Boston Cream Pie

image

Given my recent success with pastry cream, something I had previously struggled with, I decided a Boston Cream Pie would be my next project. Not only is it delicious, but it brings back so many wonderful memories. Mostly of my Aunty Cynthia, who I haven’t seen since I was probably about 14 years old due to distance.

My family is from Trinidad and Tobago, and my parents oh so selflessly decided to give up their home, family, friends, and what they knew to come to America to live and give my brother and I more options for our future. This was especially hard on my mother, considering all of her immediate family was still in Trinidad, yet she went on for her children (THANK YOU MOMMY!!!!).

But not all was lost, thanks to American Airlines and frequent flyer miles, my Aunt Cynthia, my mother’s oldest sister, would come to visit us often when we were younger.  In preparation for these visits, my mom would get EVERYTHING ready for her. I would see a huge smile appear on my mom’s face as well as a bit of stress as to make sure she doesn’t let her sister down! And every hour or so I would hear “Well we should get this…Cynthia loves this”

What does my Aunty Cynthia like? Coach, Banana Republic, and Boston Cream Pie. I am not so sure she really liked Boston Cream Pie, but Greg and I did and it definitely put a bit more excitement to her visits (that and the endless supply of hotel toiletries she would bring us from her business trips)

So I present to you, Boston Cream Pie

Ingredients

Vanilla Pastry Cream

  • 2 cups half-and- half
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • a pinch of salt
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sponge Cake

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

Chocolate Ganache Topping

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 8 0z chopped semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Vanilla Pastry Cream

1. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the half-and-half, 6 tablespoons of sugar, and salt over medium heat to simmer; stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar

2. While the half and half is heating, whisk together egg yolks and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar in a medium bowl

  • When combined, add cornstarch and continue to whisk until fully combined

3. When the half-and-half begins to simmer, slowly start to pour it into the egg mixture, whisking constantly as to not cook the eggs

4. Return mixture to the saucepan over medium heat and continue to whisk constantly until it begins to thicken and bubble

  • Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla extract

5. Place the pastry cream into a medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap, ensuring that the plastic wrap touches the pastry cream so that a skin does not form

6. Allow to chill in the fridge for 3 hours – 2 days

Sponge Cake

Use the lower middle rack and preheat oven to 350°F and line 2 9″ cake pans with parchment paper and butter the sides

1. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt

2. Combine the milk and butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat until butter melts

  • Remove from heat, stir in vanilla extract and set aside

3. Separate the eggs, placing 3 of the egg whites in the bowl for your stand mixer and the remaining 2 eggs and 3 yolks in a separate bowl

4. With the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy on low speed

  • Increasing the speed to medium, gradually add 6 tablespoons of sugar and beat until soft peaks form
  • Transfer egg whites to a clean bowl

5. Place the yolk and whole egg mixture in the stand mixture and beat on medium high speed with the remaining 6 tablespoons of sugar until the mixture is a pale yellow (~5 minutes)

6. Add the egg whites to the pale yellow egg mixture and sprinkle the flour mixture on top

7. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the mixture to combine in 12 strokes

  • Make a well on the side of the bowl and pour in the butter mixture
  • Continue to fold mixture together until fully combined

8. Divide batter equally between the 2 cake pans and cake for about 16 minutes, until the tops are light brown

9. Immediately run a knife along the edge of the pans to loosen cakes and invert the cakes onto a clean kitchen towel. Gently peel the parchment paper away and allow cakes to cool on a wire rack

Chocolate Ganache Glaze

1. Combine heavy cream and corn syrup in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat

2. Remove from heat, add the chocolate, cover the pan and allow to stand for 8 minutes

  • Stir in vanilla extract and allow to cool

Assembly

1. Place one of the cake layers on the cake board and place 4 cut strips of parchment paper along the perimeter to catch the chocolate glaze as it falls

2. Spread the pastry cream evenly on the top of the cake, leaving the tiniest bit of space between the pastry cream and the circumference of the cake

3. Top with second layer of the cake and gently press down

4. Pour glaze onto the center of the cake and allow to flow over the sides

5. Let cake stand for about 1 hour before serving

Enjoy!

Simple Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits

dog treats

 

 

My boyfriend and I will be getting a puppy this summer and I am oh so very excited! I have always wanted a pet, and dog sitting for his brother and sister in law has made me that much more excited for one. Their little furballs are full of so much love that you can’t help but love them.

Anyways, I have been reading a lot of dog training books and about what to feed dogs etc. I noticed that a lot of the dog treats are actually very expensive, and it may be healthier and cheaper to just make dog biscuits. Well thankfully, there are about 6 dogs I see regularly to be my taste testers. These simple treats seemed to b a big hit too!

 

Peanut Butter Dog Treats

Yields about 40-50 treats

Ingredients

  • 2 cup whole wheat or all purpose flour (wheat is much healthier, but there isn’t anything wrong with all purpose)
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F and line a prepare a cookie sheet

1. Mix together sour cream, peanut butter, and milk

2. Whisk flour and baking powder

3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until fully combined

4. Roll dough out to 1/4 inch thick and cut into dog bone shapes/cookie shapes of your choice

5. Bake for 20 minutes and allow to fully cool before serving!

 

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake

Chocolate and Peanut Butter, yet another fantastic combination that you will see that I absolutely LOVE. This cake is dedicated to my colleague Matt. When we were in lockdown last Friday, he still went into the office. The lone wolf of the team….faxin’ and getting shit signed all day. Thanks, but mostly this is because I want to get better at decorating cakes (as seen by my horrible centering of the words…)

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake

From: Annie-Eats.com

Ingredients

Chocolate Cake

  •  1 1/4 cup flour, sifted
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting

  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions

Chocolate Cake

Preheat oven to 350°F and line 2 9″ cake pans with parchment paper, butter pans and dust with cocoa powder

1. In a medium sized bowl, mix together to boiling water, cocoa powder, and espresso powder until smooth

  • Allow to slightly cool and whisk in sour cream and vanilla extract until smooth

2. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt 3. In the bowl fitted for your stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and then beat in sugar until fluffy

  • add the eggs 1 at a time, making sure to scrape down the bowl after each addition

4. In 3 additions, add the flour mixture and cocoa mixture to the butter mixture. Starting and ending with the flour mix 5. Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter a few times to make sure it is fully incorporated 6. Divide batter between 2 pans and bake for 30-35 minutes 7. Allow to cool in pans for 5 minutes before flipping onto wire rack to cool completely before assembly Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting 1. Place your bowl for the stand mixer and your whisk attachment in the freezer for 15 minutes to chill

  • On medium high speed, whisk heavy cream and 1/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar until still peaks form
  • Separate into a bowl and allow to chill in the fridge while you complete the frosting

2. Cream the butter and Peanut butter together until fully combined and smooth

  • slowly add the confectioner’s sugar, 2 table spoons at a time until you get a good consistency (adding the sugar gradually allows you to use less sugar than adding it all at once since it give the butter time to incorporate the sugar)
  • Add the vanilla extract, beat in more confectioner’s sugar if needed

3. Using a rubber spatula, fold the heavy whipped cream into the frosting Assembly 1. Allow cake to cook completely and spread about 1/4 cup of the frosting onto the base of the layer cake, leaving just a tiny bit of excess space around the top of the cake 2. Carefully put the top layer on top of the bottom layer and gently push down 3. Add a dollop of frosting to the top of the cake and smooth out a thin layer of frosting around the sides and the top of the cake

  • This is your crumb coat, used to seal in any crumbs that make fall off the cake before you put the layer of frosting on
  • Make sure to not dip the spatula with crumbs on it back into to your frosting and to cover the cake
  • Allow to chill for 15-20 minutes, or until the frosting no longer comes off onto your finger when you tap the cake

4. Once the crumb coat is set, place a generous dollop of frosting on top of your cake. Do not be frightened by the amount as it will even out and come off later 5. Spread the Frosting to the edge of the cake and towards the side

  • When frosting the side, hold the spatula at a slight angle as you turn your cake/cake stand and wipe the frosting off the spatula as you go to avoid lumps
  • to even out the edge and smooth the top, move your spatula from the edge of the cake to the center, gradually lifting the spatula as you reach the center as not to lift up the frosting

6. Using whatever tip you wish (I used a tip a bit too big for my cake), frost a decorative pattern along the base of your cake Enjoy!

Coconut Cream Pie

wpid-2013-04-21-11.14.22.jpg

It has been an oh so very stressful week here! An oh so very happy bridal shower weekend followed by a devastating disaster here in Boston. Thankfully all of my friends and family are safe, but it was heart breaking to hear from the families of the victims. And a lock down on Friday?!!? I couldn’t even leave my condo! I was forced to work from home, which I kind of really enjoyed.

Well, the bombing was stressful and saddening. I couldn’t talk to a person, peruse the internet, or turn on the TV without being reminded of the lives lost and people effected. In order to counteract this depression, I decided to bake and bring smiles to people’s faces, even if it was just for a minute.

I brought in my Chocolate Guinness cupcakes on Wednesday. I thought it would be a good idea, however I learned the hard way that it was a little too soon for a non-white person to take public transportation whilst carrying a container of cupcakes. Getting stopped and checked doesn’t really bother me. But the woman who screamed and harassed me followed by dirty looks from others did though. After a slight delay to regain my composure after this random lady’s attack, I made it into work and was able to spread some joy around via cupcakes.

Last weekend, I had planned on making a coconut cream pie; however I was too drained to do so, so I made it this weekend. I hope you enjoy!

Coconut Cream Pie

Ingredients

Graham Cracker Crust

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

Coconut Cream Filling

  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cup of cream of coconut*
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whipped Cream Topping

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2-4 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

*if using coconut milk, use 2/3 cup sugar instead of 1/2*

Directions

Graham Cracker Crust

1. Preheat oven to 400°F and prepare a 9″ pie dish

2. Combine graham cracker crust ingredients together and press into pie dish

3. Bake for 10 minutes and set aside

Coconut Cream Filling

1. In a heavy bottomed sauce pan,bring  3/4cup milk and cream of coconut to a boil over medium heat

  • be careful, the bubbles can splatter pretty high!

2. Whisk together egg yolks and the remaining sugar

3. Whisk together sugar, salt, and cornstarch

4. Add the sugar/cornstarch mixture to the eggs and whisk until smooth

  • Slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture while whisking as not to cook eggs
  • Whisk mixture until smooth

5. Transfer the mixture into a heavy bottomed sauce pan through a strainer to separate any lumps

  • Bring mixture just to a boil over medium heat
  • Whisk until mixture becomes thick( about 1-2 minutes)

6. Remove from heat and pour into cooled pie crust, cover with plastic wrap and allow to chill for at least 3-4 hours

Whipped Cream Topping

1. Place mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for 15 minutes

2. On medium high speed, whisk heavy cream, 2 tablespoons sugar, and vanilla until stiff peaks form

  • Add more sugar if you wish for a thicker consistency

3. Pipe over the filling and garnish with toasted coconut flakes if desired

Happy Bridal Shower!

So my best friend, Kaitlin, is getting married in May! yahooo!!! I am so excited for that day! So today was her bridal shower where all the ladies got together, ate, opened gifts, and laughed.

I was so lucky that I got to make the desserts for her bridal shower, which included:

4 dozen strawberry shortcake cupcake,

4 dozen chocolate raspberry truffle cupcakes, and

1 dozen  gluten free chocolate cupcakes for vanilla butter cream

I also decided to go with fondant flowers as a cute little topper for them, next time I will make a combo fondant-gumpaste so that they are more sturdy

I was so happy to hear that everyone loved my baked goods, and even more excited when Kaitlin’s mother-in-law to be, Rose, introduced herself as a baker who had done wedding cakes for over 40 years! She was even willing to teach me techniques in decorating and show me how to make my decorating more detailed. I am so excited for this opportunity! Anyways, I hope my kitchen will be ready for me to bake tomorrow, as I am desperate for a Boston cream pie.

 

But if not, I will leave you with this delicious image to satiate the blogging needs until next Sunday

 

 

Enjoy!

 

Bridal Shower

Soft Pretzels

pretzel

 

 

So we had a team meeting last week and everyone started talking about the Red Sox opening game, however I was more concerned with jeans day at work. I am a Bostonian who does not follow sports, and I am not ashamed. However, I do love the food that comes along with sports! Soft pretzels and cotton candy? They are kind of my love.

Anyways, after disappointing my colleagues with my little knowledge of baseball, the conversation turned to pretzels…and that my friends is where I redeemed myself. I will make pretzels on Monday for everyone! YAY! Melissa is no longer a disappointment and I can now be accepted due to my love of baking.

While many people find yeast doughs to be scary, I can assure you it is completely fine and the pretzel is actually a fascinating treat in baking history. My favorite pretzel story would have to be the bakers of Vienna who reclaimed their base, tore down the enemy’s flag, and raised their own…inspiring the home forces to rally and save their city. The emperor was impressed by  their bravery and gave the bakers a royal coat of arms of their own, which incorporated the pretzel.

I think I may write to Valve and ask them to include a baker’s hat in TF2…

This recipe has been adapted from The Professional Pastry Chef

Anyways…

Soft Pretzels

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water ( 110-115°F)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds (optionanal)
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 egg, slightly beat
  • coarse salt
  • Baking Soda solution (to follow) for boiling the pretzels

Directions

1. Mix the sugar, yeast and water and let stand for 5-10 minutes.

  • Make sure this solution becomes frothy, if not try again because your dough won’t rise

2. Mix together to flour, salt and caraway seeds

  • Stir the yeast mixture into the flour with until combined  and then knead dough for about 10 minutes

3. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover and allow to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes

4. Split dough into 8-10 pieces and then roll out into 20″-24″ strings

5. Twist the dough into a pretzel shape and let sit for 2 minutes before slightly stretching dough

6. Create Baking Soda Solution

  • ~2 quarts boiling water, 3 tablespoons baking soda and 1 tablespoon salt

7. Boil pretzels, no more than 3 at a time, in the solution for about 3-5 minutes, until slightly browned and preheat oven to 425°F

8. Put several small cuts on each pretzel and lightly brush with the egg

  • Bake for 35 minutes

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting

gluten free chocolate cupcake with nutella frosting

 

 

Gluten free chocolate cupcakes? So tasty! So many people think gluten free and think that most of the cupcakes can be chalky, dense, or just overall gross. Thankfully, I found a delightful chocolate cupcake recipe that is gluten free! I am oh so very excited about this because my best friend and her family all have celiac disease, which prevents them from having gluten products. And when you have a best friend who can’t have flour, your ability to treat your friends decreases dramatically.

I have tried out multiple different recipes, but this one provides a nice, light, fluffy cake which I absolutely love! Another pro to baking gluten, free, it is very easy for the recipes to follow to paleolithic diet, making cupcakes much healthier than normal baked goods.

 

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting

yields about 10 cupcakes

Ingredients

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup grape seed oil
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
  • 3 eggs

Nutella Frosting

  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup nutella
  • 3/4 cup confectioners sugar

Directions

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes

Preheat oven to 375°F and prepare a cupcake tray with liners

1. Sift together coconut flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda

2. Beat together eggs, grape seed oil, and agave nectar

3. Combine dry ingredients into egg mixture

4. Divide batter evenly into cupcake tray and bake for 20-22 minutes

5. Allow to cool completely before frosting

Nutella Frosting

1. Beat together coconut oil and nutella until smooth

2. Beat in confectioner’s sugar 2 tablespoons at a time until smooth

4. Using a small offset spatula, frost the cupcakes

Enjoy!

Heath Bar Toffee Cookies

toffee cookies

Yesterday was such a busy day! Well, I wasn’t really busy, but everyone around me was. I had dinner with my boyfriend’s parents (for the first time!) and it was not as scary as I thought it would be…most likely due to his awesome sister in law and her cute little pups! So this lady is pregnant and has a sweet tooth,which makes an awesome combination to her brother in law’s super cool girlfriend who loves to bake. Usually she volunteers(okay…so I may or may not force bake goods into her hand on a weekly basis) to be a taste-tester to my recipes. This week I switched it up and had her choose what I was going to bake. And she chose something I absolutely love, toffee cookies!  So I decided on a simple cookie recipe with toffee bits folded into it.

I hope you enjoy!

Heath Bar Toffee Cookies

yields about 3 dozen cookie

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 16 oz toffee bits

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare a cookie sheet

1. Combine flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl

2. Cream butter in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or hand mixer

  • add sugars and beat until light and fluffy
  • add eggs one at a time, making sure to mix well after each addition
  • add vanilla
  • add in flour mixture and mix until combined

3. Using a rubber spatula, fold the dough together to make sure the ingredients are fully combined

4. Fold in toffee bits

5. Let dough chill in the fridge for about 30-45 minutes

6. Place teaspoon sized dollops on the prepared cookie sheet and cook for 14-16 minutes

  • allow to cookies to cool on pan for about 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack

Enjoy, and have fun baking!