Easter Bunnies Stuck In Mud!

I wanted to make something quick and easy for the Easter holiday coming up.  I love chocolate and those marshmallow bunnies that only appear during this time of year, so I combined the two to make a dessert that the whole family can make together.  Let’s get hoppin’….

Cookie Crust (makes 9)

  • 1/2 package of Oreo Cookies (chocolate sandwich cookies)
  • 1/2 stick Butter, melted

Put the cookies into a food processor and give them a whirl until they become fine crumbs.  Mix with the melted butter.  I used a medium size muffin tin. You can use muffin cup liners or butter the insides of the cups, then pat cookie mixture onto bottom and sides of tin. Set aside.

Chocolate Pastry Cream

  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar

Put milk and sugar into a medium size saucepan and bring to a boil.  Stir occasionally.

  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 1 Whole Egg
  • 2 Heavy Tblsp Cornstarch
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 2 Tblsp Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1 package of Easter Marshmallow Bunnies
  • 1 Cup Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/4 Cup Evaporated Milk
  • Cool Whip
  • Green food coloring
  • jelly beans or mini malted milk eggs

In a heatproof bowl whisk the yolks,egg, cornstarch and sugar until combined.

Once milk and sugar come to a boil, pour it over the above ingredients and whisk until smooth. SAM_0708 Pour back into saucepan and on medium high heat stir until thickened and bubbly.  Take off the heat and add vanilla, butter and the 1/2 Cup of chocolate chips. Whisk until incorporated.SAM_0710Now we are going to fill the cookie crusts, it’s easiest to use a 1/4 measuring cup to pour the pudding into the crusts.  Be Careful it is hot. Cover the top of pan with saran wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

After the hour, take off saran wrap and push a marshmallow bunny into each pudding cup. Use any color of bunny or a variety of colors.  Let the kids stick the bunny into the mud!SAM_0712Next, put the cup of semi sweet chips and 1/4 cup evaporated milk in a bowl and microwave for 45 seconds, take out and stir, then microwave another 45 seconds. Stir until smooth.  Put this into a pastry bag and pipe this “chocolate mud” around the bunny. Make sure to cover the pudding. SAM_0713 Refrigerate a couple of hours or overnight.

Using a metal spatula go around each pudding cup to release them(or just lift out if you used muffin cup liners) Set them on a plate and decorate with green tinted Cool Whip. I put the Cool Whip into a pastry bag that has a grass tip on it, if you don’t have a grass tip, just use a spoon or fork to place some around the top edge of each pudding cup to look like grass. Have fun and use jelly beans or mini malted milk eggs to make them fancy.SAM_0725These are quite cute and very easy to make.  I like to pull the bunny out of the “mud” and eat him first!  Happy Easter everyone….

Mashed Potatoes Pierogi Bread

It has been so frigid in Pittsburgh, so I wanted to make some bread. Something hearty to warm me up and my kitchen.  I love Pierogi with mashed potatoes and onions, so let’s combine these flavors with a lovely homemade bread dough…………

Let’s make the mashed spuds and onions first:

  • 1 1/2 lbs Golden Potatoes (4 medium size) peeled and cubed
  • 2 Tblsp Butter
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 2 Tblsp Sour Cream
  • 1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 large Sweet Yellow Onions, diced
  • 1 stick (4 oz) Butter

Put the potatoes into a medium saucepan, cover with water and a little bit of salt.  Cook, with a lid on, until fork tender.  Drain, put into a mixer bowl. Using the paddle attachment, add the 2 Tblsp butter, salt, pepper, sour cream and cheddar. Mix until smooth, scrape down bowl.  Set aside to cool.

Now melt the stick of Butter in a large sautee pan, add that moutain of onions and cook until lightly golden. SAM_0685 Stir occasionally.  Season with salt and pepper, set aside to cool.

Bread Dough (makes 2 loaves)

  • 6 Cups White Bread Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp(1/4 oz envelope) Fast Active Dry Yeast
  • 2 2/3 Cup Lukewarm Water (check temp on wrist, not too hot or it will kill the yeast, not too cool or it will not activate it)
  • 1 1/2 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Sift the flour and salt together into a large bowl.  Mix the yeast and 2/3 Cup of the water until combined.  Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the yeast water.  Mix with a spatula, then add in the other 2 Cup of water and shredded cheddar.  Dump dough onto your work table.  You will knead this for 10 minutes. SAM_0688 Seems long, so I set a timer and make sure I have some music playing. This is very relaxing and this dough recipe is so soft and wonderful to work with.

Now place dough into an oiled bowl (I use veg oil).  Cover with oiled saran wrap.  Easiest to lay 2 sheets of plastic wrap on work table and use hands to wipe the sheets with the oil.  Let rise 1 hour.  SAM_0689After the hour, plop dough onto work table.  You don’t need to flour the table, the dough is not sticky.  Cut the dough in half. SAM_0690 One at a time, roll one half of the dough into a 15″ x 12″ rectangle.  Approximate, no need to get out the ruler!

Spread half of the cooled potato mixture over dough up to 1/2″ of the border.  I found it easiest to use spatula and hands to smooth it out. SAM_0692 Now take 1/4 of the onions and spread over the potato mixture.

SAM_0691Starting with sides of dough, fold them in about 1″ towards center, then start to roll up from bottom. SAM_0693 This will keep the filling inside of the bread.  Lay seam side down onto greased baking sheet. (or parchment lined, if you have it) Lightly flatten top of loaf with your hands and put another of the 1/4 of onions on top.  SAM_0697

Repeat with the other half of the dough.  Cover each loaf with a piece of that oiled saran wrap.  Let rise for 30 minutes. SAM_0698 If your kitchen is cold like mine, now is the time that I preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  It helps to warm up the kitchen which in turn allows the dough to rise better.

After dough has risen, take off saran wrap and place each sheet on separate oven racks.  Bake for 25 minutes, now switch tray positions, top to bottom, bottom to top, and bake for another 25 minutes.

Let cool on trays for 15 minutes, then put onto cooling racks, if you have them. SAM_0700

While these are baking, your kitchen will smell as if you are sauteeing pierogis in onions and butter.  I love this bread warm, no butter needed. The smooth texture of the potatoes, buttery onions and soft chew of the bread dough makes a perfect combination for bread and Pierogi lovers alike. Also a great addition to a Kielbasa dinner.  Make some tonight, it will warm up your kitchen and your belly!SAM_0701





Valentine’s Day Chocolate Pudding Puff Heart

I am so very happy to be blogging again!  What a way to start, but with a Valentines heart!  This is a cream puff heart topped with a rich chocolate pudding. Two sauces to accompany it, then a flavored powder sugar to dust it with.  Let’s getting going…..

We will make the sauces and the filling first, this way they have time to cool.

Raspberry Sauce  

  • 12 oz bag of frozen Raspberries
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup water

Place all ingredients into a small saucepan cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes.  The berries will break down and the sugar will melt.SAM_0593  Pour into a fine mesh strainer and push down and around with a spatula to get all the juices.  Don’t forget to scrape the underside of the strainer, there will be a lot of the yummy berry juices there too. SAM_0597 Cover and refrigerate.

Rich Chocolate Sauce

  • 1/2 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Cup Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

Heat the cream and sugar together until it comes to a boil, then pour over the chips. SAM_0594Stir to melt, then add 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract.  Let cool.

Oh, So Chocolatey Pudding (Pastry Cream)

  • 4 Cups Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 4 Egg Yolks
  • 2 Whole Eggs
  • 5 Tblsp Cornstarch
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Whipping Cream (to use later)

Bring the milk and the first 1/2 Cup sugar to a boil.  Stirring occasionally. Put the remainder of the ingredients into a heat proof bowl and whisk.  Pour the boiling milk and sugar mixture over this and whisk until blended.  Pour back into the pan and cook, stirring constantly until thick and bubbly. (about 3 minutes) Take off heat and stir in 2 oz butter (half stick), 1 Tblsp Vanilla and 1 Cup semi sweet chocolate chips.  Stir until all chips and butter are melted, and everything is combined.  Cover with saran wrap, pull back a corner of the wrap to allow steam to escape. Refrigerate.SAM_0603

Preheat oven to 375 degree

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. (If you don’t have parchment paper, you can pipe the dough right onto the ungreased baking sheet) You can draw 3 hearts onto each piece of parchment paper, if using, as a guide.SAM_0608 Just make sure to flip the paper over, this way the ink or pencil used won’t be baked onto the dough. (I did this years ago in Pastry class, I had to throw out the dough and start over! Yikes!)

Cream Puff Hearts (Pate A Choux)

  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1/2 pound Butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 7 Eggs

Bring the water, butter and salt to a rapid boil.  Add in the flour, stir quickly with a wooden spoon until it balls together. SAM_0604This only takes about 3 minutes.  Pour this into a mixer, using the paddle attachment on medium speed, mix for 10 minutes until room temperature.  You can feel the bottom of  the mixing bowl for the proper temp.  We want to bring down the temp of the dough so we don’t end up cooking the eggs that we will add to it.  After the 10 minutes, add the eggs in one at a time, until they are all combined.

Put some of the dough into a pastry bag using a large star tip.  Pipe the dough into the shape of a medium size heart, working the next row of piping inside of that.  Then in the middle of the heart pipe a small heart on top.  SAM_0610This dough is very forgiving, so if you aren’t happy with the shape, scrape it back into the bag and try it again.  Make it fun, we are not looking for perfection here!

There is enough dough to make 6 medium size hearts.

Bake for 15 minutes, then switch tray positions, (top tray to bottom, bottom tray to top) and bake for another 15 minutes.  Let cool completely.  They will fall, that is what we want because this is the base of our dessert.  We are not looking for a round ball, like a cream puff shape.

Assembly time, let the fun begin!

Bring out the raspberry sauce, chocolate sauce and chocolate pudding.  Let’s lighten up this chocolate pudding by whipping up a 1/2 cup of whipping cream.  Once it reaches a stiff peak, fold it into the chocolate pudding. (You just made a mousseline!)

For the flavored powder sugar, this is a tip that I learned at a bakery, mix 1 cup of powdered sugar and half of a small box of jello(3 oz size, just the dry jello powder) I used raspberry jello because I made a raspberry sauce.  This easy tip adds such flavor to the powder sugar you will be pleasantly surprised. Try all different flavors of dry jello to powder sugar to flavor it for various desserts.

Place a puff heart onto a dessert plate, pipe the chocolate mousseline on top, outlining the heart.  I left the center open so you can see the little heart that was piped on top.  Take your raspberry and chocolate sauces (you can microwave the chocolate sauce for 30 seconds to make it thinner) and drizzle over the whole dessert.  Get creative, you can use either a spoon or a fork for the drizzles.  Now take that flavored powder sugar and place some into a sifter, or a fine mesh strainer and sift that over the outside of the dessert onto the plate or over the whole dessert. I opted for the latter, because I just love the taste of this flavored powder sugar.SAM_0631

Serve this to your Lovey on Valentines Day.  I love the custard like texture of the heart, then the luscious creaminess of the chocolate mousseline.  The raspberry and chocolate sauce adds depth to the dessert.  There is a tang from the raspberry and a richness from the semi sweet chocolate sauce.  Let’s not forget my favorite flavored powder sugar topping.  You will be dipping your finger into this, like I did.  This dessert says Valentines to me, chocolate, raspberries…..Yummy!  If you prefer strawberries, by all means make a strawberry sauce and use strawberry jello powdered sugar.

All my love to everyone….Pastry Jane

Correction to the Buttery Brioche in Muffin Tins

I failed to mention when to put the 2 eggs into the Buttery Brioche in muffin tins recipe.  I have corrected this in the recipe.  Sorry for the blooper.  I am so grateful that a viewer found this, I do triple check my recipes.  Now that this is corrected, there is no excuse for everyone to try these for Easter!  Very rich, soft and yummy!

Pumpkin Spice Cake Torte

Can you believe Thanksgiving is next week?  Need something quick and delicious for dessert?  I think I have it for you, tastes just like a pumpkin roll but much easier to assemble.  Let’s get started….

Pumpkin Spice Cake

  • 1 Box of Spice Cake Mix (I like Duncan Hines)
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Veggie Oil
  • 1 (15 0z) can of Pumpkin
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

Using a whisk mix all ingredients together until combined.


Pour batter evenly into three parchment lined 9″ Springform pans.


 Tap pans on table to even out the batter.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, now rotate pans from bottom rack to top rack, then top rack pans to bottom rack. Bake for another 10 minutes.  Let cool in the pans for 20 minutes, then remove springform rings.  Carefully take cake layer out of pans by putting your hand underneath and using the parchment paper to place the cake layers onto a cooling rack.  This cake is very moist so take your time doing this.


While the layers are cooling, let’s make the Cream Cheese Filling.  You bet it is the same filling that you would find in a pumpkin roll!

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 8 oz package Cream Cheese (room temperature)
  • 4 oz Butter (1 stick, also room temperature)
  • 1 pound of Powdered Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Using the paddle attachment mix all ingredients until combined.  Then kick it up to high speed for 3 minutes or so.

Place one layer of cake onto whatever cake plate that you have or a cake stand.  Take half of the filling and spread all over the layer, then top with another cake layer.  Use the last of the filling and spread over that layer, then top it off with the last layer.  If you like walnuts, toast some up and sprinkle them over the cream cheese filling.  I didn’t have any in my pantry so I made it without, just as yummy!


Refrigerate for at least an hour.  Before serving dust the top of the torte with powdered sugar and walnuts if you are using them.


The cake is oh so moist…. the spice cake mix combined with the pumpkin makes it taste just like a pumpkin roll, but in a torte style. So easy to make and assemble. This will be the quickest dish that you prepare for Thanksgiving dinner.  Your guests will think that it took you all day in the kitchen to make such a gourmet dessert.  I won’t tell them otherwise if you don’t want me to!

Enjoy your Thanksgiving Holiday!


Pumpkin n’ Cinnamon Quick Bread w/ Brown Sugar Oat Streusel

All the sights and smells of Autumn is in the air.  It seems that there are pumpkins on display everywhere you go.  This is great baking weather, not too hot to fire up the oven.  So let’s take two seasonal ingredients: pumpkin and cinnamon and layer them into a spicy quick bread.  Your house will be filled with this lovely aroma as they bake.

Pumpkin & Cinnamon Quick Bread ( 2 Loaves)

  • 1 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Cup Crisco
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 Cup Flour
  • 1 Tblsp Baking Powder
  • 2 tsp Baking soda
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Vanilla

Mix the first four ingredients until well combined, scrape down sides of bowl.  Add in the last five ingredients and mix until just combined. (We don’t want to overbeat the batter because it has baking powder and soda in it)


 Divide the batter evenly into two bowls.   Into one half of the batter, using a spatula, mix in 1  1/4 Cup Pumpkin and 1 1/2 tsp Pumpkin pie spice.  With the other half of the batter mix in 1/3 Cup Dark Brown Sugar and 2 tsp Cinnamon. (use your fingers to break up the brown sugar so there will not be any lumps in your batter.)  Grease 2 loaf pans, and layer one fourth of the pumpkin batter into the bottom of each pan.  Spread with an offset spatula and tap pans down on the table to level the batter.  Now divide the cinnamon batter into both pans evenly, half of the batter into each.


Gently spread batter with a spatula to cover the pumpkin batter, then tap down pans to level.  Now put the remainder of the pumpkin batter onto each loaf, spread to cover and tap pans to level.


Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.  While these are baking, let’s make our streusel.

Brown Sugar and Oatmeal Streusel

  • 6 Tblsp Cold Butter (cut into pieces)
  • 3/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Oats
  • 1/2 Cup Flour
  • Dash of Salt

Mix with the paddle attachment until crumbly, a.k.a streuselly!


After the 40 minute baking time, carefully take out the loaves and divide the streusel over each.  Put back into the oven for another 15 minutes.


Let them cool in the pans for about a half an hour.  Then take a butter knife and run it around the sides of the pans and tilt the loaves out.  Set them on a cooling rack. ( I finally broke down and bought two cooling racks! ) Let them cool down to room temperature before slicing.


This truly tastes like Autumn to me.  The spicy pumpkin layer intertwined with the brown sugar cinnamon batter, let’s not forget the added crunch from the brown sugar & oat streusel.  Take the time to make these on a cool Autumn eve, while the kids are carving their pumpkins!

Concord Grape Cream Cheese Tarts

I was eating some grapes the other night, and thought that there must be something to do with these juicy orbs, rather than just tossing them into a fruit salad. I started to think what pairs well with grapes, I imagine cream cheese, yes…. like a bit of cheesecake.  My wheels started turning and I came up with this dessert.  Grapes are abundant and reasonably priced, feel free to use any seedless grape you enjoy.  Let’s  starts on these tarts!

Sweet Pastry Dough

  • 9 oz Flour
  • 4 Tblsp Sugar
  • Dash of Salt
  • 6 1/2 oz Butter (1  3/4  Sticks, cold)
  • 1 1/2 Egg Yolks
  • 3 Tblsp Water

Mix together the flour, sugar, salt and butter until crumbly.  In a separate bowl stir together the yolks and water.  Pour into the flour mixture, only mix until combined.  Don’t overbeat, this will produce a tough dough.

Pat the dough into 8  Jumbo size cupcake tins.  Make sure to pat up the sides, get the thickness as even as you can, about 1/4 inch thick.


 Prick the crust all over using a fork.  Freeze for 15 minutes.

Bake them in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, take them out and using the back of a spoon pat the crusts up the sides.


(this dough tends to slide)  Now bake them another 10 minutes, until golden brown.  Let them cool completely.  While they are cooling let’s make the filling.

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 2  (8 oz) Cream Cheese, room temperature
  • 3 Tblsp Sugar
  • 2 tsp Corn Starch
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • Juice and Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 large Egg

Using the paddle attachment beat the  cream cheese until smooth.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically.  This takes about 10 minutes, you want the cheese to be creamy with absolutely no lumps.  Slowly add the sugar, scrape down bowl.  Mix the cornstarch, vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest together, then pour into the batter.  Scrape down the sides of bowl.  Add the egg, mix only until combined.  Using a 1/4  measuring cup pour the batter into the cooled crusts.


Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, until set yet a little jiggly in the center.  Let them cool at room temp, then put them into the frig.  While these our cooling we will make the grape gelee, sounds fancy, but it is quite easy.

Concord Grape Gelee

  • 1 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 1 frozen Concord Grape juice concentrate (thaw and mix with 2 cans of water, not the recommended 3)
  • 1 Tblsp Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Bunch of seedless Grapes, cut in half

We will be using only 1 cup of the grape juice, save the rest for breakfast.  Take only 1/4 cup of the grape juice and put it in a saucepan.  Sprinkle the gelatin over the juice and let sit a minute. (this is considered allowing the gelatin to bloom)


 Bring the juice and gelatin to a simmer, stirring until the gelatin is dissolved.  Take off the heat and stir in the remaining 3/4 Cup of grape juice and the lemon juice.  Pour into a stainless bowl and put in the freezer to set up.  Check on it every so often, and give it a swirl.  We are looking for the consistency of a pourable jelly.

Take the cream cheese tarts out of the frig, and using a spoon take out about 1 tablespoon or so of the filling.  We need room for the gelee.


Pour the gelee on top with a large spoon, divide it amongst the 8 tarts.  Now place the halved grapes on top in a circular pattern.


Cover lightly with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight.  To depan them use a spatula and slide it around each tart.


Quite yummy by itself, or dress it up with some grape sorbet.  I love the crunch of the pastry crust and the silkiness of the cream cheese filling.


 The tang of the lemon shines through just enough to compliment the sweetness of the gelee and the grapes on top.  Now we have an alternative way to utilize grapes, forget the fruit salad and give this a try!  This is a way to use up your grapes, rather then letting them turn to raisins in the frig!  Enjoy!