Well, school is cancelled again tomorrow here in Minnesota due to the extremely cold temperatures, so it's a perfect opportunity to stay inside and bake.

I recently ordered some cannoli molds, and I can't wait to try out making cannolis for the first time.
I'm also working on some DIY projects that I think I'm going to make a post about soon as well.

For this week, though, I saw these cream puffs in my blogger feed and knew I had to make them! I love making pate a choix (cream puff dough) and even more so love its taste.

I'm also going to try something new out for this blog for a couple weeks: recipe highlights. I'm just going to make a list of 3 or 4 things to really watch out for in a recipe to make it easier for you to make these pastries at home!

Cannoli Cream Puffs

Yield: 20-30

Recipe Notes:

1. Be sure to strain the ricotta cheese very well. I had some issues with this, as my ricotta wasn't strained enough and became very runny. Be sure there is very little moisture left.

2. After adding the flour mixture into your boiling ingredients, the dough will gradually come together. Do not touch the dough at this time as it can get to an upwards of 500 degrees F.

3. While baking the creme puffs do not open the oven. Pressure changes can cause the dough to collapse. If you take it out of the oven too early as well, the dough will collapse. I personally had to redo pate a choix recipes a couple times before the dough didn't flatten!

For the Cannoli Cream Filling:
24 oz. whole milk ricotta, strained*
16 oz. mascarpone
1 cup powdered sugar

In a mixing bowl, using a rubber or silicone spatula, blend together ricotta and mascarpone cheese while running and pressing mixture along bottom of bowl to remove any lumps. Fold in powdered sugar. Cover and chill 30 minutes (or until ready to use).

(1)*To strain, work in two batches, place the ricotta over several layers of paper towels then add more paper towels and squeeze some of the excess moisture out.

For the Pastry:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, diced into 1 tbsp pieces
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 large eggs

Mini semi-sweet chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate (optional)
Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)

Preheat oven to 410 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder and cinnamon, set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine water, milk, butter, sugar and salt and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to melt butter and dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to low, add flour mixture all at once and continue to cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture forms a ball, about 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to the bowl of an electric stand mixer and using the paddle attachment, stir dough on low until the steam stops rising, about 4 minutes.
With mixer still set on low speed, beat eggs into dough one at a time (dough will separate after each egg is added, then it will slowly come together and become smooth)(2). Transfer mixture to a large piping bag fitted with a round tip. Immediately pipe onto rounds, approximately 1 1/4-inches each, and spacing them 2-inches apart.
(3)Bake in preheated oven 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 375 and continue to cook 10 minutes longer. Remove from oven and pierce with a small knife to release steam. Cool completely on a wire rack then cut each in half. Pipe or spoon in cannoli cream filling. Sprinkle chocolate chips  around edges of cream filling. Dust with powdered sugar and for best results serve within 1 hour of filling.

These pastries are very good, and make a great weekend treat! I ran some down to a few neighbors, and everyone loved them!

Until next week!

Creme Fraiche Cheesecake with Honey-Rum-Roasted Pineapple

From: Bon Appetit
Serves: 12

For the Crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Blend all ingredient in bowl. Press mixture over button of a 9 inch spring form pan. Bake until golden about 12 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool. Wrap outside of pan with two layers of tinfoil. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

For the Filling:
3 8oz packages of creme cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean or 1 Tablespoon vanilla paste
2 large eggs
3/4 cup creme fraiche

Using electric mixer, beat creme cheese in a large bowl until fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean or add vanilla paste, and blend 1 minute. Beat in eggs one at a time. Mix in creme fraiche. Transfer filling to crust. Place cheesecake in roasting pan. Add enough hot hot water to roasting pan. Add enough hot water to roasting pan to come halfway up the side of the spring form pan. Bake cake until top is dry-looking and slightly puffed, about 1 hour. Turn off oven. Let cake cool in closed oven for 1 hour. Remove cake from water bath. Refrigerate until cold, at least 6 hours.*

*If you are in a rush, you can serve the cake right when it is cool. This is what I did, and the consistency was still good and tasted great.

For the Topping:
1 ripe, sweet pineapple, peeled, cut into rounds, and cored
1 cup water
1/4 cup honey
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons dark rum

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place pineapple rings on a large rimmed baking sheet. Boil remaining ingredients in small saucepan 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour syrup over pineapple. Roast pineapple 12 min. Turn rings over; roast until syrup thickens, turning rings every 5 minutes, about 20 minutes longer. Cool pineapple on sheet. Cut into 1/3 inch cubes; transfer pineapple and syrup to bowl. (Can be made one day ahead. Chill)
Drain pineapple, reserving syrup. Cover top of cheesecake with some pineapple; stir remainder back into syrup. Serve cake, passing remaining pineapple in syrup separately. **

**I didn't end up with much syrup at all, but if the pineapples sit in the fridge the juices will gradually come out of the pineapple.

Until next week!

This week I was really feeling a creme brûlée recipe. It's a simple, amazing dessert that works for any occasion including an extremely cold winter day like today.

Lemon Creme Brûlée

Serves: 6

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup half and half (light cream)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
8 egg yolks
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 300F. Arrange 6 custard cups in a large pan with sides at least 1 1/2 inches deep.
In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, bring the heavy cream, half and half, and lemon zest just to a boil, and then remove it from the heat. Allow it to cool on the counter top for 10 minutes. Pour the lemon-infused cream through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl and set it aside for a moment. Rinse the sieve for later use and discard the used citrus zest.

Whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl until they turn frothy and bright yellow. Slowly whisk 1/3 cup sugar, the lemon cream, and vanilla extract into the beaten eggs. Beat the mixture for 90 seconds. Pour the eggs and cream through a medium-mesh sieve into a large (4 cup) liquid measuring cup. Divide the mixture between 6 custard cups and fill the large pan with hot water half-way up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake the custard in the hot-water bath for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until the custard is set, but still moves a bit in the center when jiggled. Cool the custard in the water bath for 20 minutes, and then refrigerate them until they are chilled. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar over tops of the custards and caramelize the sugar with a blow torch (you can use a special kitchen blowtorch, or an actual one, I find that the real blow torch generally does a better job). Serve immediately as the melted sugar will dissolve after about 30 min.

Enjoy! Until next week!