Cinnamon Mini Cream Puffs With Creamy Cinnamon Sauce

Cinnamon Mini Cream Puffs With Creamy Cinnamon Sauce

Show your love this Valentine’s Day with tasty mini cream puffs served with a creamy cinnamon sauce. Using pâte à choux dough to make these little treats, they are baked and filled with cinnamon whipped cream for a delightful Valentine treat. Our tasty dipping cinnamon sauce uses “Red Hots” candy tamed with cream to a beautiful rich smooth cinnamon flavor.

If you’re not a fan of “Red Hots” don’t let that deter you from trying this sauce – it has converted many who are not a fan of the candy. The cream softens the flavor to make a sweet, smooth, creamy cinnamon sauce.

Cream Puff Pastry (pâte à choux)
INGREDIENTS
1 cup water
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, cut into 16 thin slices
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, plus egg whites if needed
1 egg for egg wash

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine water, salt, butter, and sugar. Bring to a boil and quickly stir in all at once the flour with a wooden spoon. Continue stirring for about 3 minutes or until the cohesive mixture starts to pull away from the pan and leaves a film of flour on the sides of the pan.

Remove from heat and transfer contents to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat for one minute or until slightly cooled. Add four of the eggs, one at a time, beating vigorously to incorporate the egg after each addition entirely. Check the consistency of the batter by dragging a wooden spoon through it. When the groove slowly closes on itself, you have added enough eggs. If not, add egg whites, one at a time, until the dough passes the groove test.

For the egg wash, whisk together the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon water. Set aside.

Transfer the dough to a large pastry bag fitted with a 5/8-inch plain tip. Pipe 1-1/2-inch rounds onto each parchment lined sheet tray. Gently smooth the pointed peaks with a moistened finger, rounding the tops to ensure even rising. Brush tops with the egg wash. Bake until puffs rise and are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove baked puffs from the oven and using a very sharp knife, cut a slit into the side of each one allowing steam to escape and help prevent soggy puffs. Return them to the oven for 5 minutes longer, then remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store the baked Puffs at room temperature for up to 1 day.

Cinnamon “Red Hots” Sauce
INGREDIENTS
⅓ cup sugar
¼ cup Cinnamon Red Hots candy
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon cornstarch
⅔ cup water
¼ cup heavy cream
5 drops red food coloring

INSTRUCTIONS
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, Red Hots candy, cinnamon, cornstarch, and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, frequently stirring to melt the candy. When dissolved, boil for 5 minutes, stirring the entire time. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth into a bowl. (This removes any impurities or wax in the candy.) Add back into a clean saucepan over medium heat and return to a boil; whisk in the cream and food coloring. Reduce the heat to medium-low, so the sauce is at just a simmer and cook, occasionally stirring, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and store in the refrigerator. The sauce can be made the day before use.

Cinnamon Cream Filling
INGREDIENTS
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

INSTRUCTIONS
Pour heavy cream into chilled bowl. Beat on high speed using a stand mixer or hand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Slowly add the sugar and cinnamon. Continue beating until stiff peaks form.

To Assemble:
INGREDIENTS
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons powdered sugar

INSTRUCTIONS
Transfer the whipped cream into pastry bag fitted with a small plain round tip. Insert the tip into the slit in each puff, and pipe to fill with the cinnamon pastry cream. Mix the powdered sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over the cream puffs. Serve immediately with the Cinnamon Sauce on the plate or serve on the side.   Makes 25-30 mini-puffs.

Mix & Match Valentine Cookies

Mix & Match Valentine Cookies

All dressed up in pink and chocolate. Why give your special Valentine just one when they can have two? These easy mix-and-match iced sugar cookies are perfect for a gift, or just celebrating Valentine’s Day. Using Dorie Greenspan’s very easy Do-Almost-Anything Vanilla Cookie Dough and her Do-Almost-Anything Chocolate Cookie Dough, these recipes produce a total of 20-24 mix-and-match cookies. Or, choose just one method and double the ingredients for 20-24 cookies.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies with Pink Icing
Chocolate Dough
INGREDIENTS
2 cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup cocoa unsweetened powder
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into slices, at room temperature
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, and more for sprinkling on the cookies
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg white, room temperature
1 teaspoons vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS
Whisk the flour and cocoa together. Combine the butter, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer, or using a handheld mixer, beat at medium speed for about 3 minutes or until creamy. Stop once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Combine the egg whites and vanilla extract. Reduce the speed to low and add the mixture. The dough may curdle, but it will smooth out once the flour is added.

On low speed, add the flour in 3 or 4 additions, only beat until it is almost incorporated before the next portion goes in. Stop to scrape down the bowl as needed.

Evenly divide the dough and shape into two disks. Wrap in plastic cling wrap and refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours. Working with one disk at a time, roll out to a thickness of ¼ inch. Using cookie cutters, cut into an even number of rounds and heart shapes, rerolling scraps as needed. Stack the shapes between parchment paper on a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before baking.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the cookie dough shapes on the baking sheets. Sprinkle the hearts only with sugar. Bake for 19 to 21 minutes until the cookies’ edges start to become golden. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Pink Royal Icing
INGREDIENTS
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
4 tablespoons meringue powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
5 drops red food coloring

INSTRUCTIONS
Add the sugar and meringue powder to a bowl on a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or use a handheld mixer with a whisk attachment, and mix lightly together. Mix three tablespoons of the water with the vanilla and add to the dry ingredients. Mixing on low, slowly add the remaining water little by little until the mixture reaches the consistency of molasses. At this point, turn the mixer to high and whip for approximately three until the icing is light and fluffy with soft peaks like meringue. Add the food coloring and whip to distribute the color evenly.

Assembly: Spread the icing on the rounds and top with a heart cookie. Make 10-12 cookies.

Pink Sugar Cookies with Chocolate Icing
Pink Dough
INGREDIENTS
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into slices, at room temperature
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, and more for sprinkling on the cookies
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg white, room temperature
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
5 drops red food coloring
2 cups all-purpose flour

INSTRUCTIONS
Combine the butter, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer, or using a handheld mixer, beat at medium speed for about 3 minutes or until creamy. Stop once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Combine the egg whites, vanilla extract, and red food coloring. Reduce the speed to low and add the mixture. The dough may curdle, but it will smooth out once the flour is added.

On low speed, add the flour in 3 or 4 additions, beating only until it is almost incorporated before the next portion goes in. Stop to scrape down the bowl as needed.

Evenly divide the dough and shape into two disks. Wrap in plastic cling wrap and refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours. Working with one disk at a time, roll out to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Using cookie cutters, cut into an even number of rounds and heart shapes, rerolling scraps as needed. Stack the shapes between parchment paper on a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before baking.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the cookie dough shapes on the baking sheets. Sprinkle the hearts only with sugar. Bake for 19 to 21 minutes until the cookies’ edges start to become golden. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Chocolate Royal icing
INGREDIENTS
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup meringue powder
1½ teaspoons vanilla
¼ cup, plus 3 tablespoons warm water

INSTRUCTIONS
Add the sugar, cocoa powered and meringue powder to a bowl on a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or use a handheld mixer with a whisk attachment, and mix lightly together. Mix four tablespoons of the water with the vanilla and add to the dry ingredients. Mixing on low, slowly add the remaining water little by little until the mixture reaches the consistency of molasses. At this point, turn the mixer to high and whip for approximately two-four minutes until the icing is light and fluffy with soft peaks like meringue.

Assembly: Spread the icing on the rounds and top with a heart cookie. Make 10-12 cookies.

Peppermint Bark Cheesecake

Peppermint Bark Cheesecake

Whether you and your holiday guests are Peppermint Bark fans, or not, everyone will enjoy this fantastic dessert – two-layers of cheesecake, one dark chocolate and one white chocolate topped with peppermint candy. Our recipe starts with a chocolate cookie crumb bottom topped with a layer of dark chocolate cheesecake. Next, a white chocolate cheesecake layer is added, and the cake is finished with a white chocolate ganache topping sprinkled with crushed candy canes.

To ensure a smooth, creamy texture for your cheesecake, have the cream cheese and eggs at room temperature. Additionally, this recipe uses a water bath (Bain Marie) technique to bake the cheesecake. This gentle method prevents your cheesecake from cracking in the center. Be sure to carefully wrap the springform pan with three pieces of heavy-duty foil to prevent the water from leaking into your cheesecake.

INGREDIENTS
Crust
2-1/2 cups high-quality, crisp chocolate cookies
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch salt
¼ cup butter, melted

Chocolate layer
7.5 ounces high-quality bittersweet dark bar chocolate (preferably Scharffen Berger 70% Cocoa Bittersweet or Ghirardelli Chocolate), chopped
3 packages cream cheese, 8 ounces each at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 ½ tablespoons flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 extra large eggs, room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons pure peppermint extract

White chocolate layer
2.5 ounce high quality, white bar chocolate, preferably Ghirardelli, chopped
1 package, cream cheese, 8 ounces, at room temperature
7 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons flour
1 extra large egg, room temperature
½ teaspoon peppermint extract

 Topping
¼ cup heavy cream
5.5 ounces high-quality white chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup finely crushed candy canes

INSTRUCTIONS
For crust:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Add a round piece of parchment to the bottom of the pan; butter the parchment.

Place the cookies in a food processor and grind until finely ground, Add the sugar and a pinch of salt and process until combined. Add the melted butter and process until well blended. Press crumbs evenly onto bottom only of the prepared pan. Bake just until set, about 8 minutes. Cool, leaving the oven on. When cooled, wrap the outside of the pan carefully using three layers of heavy-duty foil and be sure to keep the foil tight to prevent the water from leaking into your cheesecake. Place in a large roasting pan.

For the dark chocolate layer:
Stir chopped chocolate in metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Do not let the bowl touch the water. Remove and cool chocolate until just lukewarm. Meanwhile, In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and cocoa powder until smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the peppermint extract, mix in well, then add the chocolate and completely combine. Pour the filling over the crust; smooth the top. Add hot water to the roasting pan about halfway up the side of the springform pan. Place in the oven and bake the chocolate layer until the center is just softly set and starting to puff around the edges, about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 5 minutes. While the chocolate layer bakes, make the white chocolate layer.

For the white chocolate layer:
Stir chopped white chocolate in metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove the bowl and cool the chocolate slightly. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the cream cheese, sugar, and flour until smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Add the peppermint extract, then add the melted white chocolate and mix until well combined.

Starting at the edges, carefully spoon the white chocolate batter over the warm dark chocolate cheesecake; smooth the top. Place back in the oven and bake until the white chocolate filling is set in the center, about 30 minutes. When set, turn the oven off, open the door to release some heat, then leave in the oven one hour. Remove from the oven and carefully lift out of the water bath; remove the foil. Cool 15 minutes then run a thin knife around sides of cake to loosen from the pan. Cool completely in the springform pan, cover and chill overnight in the refrigerator.

For topping:
In a small saucepan over low heat, heat the cream to a simmer, stirring frequently. Meanwhile, place the finely chopped white chocolate in small bowl set over warm water on low heat. Stir often until melted. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth.

Add two-thirds of hot cream to melted white chocolate and gently stir to incorporate and then whisk until smooth. Gradually stir in remaining cream. Pour immediately into the center of the cheesecake, spreading into a smooth circle about ½” from the edge all the way around. Immediately top with the crushed candy cane pieces, pressing them into the white chocolate ganache. Chill in the refrigerator until the ganache is set.

Release the springform pan and remove the outer ring. Transfer cheesecake to platter. Let stand 2 hours at room temperature before serving. Makes 16 servings.

Layered Pumpkin Pudding with Brownies & Caramel Pecans

Layered Pumpkin Pudding with Brownies & Caramel Pecans

Our layered dessert starts with a delicious chocolate brownie base, followed by pumpkin pudding and topped with soft whipped cream and caramel pecans. It’s a quick and easy dessert, that’s the perfect finish for any fall dinner or on your Thanksgiving dessert table.

INGREDIENTS
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup Pumpkin Puree
½ cup Williams Sonoma Caramel Pumpkin Butter or any high-quality pumpkin butter
Pinch of kosher salt
2 eggs
3 ½ cups milk
1 cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup whipped cream
1 tablespoon confectioners sugar
1 cup homemade caramel sauce or any high-quality jarred caramel sauce
12 2” brownies or brownie bites, homemade or high-quality store purchased

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the pecans on a small sheet tray and toast for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Place a large size bowl over a bigger bowl filled with ice; set aside.

Combine the pumpkin puree with the pumpkin butter and salt in a medium bowl and whisk until well combined; set aside. In a separate medium-size bowl, add the egg and milk together and mix until thoroughly incorporated; set aside. In another medium bowl, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch. Slowly add the egg and milk mixture to the sugar/cornstarch mixture, whisking the entire time. Pour into a large saucepan set over medium heat. Continue to whisk while bringing the mix to a boil; then whisk for one minute longer. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract. Then add the pumpkin mixture to pan, continually whisking, until thoroughly blended. Pour into the bowl set over the ice-filled bowl. When cooled, cover, place in the refrigerator, and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.

When ready to serve

Place the cream in a bowl and using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip until very soft peaks form. Sprinkle the confectioner’s sugar over the cream and continue whipping until stiff peaks form. Set in the refrigerator to keep cold.

Place the caramel in a small saucepan. Heat on low until softened and smooth. Stir in the toasted pecans and remove from the heat.

Crumble the brownies into small pieces. Fill six 12-ounce serving cups with the brownie pieces, pushing them up on the sides to make an indent in the middle. Divide the pudding between the cups and fill ⅔ full. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and the caramel nuts; serve immediately. Makes six servings.

Upside Down Gingerbread Cake With Apples & Caramel

Upside Down Gingerbread Cake With Apples & Caramel

The smell and taste of fall – all in a gingerbread cake topped with fresh apples and caramel. This fantastic upside-down cake makes a great addition to any seasonal table with its tasty gingerbread baked over cinnamon caramel sauce and sweet sautéed apples. Removing the cake from the pan, when turned, allows the apple caramel to coat the sides. Delicious served with a dollop of cinnamon whipped cream.

INGREDIENTS
Topping:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
1 cup jarred caramel sauce, high quality such as Williams Sonoma, Trader Joes, Fresh Market or homemade
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 large, firm cooking apples, such as Honeycrisp, Fuji, or Granny Smith cored, peeled, quartered
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Cake:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
⅔ cup dark muscovado or dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
⅓ cup molasses
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup buttermilk

Sweeten whipped cream or cinnamon whipped cream for serving

INSTRUCTIONS
Make the apple topping
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9″ round springform pan lined with parchment in the bottom; butter the parchment.

In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the caramel sauce. When softened, whisk in the cinnamon and keep warm. Slice each apple quarter into three thin slices. In a large bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice and zest.

Place a 12-inch sauté pan over medium heat and add the butter. Cook until the butter has a nutty fragrance, about 4 minutes. Then add the apples and toss gently until well coated. Cook, uncovered, stirring gently until some of the apples begin to brown, and all the liquid has evaporated. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Pour the warm cinnamon caramel sauce into the cake pan over the buttered parchment. Starting in the center of the pan, arrange the cooled apple slices on the caramel. Overlap them slightly and keep them close together in tightly packed circles. Set aside.

Make the Cake
Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until well incorporated. Beat in the molasses. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Starting and ending the dry mixture, add ⅓ of the dry ingredients to the butter, sugar and egg mixture. Add ½ the buttermilk, then add the flour in two more batches alternating with the second half of the buttermilk. Mix until the batter is smooth. Carefully pour over the apples. Place the cake on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and bake until center is firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 40–45 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool in pan 15 minutes. Run a paring knife around the sides of cake to loosen, remove the springform sides of the pan. Using another rack, invert cake onto rack. Carefully remove the pan bottom and slowly peel away parchment working cautiously. If some apples stick to the parchment, just peel off and place back on the cake. Cool completely, cut into wedges and serve with sweetened whipped cream.

You can store covered and at room temperature for one day. Makes 8-10 servings.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

A decadent dark chocolate brownie bottom is layered with a creamy pumpkin cheesecake center and topped with a toasted marshmallow fluff icing. Need we say more? To top it off, we found our cute marshmallow pumpkins at Williams Sonoma. (www.williams-sonoma.com or your local store)

INGREDIENTS
Brownie Layer
6 ounces high-quality bittersweet or dark chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 large eggs, plus 2 egg yolks, room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

Cheesecake Layer
2 packages 8-ounce cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup sugar
¾ cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
2 eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon of cinnamon
¼ teaspoon of ginger
2 tablespoons flour

Toasted Marshmallow Icing
¾ cup sugar or superfine sugar*
1½ tablespoons light corn syrup
3 large egg whites
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Marshmallow Pumpkins Decoration – Williams-Sonoma

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 350° degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch round springform pan.

Brownie Layer
In a double boiler, or using a metal bowl set over simmering water, (the bowl should not touch the water) melt both chocolates and butter over low heat, stirring, until smooth. Remove the pan from heat and cool mixture to lukewarm. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, whisking well until mixture is glossy and smooth. Stir in salt and flour just until combined. Pour into the springform pan and smooth the top. Bake for 25 -30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out with moist crumbs attached. Remove from the oven, leaving the oven on, and cool the brownie layer slightly while you make the cream cheese layer.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Layer
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides often. Add the pumpkin and beat on medium until blended. Reduce to low speed and add the eggs, one at a time. When well mixed, add in the vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and flour, mixing on low, and scraping down the sides, until well combined. Pour the cheesecake filling over baked brownie base and smooth the top. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the center is set. Set on a rack and cool for 30 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake and remove the springform. Cool completely.

Toasted Marshmallow Topping
Set a heatproof bowl from an electric mixer over a saucepan of simmering water. Be sure the bowl is not touching the water. Add the sugar, corn syrup, egg whites, and vanilla. Cook over medium heat, whisking frequently until all the sugar has dissolved into the egg, about 2 minutes, and the mixture registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the heat.

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the mixture on high speed until glossy and voluminous, about 7 minutes. Spread over the center of the cheesecake, leaving a 1” border, and using as much topping as you desire. Pull and swirl the topping with a spoon. Using a kitchen torch, brown the edges of the topping or place under the oven broiler to brown – being careful to avoid over-browning. Decorate with marshmallow pumpkins and serve.

Makes 10-12 servings.

*Superfine sugar dissolves faster. You can find it at specialty grocery stores or make your own by running white sugar in a food processor until ground very fine.