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Showing posts with label custard. Show all posts
Showing posts with label custard. Show all posts

Monday, August 27, 2018

Hemp Milk Banana Pudding

Get ready for this all-American dessert!

Banana pudding is one of those dishes that don't seem like they can be elevated. You think of them for potlucks or maybe something your grandmother might toss together for a family dinner. Most think of them as the kind with the vanilla wafers (you know what I'm talking about) with the Jell-O banana pudding mix and some cool whip. And hey! There's nothing wrong with that. But if you're in the mood for something that's homestyle and yet a little more nice, keep going...

A banana pudding as we Americans know it is mostly - for all intents and purposes - a sort of trifle. Trifles are often a star on The Great British Bake-off with a 400-year history. Trifles have to have compatible flavors, as the great Mary Berry says, but to me the flavors of banana pudding are just...banana, vanilla, and sweet cream. My fiance, B, is highly lactose intolerant and eating dairy-free is kind of the only saving grace I sort of give myself for not keeping kosher. 

So, for my Jewish readers, this is pareve! Woohoo! 

American regional cuisine and the study thereof is a sort of passion of mine. I think it's so interesting to see how we, all in the same country, can be so different. We've got a beautiful melting pot of cultures that has evolved because of the many different cultures that came from other places. If you ask me, the American South has one of the most-interesting ethnically  historical stories to tell. New Orleans alone brought ethnic diversity from all over - all because the nobility of a certain time shipped criminals and enemies of the state off to another land. Hilarious! 

Alton Brown has a fun skit to tell you all about it...

(Start the video at 9:01 - my html player is being weird)

Speaking of Alton Brown, we're adapting his recipe today for the custard. But! We're of course using my recipe for spongecake, as spongecake is what this particular banana pudding is using. Here's why I like spongecake in trifles instead of cookies/biscuits:
  • Cookies/biscuits are for dunking
  • Cake is a same-textured lovely thing that's ideal for soaking
  • Cake can be cut into many different shapes, be they cubes or strips
  • I'm going to eat half the sleeve of cookies before I eat half a cake, so I know that I'll have enough for the recipe
See? Plenty of good reasons. Here's how to make a basic - and I do mean basic - spongecake:

Basic Spongecake
yields one half-sheet pan or a perfect square cake in a 12" tin
  • 240 g whole eggs(4 or 5)
  • 120 g sugar (granulated cane OR coconut sugar)
  • 135 g AP flour
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 tsp flavoring**
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. A spongecake is different from your standard cake in the sense that it needs to not be greased in the tin, as the bubbles need somewhere to climb. I used my square pan, so I lined it with ungreased parchment paper. And, yes, this does mean that you can use this recipe to make cupcakes, but I'd recommend adding in half a teaspoon of baking powder if you do so, just for a little insurance.

**In this recipe I used about half a teaspoon of key lime essence, which came in an oil form.You can use vanilla extract, orange zest, just about anything! This is such a basic sponge that you can even pulverize some nuts in there and fold it in. The sky is the limit.

Whip your eggs and sugar together using the whisk attachment of your standing mixer, and when I say whip it like a cyclone, I mean whip it like a cyclone. This should take about four minutes in your standing mixer, starting on medium and ending on high. The volume should triple, of course, and while that's whipping, go ahead and measure your flour and salt together.

Fold in the flour in little shimmy-shakes, ideally through a sifter/strainer. Fold them in gently, please, as we don't want to disturb the bubbles too much. Add in your flavoring and pour into your prepared pan.

If you've spread this evenly in a sheet pan, you'll only need 10-12 minutes tops for this. I had a square cake tin, so I did 20 minutes, or just until it was set. I'm not going to be rolling this cake, though, for a roulade so I'm okay with having it be a hair drier than the average bear. The cake will bake beautifully, but please be sure to allow it to cool before removing it from the tins for at least 15 minutes while you make your custard. Otherwise, the bubbles could risk popping and you could risk your cake deflating.

Now for the custard!

Warm Vanilla Custard

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup sugar + 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour(gluten-free flour is fine, or 3 Tbsp cornstarch if you prefer)
  • 2 cups hemp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste (or extract, whatever you have)
Clean out your standing mixer bowl and whisk thoroughly and dry. Separate your eggs so that the yolks go in the bottom of a saucepot and the whites go in the bowl of the standing mixer. Add the 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, and vanilla paste to the pot as well and whisk until homogeneous. This will take a hair of elbow grease, but I believe in you - you're strong and you can do the thing. 

Add the milk, a little at a time, whisking in until everything is quite smooth. Introduce some medium heat and whisk constantly, being sure to get the corners. You're going to want to cook this custard without boiling it, so make sure that you keep a thermometer around to watch for 180 F/82 C degrees. You'll know when it's thick, of course, to turn down the heat while you check. Once it's ready, remove from the heat and set aside. 

Whip the egg whites and the 1/4 cup sugar together on high to create stiff peaks. What do stiff peaks look like? Well...

They should be glossy and smooth and should not be lumpy or look dry. If you do, however, overwhip your whites, don't panic. Just add one more egg white and stir/whip in. It will salvage the meringue enough to use it. Presto! Keep that oven on at 400 degrees while we assemble this pudding!

Banana Pudding
  • 1 batch Warm Vanilla Custard
  • 1 batch Basic Sponge cake, cut in strips or cubes
  • 5 -6 bananas 
  • A dash of rum, if you like
  • Meringue
Glass bowls are preferred for this endeavor because you can both see the layers and most glass is extremely durable. Your standard pyrex bowls that you get at the grocery store is oven-safe, but please be diligent and check the bottom of the bowl to see. You may also use a metal bowl, but let's be honest, you want to see the layers.

Mmm caaaaaaaaaake

Take your sponge cake from the tin and peel away the parchment. I sliced mine in half lengthwise because I didn't want large cubes, but you can cut them however you want. I cut mine in about 3/4" strips to fit the bowl. I did have some leftover, but that's okay - you can spread jam between the layers and eat it like a sandwich later this evening. 

Drop a wee dollop of custard in the absolute bottom of the bowl just to keep the spongecake in place. Layer on the sponge, then the bananas, then the warm custard. The reason you want to layer this on while it's still warm is so the bananas will cook. By letting them cook, you get away with using less sugar, and you don't have to soak the cakes in rum if you don't want to. If you want the rum, however, sprinkle it on each spongecake layer while you build up. Live your best life.

I mean, don't add booze if you're going to be serving this to kids. Or do. Whatever your laws are.
Keep layering up and up and up until you reach the topmost point of the bowl with custard being your top layer. You want moisture, of course, but if you must have that extra kick of rum, please layer with a thin bit of spongecake and give it a good solid drizzle now.

Oh yeah. Seal in that goodness. Do it. 

Spread the meringue thick atop to cover. It is of the utmost importance that you scrape the side of your spatula to secure/seal the sides of the bowl. You're creating a protecting layer of meringue, here, to keep your custard safe. Give it a few swirlies, though, with your spatula for the aesthetic. While you can broil this with a torch, I think you should keep it classic and just bake it for 5 minutes.

I think this lovely dessert should be served warm, so it's excellent to make ahead and then bake for dinner parties. I just want you to remember something:

Glass, while extremely durable, gets fragile and will explode with drastic temperature changes. So please, oh please, do not take your glass bowl from the fridge and then immediately put it into a screaming hot oven. I know that most Pyrex bowls are safe for this, but the last thing I need is a lawsuit. Let the glass come up to room temperature before you bake it. Or just make this right before your party, cook everything else, and then bake. You'll be fine, especially because it's nondairy.

The reason I love hemp milk in this recipe is because it's very high in fat. It has a whopping 5 grams of fat per serving, and has a wonderful complex taste as well. I think that the depth of hemp milk is perfectly appropriate for this dessert, and I encourage you to try it out as well. Please experiment with all different types of milks and tell me how it went!

I had a craving for banana cream pie for some odd reason. 🍌🍌🍌 Oddly, though, I didn't feel like making pie, so I just baked a sponge cake and sliced it into strips to use instead of your standard vanilla wafers.☺ Banana pudding is very different depending on what region you're in. If you are north of the Mason Dixie line, you're probably used to the refrigerated kind topped with whipped cream. If you're in the South, however, you most likely prefer a warm banana pudding topped with meringue. The biggest difference is between England and France, who initially colonized those places. I prefer the French version a pretty much everything, so of course I did the warm version with the baked meringue. 🤩 (#dairyfree of course) #foodiechats #foodblogger #wannabgourmande #bananapudding #meringue #french #pudding #pastry #spongecake #cheflife #desserts #custard #banana
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Thanks so much for reading! Happy cooking and happy eating!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Pareve Chocolate Cream Pie for Hannukah

You know you want this.

Let's get one thing straight before we get any further: 

Hannukah is a minor holiday, and it is not Jewish Christmas. That being said... I absolutely love it, because it's all about deep-fried foods, playing games, and having fun! Did you know that it actually encourages a dairy-free lifestyle(that's pareve, by the way!)? This is quite convenient for yours truly, considering I'm lactose-intolerant anyway. No mixing of meat and dairy means you get to see a lot of dairy-free stuff mixed in with kosher stuff when looking through Jewish cookbooks. There's freaking dairy-free gelt, for G-d's sake - and it's delicious!

It's currently the 3rd night of Hannukah, so you now have five more days to make this delicious chocolate cream pie that hasn't a drop of dairy in it. Yum!

A post shared by Chef Kolika (@wannabgourmande) on

And, yes, my sweater does say "Let's Get Lit."

Pareve Chocolate Cream Pie 
yields a 9" pie

Pie crust

  • 500 g AP flour
  • 250 g vegetable shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 10 g sugar
  • 1 egg plus 4 yolks
  • 113 g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 litre (500 ml) coconut milk
  • 65 g good cocoa powder
  • 20 g vegan butter(I love Earth Balance)
  • Dairy-free whipped cream (365 makes a coconut milk whipped cream in a can!)
  • Pareve gelt
Roll out your dough between two greased sheets of parchment paper
for a mess-free baking situation! 
Make the pie crust adding the sugar to the flour and then cutting the fat into the flour with either a pastry cutter or your standing mixer with the paddle attachment. When the fat is pea-sized, add the egg and allow to mix until everything comes together. This actually makes enough crust for two nine-inch pies, but you might want to have extra crust in case you want to do something cool for the decorations around the edge. I stuck with a plain pinch finish on my own pie. Don't forget, though, to let the pie dough rest gently in your shell for a little while before trimming - this allows any glutens that may have formed to relax!

Poke a few holes in the bottom and then bake at 350 for about 15 minutes, or until the crust is a beautiful golden-brown color. Allow it to cool.

To make the custard, add the coconut milk to a saucepot and heat it until it's steaming. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and the egg and yolks. This will be very thick, so don't be alarmed. Add in the cocoa powder using a spatula, spreading it as evenly as you can get it. Bring the coconut milk to a boil then splash about half of the hot liquid over the egg-cocoa mixture to warm it and slacken it out a bit. Whisk well, then all of the liquid to the saucepot. Turn on the heat to medium-high and whisk constantly until it thickens, or when it reaches 185 degrees F/85 degrees C. Remove from the heat, add in the chilled butter, and scrape into your pie shell. Give the pie custard a solid shimmy or two to remove any bubbles and let chill in the fridge, uncovered, for at least 2 hours.

Once the pie is set, you can go ahead and garnish the pie with dairy-free whipped cream and gelt coins. It sets up quite nicely, thanks to the whole egg, but you can add an extra bit of security in the setting realm by adding vegan gelatin to the custard, otherwise known as 'agar agar,' a seaweed derivative. This seems to set well enough on its own, so I think you're going to be in the clear. 

Serve for dessert after eating a bunch of deep-fried latke goodness. I actually had this for dessert with a friend after he made us some deep-fried beer-battered fish tacos for the 1st night of Hannukah. Fun times!

Happy baking and happy eating - and Happy Hannukah!

Now get out there and wear an ugly Hannukah sweater. You won't regret it. 

Seriously. I've never gotten so many compliments on a sweater in my life. Get out there and do it. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Kinda-Sorta-Definitely Cheesecake

Creamy and delicious; brush it with rum.
Okay so here it is: my partner is lactose intolerant to a violent degree and I love him enough to not let that stand in the way of our happiness. Cooking and eating a dairy-free lifestyle is oddly easy, once you know what you're doing, and you'll slowly start to wake up from the spell that you have to have dairy-milk every day.

Sure, it's great when you're a kid, but here's the thing: it's the breast milk of another animal. We can't even handle breastfeeding in our own species, and yet the average American guzzles 199 pounds of a four-legged mammal's breastmilk per year. Yeah, dairy milk is awesome, but it's not the end-all, be-all. The spell that it has so many of us under is so thick it's a little staggering; we won't even try other milks, even though they're often just as good in many different ways. Anyway.

We have a lot of great milks available for baking, for drinking, and many of them can be nut-free. I really like rice milk for drinking, and coconut milk for baking. B, my partner, really loves the almond-coconut milk blends, because it is the closest thing we've found, in his mind, to the regular dairy milk. I've had pea milk before, and I love it for savory cooking - such as mashed potatoes! The point is that there are so many non-dairy options available that there's really no reason to be consuming dairy milk. Nowadays, thanks to modern science, they've come up with all kinds of dairy-free substitutes for milks, cheeses, sour creams, and butters. I've got my favorites, of course, but your best bet is to try different kinds and see what you like best. And you know what? They work just fine for baking; and take it from me - I was a Pastry Chef for 3 years!

Baking and pastry work is nothing but chemistry, science, and math - quite simple and logical! It is working within the constraints and rules of such where creativity is born. Creation is not the opposite of constriction - but I'm getting ahead of myself. The point is that I wanted cheesecake the other night and I only have dairy-free stuff in my fridge. Here's what I put together:

Kinda-Sorta-Definitely Cheesecake
serves 12 

For the crust

  • 144 grams graham crackers, crushed up
  • 92 grams dairy-free butter (I love Earth Balance), melted
  • 46 grams coconut sugar
For the custard
  • 2 8-oz packages (450 grams) plain Daiya cream cheese
  • 175 grams coconut sugar
  • 120 grams egg yolks(about six)
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 170 grams Tofutti sour cream
Toss the melted butter, coconut sugar, and graham cracker crumbs together and press against a 10" springform pan to form a crust. Bake the crust at 400 degrees F for five to seven minutes, just until it's set. Remove the crust from the oven and lower the temperature to 300 degrees F. Take a cake pan of any shape and size and fill it with water, then place it in the bottom rack of the oven; this will help.

For the custard, beat the cream cheese in the bowl of a standing mixer with a whisk attachment until smooth, then add the vanilla paste and sugar. Mix until creamy and smooth, then turn the speed up to high to make the mixture rather light and fluffy. Add in the egg yolks, one at a time, and let them incorporate fully before adding the next one. When the yolks are fully incorporated, scrape down the bowl, mix for a little longer, then add in the sour cream. Whisk together until fully incorporated, smooth, and shiny, and give it a little taste - does it taste like cheesecake? Would you like to add a little lemon or orange zest? You can; it's your cheesecake, after all.

Pour the custard into your crust and give it a gentle tap-tap-tap on the bottom to pop out any big bubbles there might be. Pop in the oven in the middle rack, directly over the pan of water on the bottom rack, and bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, give it a very gentle shimmy in the pan; if it seems liquid in the middle, let it go for about 10 minutes before pulling it out. When it's just set, turn off the oven and crack the door open; let it sit in the nice warm environment for at least another 15 minutes before removing from the oven entirely.

Let the cheesecake chill in the fridge for at least a few hours before cutting into it; overnight, of course, is best. You can also freeze the cheesecake for up to a month and thaw it in the fridge overnight for when you want it. 

To serve, run a small, sharp knife around the outside edge of the pan and pop it away. This cheesecake serves 12 very attractive slices, and you can top it with a berry compote, non-dairy whipped topping, or just eat it plain with a cup of coffee. It's an extremely tasty cheesecake with just a hint of coconut flavor from the sugar. Oh, sure, you can use cane sugar, but coconut sugar is a much more sustainable alternative, and has a lovely depth of flavor. Even better, brush it with rum and flambe it. You're an adult; you can do what you want. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Unofficial Pumpkin Pasties

I'm a huge Harry Potter fan. As a proud Slytherin/Pukwudgie, I raise my freak flag and wave the bejeezus out of it happily. I made some pumpkin pasties, quite recently, under the moniker "Pumpkin Pockets" so I could sell them at my bakery...but I can't legally stop you from calling them Pumpkin Pasties! Here's how I did it:

Pumpkin Pockets

  • 1 (15 oz) can of organic pumpkin puree
  • 1 (14 oz) can of organic sweetened condensed milk(Yes, that's a thing)
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Chinese Five Spice
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Pie Dough/Puff Pastry(A/N)
  • Egg wash(A/N)
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl using a whisk until smooth. Taste for salt, and then bake in a buttered casserole dish at 350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool until nice and solid; you can also chill this overnight.

Why are you cooking the filling first? 
  1. It's easier to work with
  2. This filling is too liquidy to be safely contained in a pocket while you fold it!
Can you use this filling as a normal pumpkin pie filling? Absolutely! (But then they wouldn't be hand-held and pocket-worthy, would they?

Once your filling is chilled enough to work with. take your favorite pie dough(or, if you like, some simple store-bought puff-pastry) and roll flat using sugar instead of flour. Yes, sugar! It'll caramelize in the oven and give you a LOVELY crunch on your finished product... You can even roll it in cinnamon sugar for some extra flavor, but I'll leave that up to you.

I rolled mine in squares(less waste) and brushed two of the four edges with egg wash. Using a disher, scoop about 2 oz of filling into my squares and folded over the puff dough. Use a fork to crimp the edges if you like that look, or use your fingers if you like that look! Make sure to poke a couple of vent holes in the top before you bake, or you could get a big mess everywhere. 

Bake at 375 until done, about 20 minutes, and allow to cool. (Seriously, don't eat these fresh out of the oven. The filling gets stupid hot and you'll burn the inside of your mouth, and walk around all open-mouthed and gagging like someone cast Mimblewimble on ya dumb ass.) If they're cool enough to pick up with your bare hands, they're likely cool enough to eat!

The best part about these is that they're hand-held, so you can make lots of them and they can just keep nicely...you can eat them now, make them for a holiday party, or freeze them for a microwaveable treat later!

Happy cooking and happy eating! (Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be weeping bitter tears over gifsets of Jacob Kowalski and Queenie Goldstein. )

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Brioche and Apricot Bread Pudding(Also, a guide to making any bread pudding ever)

Complete with Creme Anglaise and all!
 Easter has come and gone, quite early in the year. Catholics rejoice as Lent is over, and I rejoice because it's one more step closer to summer. I am so sick of complaining about how cold it is. I want to be complaining about how hot it is, already.

Can a woman get some bikini weather up in here??? I have got a muscular, powerful body and I am ready to show it off to the haters that say a woman should be skinny.


Bread pudding isn't necessarily a staple of Easter, at least as I've come to know it, but it's delicious. This dessert never really crossed my mind as a viable option for pastries, but it's got two things that I love: bread and custard. Who doesn't like bread???


I do apologize, however, if I seem anti-celiac; I'm not, and gluten intolerance for Celiacs are real medical conditions. If you are just cutting gluten because "OMFG SO MANY CARBS SO BAD FOR YOU " then you can just not. You're making a fad out of a real disease and it's not cute.

Can you read my handwriting?
Of course you can.
I write beautifully.
I have a stand-by bread pudding formula thanks to Alton Brown, which I have written down in my recipe journal, just in case I ever get lost in the woods without internet, find a habitable cabin, rebuild a life with a dairy farm and a chicken coop, then a mill to grind flour and bake bread, and then have the ability to make bread pudding after so many years in said cabin.

In case you can't read this note, however, the basic Bread Pudding Formula is:

  • 10 cups bread, cubed
  • 5 cups half & half
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar(brown or white)
  • 2 oz flavoring/rum/any liquor you like
  • 1 cup dried fruit of your choice
  • Spices, dried or otherwise
The bread in question should be stale, but honestly, who can wait for that? Plus, living in the midwest means that there is a lot of humidity in the air, and humidity often means mold...which is something I've honestly not had that much experience with, as a proud Southwestern girl. In lieu of waiting for bread to stale overnight, may I suggest simply toasting your bread, as if you were making croutons? This will undoubtedly increase your speed on this lengthy endeavor(and it is lengthy), plus give you a new depth of flavor!

With roasting, you can take the opportunity to roast your spices and maybe even some herbs to go with it? Maybe roast some lemon slices to really get the aromas of lemon into the bread? Or roast some rosemary, which is a very common thing in yeasty, German pastries? This is your recipe, now, so use it as you like!

For my recipe, I used Brioche, which is basically butter and eggs that are held together with flour and yeast. (Seriously, there's like a dozen eggs per loaf, or something stupid like that. This shit is scary, but perfect for French toast and bread pudding.)

I had to make a lot of bread pudding for Easter, so I used ten loaves of this tender yeasty love-loaf. I "peeled" off the outer crust using a serrated knife and then cut the loaves into (roughly) 1" cubes. It was a ridiculous amount of bread. It took over my whole table! It was, of course, ultimately worth it once I had everything toasted and ready to go. Once you have your bread toasted, place in a buttered baking dish of your choice, and set it aside for the next step.

Why do we want to toast it or have it stale, you ask? Well, the simple answer is moisture. 

See, we want the bread to soak up the custard and flavors of spices for the pudding. If the bread is already moist, it's just going to get soggy and kind of gross. Think of your bread as the sponge by your kitchen sink. If the sponge is damp, it's not going to really soak up much, but it has its own uses. We want our sponge to be dry, so it can take on the custard in its entirety. This way, the bread can keep the integrity of its shape, as well as the beautiful flavors you'll later on develop.

Seriously! Cinnamon is known as the friend-maker
in the language of spices!
To make the custard, you'll combine your milk/half & half/heavy cream(you can honestly interchange them in a pinch, depending on your availability and/or preference) with your spices and a fat pinch of salt and sugar. I opted for something simple, so cinnamon, the spice of blossoming friendships, was my spice of choice.

For the incredibly large amount of liquid I used, I think I used about twenty-four sticks of cinnamon altogether, with one whole nutmeg. You can just use a few grates of nutmeg, with probably just one large cinnamon stick. You can use dried or fresh spices for this application. For a springy bread pudding, you can use lemon peel and dried(or fresh) lavender buds. For an exotic twist, may I suggest a Chinese 5 spice or perhaps using your cinnamon with cardamom pods and star anise? You could even go Southwestern by using lime peel and jalapeno. I personally have never tried this, but I can't think of a reason why you couldn't. This is your time to have fun and be creative, so go do it!

Take your dried fruit into consideration at this point, too, and make sure that it goes with which ever spices you have chosen to use. My favorite combinations are(in order):

  • Dried mango & chili powder with cinnamon
  • Dried apricots and pistachios & nutmeg and cinnamon
  • Sultanas(golden raisins) & vanilla bean
  • Dried cranberries & lemon peel
  • Dried currants & rosemary (don't ask why, but it works and it's great)
  • Dried apricots and Chinese five spice
I had to take a break from chopping to take this picture.
I think it was about 8 cups total, when all was said and done.
For this particular one, I used dried apricots, mostly because that's what I had the most of. Instead of using them whole, I sliced them into smaller, more manageable pieces, to get even distribution throughout the custard. It's not 100% required to reconstitute your fruit into either booze or hot water or whatever you have lying around, but it is recommended. Dried mangoes soaked in a dark rum will bring you closer to God in a bread pudding, and that is something I know without fail.

Once your milk/cream/whatever mixture has come to a boil, immediately remove from the heat and cover with aluminum foil. Let this stuff steam for at least 30 minutes before you touch it. This will help develop flavors in the milk, and also give you time to gather the rest of your mise en place, if you haven't already done so. Otherwise, catch an episode of "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" on Netflix while you wait. Or maybe take your dog for a walk; he probably needs it. 

"Don't mind me. I'm just waiting for you to put your fucking phone down, over here."

To complete your custard, whisk together the remaining sugar, eggs, egg yolks, flavorings/boozes of choice, in a bowl, and then splash some of your warm liquid into the eggs. This will raise the temperature slightly, so you can add the eggs to your warm/hot custard without fear of it curdling. This process is called tempering, in case you're not aware. Then, add everything back into the pot and bring to a steam over a medium flame, whisking constantly. Do not ACTUALLY boil, though. Just cook until it's sort of thickened, then remove. 

Strain your custard over the bread, which you've had sitting in that buttered baking dish that you absolutely have not forgotten about. Let your custard sit for about 15 minutes, stirring once or twice to sort of toss the bread evenly. This hot liquid will absorb into your dry bread like crazy, and will also permeate each and every nook and cranny of your mouth when you finally get to eat it! It is at this time that you toss the fruit in with everything else. I like to use half the fruit stirred in, and then the other half sort of sprinkled on top. 

The said "color" will look something like this!
Cover your pan tightly with aluminum foil and pop into a 340 degree oven for half an hour, turning and/or checking at 10 minute intervals. Remember, the lower and slower you cook a custard, the more creamy and silky the results. Once the custard is just about to be set, remove the foil and bake for a remaining 5 minutes, just to sort of cook the top and get a little more color. 

Remove your pudding from the oven and consider your options:

  1. Dive in now and eat like a pig
  2. Allow to cool to room temperature and serve with ice cream
  3. Allow to cool to room temperature, wrap, chill, cut, then serve as needed. With ice cream. Or creme anglaise. Or chocolate sauce. Don't be picky. 
I like options 1 and 3. There are a thousand anglaise sauce recipes out there, but honestly my favorite way to eat it is warm with ice cream right on top. Plus, you can just buy ice cream instead of going through the trouble of making an anglaise sauce, especially after you've spent so much time on the bread pudding itself.

You can eat this right out of the pan, right out of the oven, if you like, but I think you should let it chill overnight in the fridge before pulling it out the next morning to have for breakfast...or to let sit on your counter for an hour to temp up for a dinner party you've been planning...or whatever. The benefit of letting it chill, though, is that you'll get super-clean slices when you take it out of the pan, versus just scooping it all out willy-nilly. 
See? Nice and even...

Bread pudding is easy, you guys, and though it might take a long time, it's well worth the effort to make this classic dessert, which you can make from (essentially) leftovers in your cabinet. 

I encourage you to get out there, make some bread puddings, and post the results on your own blogs or Facebook pages or what-have-you, so we can all connect over the yummy dessert known as Bread Pudding.

A big thank you to Alton Brown for this recipe. And a big thank you to the 11th and 12th century cooks that were trying to be frugal and stretch old stale bread into something tasty and palatable so that they didn't die from starvation or the rickets or whatever! Happy cooking and happy eating!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Smoked Pineapple Tart a la Mode

We here in Kansas City just love when things are smoked! So why shouldn't fruit get in an all of the fun? As an honorary citizen(transplant from Arizona, mind you) of the Midwest, I salute you, Kansas City, for your love of the hickory, the cherry, the apple woods. I salute you, Kansas City, for your rising smoke stacks and perfect barbecue rub recipes. And since I am wearing my Pastry Chef toque, time to have some fun!

Smoked Pineapple Tart

  • 1 medium-sized pineapple
  • Pie crust(either store bought or use your favorite recipe(or you can use mine))
    • 8 oz butter
    • 10.5 oz flour
    • 2 Tbsp sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 Tbsp vinegar
    • Enough water to bring it together
      • Pulse it all together in a food processor. Or just combine all of this stuff by cutting the butter into the flour and then adding the liquids and eggs until it comes together, then freezing it/chilling it for at least one hour
  • Spicy Pastry Cream
    • 5 egg yolks
    • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 1 Tbsp butter, cold
    • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper**
Break down your pineapple by cutting off the tip and bottom. Then lay it flat on its bottom and "peel" the pineapple's thick husk using a chef's knife, carefully, following the curves of the fruit. Cut the fruit into half, down the middle and then down the middle again. You now have four quarters. Cut the core out of those corners by making one long slit down the middle of the fruit and discarding the ick. Slice each quarter piece into thirds, lengthwise, and then arrange on a sheet pan in your smoker. Or on a rack. It's really whatever. 

Don't have a smoker? No problem!

Take three disposable aluminum pans, the kind you get at the grocery store in the 'kitchen tools' aisle, and perforate one of them with a knife or a nail. Light a combination of your favorite wood chip blend and get some smoke going in the bottom of the first pan. Place the perforated pan atop the smoky 'coals' and then line with wax or parchment paper. Place your pineapple on the paper and cover with the third and final pan. Secure with aluminum foil and set it into a warm oven(200 degrees is just fine) for about 30 minutes.Just...keep your window open. It'll get smoky in your house.

Create your custard by whisking the sugar, salt, cayenne, cornstarch, and egg yolks together until it forms a wonderful thick ribbon. Boil the cream and vanilla together, and splash the hot liquid into the yolks, stirring constantly. Place the combined liquid back into the pan and bring it slowly-slowly-slowly to a boil, or until it gets thick, whisking constantly. Remove immediately from the heat and add in the butter. Give it a strain, too, if you can.

Roll out your pie dough into a large circle, big enough to fit into your pie/tart tin and have some hanging over. If you're using a tin, go ahead and get the dough into it now and let the dough sit, draped over the tin and its edges, for about five minutes. This allows the dough to relax. Once your dough is relaxed, fill about 2/3 of the way up with your reserved pastry cream. Then arrange the pineapple slices atop the custard in a pattern, or just plain across it. Just make sure it's covered completely! You can now either fold the dough over the pineapple, or trim it off the edges. It's up to you. I trimmed, but there's no reason you can't fold it over into a lovely flower-like galette! Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown and delicious. Let it cool completely before cutting. If you want to eat it warm, pop it in a hot oven for about five minutes before slicing and serving with ice cream!

Happy eating! 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Creme Brulee

Creme Brulee is also known as the "Queen of British Desserts." I have no idea why.
Few desserts can easily evoke the luxury of the creme brulee. Literally meaning "burnt cream", it is a fabulous custard dessert with a crisp, crunchy top of caramelized sugar. The home cook will not often attempt this as broilers can be tricky in the residential oven, and I honestly can't think of many that go out and buy blow torches. But maybe that will change with both the Foodie movements that seem to be happening everywhere as well as Colorado's whole legal marijuana thing going on. (Don't over-think that last part if you didn't get it initially. Move on.)

The long and short of it is that the creme brulee is kind of a dream, a special occasion, something you can only get when someone offers it in a restaurant. You don't think to make a bunch of these dudes and have them in your house. At least, I assume you don't. Maybe you do. I do, but I don't hold myself to be a normal person, necessarily.

I didn't really care to have a creme brulee on my menu at the restaurant. To tell you the truth, I thought it was overplayed. I thought that everyone did that, and I wanted so much to prove that I was a good, creative, innovative pastry chef that I didn't want to go on, what I thought, was a stand-by. But everyone kept on asking for creme brulees for dessert.

"Fiiiiine..." I huffed as I went off to find the perfect recipe.

I didn't much care for the recipe in my textbook from culinary school. It was fine, sure, but I wanted something a little more different. I went to Google and trawled through Epicurious.com, Tumblr, and Pinterest, but I really didn't find anything that caught my eye. I just wanted a simple, good, vanilla bean creme brulee. Basically, I just didn't want to trust the randomness of the internet. Sourcing is so important, you guys. Don't trust everything if you don't know the source. So I went to a source I trust: The James Beard Foundation.

JamesBeard.org has become a staple for my recipe bookmarks. If ever I need something to go off of, I go there. I found the most-excellent creme brulee recipe there. It was just your basic, wonderful, perfectly-execute-able dessert. You can check out the recipe there, or just continue reading. Up to you!

Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee
yield: 8 creme brulees, or one fukken big one, depending on your dish size

  • 12 egg yolks
  • 1 quart heavy cream(heaviest you can find)
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 cup/7 oz sugar(vanilla sugar, if you can)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 hearty pinch kosher salt
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F, or 300 if you have a convection oven. I like 325 with no fan/low fan, so that's what I use. Combine the cream, vanilla bean(scraped seeds and pod, please), extract, and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepot and bring to a boil. Remove immediately from the heat and cover with aluminum foil to let steam. Combine the egg yolks and the sugar with a rubber spatula. I don't use a whisk because it creates a foamy custard head on top, and that can mess with the final texture on top. There are ways to skim it off, but I just find it easier to use the spatula and save myself a step. 

Temper in the hot/warm cream mixture to the egg yolks, and then combine everything in the saucepot. Return to medium-low heat, stirring constantly with your spatula. I just go until it's a nice nape(which is just coating the spoon nicely, basically) before I remove from the heat and strain. Please don't skimp the straining. You'll catch any nasties or curdles that might have occurred. Just don't skimp it, okay? Don't skip this step.

Pour into ramekins of your size choice. I like the traditional creme brulee ramekins, but you can use whatever, as long as it's ovenproof. Place them in a baking dish with high sides. A casserole dish will do. Move the dish into the oven and add water to the dish until it reaches a little more than halfway up the sides of your ramekins. You can go higher, but I am clumsy, so I just go that high. Cover the entire pan with aluminum foil and close your oven door, setting the timer for 10 minutes. At each 10 minute interval, you'll return to the oven and rotate the pan. Just gently turn it around to a 180. Nothing big. You just want to make sure it's cooking evenly. 

After about 30 minutes, lift up the foil by a corner gently and check. Give it a tiny shimmy and if it's just set, remove it. Remove the ramekins from the water and let sit on your cutting board or any other fairly room temperature surface for about an hour before wrapping and putting it into the refrigerator.

About five minutes before serving dessert, sprinkle with white sugar and either torch it using a torch, or broil it under the broiler to get that signature crust. Then pop it in the freezer. The cold air will seize up the sugar and give you a crazy-good crunchy crust when you break it with the spoon. Plus you won't have that weird warm/lukewarm layer of custard just below the crust that can sometimes be unappealing. If you want to be a total copycat of me, serve it with a garnish of caramel corn, orange segments, and blueberries. And hopefully you can be just as surprised as how much you love classics like that. I realized through this dessert that there is nothing wrong with playing the Hits that everyone loves. You can be an artist, sure, but your art won't mean shit if you can't perfectly execute the basics. So learn to execute the basics! There is nothing wrong with the basics, especially when those basics are a vanilla-y unctuous custard underneath a crust of sugar. 

Happy eating!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Oeufs a la Niege

This post/blog is specifically for my friend Dwight.

While Chef-ing it up at Pancho's Villa, I'm afraid I haven't had as much time as I would like to eat frozen custard in my bathrobe and type on my laptop using fun pictures I found on Tumblr. I barely have time to play the amount of Skyrim I want to play between full-time work, full-time school, and full-time being Momma to Howl. And my boyfriend? It's a wonder how a girl has time to sleep!
"I'm soft. This isn't. Now pet me."

Anyway, I was walking up to class in my torn jeans and oh-so-stylish strappy black American Eagle heels when I saw my friend Dwight sitting at the table with Izaak(another friend from class) and another girl that I can't remember the name of. They were brainstorming about what to do for their latest class project. They were the group that had to come up with an amuse bouche and a dessert.

"Well, mini pies and quiches are trending right now. So are custards and meringues," I said, being the savvy Tumblr-ateur I am. "Ooh! Or you could do oeufs a la niege."

Dwight didn't know what they were, so I gave a brief explanation/example of one I had done before. Basically, it's a meringue(I prefer Italian meringues because of their strength) that's poached in milk and served in creme anglaise. The one I had done before was a ginger-infused meringue in a beautiful sake sabayon with a little hibiscus reduction for color. I remember we put a tuille cookie or two on there, as well, for some texture. Maybe I'm wrong. It's been awhile.

Anyway, it's a beautiful dessert and can be done to order in a flash. Who's ready for pictures? I am!

 This is a more classical Ouefs a la Niege in presentation. But you can get creative with this kind of thing! (Isn't that the beauty of cooking?)

One of my favorite things about being in Culinary school and being a Chef is that you don't exactly just memorize recipes all day. What you do is learn techniques and methods and classics, and once it is instilled in you as such, you can really have fun and twist things up.

Think about "Chopped." I'm a big fan of the show and I love to play along at home. I can't cook along with them, of course, but I know the way you have to win - recognize what is familiar out of what is not. Say you're given black chicken, licorice, quinoa, and persimmon. Sure, these are messed up ingredients that would make a normal person's head explode...but once you break it down into something familiar, it's not so bad. The chicken is your protein, the quinoa is your starch, and persimmon is(well, kinda) your veggie course. Once you have those three, you can kind of start to build on it!

Oeufs are just meringues, and the 'niege' is an anglaise sauce made from it. I learned a simple recipe from a book from the Kansas City Public Library, but my favorite recipe is from Alton Brown. You can find that particular recipe on Food Network.com, but I'm going to give you my favorite recipe.



  • 8 oz water
  • 6 oz granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp light corn syrup 
  • 4  pasteurized egg whites, room temperature
  • ** 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 squirt of lemon juice


  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 4 pasteurized egg yolks 
  • 1 tsp Cardamom
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts
First thing is first, which is creating a simple syrup from the sugar, water, and corn syrup. You can infuse the simple syrup with anything you like, from tea leaves to cinnamon to spices to citrus. I love orange peel for this, so that's what I like to use. Making a simple syrup is just boiling it together until the sugar dissolves.

Whip together the egg whites until frothy on medium speed in your electric mixer, then add the lemon juice(or a pinch of cream of tartar, if you like) and put the speed up to high. When the egg whites have tripled in volume and become shiny at soft peaks, add in the hot simple syrup in a small stream down the side of the bowl to 'cook' the egg whites.

To create the base for the niege, which is basically an anglaise sauce, and I find the easiest way to do that is to create something we call the 'ribbon.' Whisk the egg yolks briskly in a large metal bowl and slowly-slowly-slowly add 1/4 cup of the sugar until the color changes to a pale yellow and becomes thick. It reaches the 'ribbon' stage when you pick up the whisk and the yolk mixture comes off in a 'ribbon.'

As this is going on, have your milk, 2 Tbsp sugar, vanilla, cardamom, and salt cooking over medium heat in a medium saucepan on the stove. Make sure it's stirred often, or this will not work. Bring the milk to a boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer.

There are many ways you can do this, but I have a few favorite methods to poaching the meringues. You can pipe them in using a pastry bag and snip them off using scissors, like Chef Zakarian did in the most-recent Next Iron Chef. You can also use two spoons and make quenelles, or even an ice cream scoop and portion them into the simmering milk that way. Whatever way you choose, poach the meringues in the simmering milk for five minutes each. When done, simply remove them with a slotted spoon and set aside.

This is meringue in custard with berries. Not oeufs, but still pretty
To create the anglaise, bring the milk up to a more-rapid boil and then immediately bring back down to a simmer. Splash some of the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture and whisk-whisk-whisk. Once the milk is incorporated, add the egg yolk mixture into the rest of the hot milk and whisk like mad, while simmering, until sauce thickens.

To serve, ladle in the creme anglaise into a serving bowl or dish and pop two or three of the oeufs, which will sit like little floating islands. From this point, you can top them with anything from caramel syrup to chopped nuts - I like hazelnuts - on top. Et voila! Oeufs a la Niege.

Once this is understood, you can do just about anything with it, from adding reductions to switching up sauces. Maybe instead of a creme anglaise you could try a sabayon, which is an alcohol-based custard sauce? Or just do a chocolate anglaise. Or a raspberry sauce. Or something.

Anyway, they're great. The wonderful thing about them is that it's like eating clouds. Make sure you add a crunchy element, though, like a cookie or something.  Have fun. Eat. This is what matters.