The Pastry School Diaries: A Choux In!

Editorial Assistant Lauren Katz is enrolled in the part-time Baking & Pastry Arts program at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education. Follow her each week as she shares her sweet experiences!


I was 16 the first time I ever made pate a choux, the dough used to make cream puffs and eclairs. I remember so vividly standing over the stove, boiling milk, butter and sugar, adding flour and vigorously stirring the pot until a cohesive dough formed, and then ruining all of my hard work by cracking eggs directly into the hot pot and scrambling them into the dough. My mom compared the consistency to that of matzoh balls, gave me her typical “I told you so” spiel about impatiently ignoring the directions and told me to start over.


When I found out we were going to make pate a choux in class, I was excited to have another chance to work on my technique. The procedure we were taught was exactly the same–except for one crucial detail, a word that gets used almost every day in the pastry kitchen: tempering. To temper something means to either increase or decrease the temperature of it, which is quite easy given the proper ingredients and instruction. T0 temper choux dough, slowly pour beaten eggs into the pot where your butter-milk-flour mixture has cooked and stir it continuously until the mixture is cool enough (it feels warm to the touch but not scalding) to dump the remaining eggs in. Scrambling the eggs in my dough could have been easily avoided had I just tempered it first. Lesson learned.



In class I wound up with a beautifully soft and smooth choux dough, ready to be piped, baked, filled and eaten. I couldn’t wait to share photos of my successful desserts with my mom: cream puffs stuffed with homemade ice cream, also known as profiteroles (pictured above), and one of my proudest accomplishments, croquembouche, a tower of cream puffs filled with pastry cream and held together by caramel sauce (pictured below).



You can see I’ve come a long way from my matzoh ball-like choux days– this was one sweet feat!


Check back next Friday for another delicious adventure!

The Pastry School Diaries: Never Buy Marshmallows Again

Editorial Assistant, Lauren Katz, has enrolled in the part time Baking & Pastry Arts program at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education. Follow her each week as she shares her sweet experience!

After a month of classes, I finally feel adjusted to my new schedule and the pastry school curriculum. I’m becoming more comfortable working in an industrial kitchen, cooking sugar, whipping egg whites and chopping fruit. I’ve already noticed a difference between baking at home and baking in a professional kitchen: we weigh all of our ingredients to the gram, a clean station is a must and we’re not just baking delicious treats– we’re developing an understanding of the science behind each of them, as well.

When I hear the word, ‘gelatin,’ the first thing that comes to mind, of course, is Jell-O. But we quickly learned that gelatin is used in all sorts of desserts, like panna cotta and marshmallows. Gelatin is essential to these desserts because it is a hyrdrocolloid, or stabilizing agent. Hydrocolloids are added to heated water to influence a dessert’s texture. Lucky for us, rather than just understanding what gelatin does, we got to see it in action.


Our Chef Instructor, Jenny McCoy, pouring freshly whipped marshmallow batter into a sheet pan to set.


I was a bit intimidated at first to try my hand at homemade marshmallows, but I’m so glad I got the chance to learn how simple it is. You just let the gelatin bloom and soften in cold water, boil a mixture of corn syrup and water, combine it with your gelatin, whip it until room temperature, add your flavor and color and pour into a pan to chill. They come out beautifully.



They taste delicious, too! My class whipped up some fun flavors including vanilla, coffee-cinnamon, lemon, orange and almond. These sweet, fluffy pillows are nothing like what you can find in the store: they’re flavorful, chewy and delicate, and oh-so addictive. Then my favorite part of class comes: when we get to take home all that we’ve made. Marshmallows for days!!

My team’s vanilla bean marshmallows

Be sure to check back next Friday for a new sweet story!

The Easiest Biscuit Topping You’ll Ever Make

We’re so happy it’s National Biscuit Day– biscuits are the perfect food to eat for every meal! When it’s time for dessert, make a cobbler. Top it off with this simple and delicious biscuit topping that can be made two different ways: it can be rolled and cut into shapes or, even easier, turned into rustic drop biscuits. The difference? Just a few tablespoons of cream.

Read more

The Only Ice Cream Sandwich Recipe You’ll Need This Weekend

No matter the time of day or day of the week, we always love a good ice cream sandwich. But now that it’s the weekend (TGIF!), we’re in the mood for something truly decadent, delicious and reminiscent of our childhood. So grab your mixer (no ice cream maker necessary!) and that bright red food coloring and get to work on some Red Velvet Meltcakes. Seriously, they’re worth every bit of effort.



More Ways to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Out-of-the-Box S’mores Ideas

Throw Your Favorite Desserts on the Grill!

How do You Like Them Marshmallows?



Bake Your Heart Out: Blondies

We love brownies, and we’re  also sweet on blondies, their caramel-flavored cousin. Start with our simple recipe, then fun it up with the same mix-ins and toppings for our Mind-Blowing Brownies (ours are studded with dried cherries).



Basic Blondies

1 1/2 sticks butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 tsp. salt

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups flour


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang. Coat the foil with cooking spray.

2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Off heat, whisk in both sugars, vanilla and salt. Whisk until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well between additions. Add the flour; stir until just blended. Pour into the pan.

3. Bake  the blondies until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 40 minutes. cool in the pan set on a wire rack. Using the foil overhang, lift the blondies out of the pan. Cut into squares.



Related Links

12 Days of Cookies

An Extract for Every Occasion

Homemade Cookie 101

#RRWhatchaCookin featured cook of the week: @annmaries03

Every week, we check out YOUR food photos on Instagram and pick a
“Whatcha Cookin’ Wednesday Featured Cook of the Week” to appear on our blog and have a chance to be featured in a future issue of the magazine.

Instagram user @annmaries03 has some very lucky new next door neighbors! She baked them this beautiful chocolate chip banana bread which immediately caught our eye. Just check out those crispy edges and melty chocolate chips! What’s your favorite addition to banana bread?


Got a craving for banana desserts now? We’ve got tons! Click here and let the drooling commence.


Related Links

@thesparklekitchen’s brown sugar and caramel cookie cups

@pansyNsnowdrop’s chocolate and vanilla roll cake

@jthebaker40′s mixed berry cream puffs

Technique Tuesday: Homemade Cookie 101

Today is Homemade Cookie Day, and we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than by baking some treats of our own. But before we get out the butter, sugar and cookie cutters, there are some tips, tricks and pointers that every baker should know.



Best Baking Tools


Start with a baking sheet and for rolled cookies, a rolling pin. Nonstick silicone baking mats are great because you don’t need to grease a cookie sheet or roll out parchment paper. They’re super easy to clean and double as work surfaces. For a uniform cookie size and shape, use a melon baller or cookie scoop, and you’ll have perfect dollops every time.










Follow the Recipe


Unlike cooking, baking is more of a science, and requires you to follow the recipe down to that tiny 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg. Don’t use glass liquid-measuring cups for dry ingredients. Dry measuring cup sets allow you to scoop up dry goods and then level them using a straightedge, such as the back of a butter knife. Cool your hot cookie sheets in between batches, or else baking times and cookie shapes will be affected.









 Store them Smartly


To make your cookies last, cool them completely before storing, or else they’ll turn soggy. You can freeze baked cookies in an airtight container up to three months, and you can freeze cookie dough in wax paper up to one month. Wanna send someone some edible TLC? Pack the cookies in cellophane bags, which will help keep their texture. Stack small, flat cookies in cupcake baking liners before packing in a tin, and always remember to follow up with your loved one to make sure your cookies aren’t sitting in a mailbox for too long!






Related Links

Stuffed Holiday Cookies

Build a Better Butter

A Chocolate Chip Celebration


Saturday Supermarket Smarts: Cracking the Coconut Oil Code

With new products hitting the grocery stands every day, it’s hard to keep up with the latest food trends. Have no fear; we’re here to help! Each week, we’ll be highlighting a new product that’s worthy of a spot in your shopping cart and your kitchen.

The Product

Coconut oil is making its way from the grove to the grocery store. It comes in a jar as a creamy semisolid, but once heated will resemble more familiar oils like canola and peanut.


Why You Should Buy It

Coconut oil is a milder-tasting alternative to other oils, butter and shortening. In addition to raising levels of “good” (HDL) cholesterol, it contains lauric acid, which research suggests may boost your immune system and stimulate your metabolism.


How You Should Use It

It makes the perfect substitution for vegetable or canola oil in cooking and baking.

With a high smoke point, coconut oil can withstand high temps without burning, so swap out the vegetable oil in our Vegetable-Noodle Stir Fry.

Make your baked goods feel just a little healthier, since it contains a low amount of unsaturated fat and lots of antioxidants. Replace the canola oil in Gigi’s Apple Cake.

A neutral smell and pleasantly nutty flavor make coconut oil a great dairy-free substitute for frosting recipes that call for cream cheese or butter, like our Triple-Layer Carrot Cake.


We’re seriously nuts for coconut oil! Just remember, as with any fat, moderation is key.


Related Links

Decadent Chocolate Desserts

Asian Noodle Recipes

Stuffed Holiday Cookies




#SundaySupper Featured Menu of the Week

It’s almost that time of the week again: #SundaySupper time! We’re loving everyone’s healthy dinner ideas and pictures. Keep ‘em coming and you could be featured on our blog! This week, we healthified some classic recipes. Love breaded chicken? Try coating breasts in cooked quinoa. How about spinach dip? Substitute Greek yogurt for mayonnaise and add some edamame for extra nutrients. And we’re even serving up a recipe for gluten-free blondies for dessert. Get the recipes below, and don’t forget to check out our Pinterest page for more #SundaySupper ideas.


Quinoa-Crusted Chicken Breasts

Skinny Spinach-Artichoke Dip

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Blondies

Want to be featured on our blog next week just like Instagram user, @jcaonguyen? Cook this week’s menu, post it to Instagram or Twitter, tagging @RachaelRayMag and #SundaySupper and we’ll pick our favorite for our Whatcha Cookin’ Wednesday post.


More #SundaySupper Content

Make Over Your Dinner Party

#SundaySupper Summer Menu

Celebrate #SundaySupper All Month Long

#RRWhatchaCookin Wednesday Featured Cook of the Week: @sweet_genius76

Every week, we check out YOUR food photos on Instagram and pick a
“Whatcha Cookin’ Wednesday Featured Cook of the Weekto appear on our blog and have a chance to be featured in a future issue of the magazine.

We’re seriously drooling over @sweet_genius76‘s Lemon Soufflé. It seems like the perfect dessert to transition into fall: it’s both light and rich, fruity and heart-warming. Jen, if you need help finishing all those plates, we’re here to help!

Looking for more fruity desserts? We’ve got tons of easy berry dessert recipes here.


Related Links

Souffle Recipes

@jthebaker40′s Mixed Berry Cream Puffs

@pansyNsnowdrop’s Cake Roll