Dairy-Free Dark Chocolate Pastry Cream

Need a dairy-free dark chocolate pastry cream to fill eclairs, cream puffs, or even a croquembouche? LOOK NO FURTHER!

This recipe was the result of not having enough cow’s milk to make a pastry cream. I had almond milk and as a substitute the results worked quite well! It is likely not quite as “rich” tasting, as almond milk is thinner, but still very yummy. I also like this recipe because it uses cocoa powder instead of melting chocolate, which I don’t always have on hand.

This, BTW, is thicker than a traditional chocolate pudding, on purpose. The sturdiness lends itself well to filling the inside of things. With enough cooling time to firm up, this would totally work in a dairy-free cream pie.

Enjoy!

 

 

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Dairy-Free Dark Chocolate Pastry Cream
A nice firm pastry cream, perfect for the inside of cream puffs, eclairs, or even filling a pie!
Course Desserts
Servings
Ingredients
Course Desserts
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place a fine mesh strainer inside of a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, off the heat, whisk together your dry ingredients: sugar, cornstarch, and cocoa.
  3. In a measuring cup, combine almond milk with egg yolks and vanilla extract.
  4. While whisking, drizzle your milk mixture into the saucepan. Try to get the lumps out the best you can.
  5. Place saucepan on medium high heat. Whisking constantly, cook until boiling. It will start to thicken up considerably. Cook 30 seconds longer while whisking. Remove from heat.
  6. Immediately strain the hot mixture into a bowl. This will remove all the bits of egg, cornstarch clumps, etc. ALTERNATIVE - if you want a cream pie, strain mixture directly into a ready-to-eat pie crust.
  7. Wait 5 minutes and cover the pastry cream with plastic wrap directly on it. This will prevent a "skin" from forming.
  8. Cool 2 hours and use to fill cream puffs, eclairs, or a cream pie.
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Mardi Gras Macarons

Happy Mardi Gras!

Is that what you are supposed to say? I don’t know – Mardi Gras here in PA is marked mostly by baked goods in grocery stores turning purple, green and gold for a few weeks and then disappearing. Hence these macarons!

This is my favorite go-to mac recipe now. It’s so easy to add some flavoring oils to change it up, but also just makes a yummy plain macaron. Yay for simplicity 🙂

BTW, are you looking for step-by-step mac instructions? LOOK NO FURTHER! Click here for a picture tutorial.

As you can see by the pic, these macs are tri-colored, albeit not very evenly done. I used this Wilton Color Swirl decorating set (affiliate link). I’m still working on my technique! Macs are so little that getting the ‘twist’ color scheme is a challenge. I suspect I’ll have better luck with cupcakes.

Lastly, there’s a yummy cinnamon buttercream inside these colored cuties, which seems to be a common theme in a Mardi Gras king cake.

Enjoy!

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Mardi Gras Macarons
A simple and tasty Mardi Gras themed macaron. Filled with cinnamon buttercream and tri-colored!
Mardi Gras macarons
Course Desserts
Cuisine French
Servings
Ingredients
Macaron Shells
Cinnamon Buttercream
Course Desserts
Cuisine French
Servings
Ingredients
Macaron Shells
Cinnamon Buttercream
Mardi Gras macarons
Instructions
Make your macaron shells!
  1. Preheat oven to 280 F. Cover baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick baking mat.
  2. Sift together powdered sugar and almond flour. Set aside.
  3. In a very clean bowl and starting on slow, whip up your egg whites. Once they are very foamy, start to slowly add your granulated sugar, a tablespoon or so at a time.
  4. Keep going until you get to stiff peaks. You should be able to turn the bowl over your head and not have a pile of meringue land on your head 😉
  5. When you have stiff peaks, sift your almond flour/powdered sugar a second time directly over your meringue.
  6. Using the mac folding technique (see link to tutorial above or watch some You Tube videos!), fold in your flour/sugar into the meringue. Right before you get your lava consistency, add your gel color to your desired shade. For the tri-color I divided my batter up into 3 bowls and dyed each batch a different color and then used the Wilton Color Swirl coupler to pipe these. You could also still divide up the batter, dye 3 colors, and just make some purple macs, green macs, yellow macs, etc. Or make them plain and brush a little watered-down gel color on top when they are finished.
  7. After adding color, mix to the correct lava consistency appropriate for macs.
  8. Pipe batter into circles on your baking sheet.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes, turn them around, and bake for another 8 to 10 minutes for standard size macs. They are done when one can be picked up off the parchment and not come apart.
  10. Let cool and then carefully pluck off parchment.
Make the cinnamon buttercream!
  1. Using a mixer, whip up your butter.
  2. Sift your powdered sugar and cinnamon over the butter and mix well.
  3. Add in your vanilla extract. If buttercream is too thick, add a bit of milk, 1 teaspoon at a time until you get a nice piping consistency, i.e not runny but easily piped.
  4. Taste the buttercream and add more cinnamon if you like, a dash of salt, etc.
  5. Fill the macs with the buttercream.
Recipe Notes

If we aren't going to eat macs within the day, I put them in the fridge and they will last a few days (although I believe taste better room temp!). They also freeze well for longer periods and thaw out quickly.

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Peanut Blossom Cookies

Peanut Blossoms need no introduction, right? The match made in Heaven that is chocolate and peanut butter. The horrifying thing is I actually lived a large portion of my life not knowing these existed. My world was forever changed when my cousin made some for Christmas and my eyes were opened 😉

Now I have to make up for lost time by baking these babies periodically. I feel like I have it down to a science now, which means I’m either a genius or bake too much. I especially love this recipe here because it uses all butter for those who aren’t a fan of shortening.

Another epiphany (the only word I know that rhymes with Tiffany!) I had about these: bake time is everything. Really just a minute or 2 longer than needed and they’ll get hard and crispy, and my peanut blossoms must be soft!

You will notice in my pic that I used three mini Hershey Kisses instead of one big one. I found those on sale (hence using them instead) but have made them before with regular sized Hershey Kisses, and you know what? The tiny ones are better! You get THREE bites of chocolate in your cookie instead of one, which sounds like a no-brainer to me.

Enjoy!

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Peanut Blossom Cookies
A soft peanut butter cookie topped with miniature Hershey Kisses.
peanut butter blossom cookies
Course Desserts
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Course Desserts
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
peanut butter blossom cookies
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F and place parchment paper on your cookie sheets.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together your butter, both sugars, and peanut butter.
  3. When smooth, beat in your egg and add the milk and vanilla.
  4. Sift your flour, baking soda, and salt directly over your bowl of batter.
  5. Use your mixer to blend it all together, making a nice soft dough.
  6. Using a cookie scoop or small spoon, shape the dough roughly a little smaller than a golf ball and roll each one in the 1/3 cup white sugar. Place cookies about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.
  7. I bake these for exactly 10 minutes in my oven. You want a nice puffed up and crackly surface that is lightly browned.
  8. Take them out and immediately press 3 mini Hershey Kisses on top; if you wait too long, your kisses won't stick very well in the cookie.
  9. Remove from cookie sheet and set aside to cool on a wire rack. Attempt to avoid eating right away and most likely fail.
Recipe Notes

You could also use regular sized Hershey Kisses or even a few chocolate chips clustered together on top if that is what you have available.

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Spiced Gingerbread and Chocolate Bundt Cake

Chocolate + gingerbread = deliciousness. This recipe screams HOLIDAY to me!

Are you a gingerbread fan? There seems to be a love/hate relationship with gingery things out there. I can say I’m now a bigger fan of the combo of chocolate and gingerbread than just plain gingerbread. Speaking of gingerbread, I love to browse cookbooks for the food photography recipes and I came across a fabulous one – American Cake: From Colonial Gingerbread to Classic Layer.  Apparently gingerbread has been around a long time, like 13th century long time.

(Also – am I the only one who won’t bother with a cookbook unless it has BEAUTIFUL pictures? I have literally flipped through a book, saw it had little/no pictures, and placed it back on the shelf. Who sells a cookbook filled with only WORDS?? Ok, rant over 🙂

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Creamy Nutella Pudding

This recipe came about as a result of being out of peanut butter…let’s just say I’m glad I dropped the ball on stockpiling the PB 😉 This Nutella pudding didn’t last long in our house and there weren’t any leftovers.

CAUTION: This isn’t a recipe for those who “kinda” like Nutella – it’s for those of us who eat it straight out of the container with a spoon. Nutella is an awesome substitute in recipes where you don’t mind some chocolate flavor (who would mind that??).  Whipped cream dolloped right on top before serving takes this recipe over the edge, and actually cuts back just a bit on the sweetness of the pudding. Make this a few hours before you dive in, as you’ll need to let it firm up and get cold in the fridge first.

This recipe also is a great way to use up egg yolks if you *ahem* have a macaron-making addiction (see http://www.weirdlittlefrenchcookie.com/recipe/easy-strawberry-macarons/ 🙂 Enjoy! – Tiffany

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Creamy Nutella Pudding
A rich and tasty Nutella pudding that comes together quickly.
Nutella pudding
Course Desserts
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Desserts
Servings
people
Ingredients
Nutella pudding
Instructions
  1. Whisk together your sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium-sized saucepan. Don't put this on the stove top yet!
  2. Slowly whisk in your milk and break up any cornstarch lumps.
  3. Whisk in your egg yolks and Nutella. Don't worry if it's a bit lumpy; it will smooth out while cooking.
  4. Place your pan on medium heat and continue to whisk. You'll be whisking for 5 to 10 minutes. This will begin to thicken and go from runny to pudding consistency pretty quickly. When it starts to bubble up, turn your heat down to low and cook about a minute more while whisking the whole time.
  5. Remove from heat and strain the pudding through a mesh colander. This will get rid of any lumps and make your finished product nice and smooth.
  6. Stir in your butter and vanilla extract while pudding is still hot.
  7. Let sit for about 5 minutes and press a piece of plastic wrap directly on top; this will keep your delicious pudding from getting a "skin" on it.
  8. Chill in the fridge for several hours.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from I Wash You Dry peanut butter pudding.

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Easy Strawberry Macarons

Are you intimidated by these little cuties? I really was, especially after reading everywhere how fickle they are, how important technique is, etc. I’ve now made these well over a dozen times and each batch gets better than the last. I think the key is the batter consistency more than anything else. Here are some things I DON’T do, as I haven’t found them necessary for making macarons (macs for short!):

– aging the egg whites (I only separate them an hour or 2 ahead of time to get them to room temp so they whip up better)

– using cream of tartar (I used this for several batches and then left it out, and haven’t seen a difference in my macs)

As we speak I have close to a dozen egg yolks in my fridge leftover from my macaron-making extravaganza, so I’m open to suggestions on what to do with those!

Here are some step-by-step pics to help you along.

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