A New Take: White Chocolate and Lemon Cream Puffs

White Chocolate and Lemon Curd Cream Puffs

It's been a week or two! It feels like so much has happened and then nothing at all. It's rained the last two days, making it hard to get the dogs (or myself) motivated to do much more than want to stretch out on the couch and watch Netflix or a Disney movie. But I still have my chores, I still want to make this house feel alive when Nolan comes home after a 12 hour day. I still check the chickens (we haven't lost one yet!) and do the dishes and sometimes I forget and let the pans soak too long.

Last Wednesday, I went to Philadelphia to see Molly. She was speaking at an event and had the morning to spare; and I, conversely, wanted to see my best friend, Carissa, before she went off to eat afternoon tea in London.  We had a tea tasting with Alexis and then ate at Rooster Soup and Goldie! And I was a happy little clam dropping Molly off at the terminal and not being sick of her! And then it was a 5 hour drive home where I listened to LP and a very poorly narrated Wuthering Heights audiobook on Spotify.

This week also meant some free shit, thanks to Alex, who gave me a hand-me-down Nespresso. Nolan already bought a 70-count sampler and we are slowly going through them already. Very European in this little farm house in Ligonier.

My dad came out to meet the chickens and then we went to a diner. He got a cheeseburger, I got oatmeal. I promise to shoot the chickens soon so everyone can meet them (especially our favorite, whom we named Kelly)--they already have feathers and our blonde one is turning white. It reminds me of when Elsa was a baby and her stomach was spotted and now she is a 50-lb lazy teenage dog who doesn't get out of bed until 10. Then grow up so fast.

Today, I'm going to the Chamber of Commerce in an hour to talk about volunteering in the community and maybe picking up some extra work for baking. Stay tuned, but for now--cream puffs!

I have said before that I am not the best piping person (I've only done it three times I can remember) and I was a little nervous to make these. But, like most things with baking, it's the nerves that make it so satisfying when it's complete. I adapted a Martha Stewart recipe that I was referred to and think they're pretty cute for a first time. Plus, the white chocolate hides the problem areas.

Oh, and of course they're topped with sprinkles for a little nod to my pal, Molly!

White Chocolate and Lemon Cream Puffs

White Chocolate and Lemon Curd Cream Puffs

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 8 TB unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 TB white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan, mix together water, butter, sugar, and salt and heat on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon
  2. When it begins to boil, immediately remove from heat and stir in the flour, and stir vigorously
  3. Return to heat and continue stirring for a minute or until a dough forms and pulls away from the saucepan sides
  4. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with a paddle attachment for about three minutes or until it begins to cool
  5. Mix in each egg, one at a time, and your vanilla and continue mixing for a minute or so until a sticky, but solid, dough forms
  6. Transfer to a piping bag
White Chocolate and Lemon Curd Cream Puffs
White Chocolate and Lemon Curd Cream Puffs
White Chocolate and Lemon Curd Cream Puffs

Preparation and Decoration: Preheat oven to 375*F. On 2 parchment or Silpat-covered sheets, pipe our your circles, about 2 inches in diameter. Tap the tops with a wetted finger to flatten slightly. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until puffed and golden. Once done, allow to cool on a rack, poking each with a tooth pick to vent any steam.

When cooled, use a clean piping bag and small tip, fill bag with a jar of lemon curd (or homemade!) and break the bottom of each and pipe in your curd. 

Next, melt 16 oz of white chocolate in a double broiler (or even a microwave) and dip each in. Sprinkle with a bit of sprinkle and allow to cool.

They can be stored for up to 3 days in the fridge!

White Chocolate and Lemon Curd Cream Puffs
White Chocolate and Lemon Curd Cream Puffs
White Chocolate and Lemon Curd Cream Puffs
White Chocolate and Lemon Curd Cream Puffs
White Chocolate and Lemon Curd Cream Puffs
White Chocolate and Lemon Curd Cream Puffs
White Chocolate and Lemon Curd Cream Puffs

Brown Rice Pudding

Almond and Cherry Brown Rice Pudding

We came from German stock, from Britain and France. My family has been in America for a long, long time but still my mother held onto the Pennsylvania Dutch heritage of her mother's family. My mother, with her easy-to-tan skin and her copper-lined face, declared her family history, passed down, passed down, passed down from people I have never met. Her mother, who died in 1981, lives on in the stories I can coax out of my own mother every now and then.

When the timing is right.

When there's nothing to talk about on the phone.

When we find old photographs wedged in a Bible.

We didn't grow up comfortable, but we grew up satisfied in what we could do. My mother, a coupon collector and tectonic force in our house, was able to work the night shift and still have time to make dinner. My mother, who made boxed soup and stayed home with us when we were sick. My mother, who I associate with the smell of fresh sheets and open windows and the burning embers of a dying candle. 

My mother, who has invited us down to their house in North Carolina every time I talk to her this week.

And while I am not able to go, not able to see her as much as I'd like, there are pieces of her I still hold close.  Like pouring milk and sugar over leftover rice. A recipe my mother says is from her ancestors, but I do not know this for sure. A mix of economical forces and the vestigial remains of immigrants' milchreis is probably more like it. But it has always been a favorite of mine, and for which I turned into a proper pudding below.

Almond and Cherry Brown Rice Pudding

Almond and Cherry Brown Rice Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3-5 sage leaves
  • 1 1/2 cup brown rice, cooked by factory directions
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 TB butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds

Directions:

  1. First, infuse your milk mixture by combining cream, milk, brown sugar, and sage leaves in a small sauce pan
  2. Heat on medium-high until bubbles form on the rim of the milk
  3. Cover, remove from heat, and allow to steep while you prepare your rice
  4. Prepare your rice according to instructions on your bag
  5. When rice is done, remove sage leaves from small sauce pan and transfer milk mixture over your rice
  6. Simmer on a low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes covered, then 10 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally)
  7. In a small bowl, vigorously stir a bit of your rice mixture into your yolks, tempering them
  8. Add the yolks and butter, simmer for about 5-10 minutes. It should be very thick by now
  9. Add remaining ingredients, take off heat, and enjoy! It can store for up to 5 days in the fridge
Almond and Cherry Brown Rice Pudding
Almond and Cherry Brown Rice Pudding
Almond and Cherry Brown Rice Pudding
Almond and Cherry Brown Rice Pudding
Almond and Cherry Brown Rice Pudding
Almond and Cherry Brown Rice Pudding
Almond and Cherry Brown Rice Pudding

Madeleines!

I know I've been baking more French desserts lately -- but can you blame me? There's just an inherent romance, for me, when I think of French desserts. Even the simplest ones (and, let's be honest, that's all I'm producing these days) hold unique, delicate shapes and flavors and are somehow so memorable at the same time.

For me, madeleines are the original macaron. A distinct shape, a subtle flavor and a joy to make. We ate the whole lot in 2 days (the dogs occasionally got a bite, too), and always with coffee or tea. Warm and subtle and enigmatic in its own right. I would love to digress about my love of France and the poeticism of these little cakes, but I'll save that for others who have done a much better job at it than me.

So I'll leave it there, take these petits cakes for what they are--an easy, delicious classic that everyone should make at least once. The recipe I provided for this post is directly from Ruby Tandoh's book Crumb (with the addition of vanilla), which I found to be a strong, consistent batter, having made these multiple times through this week.

Honey Madeleines

Honey Madeleines from Ruby Tandoh

For this recipe, I used a regular-sized madeleine tin, but you are more than welcome to use a muffin tin! This recipe came from Tandoh's Crumb, with the directions modified slightly.

Ingredients:

1/2 c + 1 TB unsalted butter

3/4 c AP flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 c sugar

2 TB honey

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Brown butter in a light-bottomed sauce pan and remove from heat. Use 2 TB of that butter to grease your pans
  2. Place pan in fridge to stay cool
  3. In a mixing bowl, sift together flour and baking powder
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together sugar, honey, eggs, and vanilla vigorously until foamy
  5. Add egg mix to flour and stir
  6. Fold in remaining browned butter until a batter forms. Allow to rest in fridge for 20 minutes
  7. Preheat oven to 400*F while you are wait
  8. Fill each tin about 3/4 of the way up the madeleine groove and bake for 8-9 minutes
  9. Remove, re-grease and refrigerate pan, and bake off remaining batter

Modification notes: If using a muffin tin, fill only 1/3 of the way up the side of the tin and bake for around 10-12 minutes.

Honey Madeleines from Ruby Tandoh
Honey Madeleines from Ruby Tandoh
Honey Madeleines from Ruby Tandoh
Honey Madeleines from Ruby Tandoh
Honey Madeleines from Ruby Tandoh
Honey Madeleines from Ruby Tandoh

Mother's Day! Tattooed Swiss Roll with Vermont Creamery Filling!

Mother's Day Swiss Roll with Mascarpone

Mother's Day is tomorrow and my mother is down at my parents' vacation home in North Carolina, having offered to babysit my nephew down there. Over the last year, I have seen more of my mother than I did in the whole of years since graduation. I learned to appreciate her more, but in that balance was frustrated by her all the same. Quick witted, quick tempered, and so much like me.

I wouldn't trade her for the world, this mother of mine.  I used to resent her for all the mistakes she made when we were growing up, but that stuff doesn't matter much now. I'm learning to understand that love is hardly ever about the end result, but about the thousands of attempts we make to make another person happy. Sometimes we fail, sometimes we don't. But it's the effort that's supposed to matter, and I never realized that until I stood away from her and began to know her as a stranger would, having been gone for seven years when I moved back to Pennsylvania last January.

I will not see my mother this year to celebrate her, but I will see her in June and that is a long enough wait for me. In the meantime, I made this cake as my own attempt. As my own way of showing her my love. I have bad penmanship and even worse decorative skills, but it tastes good and you'll do fine if  you have nothing else to give her tomorrow.

Mother's Day Decorated Swiss Roll

Mother's Day Swiss Roll with Mascarpone

Ingredients for Pattern Icing:

  • 1 egg white
  • 1/3 cup AP flour
  • 2 TB sugar
  • 2 TB melted butter, cooled
  • 1 or 2 drops of gel coloring (best quality)

Ingredients for Swiss Roll cake:

  • 3/4 cup AP flour
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar + extra for covering a tea towel
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup water

Ingredients for Filling:

Directions for Pattern Icing:

  1. With a fork, mix all ingredients in a bowl until you have a smooth consistency
  2. Transfer into your piping bag
  3. Lay out a sheet of parchment paper on an 18x13" baking sheet and free-hand write your desired pattern (I did MOM surrounded by hearts, but you can do anything!*)
  4. Allow to sit in fridge for 30 minutes or so to cool and harden

Directions for Swiss Roll cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 400*F
  2. Take out three bowls: One medium bowl for sifting your dry ingredients, one large bowl for mixing your batter, and one bowl that fits into your stand mixer for the egg whites
  3. Sift together AP flour, salt, and baking soda 
  4. In your largest bowl, mix together egg yolks, white sugar, oil, vanilla, and water. Whisk this for a couple minutes until full incorporated and a very pale yellow
  5. In your stand mixer, whisk egg whites on high until soft peaks form (will take a few minutes), add confectioner's sugar and mix for an additional minute or two, just to incorporate the sugar
  6. Now, alternate in thirds between adding the flour mixture and the egg whites to the yolk mixture, folding gently but ensuring all batter is fully mixed properly
  7. Take pan out of oven and pour batter directly on top of designs and parchment paper, flattening out to edges with a rubber spatula
  8. Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until just golden and bouncy in the center
  9. While this is baking, cover a tea towel with confectioner's sugar and lay flat on your work surface
  10. Remove from oven and immediately flip onto the tea towel
  11. Turn over, covering other side with confectioner's sugar in doing so, and position cake directly in middle of towel
  12. Roll up into a tight swiss roll, with the towel being in the middle -- this will act as a sort of "muscle memory" for the cake when you roll it back out
  13. Allow to rest for a half hour or until cool to add your filling

Directions for Filling:

  1. Mix all ingredients together until you have a pale pink, slightly sweet creamy filling
  2. You may need to adjust flavors if you so desire
  3. To fill--unravel your swiss roll, removing the tea towel
  4. Using a rubber spatula, spread a thin layer on the cake
  5. Now, gently fold the cake as you go. While not ideal, cracks are inevitable and just take your time on these
  6. Place on a tray and refrigerate for an hour or so before slicing into it
  7. When ready to serve, sprinkle confectioner's sugar and enjoy!

*A couple notes - When piping, be aware that the image you want will be a mirror on the actual cake! And also, don't get too close to the edges with your design, in case you have to cut a little to even it out

Mother's Day Tattooed Swiss Roll with Vermont Cream Mascarpone Filling
Mother's Day Swiss Roll with Mascarpone
Mother's Day Swiss Roll with Mascarpone
Mother's Day Swiss Roll with Mascarpone
Mother's Day Swiss Roll with Mascarpone
Mother's Day Swiss Roll with Mascarpone

Almond and Cherry Palmiers

Last year for my 25th birthday, Nolan took me to Paris. A month later we began looking for a house to start over. I don't think I fully appreciated either of those two thing--no, in fact, I know I did not. I think it was too hard to look ahead. Too easy to look behind at California and the mistakes we chose to make as two separate people. I took the easy way out; keeping a grudge close to my breast like an ingot that warms with my body heat.

I don't want to be like that anymore. 

We moved into our house in January and I am in silence for the majority of the day. I have a full-time job; working remote requires conference calls, but I choose to stay on mute. I keep the TV off and the dogs bark when the mailman comes and sleep in the sunlight the rest of the day. Because of this, my mind gets to wander.

Because of this, I think about escaping with Nolan again for a week. Getting lost in the archipelago of streetlamps that pain broken sidewalks in shades of yellow light. We talk about going to London this year, but we have a wedding to plan. We talk about going to Iceland and Spain and Mexico again. We do a lot of talking and planning and it's not a quiet house when he comes home.

I made these palmiers as a relic. A promise. A souvenir. An assurance of times to come. We'll be back in France and may spend our honeymoon in Lisbon. It's all up in the air, but I'm excited to see how the lots cast themselves when it all comes back down to earth.

Almond and Cherry Palmiers

Cherry Almond Palmiers

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup white sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400* and line a baking sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper
  2. On a work surface, pour out a cup of sugar and your almonds, mix with hands to evenly distribute almonds
  3. Press pastry on top of this and roll out until pastry is about an even 12" x 12" square (or as close as you can get)
  4. Rub remaining sugar and cherries on top of the pastry
  5. Take one side of your pastry and fold to the middle. Do with remaining side
  6. Fold one half on top of the other
  7. Cut into one-inch slices
  8. Place and press slices onto baking sheet
  9. Bake for 8 minutes or until edges are golden, turn over and bake an additional six minutes
  10. Allow to cool and keep in an airtight container for up to three days (though the high butter content means these dry out quickly!)
Cherry Almond Palmiers
Cherry Almond Palmiers
Cherry Almond Palmiers
Cherry Almond Palmiers
Cherry Almond Palmiers
Cherry Almond Palmiers
Cherry Almond Palmiers
Cherry Almond Palmiers
Cherry Almond Palmiers
Cherry Almond Palmiers