pineapple & salted egg yolk paris-brest

pineapple and salted egg yolk paris-brest
pineapple and salted egg yolk paris-brest
pineapple and salted egg yolk paris-brest

Happy upcoming Lunar New Year! As any new year traditions became very dilute by the time they trickled down to my generation, I never do too much aside from a dinner with the family bubble. So for me, the best part is the stories from family on their past new years, from massive family gatherings involving trays and trays of dumplings to dangling lettuces and money from the balcony as the lion dancers paraded through Montreal’s Chinatown.

Pineapple cakes (or their tart counterpart), which figure prominently in Taiwanese (or Malaysian, respectively) new year traditions, are also not something I grew up with but since I first tried one, I’ve loved the combination of crumbly rich pastry and pineapple filling. I love cheap pineapple cakes (which people tell me are not very good) and expensive Taiwanese ones (which I have since tried and agree are better) – overall, any pineapple cake will do for me. This bake was inspired by a very delicious pineapple cake with salted egg yolk I once tried. I borrowed the flavours for a Paris-Brest with a layer of pineapple jam along the bottom and a salted egg yolk cream piped over top.

pineapple and salted egg yolk paris-brest
pineapple and salted egg yolk paris-brest
pineapple and salted egg yolk paris-brest

While some fruits lose their flavour when cooked, pineapple jam stays sweet, tart and fruity despite a long cook and slight caramelization. And it plays as both compliment and contrast against the salted egg yolk brown sugar crème mousseline where the saltiness of the egg yolks and brown sugar come across as a salted caramel-ish flavour. I used a crème mousseline as filling which has a similar richness, structure and formula to the classic crème praliné, but can be made with a more muted sweetness. I tend to find Paris-Brest too sweet with the praline paste, but this take, even with the sweet pineapple jam, is balanced to my tastes.

Other Lunar New Year baking: six years ago my attempts to make steamed fatt gou.

pineapple and salted egg yolk paris-brest

pineapple & salted egg yolk paris-brest

Pineapple jam based on guidance from Taste Asian Food, What to Cook Today and Kavey Eats. Crème mousseline adapted from Chef Iso.

choux

Makes 4-5 rings.

  • 65g butter
  • 145g water
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • good pinch salt
  • 80g whole wheat flour
  • about 2 eggs – may need more or less
  • sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 450F. Line a baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper – on the backside, trace five 8-cm diametre circles.

In a saucepan, place the butter, water, sugar and salt. 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 and a dry film on the bottom of the pot. Remove the pastry from the heat and let cool slightly before adding the egg, a bit at a time – use either the wooden spoon or switch to a wire whisk if preferred. You may need or more less of the eggs – the dough should be shiny, but not fluid. (If you’re new to choux pastry, check out a guide for what to look for – I really like this one from The Flavor Bender.)

Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a large french star tip (I used Wilton 8B which has a 3/4″ diameter opening). Pipe 4 or 5 rounds following the 8cm diametre circle guides traced on the parchment. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Place in the oven and turn the temperature down to 400F. Bake for around 35 minutes or until deeply browned. Once out of the oven, cut slits into the sides of the rings to allow steam to escape.

pineapple jam

  • 1 large pineapple, peeled and chopped for about 700g pineapple flesh
  • 140g sugar (or 1/5th the weight of pineapple)
  • 25g butter

For preparing the pineapple, begin by cutting off the skin. Cut the flesh from the core and chop. I also included the less woody parts of the stem as well. Put the pineapple in the bowl of a stand mixer and blend for a more finely chopped puree. I ended up with 700g of pineapple. Place in a sieve and let the excess juice drain for about five minutes.

Transfer the drained pineapple pulp and sugar to a non-stick skillet. Over medium heat, cook the pineapple mixture, stirring constantly until it thickens, dries and takes on a deeper golden colour, about 30-40 minutes. Add the butter and cook a few minutes more, then transfer to a jar and set aside to cool. Store in the fridge until ready to use.

salted egg yolk brown sugar crème mousseline

This makes enough for a very thick layer of cream and extra. Lots of cream looks more aesthetic, but this can be easily reduced to a 2/3 recipe for a bit of a thinner layer of cream and not extra.

  • 6 cooked salted duck egg yolks
  • 300g whole milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 30g cornstarch
  • 40g brown sugar
  • 30g granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin bloomed in 1 tbsp water
  • 130g butter, softened

To cook the salted duck egg yolks, simmer them for about 6 minutes until cooked through. Roughly chop the cooked egg yolks. Use an immersion blender to blend the egg yolks into the milk until as smooth as you can get it. Transfer to a saucepan.

In a bowl, whisk together the (unsalted) egg yolks, cornstarch and sugars.

Heat the milk until steaming, then slowly drizzle into the cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly to temper the yolks. Return the mixture to the saucepan and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until you notice the mixture thickening and beginning to slowly bubble (you’ll have to pause your whisk to see the bubbling). Continue to cook for at least 1 minute more, all whisk whisking vigorously, to completely cook the starch. Then remove from the heat and immediately scrape the cream into a bowl (you can pass through a sieve first if you are concerned about lumps). Right away, whisk in the bloomed gelatin until melted, as well a tbsp or so of the butter. Cover and set aside to let cool to room temperature.

Place the remaining butter in the bowl a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk the butter until smooth and light. Add the pastry cream, a few spoonfuls at a time, to the butter, whisking in each addition until smooth before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl every so often. At the end, whip for a few minutes until the mousseline cream is quite light and fluffy.

Use soon!

assembly

  • coconut flakes
  • powdered sugar

Slice each choux ring in half. Spread some pineapple jam on the bottom halves. Transfer the mousseline cream to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe swirls of cream over the jam. Sprinkle some coconut flakes overtop. Put the top of each choux ring back on top. Dust with a bit of powdered sugar if desired.

pineapple and salted egg yolk paris-brest

caramelized banana houjicha cream puff

caramelized banana houjicha cream puff
caramelized banana houjicha cream puff

There was a textural divide in my home when I was growing up. To put it succinctly, I loved the mush. My sister, not so much. Sweet potato, squash, taro, steamed egg, thick rice pudding, cold tapioca, red bean soup, Bird’s custard: if you could glop it around with a spoon, I probably adored it while my sister wished it to burn – in order to get some crispy edges. Bananas, however, which can be incredibly mushy, were a point of agreement, something we both regarded with (varying) degrees of disdain.

Okay, but common ground aside, to me bananas still have their place. I do love a good banana flavour combination (except peanut butter) where the banana cheerfully coexists along other non-banana flavours and the end result is definitely banana, but not overly so. Banana-moderation, we can call it. And particularly in the context of caramel, even an overripe banana is delicious.

caramelized banana houjicha cream puff
caramelized banana houjicha cream puff
caramelized banana houjicha cream puff
caramelized banana houjicha cream puff

These cream puffs fit the bill. Houjicha, the toasted companion to green tea, has a taste that lingers between tea and dark roast coffee. It’s the star of these tea puffs, making up a pastry cream filling and whipped ganache against a caramelized banana compote (and bruleed banana half-moon).

It’s a great combination of toasty warm flavours, and yes, a really good hit of banana too.

caramelized banana houjicha cream puff

caramelized banana houjicha cream puff

  • Servings: 10 small puffs
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Craquelin adapted from the cream puff cookie topping from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien RouxelChoux pastry adapted from Alain Ducasse via Food and Wine. Ganache a random average of a few recipes, pastry cream based on standard ratios, and compote freehanded.

craquelin

Makes plenty – you might have leftovers, but you can cut them it into circles and freeze it for further baking. I happened to have 6 leftover craquelin rounds in the freezer which I used – hence why only half the puffs have craquelin in the photos. 

  • 28g brown sugar
  • 25g whole wheat flour
  • 18g butter

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.

whole wheat choux

Makes  10-12 small-medium puffs.

  • 29g or 1/4 stick of butter or about 2 tbsp
  • 60g/1/4 cup milk
  • good pinch kosher salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 30g or 1/4 c whole wheat flour
  • approximately 1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper – on the backside, trace 12 3.5cm 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 slightly before adding the egg, a bit at a time, beaten into the pastry most easily with the aid of a wire whisk. The dough should now 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!). Importantly, you don’t need to use all the egg – or you may need a bit more than one egg! Assess the consistency of the dough after each addition of egg – sometimes I stop with still a bit of egg left.

Transfer the pastry to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe mounds of pastry onto the 3.5cm circles, each approximately a tablespoon-ish in size. Take the craquelin out of the freezer and cut 3.5cm circles from the dough. Top each puff with a round of the craquelin.

Bake for 5 minutes at 400F, then decrease temperature to 375F and bake 20-25 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. Cut a small slit on the bottom of each puff to let the steam release and let cool on on a wire rack.

caramelized banana compote

You’ll likely have a bit leftover.

  • 1 ripe banana, cut into quarters lengthwise and cut then cut crosswise into small chunks
  • 15g butter
  • 13g brown sugar

Heat butter and brown sugar together in a pan until the brown sugar melts. Add the banana and cook for a couple minutes or until the banana is soft. It will become quite saucy, but it will firm up as it cools.

houjicha pastry cream

Depending on how much banana compote you fill the puffs with, you’ll likely have a bit left over.

  • 250g whole milk
  • 4g houjicha, looseleaf or coarsely ground leaves
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 12g cornstarch
  • 2 egg yolks

For the pastry cream, warm the milk until scalded. Stir in the houjicha. Cover and let steep overnight (or at least a few hours), transferring to the fridge once cool.

The next day, press the milk through a strainer and weigh – top up with a little more to bring it back to 250g if needed.

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch. Place the milk in a saucepan and heat until steaming. Slowly pour into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to temper. Return to the saucepan and continue to cook over medium to medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture just starts to bubble (you will have to pause your whisking to see it bubble). Let it cook, now whisking very vigorously, for a minute at a bubble, the immediately remove from the heat and pass through a fine sieve into a bowl. Cover, let cool, and chill.

whipped houjicha white chocolate ganache

Delicious, but as with anything using white chocolate, also so very sweet! If you are more averse to sweetness you can always use plain whipped cream. There will likely be a little bit extra left over. 

  • 60g chopped white chocolate
  • 100g heavy cream
  • 1 tsp houjicha powder

Place the white chocolate in a heatproof glass bowl.

Heat the cream until it bubbles. Whisk a spoonful or two of the cream into the houjicha powder until smooth, then combine with the remainder of the hot cream.

Pour the hot cream over the white chocolate. Allow to sit for a few minutes, then whisk until smooth. The white chocolate should completely melt, but if not you can always heat it a bit in the microwave, being careful not to overheat.

Chill completely. Just before you’re ready to use it, whip the ganache with a wire whisk until fluffy and stiff, like whipped cream. It’s best to do this right before so the ganache will be smoother when you pipe it.

assembly

  • banana slices, optionally bruleed by sprinkling with sugar and using either a torch or broiler

Trim the top off of each cream puff. Spoon a bit of banana compote into the bottom.

Transfer the pastry cream to a piping bag and fill the remainder of each puff with the pastry cream (I like using a long filling tip ie a bismark tip mostly just so I can get into all the corners of the cream puff and ensure it is filled).

Transfer the whipped white chocolate ganache to a piping bag, fitted with a large petal tip (if you have a St. Honore tip, I think that would work even better!). Pipe the ganache on top of each puff in a squiggly pattern.

Top each puff with a halved slice of banana, optionally bruleed. Best eaten soon.

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!

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
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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

black sesame & persimmon paris-brest

black sesame & persimmon paris-brest
black sesame & persimmon paris-brest

My posts have been fairly substance-less of late. I had meant to spend more time writing about things that matter far more than getting a proper puff on your choux or preventing soggy bottoms – pandemic fallout, policing and media to name a couple things. Yet, I’ve gradually returned to solid frivolities – a return signifying the privileges I have to be able to disengage from matters of life-and-death for others, at least on the blog front. Recently the pace of life has picked up again and I’ve landed myself with quite a few more responsibilities (which I was rather enjoying the lack of during the last few months). While I’ve been having more significant conversations with family and friends (US politics top of mind, of course), as far as the blog goes, I’ll need to find a new equilibrium.

Writing this blog is certainly extremely low impact, but I think it contributes to the general milieu where we hear these issues emphasized over and over from various channels. It helps keep me from lapsing into (more) complacency – and organizing my thoughts in writing first helps me talk about them in person.

Continue reading “black sesame & persimmon paris-brest”

pomelo, coconut & yuzu cream puffs

pomelo coconut yuzu cream puffpomelo coconut yuzu cream puff

Growing up, I always ate pomelo with my grandpa because he was the only one willing to peel them. We’d score the top – always needing to cut deeper than expected to get through the pith – and then wrestle out the fruit from the centre (you can find some photos of the pomelo peeling process here) keeping the peel in one piece. My grandpa would then put a plate on top of the peel to help it dry flat into a flower, and thereafter it would spend a couple months dangling somewhere in the kitchen.

Nowadays I can peel my own pomelos (and I sometimes even cut my own pineapple! how I have grown), though I still look forwards the arrival of pomelos every winter.

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tiramisu cream puffs

tiramisu cream puffs: coffee creme pat and marsala marscapone cream in a whole wheat choux with cocoa craquelin

SAM_1050SAM_1065cream puff components

To pack it all into one sentence: these cream puffs are made of a whole wheat choux with a cocoa craquelin filled with a coffee pastry cream, topped with a marsala mascarpone cream and dusted with cocoa powder. Texturally, it’s a jumble of the best sort: the pastry cream contained within the cream puff is silky, the choux pastry itself is crisp, and the marscapone is rich and light. I did my best to taste and sweeten judiciously so that the sugar content was kept to a minimum, but it is still, through and through, a dessert. I am so bizarrely pleased with how they turned out. It’s very hard to go wrong with the flavours of tiramisu!

These cream puffs are making me doubt my baking priorities a bit – sometimes I focus more on playing around with flavour combinations, and they usually taste fine or even quite nice but it’s rare that I find something where the combination is just really so nice. I should rely on the wonderful wisdom of favoured combinations more often.

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chestnut éclairs with speculoos craquelin: a collab with the writographer

The Cousin, impeccable speller (she is particularly precise with the accent aigu) and avid writer, has been one of the few recurring characters on tentimestea, having witnessed and aided in all sorts of strange baking experiences from disaster cake to vaguely okay cake. Over the winter break we once again tried our hand at baking something and these éclairs were the result.

That’s not all though. The Cousin and I both also share some involvement, in some capacity or another, with various forms of social media. In fact, The Cousin recently began her own blog, and thus as a more formal introduction, please meet The Writographer. She kindly complied with my request for her to write a guest post. Quite flatteringly, as I said that she could write about anything she pleased, The Cousin seemed to have found our baking session itself worthy of the blog post–sufficiently such that we have a play-by-play capture. As a writer and photographer, partial photo credit also belongs to her for this post! 

Do take it from here cousin. 

Continue reading “chestnut éclairs with speculoos craquelin: a collab with the writographer”