Simple Recipe: Chocolate Stout Cream Puffs

Last week, I wrote about how hard it is to shop for guys on Valentine’s Day and came up with five man-approved gift ideas. Desserts are somewhat easier — my guy is just as happy with a strawberry shortcake cupcake as I am — but I wanted to come up with something more masculine.

While shopping for Guinness, we spotted Young’s Double Chocolate Stout and my wheels started turning. I went home and searched “beer desserts” which brought me to this recipe from The Beeroness. After making a few miniscule adjustments, I ended up with these delightful chocolate stout cream puffs.

Unfortunately, there is no manly substitute for the name cream puffs. But real men wear pink and eat cream puffs. Heart shaped ones!

Ingredients

1 box (2 sheets) puff pastry, thawed
1 cup whipping cream or heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons chocolate stout

Ganache Topping:
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chocolate stout
2 tablespoons whipping cream or heavy cream

Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Unroll the puff pastry and use a 2 to 3 inch cookie cutter to make cut outs. I used a heart shaped one because it’s Valentine’s Day and, embarrassingly, I don’t have any other shapes. But the Beeroness used a 2.5 inch biscuit cutter. Bake for 15 minutes.
  3. In a bowl, mix heavy cream, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and stout with a hand mixer until it reaches your desired consistency — thick enough so that it holds together without running.
  4. Split the puff pastries in half and spoon the whipped cream onto one half, covering with the other half.
  5. Now it’s time to make the ganache topping! Microwave the stout and cream on high for 1 to 1.5 minutes. It should be steaming and hot. Pour the mixture over the chocolate chips and stir until smooth.
  6. Drizzle the ganache over the cream puffs.

This is my favorite dessert to date — the combination of the stout and the chocolate is divine. And I’m not even much of a beer drinker! And as a bonus, these babies are really easy to make. From start to finish, they were done in less than half an hour.

What sweet thing are you indulging in this week?

5 Things Guys Actually Want for Valentine’s Day

Do you find guys hard to shop for on Valentine’s Day? I do.

For one thing, it’s just not the manliest of holidays. Also, the gift is meant to be sort of romantic — and most guys just aren’t excited about sentimental things.

James, for example, would have been happy about the cufflinks I gave him for Christmas, but the only reason he was excited about them was because they double as USB drives. (Cue spy theme music.)

So ladies, because I used up so much of my brainpower trying to figure out what the heck to get my gentleman for Valentine’s Day, I decided to use my new knowledge for good by sharing it with you. And wouldn’t you know it — what works best for this holiday are activity gifts rather than stuff. Here’s what I mean:

Valentine’s Gifts for Awesome Guys

Event Tickets: Check around to see what’s happening near you in the next couple of months. We sometimes go to music shows, but we’ve also seen touring Broadway shows, as well as performances by David Sedaris, Ira Glass, and Mike Birbiglia. (We also belong to the group NPR Addicts Anonymous.) Of course, it’s easier if you have similar taste in these things — otherwise half the gift is enduring the evening cheerfully. This is the idea I went with this year! We’re going to go see the comedian Marc Maron on Friday night, which has us both feeling like Friday can’t get here fast enough.

Massages: Some guys get weird about getting massages, so make sure you know how he feels about them before booking one. But if he’s keen on the idea, it’s a great way to indulge. And while you’re at it, book one for yourself and make it a couple’s massage. (Happy Valentine’s Day to you!)

Classes: If your guy is always talking about learning Italian or how to make sushi, or if he wants to take better photos or learn more about woodworking, look into local adult education centers to enroll in a class together. For example, the Cambridge Center for Adult Education is near us, and they offer a pretty awesome selection of cooking, art, and language classes that last anywhere between one night and several weeks.

Master Shave: Every single guy I know would be down for a real luxury shaving experience. James says this about why men are drawn to it: “It’s a melding of manliness and pampering, which is hard to come by for guys.” He also explained that most of them have some difficulty shaving, so the idea of having it done well, as a craft, by a master barber is a pretty big deal. The Art of Shaving offers luxury shaves by Master Barbers, but you can also find similar services with an equally luxurious vibe at upscale barber shops and hotels with spas.

Staycation: It’s expensive to stay at nice hotels, but not having to pay for airfare makes it a lot more feasible to enjoy them. Book a night at one of the fancy hotels near you, and enjoy the city with fresh eyes — or stay in. On New Year’s Eve, we lucked out with a perfect view of the fireworks over the Charles River when we stayed at a hotel in Cambridge. It was so much fun that we vowed to hop around to the other upscale/weird/fun hotels in Boston to play tourist more often.

What are you getting your favorite dude for Valentine’s Day?

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