1/2 cup (120 ml) almond milk
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
113 grams earth balance vegan butter
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (136 grams) flour
4 eggs + 1 egg white (combined)
Preheat your oven to 350. Line a few baking sheets with parchment paper, and prepare a piping bag with a large round tip.
In a medium-sized pan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar, and salt to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low, and add the flour, stirring with a flexible spatula until the dough comes together.
Cook for another 3 minutes. You want to dry the dough out, but don't overcook it so it starts to change color.
Scrape the dough into a separate bowl, and beat it (by hand or mixer) for 2 minutes to cool it down.
Add your eggs to the dough in three additions, beating fully between each addition.*
Scoop your dough into your piping bag.
Pipe the dough into puffs that are about 1.5 inches in diameter. You can make them smaller or larger if you'd like, just make your piping consistent. You may need to adjust your baking time if they're smaller or larger.
Bake for 30-35 min, rotating the sheets halfway through. When the puffs are done, the tops should be golden brown and will sound hollow when you tap them.
Let your puffs cool to room temperature, and fill them with pastry cream, buttercream, or whatever filling you'd like!
*If you add the eggs too quickly and your dough is still warm, you'll end up with scrambled eggs instead of cream puff dough.
I filled my cream puffs with chocolate peppermint buttercream. I added about 5 Tbsp of almond milk so my frosting wasn't too thick to pipe into the puff. After I filled them, I attempted to establish a tree--what I've come to know as the croquembouche. I made a caramel on the stove and started stacking. What I didn't do was allow time in between stacks of puff for the caramel to cool, creating support for the structure. My croquembouche collapsed, but the cream puffs were still delicious.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups
Making chocolate chip cookie cups is almost like making regular chocolate chip cookies. I used my best chocolate chip cookie recipe and modified the cookies to be gluten-free.
You'll need two mini muffin tins to make your cups.
Instead of spooning the dough onto a cookie sheet, grease one of the mini muffin tins. Put about a tablespoon of dough in each cup. Bake the cookies for 9-11 minutes.
Grease the bottom of the second muffin tin.
While the cookies are still hot, press the second muffin tin into the tops of the cookies to indent the cookies and make them cups.
Allow the cookie cups to cool for about 3 minutes in the tin, then remove them and cool completely on a wire rack.
After your cookie cups have cooled, top them with your favorite frosting. I'm a sucker for chocolate and peanut butter, so I decided to top my cookie cups with peanut butter frosting and a drizzle of chocolate ganache.
Peanut Butter Frosting
1/2 cup earth balance butter, room temp
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup almond milk (or coconut cream for a richer taste)
In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the butter and peanut butter until smooth.
Add the vanilla and salt.
Alternate between the powdered sugar and milk, adding each gradually.
Beat until nice and fluffy.
On Sunday morning, I turned to Sam and said, "This was the best Sankt Nikolaustag yet." Although every year I've enjoyed hosting a Saint Nicholas Day party, this year's party was full of more friends, baked goods, and laughs than years before.
We celebrated St. Nicholas Day late. Before you go to bed on December 5, you leave your shoes out for St. Nicholas. If you've been good, he'll leave small toys and candy in them for you. Because December 5 was a Tuesday, I opted to celebrate late. Every day leading up to December 16, I baked or cleaned in preparation.
This Sankt Nikolaustag was an attempt of firsts. I attempted (and kind of failed) my first croquembouche and made cookie cups and vegan caramel popcorn from Vegan Insanity. Nothing failed so spectacularly that it was thrown away, but there was some room for improvement. I also made a cookie pizza, chocolate Italian cookies, Mexican wedding balls, ninjabread men, and sand tarts. This is the sixth year I've hosted a Saint Nicholas Day party. I'm sure next year will continue the trend and be even better.