Friday, December 19, 2008


I'm back! We are finally settled into our home, new appliances and all. For my first baking project in the new home, I volunteered to bake some goodies for our office holiday dessert party. I was to make 150 miniature cream puffs, 150 caramel pecan squares, and 150 chocolate mousse cups. I ended up with 25 extra mousse cups, making the grand total of 475 desserts. It was a LONG night! Thanks to C, L, and Z for their help!

Cream Puffs

I used this Pate e Choux recipe from Alton Brown. I find it to be the most versatile. I also used the pastry creme recipe used here. Once the puffs come out of the oven, pierce with a knife to release the steam. Once cooled, pipe pastry creme into puffs. Top with chocolate, if desired.

*I had to make this recipe 3 times to make 150 golf ball sized cream puffs.

Chocolate Mousse Cups
After several (failed) attempts at making the chocolate cups using mini muffin, wrappers, I decided to use candy molds. Instead of following directions on the package, I found better luck by melting the chocolate, then painting it into the cups using a pastry brush. I left each mold in the fridge for 5-10 minutes until set. They popped right out! I only had 16 molds, so it took awhile, but it was worth it!

Chocolate Molds:

Chocolate Mousse
10 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 ounces butter
5 egg whites
5 egg yolks
8 ounces heavy cream, whipped
1 ounce water
2 ounces sugar

Prepare a double boiler. First, melt the chocolate and butter over the water. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine egg yolks, 1 ounce sugar, and 1 ounce of water. Whisk together over the hot water for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and continue whisking until cool. In another bowl, combine the egg whites with the remaining sugar. Whisk over hot water for 5 minutes, until the egg whites are fluffy. Remove from head and continue whisking until cool. Fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture. Then, fold in the butter chocolate mixture. Finally, fold in the whipped cream. Put into fridge to cool for at least 15 minutes.The mousse will fluff up a bit after cooling. At that point, pipe it into the prepared chocolate cups.

*I made 2 batches to fill 175 cups.

Caramel Pecan Squares

The idea for these came from a recent episode of Barefoot Contessa. She made her own version, which I used as a base recipe. I changed it to use orange blossom honey and 1/2 lb more pecans. I opted not to dip them in chocolate, as they were very sweet alone!

1 1/4 pounds unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
3/4 tsp. vanilla
4 1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter and granulated sugar until light. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well. In a separate bowl, add flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients slowly into the batter. Work the dough into a 18 x 12 x 1 inch pan and press down evenly. Bake for 15 minutes, until crust is set. Do not allow it to brown. Remove from oven and prepare topping.

Baked Crust:

1 pound unsalted butter
1 cup orange blossom honey
3 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. orange zest
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/4 c. heavy cream
2 1/2 lbs. chopped pecans

Combine butter, honey, zest, and brown sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat until the butter is melting, stirring often. Once the butter has melted, raise the heat and boil the mixture for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in heavy cream and pecans. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool. I suggest cutting the bars as soon as they come out of the oven. You will have to cut them again after they've cooled, but I found it to be much easier this way.

* I made 3 batches in order to have 150 small squares.

Topping going on Crust:

Fresh out of Oven:

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