Monday, May 31, 2010

Cream Cheese Bars

This is a recipe that was given to me by a neighbor. They are so easy to make but you would never guess that by the taste! I usually wouldn't even try a bar that was made with crescent rolls, however, I tried these and loved them even before knowing that there were crescent rolls in them!


2 - Tubes Original Crescent Rolls
2 - 8 oz. Boxes Cream Cheese
1 Cup Sugar (divided)
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 tsp. Almond Extract
1 Egg


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix cream cheese, vanilla, almond, 3/4 cup sugar and egg yolk. Beat with mixer until creamy. Spray 9x13 pan with nonstick spray. Spread 1 tube
crescent roll evenly over bottom of pan, sealing seams with fingers. Spread mixture evenly over crescent.

Cover mixture with second tube of crescent rolls, again spreading evenly & sealing seems. Beat egg white with fork until frothy, spread evenly over top. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup sugar on top layer.

Bake 20 minutes.

Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

May Daring Bakers-- Piece Montée (Croquembouche)

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

I failed miserably at this challenge. I'm not sure how-- the recipe itself seemed rather straight forward and simple; without any special ingredients or components. I'm not sure exactly where I went wrong, but I do know that my Pate a Choux never rose into rounded shapes. They were flat and spread out. I could tell as I was incorporating the eggs that my batter was too runny. I followed the directions exactly, but could tell as I tried to pipe it onto the parchment paper that it was never going to turn out.

Because my Pate a Choux made discs instead of nice balls, I wasn't really able to mount my piece and give it any height. So instead, I just attempted to fill them with the vanilla cream and frosted them with some chocolate ganache and had some cream puffs instead of the classic cone-shaped piece montée.

While they may not be pretty (and definitely not wedding cake-worthy), they tasted scrumptious!

The only way I was going to get any height out of my dessert was by stacking it into a glass!

If you'd like to see what the results of this challenge really were supposed to look like, check out the Daring Bakers Blogroll. If you'd like to see more of my failed attempt at this challenge, read on.

For the Vanilla Crème Patissiere (Half Batch)

1 cup whole milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla

Dissolve cornstarch in 1/4 cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.

Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.

Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.

Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.

Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.

For the Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)

3/4 cup water
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 425◦F degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.

Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.

Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny.

As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes.

It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.

This is where I noticed mine to be too loose: I wonder if I should have only used 3 eggs?

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.

Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top.

As you can see, I did not need to do this. Mine were way to runny. (Um... apparently one of my children were playing with my camera and not only set it so the time stamp shows up, but set the time stamp incorrectly! Aack!)

Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).

Bake the choux at 425◦F until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.

Lower the temperature to 350◦F and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.

Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.

When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.

I used a little metal piping tool I have to fill the pastry. Some of them were so flat, they couldn't be filled so I had to just use two of them to sandwich the vanilla cream!

Use one of the following to top your choux and assemble your piece montée:

Chocolate Glaze:
1 part heavy whipping cream
3 parts finely chopped chocolate (use the finest quality you can afford as the taste will be quite pronounced; I recommend semi-sweet)

Combine and melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Stir at regular intervals to avoid burning. Use the best quality chocolate you can afford. Use immediately.

Since mine was not able to be stacked like a classic piece montée, I just glazed mine with chocolate and called it a day.


Here is the inside of one of the puffs I was able to fill:

Hard Caramel Glaze:
1 cup (225 g.) sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand.

Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color.

Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately.

Assembly of your Piece Montée:

You may want to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get a feel for how to assemble the final dessert. For example, if making a conical shape, trace a circle (no bigger than 8 inches) on a piece of parchment to use as a pattern. Then take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best.

Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the top of each choux in your glaze (careful it may be still hot!), and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet.

Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up. (You may want to use toothpicks to hold them in place – see video #4 below).

When you have finished the design of your piece montée, you may drizzle with remaining glaze or use ribbons, sugar cookie cut-outs, almonds, flowers, etc. to decorate. Have fun and enjoy! Bon appétit!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Rhubarb Sauce

One last rhubarb recipe! I finially finished up the stash of rhubarb my mom shared with me-- she gave me enough to make 2 loaves of bread, 2 pies and one batch of rhubarb sauce! That's a lot of rhubarb (and believe it or not, I could eat more!)!

This is another childhood favorite. I know people use rhubarb sauce as a topping to ice cream or to accompany some tasty muffins, but I like it straight from a spoon!

I added a wee bit more sugar since the rhubarb I was using was more green/tart than red/sweet. I also added a few drops of red food coloring to give it a pinker hue. I also added in a smidgen of vanilla at the end, too.


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cups thinly sliced rhubarb
1/2 cup white sugar

In large skillet, melt butter over high heat. Stir in rhubarb and sugar and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Look how cute my little crab bowl is that I got in Florida in March!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Rhubarb Pie

Another rhubarb recipe! I've never made a rhubarb pie. I had no idea it was so easy! I think the crust took longer than the actual pie filling. My crust was a little too thick, so I'll have to make sure I roll it thinner next time tomorrow when I make another pie to give to our neighbors.

I used my mom's pie crust recipe-- never buy frozen when making homemade is so easy and so much more tasty!

Pie crust:
(okay, as I'm typing this, I now see why my crust was so thick! This recipe is for a 2-crust pie, such as rhubarb pie. I thought it was for a one crust, so I made a double batch! Ooops! Don't make that mistake-- just roll thinner with this recipe)

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening
6-7 tablespoons water

Using a pastry blender, cut half of the shortening into flour and salt until it's like meal. Put the remaining shortening into the mixture and blend until it resembles large peas.

Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time, until doughy.

Divide dough into two mounds.

Roll out 1 inch bigger than pan.
(If you are making a pie that requires a pre-baked crust, bake at 475° for 8-10 minutes.)
* Be sure to save your pie crust scraps so you can brush on some egg white and then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake until just golden for some tasty pie-crust cookies!

Rhubarb Pie

4 cups chopped rhubarb
1 1/3 cups white sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter
1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie

Preheat oven to 450°.

Combine sugar and flour. Sprinkle 1/4 of it over pastry in pie plate. Heap rhubarb over this mixture. Sprinkle with remaining sugar and flour. Dot with small pieces of butter. Cover with top crust and pinch edges to seal.

Brush top of pie crust with a lightly beaten egg white and sprinkle with sugar.

Place pie on lowest rack in oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° F and continue baking for 40 to 45 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rhubarb Bread

Tis the season for one of the yummiest........ ??? things ???.......... (is rhubarb considered a fruit or a vegetable? We are split 50/50 in my house as to what it is) in the world. Rhubarb. I can't harvest mine until next year since it was planted last Spring, but my mom was kind enough to share the rhubarb she inherited with me! I can hardly wait until mine is ready; my kids can have the same memories I have of eating stalks of rhubarb straight from the garden.... dipping the end in a bowlful of white sugar and sucking off the sweetness before biting into the tart stalk (it must be a vegetable.... if it were a fruit, it wouldn't need sugar, now would it?)!

I made this bread today- I didn't have any nuts on hand, but it was delicious despite that fact! Also, 40 minutes wasn't nearly long enough for baking. Mine took closer to a full hour, but I checked it every few minutes starting at 40 minutes.


1 cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter, melted


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Lightly grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans.

In a small bowl, stir together milk, lemon juice and vanilla; let stand for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, oil and egg. Combine the flour, salt and baking soda, stir into sugar mixture alternately with the milk mixture just until combined. Fold in rhubarb and nuts.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pans.

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup brown sugar, cinnamon and butter. Sprinkle this mixture over the unbaked loaves.

Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a loaf comes out clean.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Beer Bread

Who needs to attend a Tastefully Simple home party and spend $6 on a box mix of beer bread when you can make it yourself at home-- with staple ingredients? It's a favorite around here and can be made in the same amount of time that the processed box mix crap can be made.

3 cups of all purpose flour
1/3 cup of sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
12 oz of beer (or pop like 7-Up, Sprite, Ginger Ale)
2 tbsp butter, melted

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Gently pour in the beer and mix until just blended. Batter will be thick.

Pour into a greased loaf pan and pour melted butter over the top of bread batter. Bake at 375° for 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Remove from pan and let cool on a baking rack.
Cut in cubes and serve with your favorite dip or just eat it by the slice!