Semi-homemade Cinco de Mayo

My favorite part of pretty much any holiday is the food.

Desserts, being my favorite of all foods, are generally what I concern myself with. 

So when we got invited to dinner for Cinco de Mayo, I had to come up with a Mexican themed dessert.

After Googling a bit, I realized that EVERYTHING that I considered a "Mexican dessert" is deep fried.  And here I am, without a deep frier to my name!

Churros, which were the first idea that popped in my head, are so good, but sooooo soaked in deep fried oil, so I figured there had to be a better, lighter, baked version.

Oh beloved internet, what would I do without you?

I found few baked versions, but this one, took churros to another level.  Chocolate filled puff pastry with cinnamon & sugar?  Yes please.

It did not disappoint, and was pretty darn easy to whip up. 

And by easy I mean, that I bought puff pastry at the store baked it and filled it with the yummy filling. 

Semi-homemade y'all, just like Sandra Lee!

Anyway, as best laid plans usually do- they blew up in my face near the end of this project.  

10 minutes AFTER we were supposed to have left for our friend's house I still had wet hair from the shower, I was cursing at my pastry bag which broke mid-squeeze and exploded chocolate filling all over the counter and my outfit, I was listening to Hunter scream at me for forcing him to take a nap and I finally lost it and threw my utensils on the counter and declared "I have to walk away."

Chris, in his usual problem-solving fashion, swooped in and handled the filling of the puffs, got Hunter to sleep in his car seat and I went and did some deep breathing while I dried my hair and tried to erase the crazy from my face with some concealer and blush (oh, if only that was all it takes).

A napping baby and a shot of tequila yummy margarita couldn't have come soon enough.

So off we went, 30 minutes late, chocolate still on my elbow (which I found later), crazy amounts of dishes on the counter, but a delish dessert in tow, a baby snoozing in the back seat and an enterprising puppy who was ecstatic to be left with so many crumbs on the kitchen floor.

Sometimes life is hard. Or at least it seems hard at the moment.

Sometimes you have to walk away and do some deep breathing.

Sometimes you need to steal a half dozen of the chocolate filled puffs and hide in a bathroom closet and eat them by yourself.

We all have days like that. 

The answer to all your problems is in these scrumptious little pockets of deliciousness.

Trust me, it works.

So here's how you make them.

Cinco de Mayo Dessert-

Baked Churros with Mexican Chocolate Cream 
Recipe adapted from the Pastry School Diaries

1 roll puffed pastry (thawed)- you find it in the frozen section
1 1/4 c. whole milk
1 vanilla bean split lengthwise (you can also use 1 tsp vanilla extract)
3 egg yolks
1/4 c white sugar
2 tbs flour
2 tbs cornstarch
3.5 oz dark chocolate (finely chopped)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/8 c butter (melted)
2 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

This recipe calls for you to juggle a few balls at once- so be prepared (that's what she said).
First off, open the puff pastry box and place the dough in the sun (or a warm place).  If you forget this step, you a going to be screwed later!  It takes about 45 minutes to thaw.

Once you have your pastry de-thawing, add the milk and vanilla bean (cut open) into a pot and put it on medium heat until it almost starts to boil.

Then, get your eggs split up (whites in one bowl, yolks in another) and get your chocolate chopped up. At first I tried to grate my chocolate, but it was a huge pain and it started melting all over my hands.  Chopping was way easier and faster.

Then add your sugar to your eggs and whisk until smooth.

Right about now, you are going to realize you haven't checked the milk in a while and it's boiling.  Don't worry- you are fine.  Take it off the heat and let it cool (if a film forms, just scrape it off, no one will know). Oh, and take out the vanilla bean and scrape out any leftover seeds and add them to the egg mixture.

Then add your flour and cornstarch to the egg mixture and whisk again.

Now, slowly poor the milk into the egg/flour mixture, whisking as you pour to incorporate.  Once it's all mixed up, pour it back into the pot that the milk came out of and cook over medium heat.  You want to constantly be whisking it, as it will start to thicken up.

Once it boils, it will get pretty thick- stir a bit more and then pour it back into the bowl it came out of (to get it off the heat) and immediately dump your chocolate in and start whisking it in so it melts.

Once it is fully incorporated, add in the cinnamon and chili powder (to taste).  Once it's all incorporated, cover it with plastic wrap to avoid any film forming.

While the filling is cooling down, unroll your (now de-thawed) pastry, and cut out some fun shapes.  I happened to have my Christmas cookie cutters still in my drawer, and the least "Christmas-y" was a star and I went with that.

Simply cut out the shapes, and pop them on a lightly greased, foil-lined pan.  Then once you have a pan full, brush on melted butter and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top.  Bake them in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes.

I found that some came out puffier than others, but they all tasted good.

Next is the fun part (or the part when your pastry bag explodes and you storm out of the room cursing).
You don't need a pastry bag to make these, we successfully went with the "cut open & fill" method.  We used a serrated bread knife, cut the stars in half, spread the filling on them like toast and then smooshed the sides back together.

I actually like this tactic better than filling them with the pastry bag.  The filling is much more evenly distributed and for those of us who don't like explosions in our mouths (that's what she said), you will appreciate a more moderate filling experience.

We served them with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and it was the perfect treat on a hot Seattle Cinco de Mayo day.

And, yes, they go great with Margaritas.