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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate Ganache has many uses (besides eating by the spoonful).  It can be spread between cake layers as a filling or icing or chilled and whipped and used as a fluffy frosting for cupcakes or the top and sides of a cake.  Chocolate Ganache Glaze is just a thinner version and is used to pour over cakes or used for eclairs as a topping.  The addition of corn syrup just adds a glossy finish and may be omitted.

I've included the ingredients for both the regular ganache and the glaze.  The directions are exactly the same for both.  The ingredients in brackets are for half a recipe.

Chocolate Ganache
2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (1 cup)
1 cup whipping cream (½ cup ) 
2 tablespoons corn syrup, optional (1 tablespoon)

Chocolate Ganache Glaze
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (½ cup) 
¾ cup whipping cream (¼ cup + 2tablespoons)  
1 tablespoon corn syrup, optional (1½ teaspoons) 

Place the chocolate in a medium-sized bowl.  In a small saucepan bring the cream just to a simmer.  Remove cream from heat and pour over the chocolate.  Let the cream sit on the chocolate for several minutes until the chocolate melts.  Add the corn syrup if using and stir together until a creamy mixture is formed.   This is now ready to be used as an icing or chocolate glaze. 

Cool the ganache for spreading on cakes and chill thoroughly if you wish to whip it into a fluffy frosting.  The glaze should be used while still warm.

Heat the cream and pour over the chocolate chips or chopped chocolate.  Let the heat of the cream melt the chocolate. When chocolate is melted stir both together until a creamy chocolate mixture is formed.  

The chocolate frosting is whipped ganache and the trim is unwhipped ganache. When whipped the ganache not only become fluffy but lighter in colour as well.

Monday, April 28, 2014


I remember eating Butterhorns when I was in college.  They were made at the school bakery and served in the cafeteria.  They were so good with the vanilla glaze and the chopped walnuts adorning the top.  I don't remember eating very many, though, because by the time I finished working they would be all sold (I worked at the serving decks) and I'd have only memories of the domed walnut-covered buns to keep me company.  

After I'd finished school I thought I'd finished with Butterhorns.  I never saw them anywhere again--not in a bakery or in anyone's kitchen.  Then one fateful day I ran across the recipe at a friend's house.  I can't even remember who it was now, but I copied the recipe, drawing the appropriate directions for rolling and cutting, and was happy I would be able to make them myself.  Ha, ha, that was more of a dream than reality as the recipe has been in my box since the day I wrote it down and the Butterhorns have remained only a memory.   Every now and again I'd take out the recipe, remember the delicious, flaky, sweet rolls, promise to make them, put the recipe back in the box and promptly forget about them.  It was a vicious cycle of self-longing and denial. (That's a bit melodramatic, but it's food, people, food!) 

A few weeks ago I pulled out the recipe again and inspected the ingredients and method of making them and knew I'd denied myself long enough as the recipe is simple to make.  I earmarked them for a weekend breakfast, hoping there would be a few more people around so I wouldn't feel obligated to eat 25 years of Butterhorn-denial in one sitting. 

These could easily be made fresh for a weekend morning breakfast if someone wants to get up early to roll out the dough and wait for them to rise and bake.  Or you could make them ahead of time, freeze them before adding the icing and nuts and add the toppings on the morning you were eating them. Warm them before glazing so they'll seem fresh from the oven.

I suppose any nut would do, but walnuts and the icing just go so well together I think that they are perfect for this recipe. Of course, feel free to use your favourite nut in this recipe.  Make it your own and don't wait 25 years to make them.

½ cup chopped nuts, lay aside for garnish
1 recipe for Vanilla Glaze, for garnish (see recipe below)

In a large bowl, rub together into crumbs:

2 cups flour
1 package instant yeast
½ cup butter
3 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt (¼ teaspoon if using salted butter)
Grated rind of 1 lemon

In small bowl, beat together and add:

½ cup lukewarm water
⅓ cup milk
1 egg

Add the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and combine until only moist.  Cover and let rise for 1 hour in warm place.  Place in refrigerator for at least 4 or 5 hours or overnight.  The dough will double so make sure your bowl is big enough. 

After dough has chilled take from refrigerator  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 1 or 2 baking sheets. 

Roll the dough into a 6x9-inch rectangle on a well floured table or board.  Spread with an additional 2 tablespoons of butter and fold the dough over in half.  Roll out into approximately a 10x18-inch rectangle .  Cut into strips about ½-¾- inch wide.

Hold one end of strip and twist about 8 times.  Roll into a circle.  Place each bun on a greased pan leaving a space between.  Let rise 1 hour or until double. 

Bake 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

Cool and ice with a vanilla glaze.  Use about ½ cup chopped walnuts (or your favourite nut) to sprinkle on top of rolls.  Before chopping, for better flavour, toast the nuts in a 325 degree oven for about 10 minutes.  

Yield:  12-18 Butterhorns

Vanilla Glaze
1 cup icing sugar
1 tablespoon softened butter
2 tablespoon milk or water

Mix together to form a soft icing.  Add more milk if too stiff.  Add more icing sugar if too soft.

Preparation Time for Butterhorns: 2 ½ -3 hours, not including time in refrigerator.

Place the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, lemon peel and butter in a large bowl. Rub ingredients together or use a pastry cutter until a coarse crumb is formed.  Add the egg and milk mixture and mix until moistened and dough just comes together.

Cover the dough and let rise for about 1 hour in a warm place.  Then place the dough in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.  After the dough has chilled thoroughly roll out and spread with more butter.  Fold dough over and roll out into approximately a 10x18-inch rectangle.

Cut the dough into strips.  A pizza cutter is great for cutting dough.

Twist each strip of dough and then roll into a circular form.  Tuck the end under.

Place the rolls on a well greased pan.  Cover and let rise for 1 hour in a warm place.  The rolls should double in size.  Bake until golden.  When the rolls are cool ice with a vanilla glaze and sprinkle with chopped nuts.

What a tasty breakfast or snack!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Stabilized Whipped Cream

You will often need whipped cream for a frosting or filling and these Stabilized Whipped Cream recipes will be perfect for either.  This is used when you may need to keep a dessert for more than a day.  The whipped cream will not separate or weep on your dessert and desserts can be kept in the refrigerator for at least three days.

Stabilized Whipped Cream #1
1 teaspoon plain gelatin
4 tablespoons water
2 cups chilled whipping cream
2-4 tablespoons extra fine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla (I used vanilla bean paste)

Remove about ¼ cup of the whipping cream and set aside.

Place cold water in small microwaveable bowl.  Sprinkle gelatin over the water and let sit about 5 minutes until it is thickened. (This is called blooming the gelatin.)  Place the gelatin in the microwave for about 5-10 seconds or until it dissolves and is clear.  Set aside to cool to room temperature but do not let it get cold enough to set.  When gelatin is at room temperature, combine with the ¼ cup of the whipping cream that you set aside.  Mix well. 

Add the remaining chilled whipping cream, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of your mixer and beat on medium speed until frothy.  Pour the reserved cream and gelatin mixture while still beating and increase speed and whip until cream is a medium stiff peak.  Be careful not to whip your cream into butter.  

For the Stabilized Whipped Cream:  Bloom the plain gelatin in cold water.  Heat the bloomed gelatin in the microwave for a few seconds until it becomes liquid.  Mix with reserved ¼ cup of whipping cream.  Whip the remaining cream, sugar and vanilla together while pouring in the gelatin mixture. Don't over-whip your cream into butter.


Here is another recipe for Stabilized Whipped Cream.  It was given to me by my sister-in-law, Mary, who is an excellent cook and baker.  This works very well because the added milk powder gives added milk solids which helps to stabilize the cream.  

Stabilized Whipped Cream #2
2 cups whipping cream
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoon powdered skim milk powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

Whip cream to soft peaks.  Add the sugar, milk powder and vanilla.  Whip until stiff.  

Commercial whipped cream stabilizers work really well. I have used Dr. Oetker's "Whip it" with great success.  It contains modified corn starch which is the same ingredient found in instant puddings.  

Stabilized Whipped Cream #3

2 cups whipping cream
2 packages  "Whip it"
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Add the "Whip it" to the cream in a deep bowl.  Beat until soft peaks form.  Add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until stiff..

Chocolate Eclairs and Cream Puffs

I started making Cream Puffs and Eclairs when I was a teenager.  I was intrigued by this French confection after listening to my Aunt and Uncle talk of eating them while they lived in Paris.  My Aunt would go to a little bakery near their apartment and practice her French by ordering "deux éclairs au chocolat" for herself and my Uncle.  How nice that must have been, eating those fresh eclairs, from a real French pastry shop (une pâtisserie).  

I don't suppose I'll ever have that opportunity of ordering an eclair in France but I can certainly have a fresh eclair from "une pâtisserie" if you consider my kitchen an authentic home bakery.  I have made hundreds, maybe thousands of eclairs over the years.  When I was teaching, the school would have special education days and one of those days was French Day.  The children would dress in the colours of the French flag and participate in several French linguistic and cultural activities during the day and would have the opportunity of purchasing a miniature chocolate eclair at recess.  (We made sure every child who wanted one, had an eclair whether or not they had the money to buy one.)  One year we could not buy the eclairs because of some problem with the supplier so I volunteered to make them.  Oh, my, over 400 miniature eclairs came out of my kitchen each year for the next 3 or 4 years.  The week of French Day I was eating, sleeping and dreaming eclairs.  (I felt obligated to eat any failures.)

Cream Puffs and Eclairs are made from the same dough or "pâte à choux" which is an eggy tasting pastry risen with the steam that is emitted during the baking stage.  The Cream Puff is a rounded blob of pastry and the Eclair is a long hotdog-like shape.  They usually have the same or similar fillings but Cream Puffs have a sprinkle of icing sugar or confectioner's sugar on top while the top of the Eclair is dipped in a chocolate glaze.  Both are mouth-wateringly good and one can almost be forced to have more than one.   

If you'd like to have both Eclairs and Cream Puffs, make half the shells each way.

Chocolate Eclairs and Cream Puffs

Pâte à Choux (Pastry)
1 cup water
½ cup butter
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs

Bring the water and butter to a boil in a medium-size saucepan. While it is heating mix together the flour and salt. Add the flour mixture to the boiling water all at once, stirring quickly and constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a ball around the spoon. Remove from the heat.

Transfer hot batter into the mixing bowl of a stand mixer or you may continue beating by hand.  

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition, to form a smooth, pliable, glossy dough.

Bring the water and butter to a boil.  Add the flour all at once and cook until the dough forms a ball.  Add the eggs one at a time.  After the addition of each egg the dough will break and look like curds of cheese but keep on mixing and it will come together.  The dough should be smooth and pliable.  The mixing of the eggs is much easier if you use a mixer. 

Cream Puffs (choux à la crème)
Use a piping bag or drop the dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake in a preheated 375°oven until light golden brown and firm, 25 to 35 minutes. Cool thoroughly. (If the puffs seem as if they are browning too fast, turn the oven down to 350 degrees and continue baking for the full amount of time. Under-baked puffs will collapse when cool.) 

Cut the puffs in half horizontally and fill the bottoms with desired filling. Replace the tops. Dust with confectioner's sugar or drizzle with glaze, if desired. Makes about
12/18 large/medium cream puffs or 24-36 miniature cream puffs.

Chocolate Eclairs (éclairs au chocolat)
Using a pastry bag with a large, plain tip, form the dough into 3" long rectangles on parchment-lined baking sheets.   Bake in a preheated 375°oven until light golden brown and firm, 25 to 35 minutes. Cool thoroughly. (If the eclair shells seem as if they are browning too fast, turn the oven down to 350 degrees and continue baking for the full amount of time. Under-baked eclair shells will collapse when cool.) 

Place filling in a pastry bag fitted with a filling tip and force the filling through the ends of the thoroughly cool eclair shells.  You may make a small hole at each end of the eclair to assist in filling.  Dip the tops in Chocolate Ganache Glaze.  Makes about 12/18 large/medium eclairs or 24-36 miniature eclairs.  

Before piping the eclair shapes, I like to draw a guide with a pencil and ruler on the parchment paper.  Turn the paper over so the pencil markings will not come in contact with the dough.  Pipe out the dough following the guide and you will have uniform sized eclairs. You may make the eclair shells any size you want.  Bake the eclairs until they are golden brown and dried in the middle.  

I made really small puffs and eclairs for a party where finger food was to be served.  You can get an idea of how much smaller the miniature puffs and eclairs are compared to a medium sized ones.

Fill the eclairs with a pastry bag fitted with filling tip or even a star tip will do.

Dip the eclairs in the Chocolate Ganache Glaze.  Set the eclairs out to dry.

Cut the tops off the Cream Puffs and fill with your choice of filling.  
Finish them with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Whipped cream added to the pastry cream.
The types of fillings for eclairs and cream puffs are endless.  It's up to you but the classic fillings are Pastry Cream or Sweetened Whipped Cream.  Ice Cream is also a favourite filling but the pastries must be kept frozen if not served immediately.  Pastry Cream can be lightened with the addition of a little whipped cream folded in the custard just before filling the shells

Pastry Cream/Vanilla Custard
Pastry cream is best made the day before so it has plenty of time to chill 

2 cups whole (3%) milk
1 large egg
2 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Place milk in a medium saucepan and place over medium high heat.  Bring milk to just boiling.  While milk is coming to a boil mix egg and yolks, sugar and cornstarch together until smooth.  When milk comes to a boil, pour about half of it into the cornstarch mixture stirring constantly.  (This will temper the eggs so they will not cook into little lumps of scrambled egg.) 

Return the milk and cornstarch mixture to saucepan with the remaining milk and bring back to a simmer.  Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and comes to a boil.  Remove from heat and add the vanilla and butter.  Strain the custard through a metal strainer.  This removes any little lumps that may have formed while cooking.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold.   

Separate the eggs and mix the yolks and whole eggs with the sugar and cornstarch.  When the milk comes to a simmer pour about half into the egg mixture stirring constantly so the eggs will not scramble.  Pour this mixture back into the saucepan and bring back to a boil until the mixture cooks and thickens.  Strain cooked mixture to remove any lumps or little bits of egg that may have cooked.  Place hot mixture in a flat container and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until cold and ready to use.  I used both vanilla extract and vanilla bean paste it the pastry cream.  I like the little black specks in the finished product. 

Whipped Cream 
You may use sweetened whipped cream as a filling but stabilized cream is a much better filling than plain whipped cream as it will not separate or weep and will hold for several days.  Click on the link for the recipe.

Vanilla, Chocolate or Lemon Pudding 
Any favourite flavour boxed instant or cooked pudding or pie filling can be used to fill your eclairs or cream puffs.  Follow the directions on the pudding box.

You may only need half a recipe for the glaze so I've included the ingredients for half the recipe in brackets.

Chocolate Ganache Glaze
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (½ cup)
¾ cup whipping cream (¼ cup + 2tablespoons)
1 tablespoon corn syrup, optional (1½ teaspoons)

Place the chocolate in a medium-sized bowl.  In a small saucepan bring the cream just to a simmer.  Remove cream from heat and pour over the chocolate.  Let the cream sit on the chocolate for several minutes until the chocolate melts.  Add the corn syrup if using and stir together until a creamy mixture is formed.   This is now ready to be used as a chocolate glaze for the eclairs. If mixture is too thick add 1 or 2 tablespoons hot cream.  

Heat the cream and pour over the chocolate chips or chopped chocolate.  Let the heat of the cream melt the chocolate. When chocolate is melted stir both together until a creamy chocolate mixture is formed. 

What a treat.   
"Ma cheri choux à la crème! Je t'aime éclairs au chocolat!*

*Roughly translated:  My darling Cream Puffs!  I love Chocolate Eclairs!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Baked Beans

Beans, beans, the musical fruit:
The more you eat, the more you toot!
The more you toot, the better you feel,
So eat your beans at every meal!

Such crassness, to start a food blog entry!  But we are talking beans and unless you are armed with a stomach and intestinal track like a cast iron pot you probably know the meaning of this school yard rhyme.  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Raisin Pie

Don't turn up your nose at Raisin Pie.  It's delicious and it's really a dried grape pie if you want to get technical over details.  You can make it any time of the year as raisins are readily available and the cost doesn't vary by season.  My mother liked Raisin Pie and I like Raisin Pie.  I don't know if any of my children like Raisin Pie because I never made it often when they were living at home. Why that was I don't know because it's not hard to make, especially if you bake and make pies.  I shall serve Raisin Pie next time everyone visits and humbly apologize for not making this more often when they were children.  (That's a lot of times to write "Raisin Pie".)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lemon Slices

These Lemon Slices are another quick no-bake cookie which can be made up in a few minutes.   I first came across them when I was baby-sitting my darling little grandson for a few months while his mother went back to school.  In the evenings I'd while away some of the time doing "research" on the internet and I ran across several web sites entirely devoted to cooking and baking with Marie cookies.  I didn't even know they were so popular, let alone an invaluable baking ingredient.  In North America the Graham Cracker reigns supreme but in Europe, Asia and South America the Maria/Marie Biscuit holds the scepter and is used in all kinds of sweet treats. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Walnut Chiffon Cake with Maple Custard Cream Filling and Whipped Cream Frosting

Now, that's a mouthful--the title and the cake itself.   The Nut Cake has been in my recipe box for years and years, probably one of the originals when the box was purchased. Although I've had the recipe and can faintly remember tasting this cake many years ago, I have never made it until now.  This recipe comes from Mrs. Davies who was our pastor's wife and mother of my sister's best friend when I was a teenager.  Heather may have procured this recipe for me, but certainly I was bold enough to ask for it myself as I was not known for my shyness.  My sister says this was Pastor Davies' favourite cake and Mrs. Davies would make it for him often.  I must have tasted this at a church potluck or Heather may have brought home a piece for me to try.   

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Newfoundland Beet and Mustard Potato Salads

I was an adult before I ever remember seeing or tasting Beet or Mustard Potato Salad.  I'm sure they were around when I was growing up but I never knew anyone who made them.  I don't think my mother ever saw one herself until she ate it at my wedding.  A mashed potato salad with mixed vegetables was common enough, although it was never made at our house, but the bright pink and yellow salads were unknown to our household.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Carrot Rice Loaf

We had this delicious loaf for dinner today thanks to my recipe box.  The Carrot Rice Loaf or roast as it is called on the recipe card has been in the box for years.  I have made it several times over the years but today I switched up the rice for a 5-grain mix from President's Choice.  It was so good I'll use it again.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Cow Pies

Are they cookies or are they candies?  Who knows? I got the recipe in a magazine some years ago when the boys were still living at home.  I don't know which magazine it was but I know it was submitted by a woman by the name of "Karen Kenny of Harvard, Illinois" because I still have the clipping in my box.  So thank you Karen Kenny, wherever you are now.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Drink Your Water or Something Like It

Being sick is no fun.  Having stomach flu is no fun.  The week started off great and then I started to feel tired.  I couldn't put my finger on what was wrong so I dutifully trudged on until, just like a balloon bursting, I was sick.  Spending a night with bum on toilet and head in bucket brings one's sense of self-importance quickly to an end.  Life would go on without me, at least for the next day or so. 

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Angel Biscuits, the Versatile Dough

Angel Biscuits are an interesting cross between a bread bun and a buttermilk biscuit.  I ran across the recipe a few years ago and was intrigued by the list of ingredients.  I had the recipe for some time before I tried it but I was pleasantly surprised by the versatility of the dough.  Made as it was written, it makes a decent enough biscuit, but if you knead the dough a little longer and let it rise for about an hour it makes nice hamburger buns and even great cinnamon buns.  I have read that you can leave the dough in the refrigerator for up to a week and just bake what you need.  But as this recipe makes only about 12-18 biscuits or buns I always bake them the same time.