, strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice until smooth.

Topping:
Bring 1 1/3 cups cream and the mint leaves to a boil in a medium saucepan. Pull the pan from the heat, cover and let steep for 30 minutes, then pour into a bowl and refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours.
[If using mint extract omit this step.]

Strain the cream into a measuring cup and add as much additional chilled cream as needed to measure 1 1/3 cups. Working with a stand or hand mixer in a medium bowl, whip the cream and sugar [and mint extract, if using. Use 1-2 drops to start and increase as you taste. You don’t want the mint flavor to be too overpowering, just enough to give the cupcakes a fresh taste.] until the cream holds firm peaks.

[forgot to take pictures! whoops!]

Assembly:
Using a filling tip, pipe several areas of the cupcake with strawberry filling. [I piped 4-5 in a circle and then 1 more in the middle.] Alternatively, you can use the cone method by cutting out a cone from the cupcake, filling, and reapplying the cone (you may want to cut the bottom of the cone off so it all fits, or keep the bottom on to give your cake extra height). Top with the whipped cream.


Get to baking! You’re missing out!

– Sharlene



Mint Cream Puffs

Valentine’s Day has never really been my “thing.” But it hasn’t really been “not my thing” either. It’s a teeny tiny itty bitty version of Christmas in my opinion. One of those days where, to an extent, you can feel the love in the air (or at least the version of love wherein the guy likes the girl so much he’s willing to pay for an overpriced dinner just so she doesn’t get mad at him). I usually like that feeling.

This year, I wanted to do something. With the busy lives we lead any excuse to have a date night of sorts (studying in the same place does not, to me, constitute a date) sounds like a good idea. We contemplated going out to dinner. NYC Restaurant Week had been extended and we had wanted to go in the first place but did we really feel like making the hike into the city after just going in two days prior? And did we have the funds (Boy keeps reminding me that we’re in a recession)? We contemplated a movie. You don’t want to see Valentine’s Day.. right? Clearly, Boy was not wanting to watch the star-studded flick (I wasn’t set on it but I wouldn’t have minded either). So we settled on making dinner. On the menu was the Pioneer Woman’s lasagna and I (obviously) offered to make dessert. I was going to my parents’ house the day before and I love any excuse to use my mom’s stand mixer (note to Boy: HINT HINT).

This is what I came up with. Peppermint cream puffs sounded like a high end after-dinner mint to me and they seemed perfect for a “romantic” night in. They were. (However, we ate most of them while waiting for the lasagna to cook since we were starving and then stuffed ourselves silly with the lasagna and didn’t eat any more puffs after that.. But I’m sure they’re a perfect ending to a perfect meal!)

Peppermint Cream Puffs

adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours

Note: The original recipe was meant to be piped in a ring but I was more in the mood for little individual mouthfuls of joy. I also opted not to make the glaze out of sheer laziness but check out the book if rings and glazes are your cup of tea!

Ingredients

Pastry (the “puff”)
1/2 c water
1/2 c whole milk
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 c all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

Cream (the “cream”)
1 2/3 c heavy cream
40 fresh mint leaves
6 tbsp sugar
1/2 c sour cream (or creme fraiche), cold
peppermint extract, optional
[didn’t use]

Garnish
chocolate for melting and dipping

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425F.

Cream:


Bring 1 1/3 cups cream and the mint leaves to a boil in a medium saucepan. Pull the pan from the heat, cover and let steep for an hour, then pour into a bowl and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours.

Strain the cream into a measuring cup and add as much additional chilled cream as needed to measure 1 1/3 cups. Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a medium bowl, whip the cream and 1/4 cup of the sugar until the cream holds firm peaks. Stir the remaining 2 tbsp of the sugar into the sour cream/creme fraiche and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold the sour cream into the whipped cream. Taste the cream, and if you’d like a stronger mint flavor, add a drop or two of extract.

Puff:


Bring the water, milk, butter, sugar, and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour all at once and mix it in with a wooden spoon, then keep stirring energetically [REALLY FAST] until the dough comes together in a shiny mass. the bottom of the pan will be covered with a thin film of flour. Cook the dough for another minute or two, stirring constantly, then transfer the hot dough to the bowl of a stand mixer or another large bowl.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat in 3 of the eggs one at a time, beating until each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Whisk the remaining egg in a small bowl and very gradually add enough of the beaten egg to form a dough that is thick, shiny, and silky.

Spoon the warm dough into a pastry bag [or Ziploc] and pipe puffs. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375F and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until they are puffed, brown, and firm.

Assembly:
Use a serrated knife and a very gentle sawing motion to slice off the top of the puffs.

Spoon the mint cream into a clean pastry bag [or ziploc] and pipe cream onto puff bases. Place tops on.

Melt some chocolate in a bowl over boiling water and dip/spread/decorate over tops however which way you please.

Eat day of and you’ll be super happy. Also, the mint cream goes with tons of things (see: green tea cupcake recipe to come!) so keep it in your arsenal of.. things that will impress people.

Enjoy!

– Sharlene