birch flower & hazelnut summer fruit tarts

birch flower fruit tarts
birch flower fruit tarts

Épices de cru, in Montreal’s Jean-Talon Market, occupies a brightly painted narrow stall, shelves stacked with tins of different spices, as well as ingredients that aren’t spices in the most traditional sense, like local Quebec dried spruce tips or clover flowers. My aunt/uncle/cousin had gotten me the most lovely assortment of spices for baking one year and I’ve been excited to try using them in a dessert. These tarts are based around dried yellow birch flowers – minute, pale flowers which come with an aroma of oolong tea, grass, sandalwood incense and tonka bean.

birch flower fruit tarts
birch flower fruit tarts
birch flower fruit tarts
birch flower fruit tarts
birch flower fruit tarts

The starting point for these tarts were the dried yellow birch flowers, but even after getting multiple people to smell the dried flowers and tell me what they thought they smelled like (you can thank them for the bougie aroma profile in the previous paragraph), I still had no idea what to pair it with. So I went with all the fruits I had on hand: plumcots, cherries and strawberries. Given the woodiness of the yellow birch flower, I thought nuts could also be a nice accompaniment; in the bottom of each tart I layered a thin slick of hazelnut praline paste. It worked out very well actually – the praline paste anchors the pastry cream, with a rounded dessert-y caramel nuttiness that brings out the more amicable flavours of the yellow birch flower.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I ended up loving these tarts!

birch flower fruit tarts
birch flower fruit tarts
birch flower fruit tarts

birch flower & hazelnut summer fruit tarts

  • Servings: four 3-inch tarts
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tart shells

  • 115g butter
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 200g flour, half whole wheat and half all-purpose

hazelnut praline paste

  • 100g hazelnuts
  • 100g sugar

yellow birch flower pastry cream

  • 240g whole milk
  • 2 1/2 tbsp very lightly packed dried yellow birch flower (approx 1-2g)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 10g cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp sugar (or more to taste – typically recipes classically use 3-4 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp butter

assembly

  • fruit! I used 1 plumcot, and about 8 cherries and 8 strawberries, but use whatever you have on hand

tart shells

This makes about twice the amount of pastry you’ll actually need to line the tart shells, but having this much pastry makes it easier – and then you can use the rest for another project.

Cream the butter with the sugar and salt. Beat the egg in a small bowl and add to the butter in four additions, thoroughly mixing in each addition. Add the flours and stir until a dough is formed. Knead a couple times to bring it together.

Divide the dough in half and roll out each between parchment to about 2-3mm thick. Chill completely. 

Set four 3″ tart rings on a parchment lined tray and line with pastry – for details of methods, you can look at this page.

Trim one half of the dough into a rectangle and slice into long strips – they should be longer than the circumference of the rings and wider than the height of the tart rings. Take a strip and use it to line the sides of a tart ring, cutting the excess length and pressing the two edges together to seal (have a bit of overlap to help seal).

Cut circles 0.5cm smaller than the diametre of the tart ring from the other half of the dough. Fit these circles of pastry into the bottom of rings and press along the seam between the side and base to seal. If there is a bit of a gap, press along the edges of the base to make it slightly wider until it meets the pastry lining the walls. Trim the excess pastry height with a sharp knife to bring it level with the side of the tart rings. Cover and chill completely.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Dock the bases of the chilled tart shells with a fork. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely.

hazelnut praline paste

This makes quite a bit more than you’ll need, but if you’re going to the trouble of making it, you may as well make more as it keeps very well.

Spread the hazelnuts out over a baking tray covered with parchment paper. Place the sugar in a small saucepan along with a splash of water. Heat the mixture until it boils and the sugar is dissolved. Allow to continue cooking over medium to medium-high heat until the sugar caramelizes, swirling occasionally. Cook to the desired degree of caramelization – I went for a darker amber. Pour over the hazelnuts. Allow to cool.

Chop the praline into pieces. Place in the bowl of a food processor along with 1/4 tsp kosher salt and pulse until a paste is formed. Place in the fridge. 

yellow birch flower pastry cream

Begin by infusing the milk. Bring the milk to a simmer and stir in the yellow birch flowers. Cover and set aside to cool, then transfer to the fridge to finish steeping overnight. 

The next day whisk the sugar, egg yolks and cornstarch together in a bowl. Set aside.

Pass the infused milk through a sieve to remove the flowers. Place the milk in a saucepan and heat until it simmers. Slowly pour the milk into the egg yolks, while whisking constantly to temper the eggs. 

Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium to medium-high while whisking constantly. Look for the pastry cream to begin to bubble and to thicken considerably. To ensure the starch is cooked, let the pastry cream cook at a bubble for at least 1 minute (all the while whisking very vigorously!).

Whisk in the butter and then immediately transfer to a bowl (at this point you can taste for sweetness and add more sugar as per your preference). Cover and chill. 

assembly

Spread 1-2 tsp of hazelnut praline paste on the bottom of each baked tart shell. Whisk the pastry cream to loosen and smooth it, then dollop into the tart shells and spread smooth with an offset spatula. Arrange fruit on top. 

birch flower fruit tarts

ispahan cream puff

ispahan cream puff
ispahan cream puff
ispahan cream puff
ispahan cream puff

I’ve always loved election nights as a kid. My family and I would watch the whole thing, starting from the first counts as polls closed on the East coast to a final declaration late in the evening. I would cheer on the underdog Green Party because, as a seven-year old, their platform was by far the easiest to grasp. It wasn’t so much the election itself, which at the time was blissfully meaningless to me, but that I loved any chance for an occasion.

These days my election-mania is tempered by plenty of stress. Alongside a climate crisis and a long-overdue commitment to reconciliation, if anything, the pandemic has solidified the immediacy and impact of government in our lives (though it’s mostly the provincial government in terms of public health). But yes, I am still excited at the prospect of watching the numbers slowly climb and listening to endless commentary on the leaders, campaigns and battleground ridings. Any chance for an occasion, I guess.

ispahan cream puff
ispahan cream puff

These cream puffs are based on Pierre Herme’s formidable flavour combination, ispahan – raspberry, rose and lychee. I filled choux au craquelin with lychee mousse, topped them with raspberry rosewater ganache and a ring of fresh raspberries. It really is a remarkably good combination – the floral aspects of lychee play off the rosewater, and all the sweetness balanced by the tartness of raspberry. (There is an ispahan roll cake on the blog too, by the way!)

I will warn you though: these cream puffs are definitely a bit more on the sweet side given that I used syrupy canned lychees in the mousse and a white chocolate whipped ganache!

ispahan cream puff

ispahan cream puff

  • Servings: about 10 puffs
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choux pastry

craquelin

  • 56g brown sugar
  • 50g whole wheat flour
  • 36g soft butter

choux pastry

  • 43g butter
  • 90g milk
  • pinch kosher salt
  • sprinkle of granulated sugar
  • 45g whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ eggs (may not use all)

For the craquelin, mix all ingredients together until it forms a cohesive dough. Place the dough between two sheets of parchment and roll out to a thickness of 1-2mm. Slide onto a pan and freeze until firm.

For the choux pastry, preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper – on the backside, trace twelve 4.5cm circles.

Place the butter, milk, sugar and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the flour and quickly mix in with a wooden spoon. Lower the heat and continue to cook the mixture until it forms a ball. Remove the pastry from the heat and let cool a bit before adding the egg.

Beat the eggs in a small bowl. Add a bit at a time to the pastry. Assess the consistency of the dough after each addition of egg and stop once you’ve achieved the right consistency. I find it easiest to begin beating in the eggs with a wire whisk and then transition back to stirring with a wooden spoon once the batter loosens. The dough should be shiny, but not fluid (if its something a bit new to you, look up a video or a more detailed tutorial for the right consistency – such as looking for the “triangle” of dough!). Importantly, you don’t need to use all the egg – or you may need a bit more or less! 

Transfer the pastry to a piping bag fitted with a medium (~1cm) round tip (I use Wilton 2A). Pipe mounds of pastry onto the 4.5cm circles. To make the size consistent, I position the piping bag a little ways above the pan (1-2cm or so – it will be quite natural!) and pipe until the mound of dough nearly fills out the circular guide drawn on the parchment. I avoid lifting the piping bag further up as I pipe – if you do that, you end up with a larger and taller mound of pastry and the size will not be as consistent.

Take the craquelin out of the freezer and cut 5cm circles from the dough. Top each puff with a round of the craquelin.

Bake for 10 minutes at 400F, then decrease temperature to 375F and bake about 30 minutes more or until well browned. You can rotate the puffs after they’ve been in the oven for 20-25 minutes or so, once there are no worries of them deflating. As soon as you can handle the puffs, cut a small slit on the bottom of each puff to let the steam release and let cool on on a wire rack.

rose raspberry whipped ganache

  • 50g white chocolate, chopped
  • small pinch kosher salt
  • 85g heavy cream
  • 15g strained raspberry puree (from about 40g raspberries)
  • 1/4 tsp rosewater, or to taste (may vary depending on the strength of your rosewater)

Place the chopped chocolate and salt in a heatproof bowl. Place the cream in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over the white chocolate. Allow to sit for a couple minutes for the chocolate to begin melting, then whisk until smooth. Whisk in the raspberry puree and rosewater.

Cover and chill completely. Whip up the ganache when you’re ready to assemble the cream puffs (see assembly section below). 

lychee rose mousse

  • 120g strained lychee puree
  • 1 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin bloomed in 1 1/2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp rosewater, or to taste (may vary depending on the strength of your rosewater)
  • 120g heavy cream

Heat the lychee puree (via stovetop or microwave) until warm to the touch. Microwave the bloomed gelatin until melted (about 10 seconds should suffice) and whisk into the puree. Set aside to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally (make sure it doesn’t cool enough to set though!).

Once cooled, stir the rosewater into the puree.

In a separate bowl, whip the cream. Add a of the whipped cream into the lychee puree and whisk in until smooth – this will lighten the puree slightly before adding the rest of the cream. Now add the remaining cream and gently fold in. As the lychee puree is quite liquidy, this a bit more challenging; I find it easiest begin by using a whisk. Draw the whisk from the bottom of the bowl up towards you, passing it through lumps of whipped cream. Repeat until the mixture is fairly cohesive, and that point you can do a final few gentle strokes with a rubber spatula. (This technique was inspired by this souffle cheesecake video – watch from 4:54-6:05 for a demonstration!)

Use the mousse right away, before it sets!  

assembly

  • about 25 raspberries (2.5 per puff), cut in half – the number needed may vary depending on the size of your raspberries and circumference of cream puffs

Slice the top off of each cream puff.

Fill the puffs with the freshly made lychee mousse by spooning it into each puff (you can also use a piping bag if you prefer, but as the mousse is quite liquidy before it sets, it’s easier to use a spoon). To make sure the entire puff is filled, tap the puffs on the work surface to settle the mousse. If the level drops, spoon more mousse into the puff and repeat the tapping and filling as needed until each puff is filled.

Place the puffs in the fridge for 1 hour to allow the mousse to set.

Once set, whip the rose raspberry ganache until thick and stiff. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip (I used one about 1.7cm in diametre). Pipe a dollop of the whipped ganache on top of each puff. Arrange raspberry halves around the ganache. Finally, replace the top of each cream puff. If the edges of the cream puff lids are a bit rough, you can trim them to even out the edges and make the lids more circular. Serve right away!

cherry mint stracciatella

cherry mint stracciatella

The ice cream has a mint-infused roasted cherry base ribboned throughout with snappy veins of chocolate. It makes a wonderfully fruity mint ice cream with a chocolate flavour that doesn’t overwhelm.

cherry mint stracciatella
cherry mint stracciatella
cherry mint stracciatella
cherry mint stracciatella
cherry mint stracciatella
cherry mint stracciatella
cherry mint stracciatella

I first thought of this ice cream as a cherry mint chocolate chip. My mum, however, isn’t a fan of how hard frozen chocolate chips get, so I decided to use a stracciatella-type technique. Stracciatella is a term which applies to both gelato and egg-ribboned soup; on the gelato side it is usually done by drizzling melted chocolate into a gelato base while it churns. The chocolate freezes upon contact with the ice cream, forming small shards which snap and melt in the mouth. To enhance the meltiness, I took inspiration from Stella Parks’s recipe in which she stirs in some coconut oil to lower the melting point (here I used a smaller quantity of canola oil, given its even lower melting temperature).

If you have a manual ice cream maker like me, drizzle in a bit of chocolate, then replace the lid and give the base a few churns. Repeat several times until the chocolate is done. I found I didn’t need too much chocolate (though of course you can add more if you prefer) so it goes quite quickly despite the extra steps.

(In the pictures I’m pouring David Lebovitz’s chocolate sauce made with a good pinch of salt.)

cherry mint stracciatella

cherry mint chocolate ice cream

  • Servings: about 2 cups ice cream base
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Some techniques taken from Stella Park’s cherry ice cream and stracciatella

  • 400g cherries
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar, divided
  • 250g heavy cream
  • 4g (1/4 cup gently packed) fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 100g whole milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 30-60g dark chocolate
  • 3-6g neutral oil

Begin by roasting the cherries. Preheat the oven to 400F. Use a baking casserole or line a small baking tray with parchment paper. Combine the cherries and 1 tbsp of granulated sugar. Bake, stirring every so often, for about 45 minutes or until the cherries are cooked and have started to wrinkle a bit. Do turn down the heat if anything begins to burn. 

Once the cherries have cooled, pop out the pits and reserve. Grind up the roasted cherry flesh using either an immersion blender or a food processor.

Then infuse the cream. Warm the cream until it is steaming. Stir in the reserved cherry pits and mint leaves. Cover and let cool, then transfer to the fridge to infuse overnight. The next day strain the cream to remove the mint and cherry pits.

Prepare the custard. Whisk together the milk, egg yolk and remaining 1 tbsp of sugar in a glass bowl. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir constantly until it thickens or reaches about 160F. Transfer to a container, cover and chill completely.

Combine everything together. Stir the roasted cherry puree into the cream, then whisk in the custard. At this point to make it a bit smoother you can use an immersion blender or transfer the base to a blender/food processor. 

Churn the ice cream. Melt the chocolate and stir in the oil. Once the ice cream has become thick, but still soft enough to churn, drizzle in the chocolate. You can either drizzle it in continuously while the ice cream stirs. As my ice cream maker needs the lid on to stabilize the paddles, I drizzled in just a spoonful of the melted chocolate at a time, closed it up, gave it a few turns, then repeated it again until all the chocolate was used. 

houjicha, kinako & peach tiramisu

houjicha kinako peach tiramisu

Maybe I have developed a bit of a tiramisu obsession. I love the flavours of coffee and marsala, but also the format of a well saturated cake component with plenty of thick cream – and it lends itself well to other flavour profiles too. Which means I can make even more tiramisu!

And I think this one is particularly lovely – it has both the toasty flavours of houjicha (roasted green tea) and kinako (roasted soybean powder), layered with fresh peaches and a mascarpone cream.

houjicha kinako peach tiramisu
houjicha kinako peach tiramisu
houjicha kinako peach tiramisu
houjicha kinako peach tiramisu

I put this together much like one would a regular tiramisu. Begin with a layer of ladyfingers soaked in houjicha – I think it’s a great substitute as it has the body of coffee, but with a gentler tea flavour. After that, scatter a layer of diced peaches and cover it all with a marscarpone-based cream. Finish with kinako, which is often served heavily dusted over different varieties of wagashi, generously sprinkled overtop.

I made mine in a 23x32cm (~9×12″) oval saute pan (area of about 577cm2) ; alternatively, you could make this in a 9×9″ square pan (area of about 480cm2 so layers will be a bit thicker). If you have a deeper dish for a double layered tiramisu, you may need to double the recipe.

houjicha kinako peach tiramisu

houjicha, kinako & peach tiramisu

  • Servings: 23x32cm oval pan
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Mascarpone cream adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction, with technique for cooking the eggs borrowed from Stella Park’s semifreddo.

mascarpone cream

  • 2 large eggs
  • 35g sugar
  • 200g mascarpone
  • 2 tbsp marsala
  • 200g heavy cream, whipped

houjicha soak

  • 60mL hot water
  • 1 tbsp houjicha powder

assembly

  • 2 peaches, peeled and chopped into 1-1.5cm cubes (200g chopped peaches)
  • ~2 dozen homemade ladyfingers (see recipe below; you’ll need fewer if storebought larger ones)
  • kinako

special equipment

  • 23x32cm (~9×12″) oval pan – the closest standard pan is probably a 9×9″ square tin, or use whatever you have and spread the components thicker or thinner

for the mascarpone cream, whisk together the eggs and sugar in a glass bowl. Set over a saucepan of simmering water and stir constantly with a rubber spatula, heating the eggs until they reach 165F. They’ll appear syrupy and quite warm to the touch.

Transfer the eggs to the bowl of a standmixer and whip until they become pale, opaque, more voluminous and cool, about 10-15 minutes on medium-high to high speed. The eggs should be thick enough to mound up when dropped from the whisk. (As it’s a smaller volume, it’s a bit tricky to really whip them up with the standmixer – they’ll likely only be doubled in volume instead of quadripled.)

Cream the mascarpone and marsala together in a large bowl. Fold in the whipped cream, then fold in the eggs. 

for the houjicha soak, whisk together the hot water and houjicha powder.

to assemble, have a 23x32cm (~9×12″) oval pan at hand. Dip both sides of the ladyfingers in the houjicha soak and use to cover the bottom of the pan. Break the cookies into pieces as needed to fill in all the gaps. Scatter the chopped peaches evenly over the cookies, then dollop the mascarpone overtop. Spread into an even layer with an offset spatula. Place in the fridge for at least couple hours or overnight. Just before serving, dust the top generously with kinako.

savoiardi (ladyfingers) 

Makes about 3 dozen 9cm savoiardi. Adapted from As Easy as Apple Pie, with some adjustments to the method. 

  • 43g all-purpose flour
  • 20g potato starch or corn starch
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 50g sugar, divided
  • Pinch salt
  • pinch cream of tartar
  • 7g milk

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 3/4 baking sheet with parchment paper (or use two regular half baking sheets).

Whisk together the flour and cornstarch in a small bowl. 

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a standmixer along with half of the sugar (25g), salt and cream of tartar. Whip until stiff peaks are just formed (if anything, aim a little under – very firm, approach stiff). 

While the egg whites whip, in a large bowl whisk the egg yolks and remaining 25g sugar with a handwhisk until very light, fluffy and doubled or tripled in volume. Whisk the milk into the egg yolks.

Whisk a dollop of the egg whites into the egg yolks to lighten, the fold in the remaining egg whites with a rubber spatula. Sift the flour mixture over top. Fold in gently until just combined.

Fill a piping bag fitted with a 1.2cm round tip (I used Wilton 2A – you can also pipe them bigger if you prefer!) and pipe strips of batter about 9cm long on the prepared trays. 

Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool, then store in an airtight container.

peach almond crostata

peach almond crostata

Please be advised that this post discusses residential schools and the recent tragic discoveries of unmarked graves.

What sort of school comes with a graveyard?

About three months ago the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation found the remains of 215 children buried at the former Kamloops Residential School. Not long after, the Cowessess First Nation who reported 751 unmarked grave sites by Marieval Residential School. Then there were more and more – and still many other investigations are currently underway. These finding reflected what families and survivors had been explaining all along. Survivors of these “schools” (and remember, the last one closed in only 1996) live with trauma, their descendants with intergenerational trauma, yet have been continually questioned and disbelieved. I can only begin to imagine the complexity of the recent news for affected communities: the importance of these discoveries, but also the retraumatization, the grieving, and even after all this, encountering the resistance of institutions to release records and minimal political will for change.

And to be clear, it doesn’t end there and never really has. The Sixties Scoop saw, through child welfare services, a mass removal of indigenous children from their families. These policies persist to this day: over half of children in care are Indigenous and there are more children currently separated from their families today than there were during the height of the residential school system. Dozens of children continue to die in care every year – see in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario. This is not just something for us to move past – and we have blueprints from the TRC and MMIWG recommendations of what needs to change.

peach almond crostata
peach almond crostata
peach almond crostata
peach almond crostata

Just how many wake-up calls do we need? This should be an election issue, yet it doesn’t seem to be. With the federal election happening soon, ask candidates in your riding what plans they have to implement the TRC and MMIWG recommendations.

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peach almond crostata
peach almond crostata

This peach almond crostata is very much inspired by Forno Cultura‘s summer peach crostata. And what a great formula for a fruit tart it is: pastry, almond cream, jam, sliced fruit and slivered almonds to fill in the gaps. The exciting new component for me is the pasta frolla, which makes up a sweet and tender crust with a biscuity crispness to it… I can’t wait to make more crostatas next summer!

peach almond crostata

peach almond crostata

  • Servings: one 14 by 4 1/2 inch tart (36 by 12cm)
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Crostata inspired by Forno Cultura. Pasta frolla adapted from Domenica Marchetti. Almond cream based on a typical frangipane ratio.

special equipment

  • 14×4 1/2 inch rectangular tart tin (36x12cm)

pasta frolla

  • 180g all-purpose flour
  • 40g icing sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • scant 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 110g cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 large egg

peach jam

  • 1 1/2 peaches, peeled, pitted and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar

almond cream

  • 56g soft butter
  • 45g granulated sugar
  • 65g finely ground almonds
  • 1 large egg
  • 12g all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp amaretto (or dark rum)

assembly

  • 2 peaches
  • slivered almonds
  • apricot jam to glaze (optional)

For the pasta frolla, place the flour, icing sugar and salt in the bowl a food process and pulse to combine. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add the egg and process until the dough begins to come together into a few large clumps – it will take a little while, around 30 seconds.

Press the dough together into a disc, wrap in plastic and chill completely.

For the peach jam, place the chopped peach and sugar together int a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the peach is softened. Crush with a potato masher or back of a fork to a rough puree, then bring to a simmer for a few minutes until the mixture is thickened and jam-like. Let cool.

For the almond cream, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in the almonds, then beat in the egg. Next, mix in the flour and finally the amaretto.

To assemble, roll out the pasta frolla on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 3mm (1/4″) thick. Drape over a 36x12cm rectangular tart tin, pressing the dough into all the edges and corners and trimming off the excess. Patch any tears. Cover and chill completely.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Spread the almond cream into the bottom of the tart. Dollop small spoonfuls of the jam evenly overtop and then gently spread to cover most of the surface (if you’re having trouble spreading the jam you can chill the almond cream first to firm it up a bit).

Cut the two peaches in half. Slice each half into thin slices. Set aside a few of the smaller slices from each end and fan the remaining slices alongside one edge of the tart (see pictures). Sprinkle the remaining surface area with slivered almonds.

Bake about 40 minutes or until the tart is browned. If you’d like to glaze the peach slices, melt together 1-2 tsp apricot jam with 1/4-1/2 tsp water and brush over the baked peaches. Let cool completely.

sugared walnut raspberry buns

sugared walnut raspberry buns
sugared walnut raspberry buns
sugared walnut raspberry buns

Soft semi-whole wheat dough, walnut frangipane, raspberries, rolled in butter and sugar. Sometimes I wish I was just writing a menu because then all I’d have room for was that sentence. But this seems to be a blog so let’s forge onwards…

sugared walnut raspberry buns
sugared walnut raspberry buns
sugared walnut raspberry buns

These buns first originated for a picnic a few years ago. At the time I was intent on baking the buns in cylindrical metal rings – inspired by Vanilla Bean Blog’s iconic cinnamon buns – so I cobbled together variously sized metal rings. The different diameters are hardly a recipe for consistency! That, and I found the rings all in all too finicky, so in the third try I backtracked to muffin tins – consistent and convenient.

I use frangipane (well, not quite – more accurately, nut cream) as a filling – it puffs and crisps where it leaks from the dough, and bakes up rich and nutty where it’s rolled snugly in the middle of the buns. For the best flavour I recommend toasting the walnuts ahead of time, then cooling them down very well and finely chopping them before grinding (warm nuts leak oil far more easily). Despite all the visible sugar, these buns aren’t too sweet.

If you’re making these buns ahead of time, leave the butter and sugar dip until the day you’re serving them – when packed into an airtight container, the sugar tends to moisten and the buns lose their frosty sugared appearance.

sugared walnut raspberry buns

sugared walnut raspberry buns

Bun dough adapted from, though over multiple renditions it no longer much resembles, basic sweet dough from The Nordic Baking Book by Magnus Nilsson. Filling based on a standard frangipane ratio. 

dough

  • 100g whole-wheat flour
  • 150g all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 150g warm milk
  • 40g egg
  • 70g soft butter

filling

  • 50g soft butter
  • 50g granulated sugar
  • scant 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 75g toasted and finely ground walnut
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 large egg
  • 15g all-purpose flour
  • 130g raspberries

coating

  • melted butter
  • granulated sugar

To make the dough, in a bowl, combine the flour, salt and yeast. Add the warm milk and the egg and stir with a wooden spoon until a rough dough is formed. Knead for a few minutes or until smooth. If the dough is sticky, you can use some additional flour. At this point the dough may be fairly stiff.

Knead a bit of the butter into the dough at a time. At the beginning it will feel like you’re only smearing the butter on the counter, but persist and eventually the butter will become incorporated. Knead in each addition of butter completely before the next. At the end you’ll have a very smooth and soft dough. Place in a bowl, cover and let rise for about 1 hour or until doubled.

For the filling, cream the butter, sugar and salt together. Add the ground walnut and cardamom. Beat in the egg, and lastly mix in the flour.

Meanwhile, butter a standard 12-cup muffin tin. I did not have too many problems with sticking, but you can put a small square of parchment paper in the bottom of each cup to be safe.

Once the dough is risen, deflate it and turn it out onto a very lightly floured counter. Roll out the dough to around 13 1/2″ by 15″. I find it easiest to allow the dough to cling to counter by using little flour, roll it out to the desired size, and then cover the dough with a damp towel or plastic to rest for about 15-20 minutes. This way the dough relaxes and will not spring back much.

Spread the dough with the walnut mixture, leaving just one strip along a long side bare in order to seal the log. Scatter the raspberries evenly overtop. Beginning at a long end, roll up the dough into a log.

Use floss to cut the log into 12 pieces and place each into a muffin cup. Cover and let rise until puffed, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F. Once risen, place the buns in the oven and turn the temperature to 350F. Bake until browned, about 20-25 minutes. Once cooled enough to touch, remove the buns from the tin to finish cooling on a wire rack. You may need to use a knife around the edge and then slide it to free the bottom of the bun if any have stuck.

Once cooled completely, brush the buns with melted butter and roll in granulated sugar. If you’re not serving the buns until the next day, wait to butter and sugar them until then.

tarragon lime posset tarts with black and blueberries

lime tarragon posset tarts with black and blueberries
lime tarragon posset tarts with black and blueberries
lime tarragon posset tarts with black and blueberries

These tarts were inspired by these blueberry and blackberry tarts by Ed Kimber (I seem to be taking inspiration from his bakes lately!). I came across the recipe one day and the image stayed with me: shades of blue rendered in differently shaped and textured berries. Here I’ve put the berry pairing over a posset, a sort of cooked and curdled citrus cream, which, despite how it might sound, makes for a delightful tart filling. The tarragon and lime in the posset are close to a lime-and-mint pairing: – fresh herbal and citrusy – but with an aniseed/liquorice-y vibe. If you like tarragon, this might be my new favourite tarragon pairing!

lime tarragon posset tarts with black and blueberries
lime tarragon posset tarts with black and blueberries
lime tarragon posset tarts with black and blueberries
lime tarragon posset tarts with black and blueberries

Okay, but I can’t just leave you with “posset is curdled cream” can I? While true, it doesn’t give posset nearly enough credit! Posset is sharp, sweet and like the smoothest, creamiest, richest pudding – think almost ganache-like in consistency. My mum used to make it to use up near-expired cream – and it is fast and simple as is her cooking style: just boil the cream with citrus juice and sugar, and it’s done. It would probably be one of my favourite things except that it is also very sweet. As the sugar content is something of a structural necessity (I think), I haven’t dared to tamper with it too much. Thus it works well here as a thin layer balanced with a fairly unsweetened tart crust and plenty of fresh berries.

Another great thing about posset – unlike a pastry cream filling, it won’t sog up your tart shells as quickly as pastry cream! While the posset can crack after a day or two as some of the moisture is absorbed into the tart shells, any surface cracks will be covered with berries, making it quite alright to make and fill the tarts a day or two ahead of time if needed.

lime tarragon posset tarts with black and blueberries

tarragon lime posset tarts with black and blueberries

  • Servings: five 9cm tarts
  • Print

You will need five 9cm fluted tart tins (about 1.5cm tall). Posset adapted from Food52. Blueberry and blackberry arrangement based on these blueberry and blackberry tarts by the Boy Who Bakes. 

pastry

  • 56g softened butter
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 25g egg, at room temperature
  • 105g flour, half all-purpose and half whole wheat
  • plus a bit of extra beaten egg

tarragon lime posset

  • 240g heavy cream (36% milk fat) 
  • 2 large sprigs of tarragon (~3g)
  • 60g granulated sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 tsp finely grated lime zest
  • 37g freshly squeezed lime juice

assembly

  • approx 250g blueberries
  • approx 150g blackberries
  • tarragon leaves
  • finely grated lime zest

pastry

Cream the butter with the salt and sugar. Add the egg, a bit a time, beating in each addition completely before the next. Lastly add the flours all at once and mix in until combined. Pat into a disc, wrap in plastic, and chill the dough completely.

Remove from the dough from the fridge and place on a very lightly floured countertop (you may need to let the dough warm up on the counter for a few minutes first). Roll to about 2-3mm thick. Cut out at 12cm circles and use to line the fluted tart tins. In order to line all five tins, you’ll need to re-roll the scraps. This is a delicate pastry to work with, so don’t worry if it tears – just patch any tears together with a bit of extra dough. 

Cover the tins and chill completely.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Dock the bottom of the tart shells with a fork. Bake until the tart shells are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Brush the shells lightly with a bit of extra beaten egg and return to the oven for another few minutes – this will help form a seal.

Let the tart shells cool completely. If there are any cracks, you can patch them with a bit of melted white chocolate.

tarragon lime posset

Heat the cream until steaming. Roll the tarragon between your fingers to bruise the leaves and help release the flavour, then stir into the hot cream. Cover and set aside to steep for at least a few hours or overnight (in the fridge). 

Pass the cream through a sieve to remove the tarragon, pressing to extract as much cream as you can. Transfer the cream to a medium saucepan (we’re using a larger saucepan to prevent the cream from boiling over). Add the sugar, salt and lime zest. Bring the cream to a boil and let boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and whisk in the lime juice. Transfer to a cup with a pouring spout and allow to cool slightly.

Keep the baked tart shells in their tins for extra support. Distribute the posset amongst the five tart shells. Tap lightly on the countertop if needed to level the surface. Place in the fridge and allow to set completely.

assembly

Place 4-5 blackberries (depending on size) on top of each tart. Fill in the spaces around the blackberries with blueberries and then pile on some additional blueberries to create a slightly mound of fruit. Scatter the tarts with tarragon leaves and finely grated lime zest.

lemon verbena & rhubarb fraisier (& tentimestea turns 7!)

lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier

Today, somehow, tentimestea turns seven!? Is it time for me and my blog’s seven year itch? (I’m not feeling it yet – but…)

Over these seven years, definitely a number of things of have changed (like the fonts – what a reversal from serif to sans) – and a few other things have stayed the same. For instance, I’ve had the same rather prescient blog tagline since I started my blog: tentimestea is indeed primarily about food, my cautious instinct was correct that there really ended up being no books, and the pretentious writing is right on point. Likewise, I’ve kept the same totally irrelevant about page mostly intact.

In this manner my blog has come to be a mish-mash of nostalgia and sentimentality folded in with the newer fonts and occasionally properly exposed photographs – SEO and proper blog form be darned! Because after working on something for seven years, I suppose you do start to get attached to all the idiosyncrasies and random html widgets that were added into the sidebar which now, years later, I don’t have the heart to delete. It’s legacy! For posterity! or so I tell myself.

And so? One more year? Shall we?

lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier

I’ve been thinking about making a fraisier for a while (i.e. about three years). I’m so glad I finally did – it’s not nearly as scary as I thought it would be! Perhaps my biggest fear was the ring of strawberries along the edge not staying in place, or even worse, not being able to pull off the cake ring at the very end. Neither of those events came to pass as you can see (and on the ring removal side, it just takes a bit of warming up via blow dryer.)

Fraisier is a cake named for it’s fruit (la fraise) usually made of two layers of sponge enclosing cream and strawberries, and then topped with a layer of marzipan. It’s most recognizable for the ring of exposed strawberry halves.

This fraisier is a bit of a riff off of the original. Starting with the cake, I went with joconde, an almond sponge, instead of genoise. It’s one of my favourite base cakes – it’s stronger, moister and has a wonderfully rich taste, and in lieu of the marzipan, it provides a gentle almond flavour. For the filling, I infused the creme diplomat with lemon verbena and thyme for a fresh herbal taste, and packed the centre with tart roasted rhubarb. And as hinted, I skipped the marzipan – I love marzipan, but I do think the more-cream-on-top approach, one which I’ve seen a number of times (like here!) is a lovely balance of flavours.

For the ambitious, Tamal Ray recently shared a frasier recipe in the Guardian with a double strawberry ring, while the blog Freddy’s Harajuku has a full on double-decker frasier.

As for me, I can’t wait to try this again in different flavour variations!

lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier

past tentimestea birthday rhubarb cakes:

lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier

lemon verbena, thyme & rhubarb fraisier

  • Servings: one 6-inch cake
  • Print

Creme diplomat and general assembly features from A Baking Journey, joconde from Mary Berry via BBC, and the finishing step of spreading more creme diplomat on top from Ruth Tam via Instagram.

special equipment: cake ring 6″ in diametre and 3″ tall

joconde

  • 3 egg whites
  • pinch cream of tartar
  • 15g sugar
  • 100g ground almond
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 30g flour
  • 30g butter, melted and cooled

roasted fruit

  • 120g chopped rhubarb (chop into about 1.5cm dice)
  • 80g chopped strawberries (chop into about 1.5cm dice)
  • about 2 tsp sugar (or more to taste)

creme diplomat

  • 320g whole milk
  • 3 large sprigs lemon verbena
  • 3 large sprigs thyme
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 20g granulated sugar
  • 20g cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp gelatin, bloomed in 1 tbsp water
  • 180g heavy cream, whipped

assembly

  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp grand marnier (or kirsch)
  • strawberries
  • whipped cream

joconde

Preheat the oven to 425F. Butter two 9-inch cake tins and line the bottom of two 9-inch cake tins with parchment paper. Flour the sides.

Place the 3 egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and whip until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and sugar and beat until firm peaks are formed. Transfer to another bowl and set aside.

Place the almond, icing sugar and 3 whole eggs in the stand mixer and beat with the whisk on medium-high speed for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Sift the flour overtop and fold in. Fold in the melted butter. Dollop a large scoop of egg whites over top and fold in to lighten. Then add the remaining egg whites and fold until incorporated.

Evenly distribute the batter between the two tins and spread into an even layer.

Bake for around 5-10 minutes or until golden and springy. Let cool, then store, covered, until ready to use.

roasted fruit

Preheat the oven to 375F. Toss the strawberries, rhubarb and sugar together on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring once at the 10 minute mark, or until the fruit is tender and has released juices. Let cool and chill completely.

creme diplomat

Heat the milk until steaming. Coarsely chop the lemon verbena and thyme, and add to the milk. Cover and let cool, then transfer the milk to the fridge to continue infusing overnight. The next day strain the milk, pressing to extract the milk from the herbs. Weigh the strained milk and top up to reach 320g.

Transfer the milk to a medium-small saucepan. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt. Heat the milk until steaming, then slowly pour into the egg yolks while whisking constantly to temper them. Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture begins to bubble. Cook for at least 1 minute (whisking vigorously) then immediately remove from the heat. Pass through a sieve into a bowl to remove any lumps and whisk in the butter and bloomed gelatin until both are melted. Cover and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Once cooled, whisk the pastry cream until smooth. Whisk in a dollop of the whipped cream to lighten, then fold in the remainder. Use soon.

assembly

Mix together the milk and grand marnier.

Use the 6″ cake ring to cut a 6″ round from each joconde. Place the cake ring onto a plate (it is convenient to place it on your intended serving plate). Put one circle of joconde down and brush with the milk/grand marnier mixture. Line the ring with halved strawberries, cut side against the ring. I needed about 13 strawberry halves, but it will depend on the size of your strawberries (mine varied from 4-6cm tall; try not to exceed 6 or so cm to ensure that the cake doesn’t get too tall!).

Transfer the creme diplomat to a piping bag fitted with a round tip (I used Wilton 2A, about 1cm in diameter). Pipe the creme between each strawberry and then pipe in a spiral to cover the bottom of the cake. Spoon the roasted fruit into the cavity created by the cream and strawberries, and then pipe more cream overtop to cover it. Spread flat and top with the second circle of joconde. Brush with the grand marnier/milk mixture. Finally, spread a final layer of creme diplomat over top and smooth out with an offset spatula.

Cover with plastic and chill overnight to allow the cream to set. The next day, if the cake is not already on your designed serving platter, move it – you can likely lift it up via the ring, but use a wide flat spatula on the bottom for additional support.. Then run a blowdryer (or even a blowtorch, if you have access to one!) along the outside of the ring for several seconds to slightly melt the cream and loosen the ring. Lift up the ring. I garnished with some piped whipped cream, strawberries, lemon verbena and thyme (as well as a single white begonia – they are edible! – the sole output from our struggling balcony plants).

lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier

roasted strawberry star anise ice cream with black sesame caramel swirl

strawberry, star anise and black sesame caramel ice cream
strawberry, star anise and black sesame caramel ice cream

This ice cream is another quasi-take on PB&J: an ice cream base infused with star anise and roasted strawberry puree, and swirled through with a black sesame caramel.

Roasting fruit and then pureeing it into ice cream base has become one of my favourite ways of incorporating fruit into ice cream (I have another couple recipe drafts using this technique with apricots and cherries!). It’s a technique I borrowed from Stella Park’s cherry ice cream, where roasting reduces down the fruit and makes up a significant portion of the base. Though, unlike the original recipe, I like to put in full puree instead of straining in because that way I don’t need quite as much fruit and there’s no chance of waste!

strawberry, star anise and black sesame caramel ice cream
strawberry, star anise and black sesame caramel ice cream
strawberry, star anise and black sesame caramel ice cream
strawberry, star anise and black sesame caramel ice cream

Some reasons to love roasting fruit for ice cream: Firstly, it reduces the water content of the fruit, preventing the ice cream base from becoming crystalline. Second, it also makes for a thicker ice cream base which better holds air from churning and fluff up more (this is only a concern when you churn your ice cream by hand). Finally, I think the concentrated fruit mixture also helps keep the ice cream a bit softer at freezer temperature – though whether that’s due to the first two reasons or something about fibre content, I’m not sure!

strawberry, star anise and black sesame caramel ice cream
strawberry, star anise and black sesame caramel ice cream
strawberry, star anise and black sesame caramel ice cream
strawberry, star anise and black sesame caramel ice cream

This ice cream has gone through a few renditions to get here. The first time I made this ice cream, I tried to use swirl straight black sesame paste into the ice cream. But I found that frozen black sesame paste has a pretty terrible texture for ice cream swirling – it stiffened immediately upon contact with the ice cream and spotted the ice cream with grey fragments.

It was later when I was photographing an ice cream with a caramel sauce that I noticed the caramel kept a wonderful, soft, swirly texture even when frozen (yay sugar!). So in my second try, I made a caramel to act as a vehicle for the black sesame paste. Diluting the paste in caramel also let me add plenty of swirls while keeping the black sesame flavour from overwhelming the ice cream base. But I found that the ice cream was a bit too rich and cloying as the roasted strawberries had lost their brightness.

So for the third attempt, I reduced the proportion of cream a bit and added plenty of lemon juice to brighten the strawberry puree – while the roasted strawberries do taste different from fresh, the acidity keeps the ice cream a bit brighter, all the better to contrast against the sweet, salty and nutty black caramel. Finally, if you’re no so into the black sesame, I also quite like the roasted strawberry and star anise ice cream base on it’s own, so skip the caramel if prefer!

strawberry, star anise and black sesame caramel ice cream

strawberry star anise ice cream with black sesame caramel swirl

  • Servings: about 2 cups ice cream base
  • Print

You’ll only use about half of the caramel. As it makes a fairly small amount of ice cream, if you want to double the recipe, you only need to double the strawberries and ice cream base (there is sufficient caramel for a double recipe). 

black sesame caramel swirl

  • 55g granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 70g heavy cream, heated until quite warm
  • Two finger pinch worth of kosher salt
  • 18g roasted black sesame paste, or to taste

roasted strawberries

  • 400g chopped strawberries
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice, or to taste

ice cream base

  • 180g heavy cream
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 120g whole milk
  • 20g granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks

black sesame caramel swirl

Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat over medium high to dissolve the sugar, then allow it to bubble away, swirling the pan occasionally, until the sugar caramelizes. Cook to an amber – lighter if you prefer sweeter, and darker if you prefer a bit of bitterness.

Remove from the heat and pour in the hot cream carefully (it will bubble up) and stir to mix. If lumps of hard caramel form, return to the heat and stir until melted. Stir in the salt.

Transfer the caramel to a bowl and stir in the black sesame paste. Set aside to cool completely.

roasted strawberries

Roast at 350F for about 20-25 minutes or until shrunken/reduced, cooked through and the juices have mostly evaporated (after the evaporative losses, I ended up about 180g worth of roasted strawberries.) Transfer to a container (I like to transfer it directly to the cup that comes with the immersion blender as I’ll be blending it eventually) and let cool. Stir in the fresh lemon juice – the strawberries lose their brightness when roasted, and this helps recover it.

ice cream base

Combine the heavy cream and the star anise. Place in the fridge for 24 hours to cold infuse. The next day, fish out the star anise from the cream and set aside.

Get a double boiler ready – set a small saucepan of simmering water on the stovetop and find a glass bowl that fits on top. Whisk together milk, egg yolks and sugar in the bowl. Add the star anise. Place the bowl over the pot of simmering water and stir constantly with a rubber spatula until the temperature reaches about 165F, or thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon and hold a line drawn in it.

Pass through a sieve to and ensure no fragments of star anise remain. Transfer to a container, add the infused cream, and chill.

Add the chilled ice cream base the roasted strawberries and puree until smooth, either using an immersion blender (most convenient) or a stand blender/food processor. 

Put a pan or a container into the freezer so it will be pre-chilled.

Churn the base in an ice cream maker. Stop while the ice cream base is still fairly soft so you can swirl in the caramel a bit. If the caramel doesn’t drip from a spoon, stir in a bit more cream. Spread half the ice cream into the bottom of the pan and drizzle with some black sesame caramel. Repeat with the remaining ice cream and drizzle with more caramel. You’ll have quite a leftover caramel – save the remainder for serving or other applications.

black forest cream puffs

black forest cream puff
black forest cream puff
black forest cream puff

While one crisis makes it into the news every day, a second crisis makes for more sporadic headlines despite its own deadly impact. In my home province of Alberta (aka third wave overachiever for COVID cases per capita), the opioid crisis has also been raging. 2020 has been the worst year for opioid-related deaths with 1144 deaths or 25.7 deaths per 100,000 person years. To put that in context, it nearly matches the tragic death rate from COVID at the time (1389 lives lost over a similar time frame from March 2020 to Jan 2021). Opioid-related deaths are preventable – no one should have to die of this, let alone that many individuals.

Reminiscent of how the Ontario Ford government decided to revoke the two hard-won mandated paid sick days in 2018 right on time for a pandemic, the Kenney government had put forth a similarly ineffective abstinence-only “Alberta Model” to address the opioid crisis predicated upon the false notion that harm reduction is counterproductive to recovery. Under this policy, they’ve attempted to defund life-saving harm reduction initiatives all while increasing funding for private abstinence-only recovery services (some reportedly run by business owners with ties to government officials). And just a couple of days ago, it was announced that they would shutter Calgary’s sole supervised consumption site.

black forest cream puff
black forest cream puff
black forest cream puff

This is not a policy informed by evidence, compassion or care for people’s lives or chance of recovery. The standard of care for opioid use disorder IS opioid agonist therapy. The most common option, buprenorphine, is a partial opioid receptor agonist (activator) which allows it to prevent cravings and withdrawal. As only a partial agonist, it is safe and doesn’t cause overdoses or highs. Canadian clinical practice guidelines firmly recommend avoiding abstinence-only treatment as it is both ineffective and dangerous, putting patients at higher risk of relapse, overdose and death. Harm reduction practices such as safe consumption sites and needle exchange programs help people stay alive – and staying alive gives people a chance to access treatment services and recover when they are ready to do so.

So rather than evidence, the “Alberta Model” is based on rhetoric, prejudice and partisanship. The government-issued report on supervised consumption sites (SCS), which laid the groundwork for recent events, is a stunning example of this: a one-sided narrative questionably linking SCS to crime (see also this journal article with more details on the many flaws) and a perfect tool for Kenney’s political agenda. Notably, the government report completely disregarded the remarkable health impacts of SCS on overdose prevention and saving lives in lieu of tales of “social disorder”; SCS in Alberta have had a 100% success rate in preventing overdose death.

That brings us to the announced closure of Calgary’s SCS, Safeworks. While it will be replaced with sites at other (still undisclosed) locations, the current site had been chosen after careful study for its central location, and concentration of overdose deaths, drug use equipment and emergency calls (prior to the SCS) in the area. After years in operation, Safeworks had built relationships and trust with users of the site. To lose this site based on a biased report and flawed assessment methods is another tragedy. Following the pattern in other cities across Alberta, it sounds like the UCP wants SCS out of sight and out of mind, without considering more nuanced solutions that incorporate the needs of all members of the community and most importantly, focus on saving lives.

To keep up to date on the story from advocates and community perspectives, I recommend following @street.cats.yyc and @thetable.yyc. Consider contributing to Street Cats YYC Mutual Aid Fund or donate to the organizations leading a legal challenge of the provincial government’s attempt to dismantle SCSs.

black forest cream puff

Here’s another black forest adaptation: cream puff edition. Choux with cocoa craquelin, cherry kirsch compote, chocolate pastry cream, a massive swirl of whipped cream and cherries. It’s simple, straightforwards, and hits on all the same flavours as black forest cake!

black forest cream puff

black forest cream puffs

  • Servings: 10 larger puffs
  • Print

Craquelin adapted from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel. Choux adapted from Alain Ducasse. Chocolate pastry cream adapted from The Flavour Bender

craquelin

  • 33g brown sugar
  • 9g cocoa powder
  • 21g flour
  • 22g soft butter

choux pastry

  • 43g butter
  • 90g milk
  • pinch kosher salt
  • sprinkle of granulated sugar
  • 45g whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ eggs (may not use all – this time around I only needed 60g-ish, but it will always depend!)

chocolate pastry cream 

  • 6g cornstarch
  • 3g cocoa powder
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 180g whole milk
  • 30g chopped dark chocolate
  • 1 generous tbsp of kirsch 

cherry kirsch compote

  • 100g cherries, pitted and chopped
  • 1 tbsp kirsch 

assembly

  • 150g heavy cream whipped with 1 tsp sugar
  • 10 cherries

craquelin

Mix all ingredients together until it forms a cohesive dough. Place the dough between two sheets of parchment and roll out to a thickness of 1-2mm. Slide onto a pan and freeze until firm.

choux pastry,

Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper – on the backside, trace twelve 4.5cm circles.

Place the butter, milk, sugar and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the flour and quickly mix in with a wooden spoon. Lower the heat and continue to cook the mixture until it forms a ball. Remove the pastry from the heat and let cool a bit before adding the egg.

Beat the eggs in a small bowl. Add a bit at a time to the pastry. Assess the consistency of the dough after each addition of egg and stop once you’ve achieved the right consistency. I find it easiest to begin beating in the eggs with a wire whisk and then transition back to stirring with a wooden spoon once the batter loosens. The dough should be shiny, but not fluid (if its something a bit new to you, look up a video or a more detailed tutorial for the right consistency – such as looking for the “triangle” of dough!). Importantly, you don’t need to use all the egg – or you may need a bit more or less! 

Transfer the pastry to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe the pastry onto the 4.5cm circles. Take the craquelin out of the freezer and cut 5cm circles from the dough. Top each puff with a round of the craquelin.

Bake for 10 minutes at 400F, then decrease temperature to 375F and bake about 30 minutes more or until well browned. You can rotate the puffs after they’ve been in the oven for 20-25 minutes or so, once there are no worries of them deflating. As soon as you can handle the puffs, cut a small slit on the bottom of each puff to let the steam release and let cool on on a wire rack.

chocolate pastry cream

In a bowl whisk together the cornstarch, cocoa powder, egg yolk, sugar and salt. If it’s very thick add a spoonful of the milk as needed.

Place the chopped chocolate in a separate bowl and set aside. 

Place the milk in a saucepan and heat until it just comes to a simmer. Slowly pour into the egg yolk mixture while whisking constantly to temper the egg yolks. Transfer back to the saucepan and return to the heat being sure to whisk constantly. Cook the pastry cream until it begins to bubble and pop and continue to cook it at a bubble for 1 minute. 

Pour the pastry cream over the chopped chocolate and whisk until the chocolate melts in. Lastly, whisk in the kirsch. Cover and chill completely. 

cherry kirsch compote

Place the chopped cherries and kirsch together in a small saucepan. Cook together until the cherries are soft and the juices have thickened. You can add sugar as needed if the cherries are not very sweet. Chill completely.

assembly

Cut a lid from the top of each puff. Spoon a bit of cherry compote into each puff and press into the bottom.

Transfer the chocolate pastry cream to a piping bag – I like to use one of those long narrow filling tips to help get into all the corners – and fill up to the top with pastry cream. 

Whip the cream and transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large French tip. This is just enough cream to pipe a couple of swirls on top of each puff.  

Lastly, nestle a cherry ontop of each swirl of cream. Best eaten day of assembly.

black forest tarts

You can also use the components to fill tart shells as shown below!

black forest cream puffs
black forest cream puffs