Updated: Jan 25, 2020
While scrolling through Buzzfeed Tasty's Instagram last month, I stumbled upon this post that announced a contest for Tasty's followers. The #TastyTripleThreat challenge was to create the ultimate trifecta recipe using three already existing Tasty recipes. The winner would be flown out to the LA Tasty Kitchen to film a recipe video, which would be published on all of their social media pages—including their 17 million YouTube subscribers.
I saw this as the perfect opportunity to get creative, and to have an excuse to bake more during Thanksgiving break.
Coming Up With My Trifecta
The video published with the announcement showed a 'ChurCookCheesecake,' or a chocolate chip cookie based cheesecake with churros lined along the outside rim of the cake. The recipe video was overwhelming and I initially thought that I had to create something that was grand in this magnitude.
In order to create my unique trifecta, I compiled a list of all the desserts I enjoyed not only eating, but baking as well. I knew that it would take me some trial and error to get it down to how I envisioned it but I did not want to hate baking at the end of this process, so I had to create something that I enjoyed baking already.
I narrowed my trifecta options to two: a banana bread base cheesecake with macarons on top or a chocolate chip cookie topped cream puff filled with ice cream. I ended up going with the second option because it required way too many ingredients to create the first, and the cheesecake recipe had already been used for Tasty's contest announcement video.
The Research Process
I had envisioned this cream puff to look like the ones that you eat at Bibble and Sip, crunchy and crispy on the outside but filled with a ton of cream on the inside. I had continuously watched YouTube videos on how to make cookie-topped cream puffs, which ultimately inspired me to change the typical sugar cookie top to a chocolate chip cookie. I always wondered why they never used another type of cookie in the first place to top off a cream puff to further enhance its flavors, but I took it upon myself to take this initiative.
I watched countless videos, including this amazing earl grey cream puff video, in order to master the consistency and texture that I needed to make the chocolate chip cookies so the cream puff underneath wouldn't collapse under pressure.
I came to the conclusion that the chocolate chip cookies needed to be extremely thin/flattened out and floured on both sides to perfectly melt into the cream puff since the cream puff itself would be moist (I had to use that word, SORRY). Additionally, I needed to have a base of a whipped cream filling in order for the ice cream part of this trifecta to be visible.
I went through Tasty's Dessert Playlist to find the recipes that would work for my concoction. I ended up using the following videos for my trifecta: Cute Cream Puffs, How To Make Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies, and 10 Ice Cream Recipes To Keep You Cool All Summer (only using the Vanilla and Strawberry Ice Cream recipes).
After the challenge was announced, I knew that the only time that I could actually make my recipe was during Thanksgiving break. However, I had to perfect the recipe in a short amount of time, because the deadline to enter the challenge was December 1st, 11:59PM PST—the last day of break. I already had to make two separate pies for Thanksgiving and had some plans lined up for the weekend so ultimately, I only had three nights to perfect my trifecta.
I created the cookie dough batter Friday night because chocolate chip cookies taste the best if they are frozen overnight and then baked, so that the gluten is able to further develop. The following day, I generously floured the dough to make sure that it wouldn't stick anywhere but the cream puffs, flattened out and shaped my cookie dough into small circles to the best of my ability, and put it back into the freezer to chill. I then proceeded to make the choux pastry and assembled my cream puff to be baked, topping the choux pastry with the frozen chocolate chip cookie dough disks.
However, I made the mistake of opening up the oven while my cream puffs were baking in order to feel and see the texture of the chocolate chip cookies. NEVER EVER open your oven while baking cream puffs because the moisture in the oven is what allows the cream puffs to "puff up." Otherwise, they collapse. I ended up making this mistake twice because initially, I believed that the weight of the cookie dough was what caused the cream puff to never rise. After a number of Google searches, I realized that opening my oven was where I screwed up.
Sunday was a new day, which meant another day of trial and error ahead of me. I repeated the same cookie dough process and remade my choux pastry before assembling them to be baked off. I realized that the cookie dough had to be completely frozen right before they are baked off so they wouldn't burn, as the cream puffs took longer than the chocolate chip cookies to bake.
I had more faith in this batch than my previous ones and felt that I had finally perfected my trifecta. They didn't all turn out perfect but a decent number of them ended up actually becoming the chocolate chip cookie-topped cream puffs that I had envisioned! I quickly proceeded with making my whipped cream and ice cream, which I knew I wouldn't fail because they were relatively simple to make.
I assembled my cream puff by cutting them in half, and then piping in my whipped cream on the base and topping it off with my homemade ice cream.
I'm A Finalist?!
I plated my cream puffs to look the most aesthetically pleasing and quickly captured my images for my post. I immediately put it up on Instagram and didn't expect much out of it as so many people had already posted their creations.
A couple weeks went by and I was confused for why they didn't post anything about the finalists. I ended up going to their Instagram feed and found out that I was a finalist! I was never notified or told and found out three days after they had posted my photos because I was studying for finals and wasn't checking on my food Instagram's feed.
I am so thrilled and didn't even expect to be a part of the final three! It's crazy to think that something I had come up with based on the desserts I enjoyed eating and baking came to fruition and was recognized by Tasty! This recognition has boosted my confidence in my baking skills exponentially and now I look forward to possibly incorporating my hobby into my future (maybe becoming a Tasty Producer myself? @Buzzfeed hire me please).
I guess my greatest takeaway from this experience is to go for any opportunity that interests you even though you don't feel like you are qualified for it—you never know what can happen if you never try!