Bubble Eclairs

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My tasters, nor the baker (me), are experts on eclairs…some had tried them before but others never had.   I for one, had no idea there were so many options…crackle topping, streusel topping, pearl sugar topping…and that is just the toppings… the fillings are a whole different story.  These that we are making are “bubble eclairs” because the cream puffs are placed right next to each other creating a row of three little puffs so close they bake together.

I have to share my favorite comment about this recipe…”these look so good…they remind me of when I was a kid and we went to get donuts…these were the ones, the fancy ones on the top shelf we weren’t allowed to choose” haha!

There are the bold eclairs, simple eclairs and everything in between.  I decided to do a more simple one with just a dusting of confectioners sugar and then go all out on the filling, making the Chocolate Pastry Cream.  I would say both are relatively easy.

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This recipe makes quite a few eclairs which is nice..it also allowed for seconds.  My husband had the suggestion to add some whipped cream on top of the chocolate cream, which to hear everyone’s reaction, took it over the top.   According to my tasters, to say these were a hit would be an understatement!  Everyone loved these!  They were called “the bomb” and in one taster’s top 5.  Not too difficult and quite showy…I would say they are a keeper!

Cherry Crumb Tart

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This was a fun one!

  • I loved how easy the recipe was
  • I loved that I remembered this time to have a light touch with the tart dough
  • I loved that I remembered to tent the crust
  • I loved how I could make each part and move onto the next one during the waiting time
  • I loved decorating with the delicious cherries
  • I loved that my parents said “I hit a home run with this one”
  • I loved that my in-laws “adored this one”
  • I loved that my husband loved it and said the next day he couldn’t believe it was even better than the first slice
  • I loved that every single taster said this one was amazing

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This makes the not so good ones worth it…you know you will come across some that are truly keepers.  I have a feeling this one might be requested :)

Miniature Florentine Squares

IMG_3059 I had a feeling as I was baking, that these might be more widely accepted by my tasting group than the last few recipes we have made.  We have already made the Ladyfinger Genoise, but in this recipe it is created into mini-cakes with a very showy marbleized design on top…”echoing the intricate patterns celebrated by Florence’s master papermakers.” I always try very hard to follow the recipes we bake as is…that is the point, but there were a few modifications I made in this one…both because of what I had on hand and for ease of getting these to my tasting group. I used Limoncello for my gloss of wine syrup and blackberry jelly for my filling. IMG_3055 I cut my cake into 16 squares instead of 36 and to help preserve the moistness until I got them delivered to tasters, I glazed each side of each cake as well as the top.  We had plenty of the white chocolate glaze and I figured who ever complains because there is too much glaze, right? I also individually decorated each top instead of before the cake was cut. IMG_3051 IMG_3060 The most fun in this recipe was decorating the tops of each mini cake.  After you pipe milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate into lines on top, you pull the glaze and chocolate with a “multi-pronged tool” to create the pattern.  I used a toothpick and just did it multiple times and it worked perfectly. I would say these are very pretty and would look great on a dessert table at an event.  ALL of my tasters loved this one, surprise, surprise…and even I ate it.  For me, it seemed like a lot of work and it looked better than it tasted.  They were inhaled and gone though so I guess everyone else would disagree haha!

Vanilla-Mango Panna Cotta

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The question of the day was, what is “Panna Cotta”…and it wasn’t just me, all my tasters too!  I am thinking we weren’t alone, but who knows, maybe we just aren’t as worldly in our experiences…but now we all know.

Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert made from sweetened cream thickened with gelatin.

Our recipe tells us it is the perfect dessert; elegant and simple, rich and luxurious…and so versatile.  Since I knew 4 servings was not enough for my family and tasters, I opted to make 1 1/2 of the recipe and split it into 8 servings, which turned out to be the perfect amount.

This is really a very easy and simple recipe: puree the mango and lime juice in a food processor or blender; heat the cream, sugar, milk, and then add vanilla; bloom some gelatin and add to the cream mixture.  There is some chilling time involved and then assemble.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I had never “bloomed” plain gelatin and then liquify it. It was kind of strange.

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After these were assembled and chilled, the texts went out…available for pick-up.  I think everyone was equally intrigued about this dessert, but it quickly became obvious there were lovers and there were non-lovers.  I find this part of the baking so interesting…the how it is received part.   I sat and watched my son and girlfriend inhale theirs and my husband and daughter take one bite and say “ya, not so much’ at which time son and girlfriend quickly took it off their hands and inhaled that one too.  Also interesting is the lovers, loved both the mango and panna cotta and the non-lovers did not like either part.  All in all, it was a draw…4 lovers and 4 non-lovers…and me the non-taster..just the baker and observer haha!

So, not sure what to say about this one other than if you love fruit and smoothies, I would guess you would love it based on my reviewers. :)

Swedish Oatmeal Hardtack

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I feel bad for this recipe…first of all it tells us “it makes you think of last-forever crackers…the kind packed on long voyages more for indestructibility than tastiness.”   The cookbook states not with these but honestly how can a cracker stand up to following the White Chocolate Patty Cake or the Apricot Raspberry Tart???  They just didn’t have a chance…these weren’t a winner with my tasters…but that is ok, there are new ones to try right around the corner.

What I found more interesting this past week was looking at where in the world my blog hits are coming from.  Our “Baking With Julia” and “Baking Chez Moi” are international baking groups but seriously it is so exciting to see where all of us are baking from!  I love knowing that as I am baking here in my home others are doing the same exact thing all over the world!!  I love hearing how bakers have to substitute ingredients either because it is just not in season where they live or not available.  I love being a part of this group!

Check out the list:

  • Bulgaria
  • Czech Republic
  • Puerto Rico
  • Poland
  • Finland
  • United States
  • Canada
  • Malaysia
  • United Kingdom
  • Germany
  • Saudia Arabia
  • Australia
  • Serbia
  • Iceland
  • France
  • Libya
  • Ireland
  • Sweden
  • Philippines
  • Mexico
  • Italy
  • Singapore
  • Israel
  • Spain
  • Austria
  • South Africa
  • New Zealand
  • Malta
  • Portugal
  • India
  • Hong Kong
  • Norway
  • Trinidad & Tobago
  • Brazil
  • Greece
  • Pakistan
  • Thailand
  • Argentina
  • Ukraine
  • Venezuela
  • Netherlands
  • South Korea
  • Turkey
  • Russia
  • Morocco
  • Egypt
  • Luxembourg
  • Sri Lanka
  • Indonesia
  • Qator
  • Latvia
  • Nigeria
  • Estonia
  • Taiwan

Apricot Raspberry Tart

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So my favorite part of this recipe was the brioche bread I bought to use for the crumbs in the bottom of the tart.  I know, I know, not a good start to the blog…but hang with me…other people really liked this, just not me. The recipe gives a few options: lady fingers, stale cake crumbs, or brioche bread.  I was thinking why not go for the bread.  Good excuse as I have never bought brioche bread but I have MADE it before with this group and I know it is delicious.  I looked around at our produce store while buying the apricots and raspberries and happened upon this…

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Seriously why can bread make you so very happy?!  I made french toast that night for dinner for the family and it was unbelievably fantastic!  I will do that again…even for the price!

I know that doesn’t say much for the recipe at hand but it was unlikely I would like this particular dessert…I was curious to see what others thought.  Pretty simple recipe; make the tart dough, add the fruit filling and sprinkle with pistachios.  I have learned from this baking group that no matter how closely I THINK I read the recipe before and during the baking it always surprises me after, when I see something I had never read before.  So strange.  This time it was with the dough.  I read it and decided to go the pressed-in route rather than rolling the dough since that seems difficult with the tart pan.  I figured I could mold it in place easier.  I went at it very methodically, squaring off the tops with my fingers so they were all uniform.

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I was pretty impress with myself until I went back and read the next step and for some reason seemed to read for the first time, the line where it says “but don’t use a lot of force-working lightly will preserve the crust’s shortbread texture” At this point I was thinking well, I believe I was pretty heavy handed might not have the shortbread texture…but hey most people’s favorite part of the tart was the crust so it all worked out…phew!  I need to read more carefully! haha!

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This tart uses a lot of apricots…if you are not a fan you will not enjoy this dessert.  There isn’t much else too it.  You fill the tart with 14 apricots halved, some sprinkled sugar, and raspberries…sprinkling pistachios on top towards the end.  Very simple dessert.  My tasters all opted to add some whipped cream on top.  I have to tell you, my tried and true tasters that love anything fruity, LOVED this one…and I quote, “Loved it, we inhaled it in two minutes”, my husband thought it was very good, and my parents not so much on this one..but hey you can’t love them all.  Just adds to the fun of trying each of these. :)

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White Chocolate Patty Cake

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My Mother-in-Law fell Father’s Day evening and broke her hip…things have been pretty stressful around here.  She is having trouble recovering and is still in the hospital.   Needless to say, we are spending a lot of time there.  I wasn’t sure I would be able to bake this go around…but you know what…after a long day at the hospital, it felt SO good to come home and bake!  It really was a nice break from all that has been going on…and thankfully this recipe was not all that difficult.

This cake is a layered white chocolate cake with raspberry crush in between the layers and on top.  You finish it off with fresh raspberries.

Some things I learned on this recipe:

  1. Lots of eggs in this one…10 to be exact-6 whites, 10 yolks!
  2. Raspberry Crush is basically pureed, slightly-thawed, frozen raspberries but boy does it kick up the flavor on this cake!
  3. Although the cake looks like a plain white or vanilla cake, this one is special.  The melted white chocolate is very flavorful and the cake is very moist and light.
  4. I am getting really good at meringue and melting chocolate haha!
  5. The only thing I didn’t like about this cake is it doesn’t last long…I saved a piece for my son and it was past its prime the next day for him to eat.
  6. Baking really is a hobby I enjoy and relieves stress.

Quick thought on what my tasters thought….EVERYONE loved this one!!  I mean really loved it.  I think I had nine of them on this one.  I think what made it so good was the uniqueness and the flavors and textures all played very well together.  To quote my Dad..”this one is a keeper and…keep them coming!”  I just love that my parents enjoy being part of this with me! <3