Two creative, baking geniuses had the bright idea to create a blog around dessert and a challenge. Hello!!??!! I love them. I need to know these women. We may actually be sisters in some parallel dimension. Reeni from Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice and Christine of The Cupcake Bandits had an idea for their own twist on a baking contest. They call it Dessert Wars. It’s progressive, from month to month, and each month is a brand new challenge. There is one winner and one runner-up each month leading up to December. The winners of the monthly challenges receive great prize packages (see the January Prize Package and fantastic sponsors at the bottom of this post.) with items donated from some of the finest companies the Internet has to offer! From then on, they can participate in all the challenges, but cannot be another monthly winner. They and the runners-up will have secured a spot in the ultimate dessert showdown, which will be the dessert competition extraordinaire, held in December 2011! Dessert Wars is definitely my idea of fun!
The January Challenge is to create any kind of dessert using Nutella, making sure it is the “star” of your dish. I am, apparently, one of the few people left on planet, Earth, who has never purchased, tasted or dreamed about Nutella. I corrected that lapse in judgement on Tuesday and YUM! You’re going to be soooooo happy that I did.
Originally, I was conjuring up pictures of something like an eclair with Nutella in the filling and the icing. I started researching recipes and ran across some intriguing examples of something called Eclair Cake. I have never made eclairs, but I DO know they are pastry, so I immediately rejected the dozens upon dozens of recipes with graham cracker crusts. I finally decided I was going to put my twist on a recipe I found at Food.com, Eclair Cake by OR Nurse. In my opinion, this crust tastes much more like a cream puff than an eclair, which helped me settle on a name for my new Nutella version, Nutella Cream Puff Squares.
Nutella Cream Puff Squares
Yield: 12-16 servings
- 1 cup of water
- 1/2 cup of butter (one stick)
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 eggs
- (2) 3.25 oz boxes instant vanilla pudding mix
- 8 oz. softened cream cheese
- 3 cups milk
- (1½) 12 oz tubs of frozen whipped topping (Cool Whip)
- (1) 13 oz jar Nutella
- 1/2 cup Nutella
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons milk
- Boil the water and butter, until the butter is completely melted.
- Place 1 cup of flour in a mixing bowl.
- Slowly mix the melted butter and water into the flour.
- With the electric mixer running, add the eggs to the dough, one at a time. Be sure each is thoroughly mixed in before adding the next.
- Mix in the vanilla.
- Pour the cream puff batter into a greased, 9×13 pan and bake for 25 minutes at 400°.
- The pastry crust will be puffy and irregular. As a matter of fact, it will most likely resemble a golden brown surface of the moon. (Note to self: This could work for our next lunar science project or a topographical map.) Cool in the pan on a wire rack.
- Spread one 13 oz. jar of Nutella over the entire surface of the cooled crust.
- Whip the cream cheese until it is creamy and soft, then add the milk SLOWLY, making sure it whisks in as you go. I discovered that if your milk is room temperature, it blends with the cream cheese easier.
- Add both boxes of vanilla pudding mix. Pudding will thicken as you mix. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl, as you go and get cream cheese and pudding completely incorporated.
- Spread thickened vanilla pudding over the Nutella layer.
- Add a layer of Cool Whip over the pudding. Even after making this twice in 48 hours, I managed not to get a picture of this step, either time. I guess my subconscious mind was telling me you could totally handle spreading Cool Whip over the pudding layer, without a picture. Normally, I am a store brand kinda girl, when it will save me a few cents, but in this instance I can say that my first batch was made with Cool Whip, the second with a store brand topping. Cool Whip was FAR superior in the way it set up in this dessert. The store brand tasted fine, but was too “soupy” to look pretty. Texture was everything when making this dessert look as good as it tastes. — I used 1½ tubs of Cool Whip to get a nice layer over the pudding.
- In a double boiler, or in my case, a bowl over a pan of boiling water, melt 1/2 cup of Nutella with 2 Tablespoons of butter, whisking them together as they melt. There is a learning curve to doing this, as I learned that Nutella can seize up just like chocolate, if you heat it too long, so keep an eye on it and take it off the heat as soon as you see it is melted. Even if it does thicken up on you, the two teaspoons of milk you are adding next will thin it back down. Whisk in the milk and then drizzle the melted Nutella over the whipped cream layer.
Refrigerate at least one hour before serving.
.. The January prize package for Dessert Wars includes:
- Whisk and cupcake necklace from Moon & Star Designs
- The Smartshopper Electronic Grocery List Organizer
- Beanilla Sampler Pack of Vanilla Beans
- Lenox Personalized Musical Cupcake
- 1,000 ideas for Decorating Cupcakes, Cookies & Cakes
- Endless Vanilla and Cinnamon Extract
- Unlimited Layers: A Recipe for Turning Your Passion into ProfitsOrganic Valley $50 Gift Certificate
- Organic Prairie $50 Gift Certificate
- Theme Kitchen $50 Gift Certificate
- BEKA Cookware Crepe Pan