Apple Eclairs

Who doesn’t like apples? And who doesn’t like eclairs? Nobody, of course! From my Introduction to Philosophy classes in college I deduce that everyone must also like Apple Eclairs. Boom, your mind is blown and your mouth is watering.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and Halloween is at the corner we just passed. I can’t believe what time of year it is! This past year has gone by so quickly. I was gone this past year in Ecuador and never got to meet my nephew, who was born only several weeks after I left for work. To be back and see little Judah walking has been pretty incredible. He’s a cutie and just had his birthday party yesterday.

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Somebody’s one!!!

It was a blast to watch him eat his cake. He made such a mess! His older siblings helped him blow out the candles and lick the decorations clean from off his cake -of course they were helpful for sweets!

For the birthday party I wanted to make something fall-esque so I made Apple Eclairs, something of an invention when I couldn’t make what I really wanted to make. I used a basic pate a choux. I had tried making this before in Puno, Peru but it’s at 12,000 feet above sea level so it was almost instantly a fail. So, for the first time making pate a choux at an acceptable altitude I was stoked watching them rise in the oven. I’m telling you, baking is magic.

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Apple Eclairs

Pate a Choux 
Julia Childs says that pate a choux is an easy staple that every cook ought to have in their kitchen repertoire. I agree, it is easy –once you understand the ground rules- and there’s a lot you can do with pate a choux, which makes it sure to surprise every time you serve it. I did not use her recipe exactly, but when I read it afterward I wish that I had.

Ingredients Important things you’ll need
1 cup water  1 1/2 quart pot
3 oz butter (3/4 stick)  mixing bowl
1 teaspoon sugar  parchment paper
1 pinch of salt  two cookie sheets
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour  piping bag
4 eggs    1/2 inch piping tip
1 egg beaten w/ 1/2 tsp water  pastry brush

Boil water in a 1 1/2 quart heavy bottom pan along with butter, sugar and salt. Boil until butter is melted. While that is going on measure out the flour.Remove from heat and add all the flour to the water at once and beat immediately and vigorously for several seconds until it is well blended.

Bring the pan back to the burner and place on moderately high heat and beat for 1-2 minutes until the mixture leaves the sides of the pans and does not stick to the spoon and a film appears on the bottom of the pan.

Remove from heat and place in a mixing bowl. Spread out flat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes, but not much longer. If you don’t you will end up cooking your eggs then and there in the dough. Once slightly cooled break in one egg and stir until well incorporated into the dough. Do this one egg at a time; however, for the last egg add it a little at a time as needed to make sure the dough doesn’t become too runny. It should resemble heavy mayonnaise.

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Prepare your cookie sheets by lining them with parchment paper and set aside. Start to put the pate a choux in your piping bag and put on piping tip. If you do not have a piping bag you can make one out of parchment paper. Fill piping bag and start to pipe your eclairs onto the baking sheets. I made mine about 1 1/2 inch wide and about 6-7 inches long each. Make sure to space by about 2 or more inches as they will puff up quite a bit. Dip pastry brush in beaten egg with a bit of water and smooth over tops of the eclairs. Place the sheets side-by-side in the oven in the upper third portion of your oven. Bake for 20 minutes. They are done when they are doubled in size and are nice and golden and crusty to the touch. Remove from the oven and working quickly pierce the sides with a fork and place back in the oven and let cool with the door slightly open for 10 minutes. Cool the eclairs on cooling racks.

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Apple Filling

Ingredients Important stuff you’ll need
2-3 apples medium sauce pan
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 cup water

I used McIntosh apples, which I just think are great baking apples and they turn into mush so easily, which is needed for this recipe. Peel and core the apples then dice them up and throw them in the sauce pan over medium high heat. Throw in the sugar, butter and cinnamon (I’m not going to lie I didn’t measure the cinnamon I put in, I just threw in what I thought looked and smelled right, adjust as you see fit) and allow to sautee for a few minutes. Turn heat down and let the apple simmer down until they are soft enough to mash. If you like to keep a bit of chunk in your apples at this point that’s fine. Mash with a fork, then add 2 tbsp flour and 1 cup of water and allow to cook for 5 minutes until things are nice and goopy. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Glaze

Ingredients Important things you’ll need
4 oz cream cheese mixer 
1 cup powdered sugar   
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter   
1/2 tsp vanilla  

Cream together cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar until fluffy and then stir in vanilla.

Assembling Eclairs

Once the eclairs have cooled used a bread knife to cut them lengthwise in half. I placed that all on the countertop open and spooned out the apple filling into each evenly between them all. At then end if there was left over apple filling I split it evenly between them topping them off. Place the tops back on the eclairs and frost with the cream cheese frosting. You’ll have extra frosting probably, so find some graham crackers to snack on too! You can powder the tops of the eclairs with a touch of cinnamon to finish up.

What other kinds of things can you think of to make with pate a choux? Cream puffs is an obvious choice, but what else?!

Enjoy!

Caramel Apple Dumplings

Yea, I’m stuck in fall.  I’m not going to lie.  You can see it pretty much written all over this blog.  And I’ve also a sick obsession for the apple recipes as well.  It’s just that the apple, cinnamon, pie pastry texture and tastes all remind me of home.  Being here in this country that only has two seasons really leaves me reaching out to fill those I’ve missed in Ohio!

I love etymology.  That’s why I like language so much.  And it’s extremely interesting to me when I find a connection between two words that others are not as excited as I am!  I found that nostalgia has some interesting roots.  Nosto is greek for home and algos pain.  So, in a sense nostalgia just means homesickness!  Now, you can’t tell me that is cool.  If you can’t admit to it you just need to leave.

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Really… how could you blame me for being stuck on apple deliciousness?  Are you seeing this?  I’m about to swallow my own tongue!

Caramel Apple Dumplings

6 McIntosh Apples (as this serves six people)  Do we have McIntosh apples in Peru?  No… so we had to just find something softer that would cook nicely.  This is the beaut we found.

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Sauce
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp butter

Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup milk

Caramel Sauce
You can use store bought OR you can make this
Caramel Comfort Sauce… really, which sounds more fun?

First you can get your sauce ready.  Super simple.  Are you ready?  Throw the water and sugar in the pan and start to bring it to a boil.  Put in the cinnamon and nutmeg.  When the sugar-water comes to a boil put in the butter and let melt.  Mix it up and when it’s melted completely remove from the heat and set aside.

To cut and peel your apples, cut them in half and then cut out the core.  I’ll show you some pictures, because I’m not sure how to explain with words.  Then, peel those halfs.  Don’t cut them into quarters because then you’re going to have a great time trying to hold them together when you wrap them up in dough!  That’s sarcasm by-the-way.

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Make sure you keep your apple halves with their mates… otherwise you could end up with some silly-looking dumplings.

Once you’ve got your apples ready get on your dough.  In a bowl mix together your dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder) and then start to cut in your shortening.  If you’re like the Handicapped Kitchen and you don’t have shortening you can use butter (which I perfer anyway).  Cut in the shortening until you have what looks like fine crumbs.  Then add your milk just until the dough comes together in a ball.

Roll the dough out into a rectangle measuring about 18”X12”.  Then cut the dough into six squares.  So, that should be two horizontally and three across the length.  If you were a math major in college than you can figure out easily that that’s six equal squares!

Working one at a time, place an apple in the center of one of your perfect squares (that’s nearly impossible) of dough holding the halves together.  Pour a nice unhealthy amount of sugar into the center of the apple and shake a pretty portion of cinnamon and nutmeg over the apple and settle a pat of butter on top.  Fold up the four corners of the dough and pinch it closed.  You can also use water to help seal it better.

Place in a pre-greased baking dish.  When you’ve got all your dumplings set in the pan pour the sugar mixture we made earlier over the apples making sure to dump it over each dumpling.  Then, sprinkle with more sugar!  SUGAR SUGAR SUGAR!  Kind of reminds me of Rebecca Black’s FUN FUN FUN!  Oh dear… poor girl.  Anyway, bake at 375 degrees F for 35 minutes or until you can easily poke a fork through easily.

Let cool and drizzle with caramel sauce while still warm.

TIPS:
1.) Use smaller apples so your dough will easily cover those babies.
2.) Some of my apples fell apart in the oven, but with my quick smarts I pulled some toothpicks out of my drawer and secured the apples together sticking the toothpicks through the apples in a crossing-action.

So, are you going to make these things?  Are you going to eat them in the middle of the sweltering summer?  Does it matter what time of the year you eat Apple Dumplings????  I think not.

Apple-Cinnamon Scones

Bon Jour!  I love languages.  I’m currently teaching myself French.  J’aime le Francais.  Oui oui!  If you cannot not take yourself seriously, then you may have some trouble learning a language.  What’s the number one attitude needed in learning a language?  Humility.  You make a ton of mistakes and people will look at you like you’re an idiot.  You will say things like, “You’re mom is a fat cow,” when you really want to say, “You’re mom makes great cheesecake.”  People will cry.  You will cry.  You will have a black eye and that’s why you cry.  But, it’s all for the sake of learning the beauty of another language.  So, if you want to learn a language, just know, you will never save face.  You, in fact, do the exact opposite.

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I’ve only ever had one scone before I had these.  It was a tad on the dry side and then sat in the backseat of my ‘94 Mercury Cougar (yea, I was so pimpin’) until I found it a few months later moldy and crumbly.  It wasn’t the best experience to have for my first scone.  But, as a baker, I thought for sure scones would not be a popular as they are if they really were not that good!  I devised to try to make these Apple Cinnamon Scones!

You’ll notice I cut some of the shapes into hearts.  That’s because it was a month ago that I made these and am now just posting the entry.  Wow.  I’m such a great blogger.  If you saw me right now you’d scread, “Holy crap!  Go back to bed!”  But, that just shows you the dedication right now.  I hope that makes up for it.

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Apple-Cinnamon Scones

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup apple, chopped
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (I did not use these for two reasons… EXPENSIVE and I don’t like them)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 whole egg
  • A handful of sugar (for topping)
  • cinnamon to taste (for topping)
  • In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon.  Then, cut in the butter using a pastry mixer, or if you’re out of luck and don’t have such heavenly utensilry like me you can use a plain ol’ heavy duty fork.  Cut in the butter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.

    You can cut up the apples now, or have them cut up before hand.  I thought about grating the apples, but I worry for my fingers.  When your apples are cut up into small cubes mix them in the dry ingredients, along with the walnuts if you decide to go that way.

    In a small bowl mix the egg yolk (set the egg white aside for later) and milk well with a whisk.  Then, add that to the dry ingredients just until the dry ingredients are moist.  You don’t want super sticky dough.

    Lightly flour your working surface and roll the dough out to 1/2” thickness.  If you want round scones use a round biscuit cutter or cookie cutter.  But, if you don’t want to have to reroll the dough out, which can be a pain, separate the dough into four sections and form them so they are round.  Flatten them down a bit and cut each into four pieces so you should have 16 in total.

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    In another small bowl mix the egg white with a whole egg (no good reason for the extra egg white, just wanted to cut down on waste) and in another small bowl mix the handful of sugar and some cinnamon.  You can taste the sugar cinnamon mix to see if it has enough cinnamon in it.

    Dip each scone in the egg mixture and then the sugar mixture and place 2 inches apart on a baking sheet and bake at 400 F for 20-22 minutes.  They are soooo good fresh out of the oven.

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    Apple Fig Caramel Death By Pie

    My mother would kill me, kill me, kill me if I ever put up our family apple pie recipe on the internet.  Don’t worry Mom!  This is not our secret pie!  This is my new pie!

    Let’s be totally honest here.  I mean, we’re cool, right?  Pies are not the hardest things in the world.  There might be a ton of folk that tell you otherwise, but once you get the crust down…

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    So, when Chad brought back a bag of figs from the market for the family, I knew I had to try a pie with them… with apples.  And what, I thought, would be more heavenly that drizzling the thing in Caramel Comfort Sauce.  Apple pie, by far, is my favorite pie.  Knowing I couldn’t post my mother’s pie here, I had to try something new!  Figs and caramel are definitely not in my mom’s pie.  I’m off the hook!

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    I found a perfect crust.  I’ll tell you about it in a sec, I swear.  This crust, is so delicious, and you would never believe it, but yes, it’s easy to handle.  Seriously, I’m not kidding you, either I’m some kind of pie crust god, or this is just the pie crust you’ve been dreaming of.  So, when you try this out… you’ll have to tell me if I’m a god or not.  Don’t worry, you won’t hurt my ego.

    I had two helpers in the kitchen when I made this pie, who both had just gotten up from their naps.  I present Mr. Thomas and Miss Ella:

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    They did so well, until they got bored and decided to watch Finding Nemo… which the shark parts were too scary for Thomas.

    Buttermilk Pie Crust
    via Joy the Baker

    2 1/2 cups flour
    1 cup butter/shortening (cold cold cold cold)
    1 tbsp sugar
    1 tsp salt
    1/2 cup buttermilk (cold cold cold cold)

    Mix together in a bowl the flour, sugar and salt.  Then, cut in your butter with the classy fork, pastry mixer, food processor etc., until you have what resembles course crumbs.

    Handicap: I don’t have buttermilk.  I don’t even know what the name for it is in Spanish let alone if they even produce it in Peru… which if they did it would be expensive.  But fear not!  Buttermilk can be substituted as such.  For each cup of regular milk at 1 tbsp of white vinegar.  Works like a charm and that’s exactly what I did.

    Mix in the buttermilk until you have until your dough forms into a ball.  The key, my mother always says, to making good crust is using cold cold cold cold cold cold cold ingredients.  Got it?

    Let sit in the fridge for an hour… says Joy, but I did less time and it turned out fine.  I think I need to turn our fridge down.  It’s way too cold, but I love the ice crystals I get in my milk.

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    Then roll out your dough so it will fit in your pie pan.  To get the dough from the counter into your pan it’s best to fold the dough over itself in half then, pick up the half and place it in your pie pan so that when you unfold it your dough is neatly in place, right where you want it.

    If my directions don’t explain this clearly enough, click the link above that says Joy the Baker and her advice might help you better.

    Filling

    1 1/4 cup sugar (separated)
    3-4 cups preferably McIntosh Apples… anything but red delicious I suppose (peeled and sliced)
    about 1/4 cup Caramel Comfort Sauce
    1/4 cup figs (the red flesh)
    cinnamon for dusting on top

    Remember when I said that once you get past the crust pies are really easy?  Well, as I promised it is!  Dump in 1 cup of sugar on the bottom then nicely lay out the apples inside so you can have the maximum amount fit inside the pie.  Then on top of the apples spread over the red flesh of the figs and sprinkle with the 1/4 cup sugar.  Then, over everything, drizzle the caramel sauce.  To top everything off dust with cinnamon.  Don’t go to heavy on it, or you will be sorry!  Use the same technique for the bottom crust as the top.  Fold in half and lift off!

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    Put her in the oven at 350F.  I create a foil tray with the sides folded up to create a boil-over catching pan.  It makes for easy clean-up, because you know this pie is done when it boils over and you have a sugary-goo mess on your foil tray.  Also, check to see how tender your apples are with a fork.  If they’re nice and soft, that’s a good sign too.  Careful, sugar does tend to smoke quite a bit, if that burns don’t think your pie is burning too.  It should take from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours to make this baby.  I swear, she’s a delicious one!

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