Chocolate’s in the house!

I came to chocolate love later in life, sometime around my mid-30’s. I just didn’t get it. Never really craved it. That’s all changed. I still don’t go running for the mountains when I have a craving, it’s not that serious. I do think a bite of rich dark chocolate is a religious experience.

I haven’t given you many dessert recipes, something my mom may excommunicate me for given that’s her bread and butter. So here I bring you 1 of 2 chocolatey things I tried. I assure you. You will enjoy it.

This can be¬†made ahead and frozen until time for its debut. You want to bake the pastry while it is still cold, so freezer time will add to it’s beauty.

Go forth and chocolate!

Puffy Chocolate Purses

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
about 1 cp semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 egg, beaten

Unfold the pastry and cut it into 4 squares. Separate each square so the edges aren’t touching and brush the edges with beaten egg. Don’t use too much, just enough to moisten the edges.

Drop about 1/4 cp of chips in the center of each square.

Grab one corner at a time and pull up towards the center, pressing each corner to the next. Make sure you crimp along the sides to seal any openings.

Once you have crimped together all sides you’ll end up with a little excess dough¬†at the top. I gave it a little twist and pushed back down onto the puff.

Place the finished puffs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or lightly greased. Put them in the freezer until you’re ready to serve them.

Just before serving, preheat oven to 400. Brush the tops and sides of the pastry with egg and bake them for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. They’ll be puffy and beautiful and just dying with anticipation.

I served them with an awesome Strawberry Coulis. Yeah, baby.

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

Chicken Cordon… Puff!

I should start by admitting my addiction to puff pastry. It’s true. My name is Anamaris and I’m a Puff Pastry Addict. There. I feel better already. Mind you. I don’t think I’ll EVER attempt making my own puff¬†pastry (knocks on wood, throws salt over shoulder). I love homemade, but I just don’t think I can make it for less than what it costs me at the store. I’m sorry, Martha.

Pre-packaged puff pastry is God’s gift to harried hostesses. It was conceived¬†for people who love flaky things, but don’t have the time or skill to make it themselves. Yet, they long to whip up a batch of something delicious, pull it out of their ovens with a flourish and impress their guests. Oooohs¬†and Aaaahs ensue. Cue the violins and chirping birds. Sorry.

Anydoo, how better to impress that special someone in your life on V-day than with a dish that looks like you slaved all day over a hot stove and a hotter oven? Hmm? Hmm? I bring you a twist on traditional Chicken Cordon Bleu. I present for your consideration…

Chicken Cordon Puff

2 chicken breasts, skinless & boneless
1/2 cp Italian dressing (salad dressing)
2-4 slices bacon, thick cut
3 ozs Gouda cheese, or your choice
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten

First you will need to butterfly or split the breasts in half and even them out. Place the thickest side of the breast closest to you. Make sure you’re working with a very sharp knife. Place your hand over the breast and guide the knife into the flesh. Your goal is to thin out the breast so that the thickness is all pretty even. Carefully work the knife through the breast, making sure you don’t go all the way through. You’re simply opening up the breast.

Once you’ve finished both breasts, you will need to even out the thickness. The easiest way is to use a ziploc bag large enough to hold one at a time; cut the bag open on one side and the bottom. Lay the breast down on one side of the bag, top it with the other end then use a mallet or a flat heavy pan to flatten the breasts out.

Pound it out a few times, just until it looks even. After that’s done, pour the salad dressing over both breasts, allow them to marinate while you get the other ingredients ready. Set aside.

Stretch out your bacon slices. Depending on the size of the breasts you will need 2 or 3 slices of bacon to roll each one. I used 2 for mine. Slice the cheese into 1-inch wide strips, long enough to go the length of the breast. Set aside.

Time to assemble it. Spread out the breast on your counter and place 1 slice of cheese each on one end of it.

Now roll it tightly, tucking any straggling ends towards the center.

Next, roll it in the bacon. Start at one end and work yourself towards the center. Then start the second slice from the opposite end and again work towards the center.

Set aside when done.

 Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Remove 1 sheet of the pastry and spread on a cutting board. When you open the package, you will notice that the sheet is folded in thirds lengthwise. Cut the sheet in half across the thirds. Stretch the pastry out a bit; be careful not to pull on the folds. Instead, pull between the folded sections.

Place one of the bacon-wrapped breasts on one end of the pastry and roll it to the other end. Try tucking in the sides as you roll it. Once you get to the end, pinch the seams and try to have all the seams at the bottom of the roll. Place it on the baking sheet and repeat with the other one.

Brush the tops and sides of both bundles with the beaten egg. Using a sharp knife, score the tops of each roll. You can get creative here. Just make sure there are a couple of scores deep enough to go all the way through to the bacon. This will allow the contents to breathe without making the puff pastry go POOF!

Pop them into the freezer or fridge while the oven preheats. Preheat oven to 400¬į.

Bake them for 15 or until golden brown. Remove from  the oven and allow them to rest for 5 minutes before cutting into them.

Slice before serving. Voila!

Cookingly yours, Anamaris

Puff the magic pastry

Sooo… The Pepperidge Farms contest allows you to enter 3 items: an appetizer, main dish and a dessert. I had already submitted an appetizer, and a breakfast entree, all I needed now was dessert. So here it is!

Pineapple Upside Up Tart

For the tart:
Pineapple slices, thinly sliced and quartered
1/3 cp juice from the pineapple
1/2 cp pecans, chopped
2 Pepperidge Farms puff pastry sheets
1 cp Caramel Topping
1 1/2 cp Pastry Cream

For the Pastry Creme (adapted from Let’s Cook French recipe)
Ingredients (for 6 people):
1 cp milk
1/3 of a vanilla pod
2 egg yolks
2.5 ozs sugar
1/8 cp flour
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tbsp bourbon (or your favorite liqueur)
Directions:
Bring the milk to a boil with the vanilla. Using your mixer, whip the egg yolks with the sugar until it stretches like ribbon when you raise it with the spoon, then add the flour. Bring the mixer’s speed to low and slowly pour the boiling milk on the mixture, being careful not to drop the vanilla pod.

Once you have incorporated all of the milk, put the mixture back into the pot you used to heat the milk and cook over medium low heat, stirring continuously. Remove from burner when thickened. Set aside to cool.

For the Caramel Topping:
1/4 cp butter
1/2 cp brown sugar
1/3 cp juice from pineapple
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp heavy cream
In a small saucepan, melt the butter with sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and juice (you may need to add a little water to measure 1/3 cp). Bring this to a boil and allow to cook until the sugar melts and it begins to thicken. Add the cream, stir and remove from the heat.

To assemble the tart:
Preheat oven to 400¬į. You will bake both pastry sheets.

First layer: On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, unfold one sheet and bake as directed. Remove from oven and with a flat spatula, press the down on the puff pastry to collapse the layers. Set aside and allow it to cool.

Second layer: On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, unfold one sheet and bend the edges upward to create a little dam. Add the caramel topping. Then spread the pecan pieces and top with the pineapple pieces. I used about 5 slices from a fresh pineapple, which I then quartered. You can use canned fruit. Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool.

Place the first layer on your serving dish, top it with the chilled pastry cream. Then carefully place the second layer on top. Allow it to cool for about an hour before serving.

Enjoy!

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

Autumn in a puff

It’s possible I’m addicted to contests now. I know, I went for years without entertaining the thought of participating in one, to signing up for 2 recipe contests and 3 just throw in your name ones¬†in a 2 week period. Yikes! This might be serious.

In any case, I submitted this entry to Pepperidge¬†Farms. I *literally* threw¬†these ingredients together just so I would have something to submit. That aside, these turned out AWESOME! I wasn’t completely sure of the gorgonzola, I thought I might need something more pungent, but it worked beautifully. There’s something about the sweetness of the potato, combined with depth of the cheese and the meatiness of the sausage that just works.

 

2 sheets puff pastry
2 cups sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
1/2 lb sage breakfast sausage
1/3 cup Gorgonzola cheese crumbles
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 egg yolk, beaten
1/4 cp heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove pastry sheets from freezer or fridge and allow to thaw.

Cook the breakfast sausage as directed, making sure it is a fine crumble. Allow it to cool. In the same pan, add the mashed sweet potatoes and cheese, taste your seasonings and adjust as necessary. Now add the yolk and stir it into the mash. Set aside.

I used a 2-inch biscuit cutter, but a smaller one will yield more of these puffs. Lay out the pastry sheets and cut out using the cutter. Moisten the edges of each circle with a bit of water, then drop about 1 tablespoon of filling onto the center of half of the circles.

Now top the filled circles with one of the other halves. Press the edges together and flutter them out or crimp them with a fork.

Place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Keep them about an inch apart. Now brush the tops with the heavy cream. Using a fork or paring knife, pierce the tops of each puff, this will allow the steam to come out and will keep the puffs intact, otherwise they will burst. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Note: If you don’t have a cutter, simply use a knife and follow the folds on the sheets. You will end up with 9 squares per sheet.