Tag Archives: milk

Cheese Puffs

The Food Network channel had a new chef for a while with a show called ‘Baked in Vermont’. There were some interesting recipes, and I saved a couple to try, and I found places where the recipes made assumptions. I decided that I should publish the recipe with the thoughts I had about the assumptions. The first recipe was for Cheese Puffs.

This recipe is one of many variations on Pate a Choux. That is the pastry that is used for all sorts of things like cream puffs. To make the Cheese Puffs, you add hard cheeses to the dough before baking.

Once I established in my mind that this is a basic pate a choux recipe, I decided to look around at variations to see how important it is to follow this particular version. I don’t think it is important; if you have a recipe, there is one check to make and then you can probably use your recipe. That check is the measure of flour. I found that most of the recipes used 1 cup (120 grams) of all-purpose flour. The variations are in the amount of butter, and sugar which I think is a wash.

So, if your recipe calls for 1 cup of flour, then plan on adding 1.5 cups of grated hard cheese after you add the eggs and get them into the dough. This recipe calls for 1 cup of sharp Cheddar and 1/2 cup of Gruyere.

If you have never made a pate a choux before, this recipe is fairly good and you could stop before adding the cheeses to use the recipe for another purpose.

heese Puffs

Recipe courtesy of Gesine Bullock-Prado and Food Network

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter cut into pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 3 to 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a sauce pan containing 1/2 cup of water, add the milk, butter, sugar and salt. Stir over low heat until the sugar, butter and salt have all melted. Raise the heat to medium and bring to a healthy simmer.
  3. Take from the heat and immediately add all the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens, is smooth and no flour lumps remain. Return to the heat and cook, stirring, until a film forms on the bottom of the pan. Continue stirring, careful not to scrape up the film, for a minute or two more.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a stand mixer. Mix for a minute to dissipate some of the heat. Add the eggs one at a time with the mixer running. Pay attention to the consistency of the paste. It should be smooth and shiny, so you may only need 3 of the eggs.
  5. Fold in the cheeses
  6. Using a small cookie scoop, scoop generous mounds onto the parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them an inch apart. Place in the oven. Immediately reduce the heat to 375 degrees F and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cheese puffs are golden brown.


Okay, here are some of the thoughts I had on the recipe. The original recipe put the cooked flour into a food processor for adding the eggs. When I did that, the second egg caused the knife blade to rise and come off the spindle. I decided to try using the stand mixer for adding the eggs and it worked well- so I changed that part of the recipe.

I used my silicon mats the second time I made the recipe and they work as well as the parchment paper. I have used both my #50 scoop and my very small scoop (#128?) and both work well. I cooked the smaller size puffs for a full 25 minutes and the larger size could probably used a minute of two more. I tried to cook that pan at the same time as the last pan of small puffs, and there seemed to be a problem in not rotating the pans halfway through. The top pan shielded the bottom pan and so they were not as well done as I would have liked.

Several of the recipes I found overheat the oven before cooking the pate a choux as does this recipe. I found that the overheating in a modern oven seems unnecessary. I tried using a preheat temperature of 375 degrees F, and there was no problem. The puffs did puff up and cook as I wanted them to cook. The shell of the puff hardens with cooking and they keep the puffed shape nicely.

Semi-Home-Made Cake Batter

When you need just some cake to decorate, it is easy to buy a box of cake mix at the store and make it up. It contains all the dry ingredients, and all you need to add are water, eggs and oil. Mix 30 seconds at a low speed, and 2 minutes at a medium speed and you should get a perfectly lovely cake.

But if you want, you can use the dry mix in the cake box as a base, and modify the wet ingredients to add taste and richness to the batter. That is what I mean when I say semi-home-made. You save time by not having to measure out the dry ingredients, but you add flavor by your choice of wet ingredients.

The reason for using semi-home-made cake batter is to give your cakes a richer taste. About a year ago, the Decorette shop gave out tips on making additions and changes to the normal way store-bought cake mix are made in order to make them semi-home-made.

I have been using those tips, but have had one problem; most of my cupcakes collapse while they are cooling and no longer have a mushroom shaped top. I decided to take the tips apart, and use only a single one in each batch of cupcakes until I discovered what was going wrong.
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What was going wrong seems to be when more moisture is added to the batter. I felt I would have to cook the cupcakes longer in order to dry them out, and I did, even though a toothpick came out clean. But still, the cupcakes crashed.
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And then I received a hint indirectly from my Seattle Muse that I should cut back on the “water” equivalent if I were to add the sour cream or yogurt. For ½ cup of sour cream or yogurt, I reduced the “water” equivalent by ¼ cup. I still increased the cooking time by 10%- 21 minutes instead of 19 minutes, and I was happy to have nice mushroom tops on the resulting cupcakes.
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While I am using cupcakes as a test vehicle, you can also make these same changes to a standard cake as specified by the back of the cake mix box.

The tips from the Decorette Shop without change were:

  • Add 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Instead of 3 eggs use 2 egg whites and 2 eggs
  • Replace water with buttermilk or milk
  • Replace oil with melted butter (but double the amount of melted butter
  • Add vanilla bean paste for even more flavor

My taste buds didn’t really detect many of the changes; maybe more sensitive tastes would detect the difference. I ended up with just a couple of the changes, and I even modified those. My changes are:

  • Replace most water with a mix of milk and cream
  • Add 1/2 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

If the back of the box calls for 1 cup water, I reduce the total milk and cream to 3/4 cup. And I make the mix of milk and cream 3/4 milk and 1/4 cream. This means that if you have Half-and-Half, you would use 1/2 milk and 1/2 Half-and-Half since it is half milk and half cream. If you use heavy/whipping cream, then you might have to calculate the appropriate amount of milk and cream. It would be nice if the cake box calls for 1 1/4 cups water, because then you would have 3/4 cup milk and 1/4 cup cream. When the box calls for 1 cup water, I used 1/2 cup milk and 1/4 cup heavy cream and got good results; that is slightly less milk and more cream than should be according to my 3/4 to 1/4 rule, and that is why I specifically mention that case.

You are invited to try the other tips given by the Decorette Shop; I am only saying that my taste was not sensitive enough to see the difference.

November 2016: I had reason to make a “pull-apart” cake using the mini-cupcake cups this month, and felt that I should update this post to reflect that experience.

I started with a box of cake mix that gave the directions as follows:

  1. 1 1/4 cups water
  2. 1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
  3. 3 whole eggs

The directions were to preheat the oven to 325 degrees for dark pans and 350 degrees for light pans. Mix the ingredients including the box of cake mix for 2 minutes, put into the pans and bake for 14-19 minutes for cupcakes.

Now I was making mini cupcakes, so the time had to be adjusted accordingly. And I discovered that the bottoms of the cupcakes were starting to burn, so I baked them (they were in dark pans) with the pans in a sheet pan to protect the bottoms. Because of that insulation of the bottoms, the cooking time came out to be about the suggested time even though the cake size were small and the heat should penetrate to the middle of the cake faster than for a full size cupcake.

I also decided to only make half the box of cake mix at a time so that I could focus better on the cooking. I got 36 cupcakes out of each half of the box of cake mix. Here is the ingredient list I used:

  1. 1/2 box white cake mix (just over 8 ounces)
  2. 3/8 cup milk
  3. 1/8 cup heavy cream
  4. 1/4 cup sour cream
  5. 1/3 cup melted butter
  6. 2 whole eggs

As a side note, I nearly forgot to get the butter ready. I cut the 1/3 stick into small chunks (2 x length and 6 x across) and put it in a small dish. I was going to use the microwave for 30 seconds to melt it, but didn’t want to be cleaning the microwave after melting the butter. So I slipped the small dish into a sandwich baggie, sealed it, and everything went better than I had expected.

The other experience I had was in filling the cupcake cups. First, I piped the dough into the cups for better control. Originally, I piped around the edges and let the center fill itself. It doesn’t fill as well as hoped. So I starte piping the bottom center and letting the dough push itself out to the edges of the cup. This seems to work better.

The second thing to note is about the reuse of the cupcake pans. I discovered that during the cooking there seems to be moisture pushed out and through the cupcake paper. If that moisture is on the bottom of the pan cup when the pan is reused, the cupcake paper wants to pull away from the cupcake paper; the paper seems to fall off the cupcake. So be certain to use a paper towel and wipe the cups of the pan dry before putting the papers in for making the second half of the box of cake mix.

Corn Bread

Marlys shows several optional ways for baking this recipe. I used the muffin tins, and everything came out perfectly. But, I remember Marlys making it in her old 10 inch cast iron skillet- the one she would never let me touch for fear I would wash it and ruin the seasoning of the iron. She also made it at times in the 8 inch square Corningware dish she had.

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Corn Bread

  • 1 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 cup sifted flour
  • 3 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoon sugar
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 eggs

Mix together with wire whisk. While mixing, heat oiled pan in oven;
add batter.
Bake at 400°F for:

  • 12 muffin tins——20 minutes
  • 8″ square pan——25 minutes
  • 10″ fry pan———25 minutes

A word of caution about the recipe. Heating the oiled pans in the oven might cause the oil to smoke and burn. The oven is at 400 degrees, which is hotter than most oils used in recipes can take. (In the recipe, the oil is okay; it is when it is in the direct heat that it breaks down). For an oil that can take the 400 degrees, look for peanut oil, or even sunflower oil. Generally seed or kernel oils are good to about 450 degrees. When looking at the back of my Mazola corn oil bottle, it says that it burns at 375 degrees; and I agree after trying to use it to oil the pans.

cornbread 005

Muffin tins seem to vary in size; my tins are about 2.75 inches across, and just over an inch deep. The recipe seems to make a perfect amount for 12 tins; each tin was filled to the top and I ran out of mix. And the baking time was also ideal; you can see the good color on the corn muffins.