Kathy Wakile from "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" (Bravo) has written a dessert cookbook called "Indulge" (St. Martin's Griffin), which drops Tuesday, September 2.
She came to the set to make Strawberry Shortcake Puffs, Chocolate Tiramisu, and Pumpkin Spice Babycakes. She shared these recipes from the new book.
STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE PUFFS
Swap in choux for shortcake, fill with strawberry cream instead of plain whipped cream, and finish with a simple strawberry sauce—every bit as sweet and comforting as the all-American original, but with the airy magic of a cream puff.
Makes about 4 dozen
12 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled, or one 12-ounce bag frozen strawberries, thawed
2 tablespoons Chambord or other berry liqueur
½ cup granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup cold heavy cream
4 dozen Puff Shells (see below)
Chantilly Cream, for serving (see below)
Sliced fresh strawberries, for garnish
Combine the strawberries, liqueur, and sugar in a medium bowl, stir to mix, then leave to macerate at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
Transfer the soaked fruit to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a standard blade and process it to a fine purée.
Scoop ¼ cup of the purée into a small bowl; cover and refrigerate until well chilled.
To make the strawberry drizzle, transfer the remaining strawberry purée to a small saucepan and bring it to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer 5 minutes, then press the fruit through a fine-mesh sieve set over a small bowl, pressing with a spoon. Scrape into the bowl any fruit mixture that clings to the outside of the sieve. Discard the solids trapped in the sieve and transfer the strained mixture back to the saucepan. In a small bowl combine the cornstarch with 1 teaspoon water and stir until completely dissolved and very smooth. Add the slurry to the pan and stir the mixture constantly until it thickens, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, cool to room temperature, and transfer to a squeeze bottle or pitcher.
To make the strawberry cream, in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, whip the cold cream to very stiff peaks. Gradually add the chilled berry purée and whip until well combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use; rewhip if needed before spooning into cream puffs.
Make the cream puff shells, baking and cooling them, then cutting off the tops as directed on page 98. Spoon chilled strawberry cream into the puffs. Top each with a small dollop of Chantilly cream and a zigzag of strawberry drizzle. Garnish with sliced fresh strawberries.
6 tablespoons water
6 tablespoons whole milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
¾ cup sifted all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
Confectioners' sugar, for serving
Long, thin strips of lemon zest, for serving.
Two Large Baking Sheets
To make the choux, preheat the oven to 425°F with one rack positioned in the top third of the oven and one rack positioned in the bottom third. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine the water, milk, butter, and salt in a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the flour all at once and stir vigorously until a dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the saucepan, 1 to 2 minutes. Continue turning the dough 1 to 2 more minutes (it will form a ball), then remove the saucepan from the heat.
Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer and let it cool for 5 minutes. Put the paddle attachment on the mixer, turn on the machine to medium-low, and add the eggs 1 at a time, blending in each egg before adding the next. Continue beating the dough until it is smooth and shiny, 2 to 3 minutes.
Working in batches, transfer the dough to a large pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch plain round tip and pipe 1-inch rounds, spacing them 2 inches apart, onto the prepared baking sheets. Smooth the tops with a wet finger. You can also scoop rounded tablespoons of the dough onto the baking sheets, but piping is much neater. (You can freeze the unbaked dough on the baking sheets, then transfer to freezer bags. Bake without thawing, adding a couple of minutes to the baking time.)
Bake the puffs for 15 minutes at 425°F. Then quickly rotate the baking sheets top to bottom and front to back, and lower the oven temperature to 350°F. Continue baking just until the puffs are dry, firm, and golden brown, about 10 more minutes, keeping a very close eye on them to prevent overbrowning. Cool the puffs on baking sheets. Do not fill until completely cooled to room temperature. (The baked, cooled, unfilled puffs can be frozen for up to 3 months. Freeze on the baking trays, transferring to ziptop freezer bags once frozen. Thaw at room temperature before filling.)
To fill the puffs, use a small sharp knife to cut the top quarter off of each puff. Pull out any soft dough that remains in the bottoms of the puffs.
PUMPKIN SPICE BABYCAKES
If there's an easier and tastier recipe for homemade cake than this, I haven't found it yet. It's the kind of treat you can throw together on the fly, without planning or shopping ahead, as long as you have the most basic baking staples and some pumpkin purée on hand (it's one of those canned items that seems to take up residence in the cupboard, know what I mean?). The fragrant little cakes are so moist and delicious, you really could go without the mascarpone frosting.
But don't get me wrong; I'm not saying you should go without the frosting . . . it is divinely creamy, super-easy, and dresses up the quick little cakes beautifully.
Makes about 3 dozen
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
¼ cup orange juice
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup pure pumpkin purée
Mascarpone Frosting (see below)
Two heavyweight nonstick 24-cavity mini muffin pans
Pastry bag and large star tip
Preheat the oven to 350°F with two racks positioned in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Grease the mini muffin pans.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt.
In a separate large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, orange juice, and vanilla and beat to combine. Then add the pumpkin and mix well. (The batter will look very unappealing at this point—no worries!)
Stir in the flour mixture just until incorporated.
Spoon the batter into the pans, filling 36 of the cavities about two-thirds of the way to the rim.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until the tops of the cakes are evenly browned and spring back when gently pressed with a finger, rotating the pans front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Set the pans on wire racks and let the cakes cool to room temperature before easing them out of the cups.
Cut the cakes in half crosswise and use a piping bag fitted with a star tip to fill with frosting. Pipe a little star of frosting onto the center of the tops to give them a pretty finishing touch. Chill to set, about 1 hour, then let sit 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.
Tip: One cup pure pumpkin purée is half of a 15-ounce can of pumpkin purée. You can double the recipe to use the entire can all at once, but you can also freeze the leftover purée: transfer it to a zip-top freezer bag and squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing. Thaw before using to make another round of babycakes—or step it up to the sticky buns (page 45)!
Makes about 2½ cups
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
One 8-ounce tub mascarpone, at room temperature
Combine the cream cheese, butter, and sugar in a large bowl and blend with a mixer on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, then switch the machine to medium-high and beat until light and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and beat to incorporate.
Pour off any water that has separated out of the mascarpone. Add the mascarpone to the bowl and beat on low just until incorporated (take care not to overbeat, or you'll have grainy frosting).
Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 week (bring to room temperature before using).
CIOCCOLATO (Chocolate Tiramisu)
For my chocolate version of tiramisu, I use chocolate liqueur in place of both the marsala in the zabaglione and the Tia Maria in the soak for the ladyfingers. I also add layers of rich, velvety ganache. Dreamy!
MAKES 12 TO 18
3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
¼-cup plus 2 tablespoons chocolate liqueur, preferably Godiva Dark Chocolate, divided
1 cup brewed espresso coffee
One 6-ounce bar bittersweet (60% cacao) chocolate
1 cup cold heavy cream, divided
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
One 8-ounce tub mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
36 crisp Italian ladyfingers (savoiardi), plus more if needed
Chantilly Cream, for serving (see below)
Cocoa powder and/or grated dark or milk chocolate, for serving
Handheld electric mixer
Pastry bag and large round tip
12 to 18 small 3- to 4-ounce glass serving dishes
To make the zabaglione, combine the egg yolks, ¼ cup of the sugar, and ¼ cup of the liqueur in a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water (make sure the bowl is not touching the water) and beat constantly with a handheld electric mixer (or a whisk) for 8 to 10 minutes. As it cooks, the mixture will become frothy and thicken, initially turning almost spongy, then taking on a smoother consistency and becoming thick enough to form a ribbon (rather than dripping) from the beaters to the surface of the custard. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature. (Can be made up to 2 days ahead and kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)
To make the soaking liquid, stir together the hot espresso and the chocolate liqueur in a shallow bowl; let cool to room temperature. (Can be made ahead and kept in a jar in the refrigerator for several days.)
To make the ganache, finely chop the chocolate and put it in a medium heatproof bowl. Combine ½ cup of the heavy cream with the butter in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly. Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of liqueur and stir just to incorporate. Let sit 5 minutes, then stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature. (Can be made ahead and kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a week. Bring to room temperature before layering into the tiramisu.)
When you are ready to assemble the tiramisus, drain any watery liquid from the top of the mascarpone, give it a stir to soften, then stir it into the zabaglione until just combined. Whip the remaining ½ cup cream to stiff peaks in a large bowl, then gradually add the mascarpone-zabaglione mixture to the whipped cream a little at a time, folding gently to combine.
Cut the ladyfingers into pieces as needed to fit the serving dishes you are using (you may need short little pieces for the bottom and middle layer, but longer pieces to stand up around the sides of the dishes). Dip the cookies in the espresso soaking liquid, letting them absorb some of the syrup but not so much that they go soggy—al dente toward the center is good.
Lay a soaked ladyfinger flat in the bottom of each serving dish, then stand a few cookie pieces on end (cut sides down) around the outside of the dish (leave space between them; you want the velvety cream to peek through). Use a pastry bag to pipe in a layer of the mascarpone mixture (you can spoon it in instead, but piping is much neater and easier). Use another pastry bag (or a heavyweight zip-top bag with one of the bottom corners cut off) to pipe in a thin layer of ganache. Follow that with another ladyfinger and repeat layering to fill the dishes. (Can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. These also freeze beautifully; thaw overnight in the refrigerator.)
Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Top with Chantilly cream, a dusting of cocoa, and a sprinkling of grated chocolate.
Tip: Tiramisu, especially the more complex variations, breaks down into components that are easy to prepare one at a time and keep well for days, so I typically make it in stages and hold off on assembly until the day before I'm going to serve.
Makes about 2 cups
1 cup cold heavy cream
Seeds from ½ vanilla bean, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar, optional
Combine the cream, vanilla, and sugar in a large bowl and whip to soft peaks.
From "Indulge" by Kathy Wakile, with Miriam Harris. Copyright 2014 by the authors and reprinted by permission of St. Martin's Griffin, an imprint of St. Martin's Press, LLC. Food photos by Andrei Jackamets.