TWD: Bubble Eclairs

Wisconsin is a funny place in some regards.  There is a very French heritage in the state that is present in the name of its cities and towns (e.g. La Crosse, Eau Claire).  The French heritage is quite old and mostly forgotten now.  It came with the French fur traders.  Then there is the German heritage which everyone is more familiar with.  I’ve been told many times that Wisconsin has so many Germans because the landscape reminded the German immigrants of Germany, so they stayed.  That is where some of the most familiar Wisconsin things come from (e.g. beer and sausage).

Even though most of the French heritage has been forgotten in all but names, there is one thing that remains.  While other states boast of “fried everything on a stick” at their state fairs, Wisconsin’s most popular state fair item isn’t fried at all.  It’s a cream puff.  A humongous, delicious cream puff piles with tons of fresh whipped cream and powdered sugar.  They even have a drive thru outside the fairgrounds for cream puffs!  Whenever I go to the Wisconsin State Fair I always make sure to see the pig races and then there are two things I always eat, a corn on the cob and the other is a cream puff.  That’s all I need.

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The cream puffs at the Wisconsin State Fair are made out of the same dough that this week’s TWD recipe for Bubble Eclairs is made out of, a pate de choux.  This recipe comes from Dorie’s Baking Chez Moi cookbook, which is a lovely compilation of French inspired desserts.  I’ve never made a pate de choux before, but I have to say that it came together quite quickly and easily.  I made it all in one pot and with one utensils, a wooden spoon.

For the filling for my Bubble Éclairs, I choose to go with Dorie’s chocolate pastry cream.  This pastry cream also only required one pot, and it pretty much just like chocolate pudding.  My éclairs baked up beautifully.  Instead of brushing mine with egg though, I did milk since I didn’t want to waste an egg.  They still browned nicely.  Once assembled, I sprinkled them with powdered sugar and we dug in.

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All four of us enjoyed these.  I would love to say what we said about them, but instead of talking it was mostly silent at the table.  In my mind, that is a better response than words.  They did remind me of the Wisconsin State Fair, which sadly, we didn’t make it to this year for my annual cream puff.  These éclairs will hold me over though.

Please go over to the TWD site to see how other people filled and enjoyed their Bubble Éclairs.  And if you want the recipe, please buy the book.

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Enjoy!

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TWD: Cherry Crumb Tart

Oh, cherries.  I do love you.  Why do you have such a short season?  I only get to enjoy you for a couple weeks a year.  I love you tart and sweet.  I love you pies, tarts, muffins, smoothies and just plain fresh.  Oh, don’t try to fool me with some “cherry flavoring” that is just way too over-powering and cloyingly sweet.  Your flavors are to fresh and clean and sometimes very subtle.  And canned pie filling?  Please, it should say “cherry flavored jelly with a few cherries” on the can.  I need CHERRIES in my pies, not jelly.

IMG_3152 This week the TWD group went right to my heart.  We made Dorie’s Cherry Crumb Tart.  This tart consisted of a hazelnut cream, fresh cherries and then a streusel topping.  There were no parts for me to dislike.  The recipe had a pound of fresh, sweet cherries.  This is probably one of the last weeks I’m going to be able to find fresh, in-season cherries and I’m glad this recipe showed them off.

Cherries here in Wisconsin are kind of hit or miss for the rest of the year.  Hopefully I’ll be able to make it to Door County, Wisconsin, next weekend to pick some tart cherries.  Some of you might not know this, but Door County is world renowned for their tart cherries.  I’ve been so spoiled to live less than 2 hours away.  It should be prime picking season next weekend, so I need to get there soon.  That season only lasts a few days each year.

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If you aren’t fortunate enough to live where cherries are available though, this tart would also be great with blueberries, raspberries, peaches, nectarines, or even apricots.  It was definitely a hit in this household.  I made it over the course of three days, which was great since there are 4 parts to the recipe.  There is the tart dough, the streusel, the nut cream, and then you have to pit a pound of cherries.  My 4 year old son helped.  He helped me make the tart crust and the nut cream.  He loves using the food processor.

If you are so fortunate to have an excess of cherries, I would recommend making this tart.  At least you know one pound of them won’t go to waste.  Enjoy!

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TWD: Vanilla Mango Panna Cotta

This week’s recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie was Vanilla Mango Panna Cotta.  This recipe is great for the hot weather days we have been having.  It did not require me to turn on the oven, which is a definite no-no when the temperature gets above 80degrees outside, which is has been almost all month.  For this recipe there is a smooth mango puree on the bottom of a vanilla bean panna cotta.  I got some vanilla beans while back and I had been saving them for a special occasion.  I wasn’t going to use one of them for this, but then I thought “What am I really saving these for? I can always buy more.” So, I used one of them.  I loved the fragrance of the bean.  And it was neat to see all the little seeds flecked throughout the panna cotta.

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Overall, this dessert was just so-so for us.  I didn’t mind the flavors, but the texture wasn’t what I was expecting.  I was expecting more of a creamy, pudding like texture instead of the Jell-O style texture that it had.  I love creamy desserts and so I think my expectations were just slightly off.  Like I said, the flavors were good.  The vanilla and mango were very refreshing.  I don’t know if I’ll make this again, as I would prefer pudding, but it was a nice change of pace and that is why I joined this group.  I love trying all of the different recipes.

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TWD: Apricot-Raspberry Tart

This week’s recipe for TWD was Apricot Raspberry Tart.  I had very high expectations for this tart.  Apricots and raspberries are two of my favorite fruits.  I am even lucky enough to have it be raspberry season here in Wisconsin right now.  There is a huge PYO raspberry farm about 2 miles from our house.  So, I was able to go pick some raspberries for this recipe.

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Overall, the recipe is very easy.  I have always been a fan of Dorie’s tart crust recipe.  Even with that said though, this recipe was not a winner in our house.  The apricots were just too tart in the end and I’m not a huge fan of baked raspberries.  The crust was delicious, but the rest was just so-so.  Oh well.  This is probably the first Dorie recipe that was a true flop for our house.  And it wasn’t because the recipe failed, we just weren’t fans of how it turned out.

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I did have some extra apricots from the recipe though, and so the next morning I made Deb’s Apricot Breakfast Crisp.  Now that was a success for our house.  We spooned it over some plain yogurt and gobbled it up for breakfast.

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I hope other people enjoyed the recipe more than we did.

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TWD: Strawberry Shortcakes, Franco-American Style

A couple weeks ago I made strawberry shortcakes the way I always had it when I was growing up.  I bought the little sponge cake cups you get at the grocery store.  I put some sliced strawberries on them and then I topped them with whipped cream.  Afterwards, my husband looked at the ingredients for the sponge cakes and he was appalled.  He didn’t understand how something that seemed so simple could have so many ingredients.  Needless to say, we haven’t had those again.

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This recipe was also perfect timing in that my son and I picked strawberries on Saturday.  We ended up picking over 13 pounds!  The berries were just so good that I couldn’t stop picking them.  I made a double batch of jam, or 20 pints, and I still had half of them left over!  So, I made sure to use up quite a few in this recipe.  In my opinion, you can’t eat too much fruit or vegetables and so a dessert with fruit is always a perk.

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The shortcakes were a basic lady-finger recipe piped into circles and baked.  I was a little shocked that they didn’t rise, but in the end that didn’t matter.  Mine actually sunk a little after I took them out of the oven.  Oh well though, it isn’t as though that impacts the taste.  I also took the time to roast some strawberries per Dorie’s suggestions.  Overall, this was a hit in our house.  My husband said these were so much better than the kind we used to make.  The only similarity between the two was the whipped cream.  I didn’t take the time to whip my own, instead I used the canned.  I just didn’t feel like dirtying another bowl for something I feel is quite good in the can.

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Enjoy!

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TWD: Chocolate Cherry Brownies

I’ve been following the Tuesdays with Dorie group for some time now.  I used to do this with the other book, although I never did finish all of the recipes.  I probably finished about 3/4 of them.  I have been wavering on whether or not to join the group, but here I am.  I took quite a large break from baking after having my kids, but I can no longer ignore my desire to get back in the kitchen.  I’m hoping that this will also give my kids a chance to join me.

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This was a great recipe for my “official” (I did make the rhubarb upside down cake a few weeks ago) start again.  It was easy and delicious.  While my husband swears that he doesn’t like anything in his brownies except for chocolate, he ate a quarter of these in less than a day.  Next time I would probably bake them a little longer.  I kept it on the short side at 27minutes, like the recipe recommended, but they are super gooey.  And while I prefer my brownies gooey, these were a bit too gooey.  It didn’t stop us from enjoying them though.  I used a mixture of dried cranberries and cherries since I didn’t have enough dried cherries, but I could barely tell the difference.  If anything, the tartness from the cranberries were nice.

Enjoy!

 

Enjoy!

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America’s Test Kitchen’s Wacky Cake

America’s Test Kitchen is hosting a “journey” through the 1900’s where you cook one recipe from each decade.  This week’s recipe is from 1945, during the heart of World War II when food was being rationed.  This week’s recipe is Wacky Cake, which is a basic chocolate cake that requires no milk or eggs.  The leavening is from the chemical reaction that occurs between baking soda and vinegar.  Overall, the cake was very easy to put together.  It only required 1 pan and only 5 minutes to put together.  Also, I already had all the ingredients on hand.  It’s also delicious.  For the recipe, please see  America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe here.

Also, in order to show my spirit of the 1940’s and wartime rationing I thought I would include a photo of all of my canning work.  It includes strawberry, raspberry, and apricot jams, applesauce, tomatoes, pickles, beets, salsa, and vegetable soup.

My husband and I have quite the garden, so any extra crops end up either being canned or frozen for the winter.  While beets are good canned, green beans and peas are frozen.  Nothing tastes as good as homemade in the middle of winter!

Enjoy!

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