Sunday, March 27, 2011

Dulce de Leche Napoleons

Dulce de Leche Napoleons

So before Sis arrived for her visit, she asked that we try making this new dessert together.  Flaky layers of golden puff pastry are layered with pastry cream and dulce de leche in what I'll call a napoleon.  I didn't realize this meant I would be making and assembling the dessert while Sis watched and tasted.  But that's all right.  After all, Sis has her hands full these days.

Audrey hoodie

Look at her adorable peanut!  Or, as I call her, My Little Alien.  I can't help it, I'm in love with 2-month-old Audrey.  She really is a handful.  I tried to help, and felt up to my elbows in diapers all week.

Audrey hongbao

Here she was at 3 weeks old, during Chinese New Year, with a hongbao from my dad for his first grandchild.  But enough baby love (for now).  Let's get back to that pastry.

Baked Puff Pastry

You can make life much easier by using storebought puff pastry.  I've made it before, and it's a pain.  Just thaw your storebought pastry on the counter for 40 minutes, prick all over with a fork, and bake.  I took the recipe a step further by baking with a rack on top of the pastry, to help with an even rise so it doesn't dome so much in the middle.  Then  cool the pastry, split horizontally, and fill.  Easy!

You do have to make the other components, the pastry cream and the dulce de leche, so you may want to prepare those the day before.  I chose a dulce de leche recipe that didn't involve the risk of an exploding can.  Now I'm wondering what other combinations of flavors I can use to make different napoleons.

Dulce de Leche Napoleon 3

And Sis?  She loved the dessert, but has one tip: Serve the rest of the dulce de leche on the side, because you're going to want to pour more on top.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Two Kinds of Chips with Caramelized Onion Dip

Two Kinds of Chips with Caramelized Onion Dip

One day when Joe asked where the bag of potato chips had gone, I sheepishly said I had finished it.  Neither of us felt like going out in the rain for a replacement bag.  But I had a potato, oil, and salt, so why not make some?  It was the easiest thing and I didn't even use a recipe.  A single spud makes dozens of chips, which he devoured in one sitting.

Chips with Caramelized Onion Dip

This time I mixed it up a little, with the addition of sweet potato chips and a caramelized onion dip.  Sometimes Joe will mix a packet of powdered onion soup mix into some sour cream to make a dip.  Now I don't mind jarred dip, but I can't stand that soup mix with the dehydrated onion bits.  So I made my own caramelized onion dip, and it was way better.  The sweet potato chips are made the same way, and add a slightly sweet flavor to the mix.

Chips n Dip

Use a mandoline to create thin, uniform slices of potato.  It's hard to get them thin enough or uniform with just a knife.  You can even leave the skins on the potatoes.  Just slice, soak, dry, and fry -- that's it!

Some of the sour cream in the dip can probably be replaced with plain yogurt -- if you try that, let me know how it turns out.  Also, I know there are recipes out there for baked chips, but in my experience they haven't turned out very good.  They stuck to the pan, didn't brown evenly, and only some come out crispy.  Frying does a more even job; just make it an occasional treat.

Forgive me, but I had to:

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Gollum: What's taters, precious? What's taters, eh? 
Sam: *Po-tay-toes!* Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew... Lovely big golden chips with a nice piece of fried fish. 
[Gollum makes a noise of disgust while sticking his tongue out]
Sam: Even you couldn't say no to that.
Gollum: Oh yes we could. Spoilin' nice fish. Give it to us raw and w-r-r-riggling; you keep nasty chips.
Sam: You're hopeless.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chocolate Malt Cupcakes

Chocolate Malted Cupcakes

So we've established that I don't like peanut butter and chocolate confections, but in fact I'm not big on most candy.  I do have a soft spot once in a long while for Werther's, Raisinets, or Whoppers.  My friend Charmie laughingly says, "That's old people candy!"  Maybe, but these Chocolate Malt Cupcakes don't look like something Grandma would have whipped up.

Chocolate Malt Cupcake

I first spied them on The Culinary Chronicles, and they were so cute I had to make them.  When we decided to lighten up a humdrum Sunday night of work last week by throwing an Oscars potluck party, I thought these were perfect.  I know I enjoy crunching on Whoppers while watching a movie.

I left the Whoppers out of the cupcake recipe because I wanted a uniform cake crumb.  I also tweaked the frosting recipe because I have a personal dislike of shortening.  Use a high-quality cocoa powder; I used Guittard.  The malt flavoring is a bit subdued in the cupcake, but all there in the frosting.