Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I successfully completed another Daring Bakers' challenge this month! This was my first-ever attempt at making puff pastry from scratch. I normally buy the frozen stuff from the grocery, but it was pretty satisfying to make it myself (not to mention super delicious). The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan. First, the dry ingredients are placed in a food processor bowl. The dry ingredients and water are pulsed until a ball forms. The pastry dough is rolled into a square before being filled with butter. The butter-filled dough is rolled into a long rectangular shape to begin the layering process. The pastry dough is folded into thirds between each rolling. The shapes are cut from the chilled pastry dough. The vols-au-vent are assembled and brushed with an egg wash. The baked shells and tops are cooled. Once the shells are cooled they can be filled with the mousse. Yum!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Peanut Butter Fudge Treats

The moment I saw these treats on Joy the Baker's blog I knew I had to try them. They are sinfully rich and extremely easy to make. I saved a couple of them for myself, but had to send the rest with my husband to work so I wouldn't eat them all!
The cereal layer is dumped into the pan.The peanut butter fudge is spread evenly over the cereal layer.The chocolate fudge is cooked on the stovetop.The cooked chocolate fudge is spread over the peanut butter layer.
From Joy the Baker

INGREDIENTS - Rice Crispies Layer
3 tablespoons butter
4 cups mini marshmallows or 40 regular marshmallows (about 10 ounces)
6 cups Rice Crispies cereal
INGREDIENTS - Peanut Butter Fudge
1 cup butter
1 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound powdered sugar

INGREDIENTS - Chocolate Fudge
2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 2/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups mini marshmallows
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
1. Coat a 13x9x2 inch pan with cooking spray.

2. In a large microwave-safe bowl, microwave the marshmallows and butter for one and a half minutes. Stir, and continue to microwave in 30 second increments until melted and smooth. Add cereal and stir until well coated.

3. Using a buttered spatula or wax paper, evenly press the cereal mixture into the prepared pan and set aside.

4. For the peanut butter fudge, microwave the butter and peanut butter for 2 minutes on high. Stir and microwave on high for 2 more minutes. Add vanilla extract and powdered sugar to the peanut butter mixture and stir to combine. Pour over the cereal layer in the pan and spread evenly. Cool in the refrigerator while you make the chocolate fudge.

5. For the chocolate fudge, combine butter, milk, sugar, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in marshmallows, chocolate, and vanilla. Stir vigorously for about 1 minute, or until marshmallows melt and mixture is thoroughly combined. Pour over peanut butter fudge, spread evenly, and place in refrigerator to set and cool.

6. Once set, remove from refrigerator and let treats sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before cutting. Cut in small squares. Treats are best served at room temperature.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Brown Sugar Gelato

I checked out a variety of cookbooks from the library last week and was inspired to make some homemade ice cream. I lightened up the original recipie just a touch by using fat free half and half instead of whole milk, but the end result was still rich and delicious! I also made the recipe small enough to fit into my 1 1/2 quart automatic ice cream maker in one batch.

Adapted From Desserts by the Yard

1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons fat free half and half
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1. Combine the half and half, heavy cream, and 1/4 cup of the brown sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar and granulated sugar in a bowl. When the half and half and cream come to a simmer, remove from the heat and slowly ladle 1/4 cup into the egg yolks while whisking. Once the milk is incorporated into the eggs, whisk the eggs back into the hot milk. Be sure to scrape all the eggs into the pot with a rubber scraper.

2. Place the pan over low heat and immediately begin to stir the custard. Stir until the consistency is like thick cream. The custard is ready when the temperature reaches 180 degrees F.
3. Remove pan from the heat and immediately pour the custard through a fine mesh strainer into another bowl. Place this bowl in an ice bath to cool to custard quickly (and make sure that no water or ice from the bath seeps into the custard bowl!). Once the custard has cooled (about 5-10 mintes) chill it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
4. Transfer the cold custard mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturers instructions.
5. Transfer the gelato to a freezer container and freeze for 2 hours, or until firm.