Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Puffs

At the beginning of the year, I had goals. Not resolutions, mind you, but goals. I’m still not really sure what the difference is between the two, but do know that I created a Google doc called "2013 Goals" willed with a series of fitness, financial, travel, and dietary ambitions that I was going to achieve within the year.

Looking through the list, I’m impressed with what I accomplished and amused at what I neglected. I tried being refined sugar-free for one month (spoiler alert: it wasn’t for me — guess you could’ve figured that one out), but never got around to being paleo for another. I’m now able to do full push-ups with no knees (!!) and my chest and nose touching the floor each time (!!!), but my pull-ups are still hilariously terrible even after 2 years of Crossfit.

More impressive, however, were the things that I managed to accomplish without actively being a goal at the start of the year. For instance — I’d initially planned on saving my money for the future, but after watching market and city trends, I decided that it was a better investment to buy my first house. Pretty cool, if maybe a little bit rash in retrospect.

With that in mind and the year coming to a fast close, I decided that maybe it was time to start figuring out my goals for 2014. I opened up a new Google doc and started a new list. Off the top of my head, I wanted to save up money to renovate my kitchen, run a marathon, start freelancing in food photography and travel somewhere I hadn’t ever been before. All tough goals, but attainable, right? But then the list kept growing and growing. Before I knew it, I had over 20 bullet points worth of goals.

Looking at the list, I winced. All of this? In a year? Really? Truth be told, it was looking more like a "30 before 30" list… and that was me being kind. Some of the bullet points were even more reminiscent of A 5 Year Plan, or worse, a business plan.

Had I fallen into the busy trap? Did I really need to be this busy, all the time?

Looking back on the year, I spent the majority of my downtime looking at Pinterest and Tumblr. The images that stuck out to me the most were ones of a quiet, idyllic lifestyle — like a picture of a girl wrapped up in a good book, or a rustic landscape from the point of view of a quiet cabin. I remember thinking to myself, somewhat bitterly, that it’d be the dream to someday have that sort of lifestyle — you know, the kind where I wasn’t constantly racing from my job to this blog, all the while trying to maintain some semblance of a social life and ensure that I didn’t gain 20lbs somewhere along the way. But why can’t I have that peaceful, slow-paced lifestyle now? After all, this list of 20+ goals sitting in my laptop in front of me was completely self-imposed. There was absolutely no reason except for my own ambition and neurotic personality… I mean, as good as it was to have goals, maybe I’d gotten a little bit manic about them in the end. Maybe 2014 wasn’t the year I was going to achieve things, no — maybe it’ll be the year to enjoy them.

So just like that, I highlighted my list and deleted all the items.

And boy, did it feel good.

In honor of this revelation, I spent last weekend gearing up for the holidays by doing almost nothing except for curling up with a mug of tea, a good book, and these chocolate hazelnut cream puffs:

Last month, Frangelico reached out to me to see if I was interested in working together again to create some hazelnut flavored desserts — we’d previously collaborated on this much beloved flourless chocolate hazelnut cake. Truthfully, it’s always such a pleasure to work with Frangelico because their hazelnut liqueur goes well with almost any chocolate dessert. I absolutely adore the flavor combination of chocolate and hazelnut, having made a variety of cakes, cupcakes and desserts based on that pairing alone.

These chocolate hazelnut cream puffs, however, are the best iteration of that flavor combination yet:

Filled with chocolate hazelnut whipped cream and topped with a rich, silky chocolate hazelnut ganache, these cream puffs just melt in your mouth. So light and fluffy, each bite almost dissolves in your mouth. This, my friends, is all you need for a life of leisure and a year of enjoyment — a clear calendar, a good book, and a plate of these chocolate hazelnut cream puffs.

I promise.

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