Sunday, August 31, 2008

Cream Puffs

Since posting about Allen's Birthday Cream Puffs so many people have asked for the recipe that I am just going to post it. I got this recipe to make for my brother Lem's wedding breakfast two years ago (picture above), the recipe is written with a lot of good details, don't let that be intimidating they really are quits easy to make. So enjoy!

Aunt Pam’s Cream Puffs

Pastry (makes a large batch of puffs, so for normal use cut the recipe in half)

4 cups water
4 sticks margarine
4 cups flour
16 eggs

Bring butter and water to a rolling boil, watch it closely because when the butter and water start to boil rapidly it will want to boil over very fast. Once the butter is melted, and the water is boiling, remove it from the heat and add the 4 cups of flour all at once, stir till thoroughly mixed. After the mixture has cooled for a while, add the eggs, 4 at a time. Mix them in thoroughly with electric beaters, it’s important that the eggs get whipped, 4 AT A TIME (very important). The pastry is now ready to be formed. Spoon it into a 16" pastry bag with a decorative tip and pipe onto greased cookie sheets, probably about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and about an inch high, you can experiment until you get the size you like. Make sure that there is a full bottom on the puffs, otherwise they will bake and when you take them off the pan there will be a whole in the bottom of the puff. These grow to be about double the size when they cook, so space them accordingly on the cookie sheet. Bake at about 375 or 400 for about 45 minutes or until they are golden brown, they need to be fairly well cooked because they will soften as they cool if they are not cooked enough, the time in the oven varies, and I usually go by look and feel more than time.

Filling (one and a half this recipe for half of the puff recipe)

I don't know exactly how much you have to make to fill how many puffs, it is not an exact art, but here is the recipe, multiply it by a lot of times, and buy extra stuff to make the filling just in case you need it, it is always better to have too much on hand than too little:

1 large box instant vanilla pudding
1 1/2 c. milk
1 capful of vanilla, you NEED to use Molina Mexican vanilla, it is the best, and they won't taste right if you don't. If you can't get a hold of Molina, let me know and I can ship some to you. (American vanillas are high in alcohol content, so they don't have as much of the good vanilla flavor as the Molina does, it is more concentrated, and really yummy)

1/2 of a large container of cool whip whipped topping.

Put the milk into the bowl, then add the pudding, whip it with a whisk. Next add the vanilla just don't add the vanilla at the same time as the pudding, because if the vanilla and the dry pudding touch it will form dark lumps in your filling. When that is all whipped together, mix the cool whip in with a spoon (it takes forever to mix the topping in with a whisk, I know, I have tried it) make sure it is well mixed.

To fill the pastries, buy an injector tip from a cake supply store, put it on the end of a 16" pastry bag with a coupler and stick the tip into the pastry puff and fill. I have found as a general rule of thumb you can stick the tip in and lift the pastry up just a little, then as they fill with the filling and become heavier, they will fall off of the tip. That usually works, but sometimes there will be some tough little pastries, it is really something of an art to learn when they are full enough, if you over fill them, then when you pull the tip out of the puff, the filling will come out of the hole a little bit, and you will need to wipe them with a damp cloth, because you don't want that excess filing on top of the puff when you put the chocolate on.

You can freeze the puffs at this point, just make sure you use ziploc freezer bags or freezer containers so they don't taste like freezer when you use them. NEVER freeze them with the chocolate on them, as the chocolate will sweat as it defrosts and that will be an unattractive mess!

Chocolate (half this recipe for half of the puff recipe)

Like I said, this is really an art, so here it is the best I can give it to you:

1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips (go on, you can steal a few and pop them in your mouth, it won't hurt anything)
1 stick of margarine
1/2 cup of milk

melt all 3 of these in a saucepan, when melted, use a wire whisk to mix in powdered sugar until it thickens (it will take more than you'd think because for some reason it actually thins before it becomes thicker) the consistency needs to be thin enough that it is somewhat runny, but thick enough that when spooned onto the ├ęclair, it runs down the side just a little then stops, perhaps a little thinner than stirred up yogurt. You can add milk to thin it and powdered sugar to thicken it. If it gets too light, add more chocolate and butter, it is really not an exact science, it just has to be the right consistency.

To make the mudslide, I put a coat of chocolate on the plate to anchor the puffs, then I make the first layer of puffs, drizzle chocolate on them, add the next layer, drizzle chocolate, next layer and so on until it reaches the top, getting slightly smaller each layer. Make sure you get it slightly smaller and not a lot smaller, or you will reach the top and your mound won't be very tall, use the chocolate as glue. When the mound is formed, drizzle chocolate on the outside and let it sit in a cool place for a little while to set, then you can serve! Viola! a wonderful dessert that only took you a day or more to make. Good luck!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Yes... I am still Alive!

After five months of not posting anything I'm sure that no one checks this blog anymore, but I am going to start writing again. Part of my silliness is that I don't want to write anything unless it is profoundly inspiring. Now I have decided that writing humdrum stuff is better then not writing at all. So here we go. We have had a great summer! We increased our little farm of three goats and a garden by adding to it six chickens and a pony named Black Beauty.In July we sent my brother Don on a mission to Frankfurt Germany. He was originally called to serve in Russia, but the night before he entered the MTC the Church Mission Office called the Stake President and said that he had been reassigned to Germany. A month later the Church announced that because of Russia's visa policy (every foreigner has to return to his home of origan every three months to renew their visa) they would no longer be sending American missionaries to Russia. Don took the news really well, our Harsh family is actually from that area of Germany so it will be neat to have him there. This makes the forth sibling that Allen and I currently have out on missions. Allen's two brothers, Grant (serving in Denver) & Scott (serving in D.C.), then I have Esther (Richmond Virginia) and now Don (Frankfurt Germany). We are so proud of all four of them, Christmas time will be fun with all those packages to send off :)

Allen Celebrated his 33rd birthday in July. He wanted his Aunt Pam's cream puffs for his birthday cake, so we made them and formed a big tower and they were delicious, thanks for the recipe Aunt Pam!We got him the complete Sackett series by Louis L'Amour (one of our favorite series' of all time). I highly suggest them. Then I took him on a date to see Cyrano at the Shakespeare Festival. It was very good, and after a month of having my husband gone on and off it was so nice to be on a date with him!We had a wonderful Levie Family Reunion. We camped up Big Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake. That is one of my favorite places in the whole world, I love the pine and aspen trees. It was a special reunion because we were all together (except for the two missionaries) for the first time in five years. We had so much fun, and I didn't even mind camping while being almost eight months pregnant.
There's nothing like smore's.

Cousins make the best friends!

Brushing their teeth before being zipped into their tents.

There are 20 Levie cousins with three on the way (some were napping so not all are in the picture).

Little Eve fell asleep before dinner after a fun day of playing with her cousins.

Abby, Denny and Paul were in both 24th of July Parades (Cedar City & Enoch City).
They loved throwing candy to the children, but I suspect they liked eating the candy best.

Those are some of the highlights of our summer. Hopefully I will be a better blogger over the next five months.