I’ve been taking a lot of baking orders for the past year. Not so often that it’s been unmanageable (or even often enough that I’d say it’s profitable), but enough that most of my spare time was spent creating for others. Only recently did I realize I was in a baking rut. I wasn’t making fun things that were inspiring to me. Yes, I tried out new recipes and that is always good but it never tapped into my creative side. So I’ve made a decision on making things for just me (and you, if you are reading this). What does this look like? Probably a smattering of posts of things that I like but mostly will be centered on a series of subjects that I am a fan of. All of the recipes that I’m sharing will be just as delicious, only that they’d reflect the selected theme. So I’m excited to announce that I’m kicking off this season with The Gaming Series.
I’ve loved video games when my brother got his very first Gameboy. I’m talking about that grey box with the monotone green screen. My three siblings and I would crowd around that one tiny screen and watch each other play for hours. Going forward, my younger brother and sister would eventually lose their interest, but my other brother and I would continue with our fandom for years.
Our very first console was a Nintendo 64, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was the first RPG that we played. Because the game is meant for one player, I would be the backseat driver to his playing. And even though I rarely physically held the controller, I was every bit as immersed and taken by the storyline and the gameplay. I could almost feel the heat of Death Mountain, the cool waters of Lake Hylia and the dryness of the Haunted Wasteland. I wanted to ride on Epona and drink a gallon of Lon Lon Milk. Link was probably my first video game crush. (Even now that blonde hair and blue eyes makes my heart sway a bit.) So unsurprisingly, my first post is of Link.
First, I have to let you know this recipe is the bomb. The light, crispy, chewy and slightly salty brown butter rice krispy treat offsets the smooth, fudgy brownie base in the best way. Second is that I just love how the candy melts pop against the black background. I have to thank @emilylynncantera because her artwork is what inspired this project.
I hope you enjoyed the post and I’m looking forward to continuing this journey with you. The hint for the next theme has to do with a certain fungi kingdom.
You will need:
Brownies (recipe below)
Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispies (recipe below)
2 to 3 cups Mini Marshmallows
Candy Melts in Black, Brown, Purple, Yellow, Orange, White, Green and Blue
- Bake the layer of brownies. (*Important, the 8 inch pan must be at least 3 inches tall. Otherwise the recipe will not layer into pan.)
- When cool, layer the rice krispies being careful not to pack it in too tightly. This results in dense and tough rice krispies.
- In a microwave safe bowl, melt and stir 2 c. mini marshmallows (melt 3 if you want your marshmallow layer to be thicker) in the microwave.
- Spread the marshmallow layer over the rice krispies layer.
- Melt enough black candy melt to spread over the top of the pan. (About ½ – ¾ c.).
- Let set.
- Put stencil over the top of the pan and using an x-acto knife, stencil the outline onto the candy melt.
- Remove the stencil and using candy melts of the right color, fill in the stenciled area. Let set and enjoy.
Fudgy Cocoa Brownies
¾ c. dark chocolate chopped into small ¼ in. pieces
10 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 ¼ c. sugar
¾ c. + 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
½ c. all-purpose flour
- Preheat oven to 325˚F, oil and line an 8” square pan with parchment paper.
- In a microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate, butter, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Microwave mixture about 1-2 minutes until mixture is melted and smooth when stirred.
- Whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract until batter is smooth and shiny.
- Fold in the flour until no streaks of flour remain.
- Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake about 20-25 minutes until a toothpick poked in the center of the batter comes out with moist crumbs.
- Let cool completely before adding the rice krispies layer.
Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispies
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
One 10 oz bag of marshmallows
¼ tsp. kosher salt
6 c. (160 g.) crisp rice cereal
- In a medium to large pot, melt butter on medium-low heat. Keep stirring butter with a rubber spatula until the butter foams and small brown bits form on the bottom of the pan. (The butter will smell nutty.)
- Once the butter is browned, stir in the marshmallows until the marshmallows melt into a smooth mixture.
- Stir in the cereal and salt and spread into the pan with the brownies.
- Do not firmly squish the cereal into the pan. This will result in jagged, hard rice krispies. Gently push it into the pan and into the corners. Let cool and set.
Brownie recipe adapted from the Feed Feed.
Rice Krispies recipe adadpted from the Smitten Kitchen.
There is a bakery a few towns away that I absolutely love called Sook Pastry. In a way I’m glad it’s not too nearby because I would frequent it more than necessary. There are many great baked goods that they offer, but my favorite is the awesome chocolate èclairs. They are not too sweet or rich but are satisfyingly chocolaty with the perfect shell.I don’t know at what point I became such a pastry snob. I remember eating boxes of Entenmann’s chocolate èclairs and being satisfied as a kid. But when I picked up a box for the nostalgia factor, it was horrifically disappointing. The too-squishy bland base, the lack of custard filling and the low quality chocolate topping made me wonder, “WHY?!” I guess I can argue that the costs of ingredients are higher and manufacturers have to cut down on quality in order to keep the costs low. Remember when they changed the recipe for the chewy chips ahoy? That was another sad day. Anyways, the point is, I guess I’d rather eat just one great éclair than a whole box full of them.
Turns out, baking a great éclair is not as easy as it looks. The hurdle is the choux dough base. I’ve made cream puffs (which are also made out of choux dough) many times before. Remember the croquembouche? I had trays and trays of cream puffs that time. The problem was it was not sturdy enough for an éclair. They would flatten and look sad, no matter what technique I tried (using the tines of a fork, using a star tipped frosting tip to pipe out the batter, letting the base cook in the oven longer to ensure dry interiors…). So I went to google and did some research.
Luckily Ilan from the ironwhisk already did the research and created a great choux paste tutorial for èclairs. My only gripe with recipe was that it produced a shell that was too salty. Even when I waived the salt in the filling, the saltiness was overpowering. I suggest cutting the salt in half to ensure a better balanced éclair.
I originally baked this for my third blog anniversary, and that’s why there are so many decorative sprinkles that scream “celebration!” hahaha I know, I’m approaching the fourth anniversary around the corner and I’m posting this now. Smh. Please, feel free to use any type of sprinkle, sanding sugar, sugar pearls, and nonpareils that you might have. My sprinkles container is over capacity and I am now resorting to ziplock freezer bags to hold the rest of them. I may have a hoarding problem with them, but they were perfect for this post in particular.
To go with the “celebration” theme, I also made the filling cake batter flavored because what better way to celebrate than with cake? A few spoonful of cake mix gives it that flavor. I rarely use boxed cake mix and only use it to give it a “cake batter” flavor to something. So I usually have a ton of it leftover. I always feel bad tossing it out. There must be a better way out there hahaha But I figure, if you do bake boxed cake often, then this should be a staple in your pantry.
Cake Batter Éclairs
For the Choux Base:
75 g. water
75 g. milk
75 g. butter
5 g. sugar
2.5 g. salt (about ½ tsp. best to use the tsp for such small measurements)
100 g. bread flour, sifted
150 g. eggs (about 3 large eggs), room temperature and lightly beaten
Powdered sugar, for dusting
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir water, milk, butter, sugar and salt and bring to a boil.
- Remove the pot from the heat once the mixture reaches a boil, and add all the flour at once.
- Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until a film on the bottom of the pan forms, about two minutes. The dough should be 170˚F (75 ˚C). Do not scrape the film into the dough.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the dough and mix on low for about a minute and thirty seconds or until the dough cools down to 140˚F (60˚C).
- Add half the eggs on low, until combined. Then add the remaining eggs slowly until combined and a smooth dough forms.
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F (180˚F) and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. You can dab a bit of the dough onto the bottom corners of the parchment paper to keep it in place while you pipe out the éclairs.
- Prepare a pastry bag (or a gallon sized freezer zip lock bag) with a ½ in. star tip with as many small teeth as possible.
- Pipe the èclairs about 5 inches long, 1 inch wide and 2 inches apart.
- Dust with powdered sugar.
- Bake for about 35-40 minutes until the pastry is dark golden brown.
- Remove the tray from the oven and carefully slit the bottom of each choux with a paring knife to let the steam escape.
- Cool completely.
For the Cake Batter Pastry Cream
2 c. whole milk
½ c. sugar, divided
2 egg yolks
1 large egg
¼ c. cornstarch
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. vanilla cake mix
- In a pot, heat whole milk and ¼ c. sugar and bring to a simmer.
- While the milk heats, mix egg yolks, egg, cornstarch and ¼ c. sugar in a medium bowl.
- When the milk is hot, use a ladle to slowly drizzle hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking to prevent curdling.
- Once all of the milk is introduced into the egg mixture, return all of it back into the pot.
Bring the mixture in the pot to a boil while whisking. When it is thick, remove the pot off the heat.
- Add in the butter and vanilla. Once the butter is completely mixed in, add the cake mix. Move mixture to a bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly against the pastry cream (to prevent a skin from forming). Chill completely, about 2-3 hours, before using.
- If adding sprinkles, add to the pastry cream after fully chilled.
1 ½ c. powdered sugar
2 ½ tbsp. milk
⅛ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. butter
- In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and mix.
Assemble the Éclairs:
- Flip the cooled choux pastry upside down and fill with cake batter pastry cream using a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip.
- Dip the éclairs in the glaze using your fingers to wipe away the excess on the sides to ensure a neat presentation.
- Sprinkle with whatever decoration you want, or go simple and forgo the decoration.
Choux pastry recipe adapted from Iron Whisk.
Pastry cream and glaze recipe adapted from All Recipes.