Florida Strawberry, Lavender Farmers Cheese and California Walnut Braided Pastries

How could there not be pastries at a brunch, desserts are a must, right?  Best for last?  California Walnuts sent all the participants of #BrunchWeek a bag of fresh from the tree walnuts and I was thrilled to use them for a scrumptious sweet #BrunchWeek finale!

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Strawberries are the perfume of the produce section right now in our Florida groceries.  I love this time of year with all the U-Pick farms, the road side stands filled with just picked berries.  With the inspiration from the berries and the beautiful earthiness of the fresh walnuts I thought making a pastry would be perfect.  To emphasize seasonal I wanted to use a floral essence, so I added the lavender.  Perfectly seasonal!

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Ingredients

  • 16 ounces strawberries, cleaned and sliced
  • 16 ounces of puff pastry sheets (2 sheets)
  • 1 cup California Walnuts, chopped
  • Lavender Pastry Cream
  • 1 egg, beaten for egg wash

 Lavender Simple Syrup:

  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon water
  • ½ teaspoon dried lavender

 In a small sauce pan but sugar, water and lavender in and bring to a rapid simmer for about one minute reducing to about half.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. 

 Lavender Farmers Cheese Pastry Cream

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 7.8 ounces farmers cheese (8 is fine, but the package I used was 7.8, either way)
  • 2 tablespoon lavender simple syrup
  • 2 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

 Add the softened cheese to a bowl and beat until combined.  Add in remaining ingredients and whip until the mixture is light and fluffy, and completely mixed. Place in piping bag if you like, but a spoon will work just as well.

Method: 

Preheat oven to 400.

On a floured surface, roll one puff pastry sheet out to be 1/8 inch height to about a 12×10 square.  Cut with a knife down the center so there are now two 6×10 sections.  Trim a triangle from the corners of each section.  Cut angled strips down the 10 inch length of the dough, about ½ inch apart, make the same number of cuts on each side.  

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Pipe or spread a ¼ of the pastry cream down the center of the each piece.  Top with 4 ounces of cut and cleaned strawberries and then sprinkle ¼ cup of walnuts down the center.
 

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Make a fold with the top piece of the pastry over the berries. Starting at one end, fold the pastry strips over the filling, alternating sides, to cover the filling.  Place on a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush with egg wash.

Repeat with remaining cut section of pastry, and then repeat with the second sheet of pastry dough.  Place two braided pastries on each baking sheets.

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until pastries are golden brown.  Allow to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.  Cut each piece in half or in quarters depending how much your stomach is growling.

Makes 8 large or 16 regular size pastries.

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These pastries could be a little sweeter for some, but a simple sanding sugar after brushing them with the egg wash would do the trick.  The lavender is very delicate, not overpowering at all- infact, one may not even notice.  The California Walnuts earthiness were the perfect complement to the light floral, the farmers cheese and to the sweet strawberries. 

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As #BrunchWeek comes to a close today, leaving us with a library of ways to treat the Mom’s of the world tomorrow- I wanted to shout out again to all the participants of #BrunchWeek, and especially Terri of Love and Confections, and Christine of Cook The Story who made it all happen- You ladies are Fabulicious!

Join us at the #PinChat today, May 11th from 2-3 Eastern, for a chance to win prizes and participate in #BrunchWeek closing ceremonies!!  Until then- take a look at all this mouth watering goodness!

Brunch Drink Recipes

Frozen Grasshopper by Amanda’s Apron
Gin and Sparkling Red Wine Cocktail by Take A Bite Out Of Boca
Chocolate Trifle {kid friendly} by Real Housemoms
Vanilla Pomegranate Mojito by Noshing With The Nolands
Cherry Sangria by Cooking In Stilettos

Potato Brunch Recipes

Parmesan Roasted Red Potatoes with Vidalia Onions and Thyme by Cook the Story
A Salad Called German Potato by The Vintage Cook

Breads, Grains, Cereals and Pancake-type Yums

Chocolate Chip Craisin Granola Bars by Big Bear’s Wife
Dandelion Pesto Pizza by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Biscoff Walnut Granola Parfaits by White LIghts on Wednesday
Stuffed French Toast by poet in the pantry
Pina Colada French Toast by The Domestic Mama & The Village Cook
Sourdough Epi Baguettes with Rhubarb Blood Orange Ginger Jam by Spontaneous Tomato
Carrot Cake Pancakes by Love and Confections

Spreads and Dips for Brunch

Strawberry-Kiwi Jam by Sweet Remedy
Grilled Pineapple and Walnut Dip by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner

Brunch Dessert Recipes

Raspberry Sweet Rolls with Meyer Lemon Glaze by by Cravings of a Lunatic

Vanilla Maple Dutch Baby

Some call it Poffertje, some call it a Bismark, a German Pancake, or a Dutch Puff; but I think of it as a Breakfast Popover.  I have had a long time affection for popovers, and am happy to have found a way to work them into the breakfast meal period.  The best part is no matter how bare the shelves in the refrigerator are, I almost always have what I need to make this special breakfast treasure. 

Vanilla Maple Dutch Baby, AKA Breakfast Popovers

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup bread flour (substitute all-purpose if you don’t have any Bread flour on your shelf)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • confectioner sugar
  • maple syrup

    Maple Vanilla Dutch Baby

 

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Arrange the racks in the oven to leave the middle rack available and put in a 10 inch skillet (or oven proof skillet) to heat.  While pan is heating, mix the batter.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whip the eggs until light and airy; add milk, flour and vanilla extract; whip for 5 minutes until smooth and creamy.

3. Remove pan from oven and drop in butter, swirling the pan until the butter is melted.  Immediately pour in batter and place back into the oven. 

4. Bake from 20 to 25 minutes until puffed and golden in color.  Remove from oven and drizzle maple syrup over the puff, shake confectioner sugar to finish.  Serve immediately.

 

You can switch around the flavors- add chocolate drizzle, fresh berries, warm pie filling or the tradtional squeeze of lemon and powder sugar!

 

Serves from 4 to 1 friends, the less people the luckier the serving 🙂

Artisan Mini Donuts and a Tea Party

Artisan Mini Donuts and a Tea Party!

Today I felt like I stepped back in time to my childhood bedroom.  There is a small table set up with miniature china plates, teacups and saucers and a lovely host is asking how many lumps everyone will take.  The chairs are filled with dolls and stuffed animals with one petite chair waiting for me  to sit…… Are they familiar memories?  Do you ever look back at moments like those?

There are a few loves that a girl takes with her from childhood to adulthood.  No matter how old or how busy life gets, girls just can’t resist “cute”; we adore things like scissors and construction paper, and there are never too many sprinkles, never.  I suppose this lends a hand in our obsession of cupcakes, the adorable cookies, donuts and popsicle that are so popular right now.

I’ve seen Donut Makers in the stores lately and was recently inspired to make artisan donuts myself.  They are just so darn cute, I could not resist.  Cute Tea Party would meet sophisticated, grown up treat, that was the goal. I made 3 flavors; the machine is great- so easy to use.  They really did not take much time at all, and would be perfect to take to a tea party or more likely in my world,  an early tailgate….

Can these get cuter? Little girls are screaming in delight over these!

Recipes adapted from Bella Mini Donut Instruction Manual

Pumpkin Latte Mini Donuts

Batter

  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice

Glaze

  • 4 tbsp confection sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin puree

Garnish

  • Instant Espresso Powder, sprinkle lightly

Pumpkin Glaze and Instant Espresso Powder- Lightly sprinkle the espresso, trust me....

Combine all dry ingredients and stir well.  Add remaining ingredients and beat until batter is mixed well.  Follow directions of donut maker.  Allow donuts to cool.  Combine glaze ingredients in microwave proof bowl, stir well.  Heat in microwave for 15 seconds and stir.  Dip donuts into glaze and allow excess to drip off.  Garnish before glaze sets.

Makes about 20 mini donuts

Rocky Road Mini Donuts

Batter

  • ¾ cup unbleached, presifted flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 (1.4 oz) package Jell-O Instant Sugar Free Fat Free Chocolate Pudding mix
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp chocolate syrup
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil

Glaze

  • 4 tbsp confection sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk

Garnish

  • 60 mini marshmallows, cut in ½
  • 2 tbsp toasted chopped nuts

Creme Glaze and Marshmallow Halves, ready for toasting!

Combine all dry ingredients and stir well.  Add remaining ingredients and beat until batter is mixed well.  Follow directions of donut maker.  Allow donuts to cool.  Combine glaze ingredients in microwave proof bowl, stir well.  Heat in microwave for 15 seconds and stir.  Dip donuts into glaze and allow excess to drip off.  Garnish with the mini marshmallows before glaze sets.  With a creme brulee torch carefully toast the marshmallows (if you don’t have a torch, no worries, they still taste great).

Makes about 20 mini donuts

Torching marshmallows. If you don't have a torch, put it on your christmas list. It is use full for so many things, meringues, melting cheese, blistering tomatoes and a ton more.

The last donuts are Peach Cobbler, feel free to substitute the preserves with what is in season, or what you have in the pantry!

Peach Cobbler Donuts

Batter

  • ¾ cup unbleached, presifted flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp peach preserves
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil

Glaze

  • 4 tbsp confection sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk

Garnish

  • 1 tbsp butter, softened
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Creme Glaze and Cobbler Crumbles. Save any left over crumbles for muffins, pies, greek yogurt or even ice cream topping.

To make the Cobbler Crumbs, preheat oven to 350. Blend all ingredients with fork until crumbles.  Spread evenly onto parchment lined baking sheet and cook for 5 minutes.  Allow to cool and break into crumble topping.

While the crumble is baking combine all batter dry ingredients and stir well.  Add remaining ingredients and beat until batter is mixed well.  Follow directions of donut maker.  Allow donuts to cool.  Combine glaze ingredients in microwave proof bowl, stir well.  Heat in microwave for 15 seconds and stir.  Dip donuts into glaze and allow excess to drip off.  Garnish before glaze sets.

Makes about 12 mini donuts

Pumpkin Latte, Rocky Road, and Peach Cobbler Mini Donuts

Lesson learned, you are never to old to have a tea party.

Raspberry Lemon “Pop Tarts”….From Scratch!!!!!!!!

Homemade Raspberry Lemon "Poptarts"

WHAT???????  Homemade Pop Tarts?  Awesome… That was our reaction when we passed by the bin that housed these nifty cutters at William Sonoma this summer.   We spent the rest of the evening deliberating which flavor we loved best, and what flavors would be fun to try.  The good old brown sugar was a contender for sure, and smores too.  Sir Wes wants to see a savory play on Quiche and he tells me, “please add bacon”!  This pastry cutter is a childhood throwback for sure, but how can you go wrong with a “Poptart”?

While I have plenty of pie crust and pastry dough recipes, I like to consider the recipe given with the product.   With the logic that the company is the expert of their product, one would assume, the recipe they provide is a good one.  I adapt the method to suit my kitchen equipment and the flavors to fit my preferences.

The following recipe was adapted from William Sonoma.

The dough mis en place!

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 16 Tbs. (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 6 to 8 Tbs. ice water
  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam 
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp. water
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Colored sprinkles

The butter is icy cold!

Directions:

In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt and granulated sugar until combined. Add the butter and crumble with hands until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 6 Tbs. of the ice water and mix again with hands. The dough should hold together when squeezed with your fingers but should not be sticky. If it is crumbly, add more water 1 tsp. at a time, mixing after each addition. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, divide in half and shape each half into a disk. Wrap the disks separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. 



Hand mixing is a great way to learn about dough consistency!

The desired cornmeal consistency!

Dough discs, ready for refrigeration.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out 1 dough disc into a rectangle 1/8 inch thick. Using the outer ring of a toaster pastry press, cut out 8 pastries, rerolling the scraps as needed. Using a small offset spatula or a butter knife, spread 1 Tbs. of the jam onto each of 4 pieces of dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border.  Brush the edges with the beaten egg mixture. Top each with a plain piece of dough. Place the 2-piece press on top and press the inner ring down to seal the edges. Remove the mold. Transfer the pastries to a prepared baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Repeat with the remaining dough disc.

Flour coats the dough, the surface and the rolling-pin!

Dough is rolled!

Dough is cut!

Filled, Topped and Pressed!

Position 1 rack in the upper third and 1 rack in the lower third of an oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the toaster pastries until golden, about 30 minutes, reversing the positions of the baking sheets on the racks and rotating them from front to back halfway through the baking time. Let the pastries cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer the pastries to wire racks and let cool completely.

Golden brown, fresh out of the oven!

In a bowl, stir together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice until well combined. Using a spoon, lightly drizzle the icing onto the toaster pastries and shake sprinkles over top. Let the icing harden completely before serving. Makes 8 toaster pastries.

Homemade Raspberry Lemon "Poptarts"

I think these turned out perfectly, the dough was perfect.  I put them in the toaster oven the next morning to warm to serve.  I see many warm “Pop Tarts” in our future!  Chocolate Hazelnut, Heirloom Apples, Pumpkin Latte, ….plenty of options!