Sunday, August 31, 2008

Chocolate Eclairs from the Daring Bakers

This months Daring Bakers challenge was to make Chocolate Eclairs. It was hosted by Meetak from What's for Lunch Honey and Tony Tahhan. This sounded like a great challenge. I love eclairs for one and the last time I made Pate a choux was when I was about 13 years old. That time I made a ring of dough that puffed up very nicely and then filled it with chocolate mousse. The center of the ring was filled with cut up strawberries. It was delicious!

I had great plans of making the eclairs with a non-chocolate filling and adding in some fresh fruit like bananas, but then the weekend got away from me and I only had time to make the recipe as given.

The dough came together fine. When I got to the point of piping the dough onto baking sheets , I realized the tip that I had was a little on the small side. So I used it and made very petite eclairs. This worked out well since I was planning on taking them to a party that evening. I used a star tip instead of a plain tip and I liked the wavy effect on the finished shells.

I had grand plans of making splitting the pastry cream in half and making one part rum flavored and the other half chocolate, but in the end, I decided the added chocolate gave it a better texture for filling. I still added 2 Tbsp of rum which made it delicious! I had never made pastry cream before, but it turned out very well. Since the recipe uses cornstarch, the filling went from runny to very thick in an instant and I was lucky I didn't over cook it since I was trying to melt the chocolate at the same time (a little step that I had initially overlooked).

For the glaze, I didn't want to deal with the multi-step process that was part of the original recipe since I was running out of time . The original recipe called for making a chocolate sauce that was then incorporated into a glaze with more chocolate. Instead, I made a simple glaze of bittersweet chocolate and cream, heated together to melt the chocolate. It turned out fine and my daughter had fun helping me glaze all the tops while I filled the bottoms with pastry cream. The finished product was wonderful, and was a hit at the party.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Rainbow Pizza

After my daughter refused to eat a perfectly good dinner and I completely lost it, I had her look through a new cookbook that I recently bought: The Great Veg Challenge, based on the blog by the same name (The book ended up costing $35 with the lousy exchange rate and shipping). The blog is written by a mom who got her two kids to try a range of vegetable based dishes starting with the letter A and going on through Z. I constantly have aspirations of getting my kids to try different dishes and this seemed like a good place to start.

Gina looked through the book and settled on Rainbow Pizza, a pizza made with chopped up rainbow chard stems, garlic and lots of cheese. I didn't have high hopes that she would like it, but she was enthusiastic about making it and did help me put it together. I used pizza dough from Trader Joe's. She helped me chop up the chard stems, and then I sauteed them in olive oil and garlic.

The sauteed chard looked pretty in the pan with the little bit of green among the pink and orange stems. The kids helped spread the oil on the dough, sprinkle the parmesan cheese and then the chard. Some slices of mozzarella cheese on top and it was ready for the oven.

The final product wasn't as colorful after baking but I thought it was good. Dylan also ate it and finished off his piece. As for the other two, no go. Andrew wouldn't try it in the end (big surprise) and Gina didn't like the finished product. Back to the book to try something else.