Chocopuffs

The idea for this super chocolatey dessert came from a Chinese cookbook translated from a Japanese cookbook.. and I don’t even understand both languages! It’s a chocolate choux puff with a chocolate biscuit crust filled with very, very dark chocolate pastry cream. I (barely) translated the ingredient list then looked at pictures to figure out the steps. The choux pastry was perfect- crisp and chocolatey. The biscuit crust, however, was a total dud! It uses eggs which I found strange for a biscuit recipe, but I went with it anyway. The biscuit batter was piped in swirls over the choux pastry before it was baked, and it’s meant to look as pictured above: a crackly thin biscuit crust. Frustratingly, that didn’t happen! The biscuit swirl just hardened and then burnt.. Grr. I remember the Ladurée cookbook having a biscuit crust on its eclairs, so I referred to it, and sure it is, there it was! The biscuit in the book was vanilla though, so I added some cocoa powder and it worked like a charm. This is definitely one of the best things I’ve made so far.

Choux pastry:

  • 50g butter
  • 60g milk
  • 60g water
  • 2g salt
  • 5g sugar
  • 60g cake flour
  • 10g cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs

1. Slice the butter thinly and place in a pot with the milk, water, sugar, and salt. It is important to slice the butter as if it’s left in a big block, it’ll take longer to melt and the liquid will evaporate, throwing the ratios off. Turn on the stove to medium heat.

2. Sift cocoa powder and flour together.

3. When the milk mixture comes to the boil, quickly dump in all the flour mixture in and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. Beat out the lumps and continue stirring until the mixture forms a ball and stops sticking to the sides of the pan. Remove from heat.

4. Cool the mixture slightly by beating it with the wooden spoon, or by setting it aside for awhile. Once it cools slightly, beat the eggs in 1 by 1, stirring vigorously between each egg.  The batter should form a “ribbon” when the spoon is lifted. (it shouldn’t be too stiff that the batter “tears” when spoon is lifted, and shouldn’t be so runny that it flows. If too stiff, add a beaten egg in little by little, if too runny you’ll have to start over!)

5. Pipe little mounds of choux pastry on a lined baking sheet, 1 inch apart. The mounds should be about 2cm round for a bite-sized choux.  Place a biscuit round on top.

6. Bake at 18o˚C for 17 minutes then either prop oven door open and bake for another 10 minutes. Because I use a microwave oven and the door has to be shut for it to function, I compromised and baked at 150˚C instead for about 10-15 minutes, and it worked just fine. For the last 5-8 minutes, I poked holes in the bottom and flipped them upside down for some steam to escape, although this isn’t necessary. Next time, I’ll probably poke the sides as it won’t be as messy once filled with pastry cream.

7. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Biscuit topping (adapted from Ladurée sucré)

  • 100g very cold unsalted butter
  • 125g cake flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 30g cocoa powder

1) Place all the ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment until combined. Gather into a ball and chill for 1 hour.

2) Remove from the fridge and knead slightly to soften. Roll between parchment paper to a thickness of about 2mm. Cut out circles slightly bigger than the unbaked choux pastry mounds.

Pastry cream (adapted from chinese cookbook {I would write the name but it’s in chinese!} and Pierre Hermé)

  • 250 whole milk
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 40g sugar
  • 1.5 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
  • 125g bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 20g unsalted butter, at room temperature

1. Place milk in a pan and bring to the boil

2. Whisk together egg yolks and sugar, then whisk in cornstarch.

3. Once the milk has reached a boil, slowly pour in the milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Do this slowly, as you don’t want to scramble your eggs! Once all the milk has been stirred in, pour back into the pan and place over heat again.

4. Whisk constantly over heat until the mixture thickens then remove from heat. Let it cool slightly, then add melted chocolate and butter. Stir.

5. Pour the hot mixture into a flat baking sheet and immediately cover with clingfilm. The clingfilm should touch the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Chill.

Assembly:

1. Place pastry cream into a piping bag fitted with a 0.5cm round tip. If you don’t have tips, just snip the bag to make a small hole. If you don’t have a piping bag, just place the pastry cream in a ziploc bag and snip a corner. Anything goes!

2. Pipe the cream into the choux puff either from the hole at the bottom, or if you haven’t pierced a hole during the baking process, poke a hole at the side and pipe the cream in. I expect this will make neater puffs since the cream won’t be leaking out.

3. Eat as soon as possible! The longer it sits, the soggier it gets.

PS: sorry for the slightly blurry photos!

Chocolate & Lemon-Vanilla Bean Sablé

I’ve been reading quite a lot of Japanese recipe websites, blogs and books lately, and have been obsessed with their perfect pastries and cakes. They always look like how they should! I’ve come to realise that they are very fond of making sablés, a French biscuit which are sandy and light and melts in your mouth. Inspired, I made lemon-vanilla and chocolate ones. I had quite high hopes for the chocolate sablés since they’re a Pierre Hermé recipe, but I found them really underwhelming. The texture was perfect, light and tender, but it tasted almost like nothing at all. Which isn’t very surprising considering the tiny amount of sugar and cocoa powder in it. Hmm.. well it could just be me, though. The lemon zest and vanilla one were better, but still.. slightly boring. I guess I like my desserts not so dainty and delicate haha. Anyway, isn’t this a bit of a fail of a blog post?

 

Green Tea Gateau + Fresh Blueberries and Cream

I did a short internship at Lanka last summer for two months, and whilst I was there I made this cake many, many times! Lanka, being a Japanese-run bakery, had plenty of yummy French pastries and cakes in distinctively Japanese flavours and styles. This cake was one of the most popular cakes and rightly so! It has a biscuit crust under a dense, almond-y, and bittersweet green tea flavoured cake. I made one for my godmum’s birthday last Sunday, and had extra batter so I made a tiny 13cm cake for myself! At Lanka, it’s served as it is, but I thought it would be nice with a light fluffy layer of unsweetened double cream and dotted with some fresh blueberries and white chocolate shavings for a burst of sweetness and tartness to contrast the bitterness of the green tea.

{this beautiful plate is from the super talented Nikole Herriot}

Posted in Blueberries, Cakes | Tagged blueberries, | Green Tea Gateau + Fresh Blueberries and Cream