Author Archives: Dow Smith

Cream Puff Swans

Cream Puff Swans
Makes approximately 16-18 swans

Cream Puff Dough

1 cup water
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 425° F.
2. In a medium saucepan, bring water and butter to a boil.
3. Quickly add flour and stir with a wooden spoon. A ball of dough will form. Lower the heat and cook for about 1 minute while mixing constantly. Remove from the heat. Allow to cool for several minutes.
4. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing to incorporate with each addition. The dough should hold its shape.
5. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip with about 2/3’s of the dough. Pipe swan bodies spacing them evenly onto a parchment-lined sheet pan.
6. Using a small round tip and the remaining dough, pipe a neck and head for each swan body onto a different parchment paper lined sheet pan making extras in case of breakage. Bake necks in a 375° F. oven for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Place cream puffs or swan bodies in a 425° F. oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350o F. and continue baking for 15 minutes or until the swan bodies are puffed, brown and crisp. Cool.

Stabilized Whipped Cream

3/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 tablespoons cold water
1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted if lumpy
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. In a small heatproof bowl, sprinkle gelatin over cold water. Stir and set aside.
2. Heat 1 inch of water to a simmer in a saucepan or skillet big enough for the bowl of gelatin to fit inside. Place bowl of gelatin into hot water bath just long enough to melt down the gelatin. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of the heavy cream just to cool down the gelatin.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer using the whip attachment, beat the remaining heavy cream until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, the melted gelatin, and the vanilla. Beat until stiff peaks form.

Assembly

1. On a cutting board, slice each swan body in half crosswise. Cut the top portion lengthwise to form two wings. Leave bottom part intact.
2. Fill pastry bag, fitted with a large star tip with cream, and fill each bottom with cream. Place one wing on each side and stick a head and neck on front of each swan. Dust with powdered sugar.

Hardware store or a baker’s paradise?

Did you ever wander through a hardware store, and see so many items that could be used in the kitchen? For instance, every time I see PVC pipes, I want to fill them with chocolate mousse or ice cream. I always crave a spackler every time I’m spreading frosting or tuile batter, and don’t get me started on all those tools that are just asking to be used to sculpt or score fondant!

Have you ever used non-traditional items for baking purposes? Let me know!

Happy baking, and I’ll meet you in the hardware store!

Chef Gail

Teaching egg whites how to relax…

In any meringue recipe, the recipe always calls for room temperature egg whites. Why, you might ask? Good question. This is because there is surface tension within the egg whites’ albumin (which is a protein). When the whites are brought to room temperature, the surface tension relaxes, and makes it easier for you to beat the most air possible into them. This creates a billowy, stiff meringue!

Happy baking!

Chef Gail

Chocolate Éclairs Recipe

Makes approximately 24 éclairs

Cream Puff Batter

1 cup water

½ cup unsalted butter

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 large eggs

Ganache

½ cup heavy cream

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring water and butter to a boil.
  3. Quickly add flour and stir with a wooden spoon.   A ball of dough will form.   Lower the heat and cook for about 1 minute while mixing constantly. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for several minutes.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing to incorporate with each addition. The dough should hold its shape and not be too loose.
  5. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large plain pastry tip half full of dough.
  6. Onto 2 parchment lined sheet pans, pipe about 3-4 inch lengths in rows leaving a 1 inch space between them.
  7. Place the éclairs into the oven and bake for 15 minutes.   Reduce the oven temperature to 350o and continue baking for another 15 minutes or until the eclairs are brown and puffed.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  9. Inject each cooled eclair with some vanilla pastry cream (recipe follows) using a pastry bag and a small plain tip.
  10. To make the ganache: In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in chocolate chips and corn syrup until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
  11. Gently dip the tops of each éclair into some warm ganache and place ganache side up onto a wax paper lined sheet pan. Chill until ready to serve.

Vanilla Pastry Cream

Makes 2 ½ cups

1 cup whole milk removing 2 tablespoons and set aside

½ cup heavy cream

3 large egg yolks

½ cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons + 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. In a heavy, medium non-aluminum saucepan bring the milk (minus the 2 tablespoons) and cream to the boil.
  2. In a heatproof stainless steel or tempered glass mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and 2 tablespoons of reserved milk until there are no lumps.
  3. Slowly drizzle the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly until all the milk has been added. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and place it over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, whisking all the time. The mixture will become thick. Boil and whisk for 1 minute. Do not allow the custard to burn.
  4. Remove the mixture from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract. Pour the custard into a bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Place it in the refrigerator until cold, about 3-4 hours. The custard filling can be made 1 day in advance and should be kept chilled in the refrigerator.

 

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart Recipe

Makes 1 10-inch tart

Crumb Crust:

2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (any crème filled chocolate sandwich cookie will do, finely ground in a food processor)

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

 

  1. Place the cookie crumbs and melted butter into a medium mixing bowl. Using a spoon combine the mixture until it is the consistency of moist sand.
  2. Press the crumbs evenly onto the bottom and sides of a greased 10-inch false bottom tart pan. Place the tart pan on a sheet pan with sides and chill in the refrigerator until needed.

 

Filling (Peanut Butter Layer):

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) cream cheese

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup creamy peanut butter

3/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar

 

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment, combine the butter, cream cheese, corn syrup, vanilla, and peanut butter until smooth and creamy.
  2. On low speed, add the confectioners’ sugar and blend until light and fluffy. Using an offset spatula, spread filling evenly over the bottom of the chilled crumb crust.
  3. Place the tart back into the refrigerator to set.

 

Chocolate Layer:

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

 

  1. Whisk together the heavy cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a heavy medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  2. Remove from the heat and whisk in chocolate chips.
  3. Allow the mixture to cool for 10-15 minutes and pour evenly over the peanut butter filling.
  4. Chill the tart for 2-3 hours or until the chocolate layer has firmed up.
  5. Remove from the tart pan and place onto a serving platter.

Raspberry Linzer Torte Recipe

Makes 1 10 inch torte

Linzer Dough

2 cups walnuts

1 cup cake scraps or other firm white cake

1 cup + 4 tablespoons granulated sugar

12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2 large eggs

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

 

  1. In a food processor, finely grind the walnuts and cake scraps with the sugar. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer.
  2. Add the softened butter to the ground nut and sugar mixture. Using the paddle attachment, blend the mixture on medium speed.
  3. Add the eggs and blend well.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon.
  5. On low speed, add the dry ingredients into the butter and nut mixture. Blend well.
  6. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours to firm up.

 

Assembling the Linzer

1-1 1/2 cups (approximately) seedless raspberry jam

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Crumble 1/3-1/2 of the firm dough into a 10-inch false bottom tart pan patting it evenly over the bottom and up the sides.
  3. Spread enough of the jam until the level of the jam is the same as the level of the sides of the tart dough.
  4. Roll out the remaining dough into a rectangle on a lightly floured work surface.
  5. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into long strips approximately 1/2 inch thick.
  6. Place 5 strips across the filling, spacing them out, and trimming the edges to be flush with the tart pan.
  7. Cut another 5 strips of dough and place them 45° across the other strips forming diamond-shaped openings as the strips crisscross each other. Trim the ends to be flush with the tart pan.
  8. Bake for approximately 30-45 minutes or until the crust is brown and the jam is bubbly.

Remove the Linzer from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature, dusted with