Catering by Linda

Archive for December, 2015

2016: A Year to Try Something New!

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

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Come every new year, we are encouraged to better ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally. We are surrounded by “Top 10” tips for everything from getting in shape and being mindful to saving energy and starting a new hobby. Just thinking about adding a host of new activities and tasks to my already-overflowing “to do” list is so overwhelming that it makes me want to crawl back in bed for the day (or week) come January 1st. However, in an effort to welcome some self-improvement– even at the ripe old age of 50– I do stretch myself occasionally, and most definitely can be taught “new tricks.”
So seeing an opportunity to try something new in the kitchen, and recognizing that I might have a couple hours to put together a show-stopper of a dessert for an after-Christmas family gathering, I decided to try my hand at a croquembouche. Alli quickly deemed it a “croak”embouche, because she said it would be “so good, it’ll make us croak,” but in all seriousness, croquembouche is translated as “crunch in the mouth.” The idea is simple: mini cream puffs are held in tower form by caramel. The effect is awesome: light puffs, creamy centers, and hard and crackly exteriors. I made the cream puffs and custard the day ahead and stored them on the counter and in the fridge, respectively. The caramel had to be made last-minute and is used to assemble the filled puffs in a cone formation. When the caramel hardens, it holds the form and provides that “crunch” that gives the croquembouche its name.
When my siblings and their families arrived, I was still piecing it all together so they got a chance to see how it was made. Donna helped dip the puffs in the sauce and ate some of the threads of caramel that dangled until I told her that they could be left on for “character.” We both burned ourselves on the caramel just once, which was good Karma according to the directions which said that the caramel burns were “battle wounds” and were “indicative of a croquembouche made by loving hands.”
When it came time to eat it, we all pulled a few puffs off with our hands, and happily licked our sticky fingers. It was addictive– one of those desserts you leave out on the table so that guests can grab another piece as they walk past the dining room table.
I am already looking forward to making it again for a special occasion and am glad that I took the chance to learn how to make quite a few new things in 2015. Tonight, as we ring in the new year, I am making churros for the first time. I think this “trying something new in the kitchen” is a habit that is here to stay.
Looking forward to hearing what new things you might be trying out in the kitchen! Feel free to share!

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Catering by Linda