Eighteen Gallon Muffin

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By my standards, this is the number one comfort dessert. This recipe is so good that I adapted it down from my recipe that served much larger portions—I used at a hotel where we served about 25,000 meals daily. The original recipe called for eighteen gallons of milk. It should be no surprise that my original bread pudding recipe served about 1000 people a day. 

TIP: I like to use day-old French bread in my bread pudding recipe because it has more flavor than the gummy plain white kind. Cinnamon-raison bead, croissants, sweat rolls, brioche, challah, and panettone can also be substituted or mixed in combination for part of the bread. Puree some seasonal berries for a sauce or serve with a vanilla sauce.

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Apple-Raisin Bread Pudding Muffins

Makes 10-12 servings

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2 Granny Smith or baking apples, peel, cored and chopped small

3-4 cups dry French Bread, cubed small

1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped small

1/2 cup raisins, *plumped 

4 Tablespoons butter, melted

4 cups milk, or use half milk and half & half 

8 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup pure cane sugar, sugar can be slightly reduced if using sweet breads

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 Teaspoon nutmeg

2 teaspoons fresh grated orange zest

In a small saute pan saute apples in 2 Tablespoons butter to slightly soften, remove and cool. 

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine the milk, eggs, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, orange zest and nutmeg, and beat with a whisk until well blended. Slowly pour over the bread mixture. Poke the bread so that it’s completely covered with the milk mixture and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Add raisins and 1/2 of the cooled sautéed apple.  

Grease a regular size 12-cup muffin pan with butter, or use muffin cups liners, or individual ramekins.

Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, place bread pudding batter into muffin cups filling each cup to three quarters full. Add remaining apples on top of batter. 

Place a pan larger than the muffin pan in preheated oven and place the pan holding the bread pudding inside. Immediately fil the outer pan with enough hot water so that it comes up one inch on the sides of the muffin pan. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the water bath, reduce the temperature to 325 degrees, and bake for 10-15 additional minutes. Remove the bread-pudding muffins and allow to set for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. 

Serve Apple-Raisin Bread Pudding Muffins warm or cold with warm fruit or vanilla sauce.

*To plump dried raisins add 2 tablespoons of water or orange juice and heat in microwave for 30 seconds; drain orange juice back into pre measured 1/3 cup orange juice. 

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Holiday Breakfast: Popovers & Scrambled Eggs

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Wishing you all a very happy + safe holiday! 

Merry Christmas, George

It is said the American style popover originated in Portland Oregon derived from the Yorkshire Pudding origins of Yorkshire county in Northern England. Whether true or not the principle of a good Yorkshire Pudding or Popover derives from using a crepe-like batter dough. To make a popover, change the beef fat drippings (from the roast) to butter- for a more updated flavorful batter. Whatever style you prefer to make, just remember don’t open the oven door and peek in the oven- if you want a tall pop-over from this crepe-like muffin. 

Yorkshire Pudding or Popovers are usually served with roasted meats. A dear friend recently shared with me that he serves popovers with scrambled eggs for breakfast or brunch. Great idea!

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Popovers & Yorkshire Pudding  

Makes 12 popovers

Adapted From Adventures in Grilling Cookbook

by George Hirsch with Marie Bianco

5 Tablespoons butter, melted

2 eggs, beaten 

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

1 cup all-purpose flour

pinch of fresh grated nutmeg and black pepper

Optional: 1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme, rosemary or chives

Grease and flour a 12 cup muffin or popover pan. Add a teaspoon of melted butter to each cup of a 12-cup muffin pan.

Mix flour, eggs, milk, 1 Tablespoon melted butter, sugar and salt. Beat in the flour a little bit at a time and add herbs if using; mixture should be smooth. Do not over mix the batter or the gluten will overdevelop and the popovers will be tough. Let batter rest for fifteen minutes. 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place empty/ unfilled muffin pan in hot oven to preheat pan for two minutes or until smoking hot. 

Carefully remove hot muffin pan from oven and fill each cup halfway. Bake for 15-20 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees, and continue baking for 15-20 minutes more, or until popovers are puffed and browned.  

Remove Popovers from pan immediately and serve hot.

Tips:

If serving scrambled eggs with popovers, begin to cook eggs 5 minutes before removing popovers from oven.

Do not open oven to check popovers until they have baked for at least 30 minutes. 

To test for doneness, tap the outside of Popover; it should sound hollow. 

Popovers

 

 

Croquembouche

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Traditional Croquembouche with Spun Sugar

Traditional Croquembouche with Spun Sugar

Pâte à Choux, Cream Puff Pastry

Makes 2 to 3 dozen depending on size

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1 cup of water

4 Tablespoons vegetable oil

3 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

4 eggs

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Combine the water, vegetable oil, butter, milk and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add the flour all at once and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Cook the mixture over low heat until it dries slightly and leaves the sides of the pan, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each one is fully absorbed before adding the next one.

Cover a baking sheet, preferably one without sides, with parchment paper.

Place the paste in a pastry bag with a round tip with a 1/2 inch opening. To make cream puffs, hold the pastry bag at a 45 degree angle touching a paper lined pan. Squeeze the bag. Continue forming the puffs 1 to 2 inches apart. To make eclairs, squeeze the bag as you pull it toward you, making 3 inch long fingers.

Place the choux in the oven, and after 5 minutes, lower the temperature to 375 degrees F. Depending on size, they will require 10 to 15 minutes total cooking time.

NOTE: If the oven door is opened before they’re almost finished baking, they will collapse, so don;t peek until 10 minutes have passed. To test for doneness, tap one on the bottom. It should sound hollow. Remove and cool on a rack.

George’s Pastry Cream

Recipe by Chef George Hirsch | from KNOW YOUR FIRE Cookbook, 1997 by George Hirsch

Makes 2 pints

Pastry cream or crême patisserie is all flour-based custard used as a filling for cream puffs and eclairs. After it’s cooked, place a sheet of plastic wrap on the surface or sprinkle with granulated sugar to prevent a “skin” from forming and refrigerate immediately.

1 1/2 pints milk

2 Tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

4 egg yolks

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest

Combine milk, butter and vanilla in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

In a separate bowl combine the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, flour and orange zest and whisk until smooth.

Whisk about a cup of hot milk mixture into the egg mixture to warm it and the pour it all back into the saucepan, whisking constantly. Continue to cook mixture, whisking continuously, until the cream coats a spoon, which it will do at about 190F. (If you cook it to boiling, 212F, the pastry cream will be watery and lumpy.)

Pour the cream into a bowl and place it in a larger bowl of ice water to cool it as quickly as possible. Pastry cream can be refrigerated for 2 days.

How To Fill Cream Puffs:

Wait until the puffs are cool and cut off the top third with a sharp knife. Fill the hollow bottom with a savory such as chicken or crab meat salad or sweet such as pastry cream or ice cream Replace the top and serve. If the filling is a sweet one, dust the cream puffs with confectioners’ sugar or pour chocolate sauce over the top.

When choosing chocolate, look for a shiny finish, which is a sign that the chocolate was heated at the right temperature for the right amount of time. Also, look for a crispy snap when chocolate is broken into pieces. Choose a good chocolate source for sauce like Lindt, Callebaut, or Scharffen Berger. In a pinch, chocolate chips will do. This very decadent sauce is ideal served with fresh strawberries. Note: this chocolate sauce recipe is not ideal for coating dipped strawberries. That’s another post.

Croquuembouche drizzled with Chocolate Sauce

Croquuembouche drizzled with Chocolate Sauce

The Best Chocolate Sauce Recipe

by Chef George Hirsch

Makes about two cups

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

3 Tablespoons pure cane granulated sugar

3/4 cup cream

3 Tablespoons corn syrup

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Optional: 1 Tablespoon Brandy or Grand Marnier Place chopped chocolate in a bowl and set aside.

Place cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a small pot. Heat to a boil stirring constantly. As soon as it reaches a boil pour directly over chocolate and stir until all chocolate has melted. Add vanilla and brandy.

Use immediately or cool, cover and refrigerate for up to two weeks. To reheat, heat the amount you need over a double boiler and stir until just melted.

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On the First Day of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my true love sent me a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

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Making homemade desserts can be intimidating if you are not a trained pastry chef. Solution, my Apple Pear Tartelette. When the apples and pears are ripe it’s time to pick & prepare. This tart is also a great last minute “I’m entertaining tonight dessert.” And, once you’ve made this a couple times you’ll want to strut your pastry 101 skills and whip it up in front of your guests. Enjoy!

George Hirsch Pear Tart

Warm Apple Pear Tartlette 
Makes six servings
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1/4 cup unsalted sweet butter
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons water + 2 Tablespoons white pure cane sugar
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 medium size Granny Smith apples; peeled, cored and sliced + 2 medium size gala or a sweeter apple; peeled, cored and sliced + 2 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and sliced
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
1 store bought frozen puff pastry shells, baked  

Preheat sauté pan to medium temperature. 
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar and brown sugar, and bring to a simmer. Reduce temperature and let simmer two minutes. Cool and mix with sliced apples.
Optional: 
Add 2 Tablespoons cranberries or toasted walnuts to apple filling.
In center of baked puff pastry, top with warm apple and pear filling. Serve with freshly whipped cream or ice cream.

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