Monday, September 6, 2010

Birthday Basket: Profiteroles and Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

This morning I was browsing through the stations on TV to find something to watch with our fry-up long weekend breakfast and I stumbled upon the gameshow network.
Does anyone remember this show!?

I used to watch it ALL THE TIME when I was a youngster.
I think I was doomed to have a love affair with food and the kitchen and grocery stores.
I always wanted to be a contestant. That or on Kids Street - you know, the one where the kids sat in the race cars and clapped over their heads?
Robin and I used to practice by making up trivia questions about ourselves so that we knew everything about each other.
We would have killed on that show.
Moving on...
John's sister's birthday is next Saturday and she's turning 30. I've decided to put together a birthday gift basket of sorts and I have a few ideas.
I bought the basket at Home Outfitter's a few days ago and I'm thinking of putting in a bottle of wine (maybe from 30 Bench? If I think she won't be too sensitive about her age...), some cappucino or some kind of nicer coffee-type drink packets, maybe some nice tea as well. I'm also going to bake a loaf of bread, make some madeleines, maybe biscotti, and these two recipes:
Anna Olson's Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies
(but made with soy butter to be allergy-friendly)

(photo from the
(recipe from Anna Olson's Sugar)
To make these cookies:
1. Cream 1/2 cup butter with 1 cup brown sugar until smooth. Beat in 1 tsp vanilla and 1 egg.
2. In a separate bowl, combine 2/3 cup flour, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, a dash of black pepper, and 1/4 tsp salt. Add to butter mixture to blend, then stir in 1 1/2 cups quick oats. Place the dough on a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 2-inches wide. Chill at least 2 hours before slicing.
3. Preheat oven to 350 °F and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
4. Slice cookies into ¼ -inch slices and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking tray. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until browned. Cool cookies before removing from baking tray.
5. To make the filling, beat 2/3 cup soy butter, 2/3 cup icing sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Spread filling on bottom of one cookie and sandwich with a second. Repeat until all cookies are filled. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

The second recipe that I REALLY want to make and perfect is for profiteroles.
I have a feeling that making choux pastry is not as easy as it may sound so it's going to be my challenge!
Williams-Sonoma Profiteroles

(photo & recipe from

To make the choux pastry:
1. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup water, 6 tbsp butter and 1/4 tsp salt and bring to a full boil. When the butter melts, remove the pan from the heat, add 1 cup flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until blended. Return the pan to medium heat and continue stirring until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan and forms a ball. Remove from the heat and let cool for 3 to 4 minutes, or to 140°F on an instant-read thermometer.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk 1 egg. When the batter has cooled, add the egg and beat with the spoon until incorporated. Whisk each of the remaining 3 eggs one at a time, then stir into the batter. After each egg is added, the mixture will separate and appear shiny but will return to a smooth paste with vigorous beating. Let the paste cool for about 10 minutes before shaping.

3. Position 2 racks evenly in the oven and preheat to 425°F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

(a) To shape small puffs (ideal for profiteroles), fit a pastry bag with a 3/16-inch plain tip and fill the bag with the paste. For each puff, pipe about 1 tsp. of the paste onto a prepared pan, forming a mound about 1/2 inch in diameter. Space the mounds at least 2 inches apart to allow for expansion.

(b) To shape large puffs (ideal for cream puffs), fit a pastry bag with a 5/8-inch plain tip and fill the bag with the paste. For each puff, pipe about 1 Tbs. of the paste onto a prepared pan, forming a mound about 2 inches in diameter. Space the mounds at least 2 inches apart to allow for expansion.

(c) To shape logs (ideal for ├ęclairs), fit a pastry bag with a 3/4-inch plain tip and fill the bag with the paste. Pipe out logs 4 inches long and 1 inch wide. Space the logs at least 2 inches apart to allow for expansion.

4. Bake the puffs for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375°F and continue baking until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes more for the small puffs and 15 to 20 minutes more for the large puffs and logs. Remove from the oven and immediately prick the side of each puff or log with the tip of a sharp knife. Return to the oven, leave the oven door open and allow the pastries to dry out for 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let the pastries cool completely on the pans before filling.

5. To make the chocolate sauce, in the top pan of a double boiler, combine 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1/3 cup light corn syrup. Set the pan over but not touching barely simmering water in the bottom pan and heat, stirring often, until the chocolate melts. Add 1/3 cup half-and-half or milk, 1 tbsp butter and 1 tsp vanilla and stir until blended.

6. To assemble, slit the puff-shaped choux horizontally almost through and fill each with a small scoop of ice cream (vanilla is probably the most common but you can use any flavour you want). Arrange 3 or 4 filled puffs on each dessert plate or bowl. Spoon the warm chocolate sauce over the puffs. Serve immediately.

I obviously won't be able to fill the profiteroles with ice cream before I put them in the gift basket so I may do cream puffs instead....or put the chocolate sauce on, let it dry and harden and then bring ice cream to do a kind of make-your-own profiterole station.

I'll think on this.

John and I are heading out for brunch at either the Golden Griddle or an all-day breakfast place near us :)

Enjoy the long weekend everyone

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