Category Archives: Recipes

Choux Au Craquelin


Choux Au craquelin

Let me just start by saying choux pastry isn’t as difficult as you perceive it to be. It’s just science – eggs, fat and water doing its thing when heated, evaporating and expanding. I love watching it through the oven glass, seeing it rise and expand (time lapse anyone?) effortlessly and with such grace. I’ve used the same choux pastry recipe for many many years, and it works every time. Even before I had my Kitchenaid. It was always a one bowl action and me beating the eggs in vigorously to incorporate it into the batter. Usually they are piped into little domes for petite treats on a dessert platter, filled with whipped cream, or one time when I wanted a large dessert display but didn’t want to make macarons, a croquembouche tower.

What’s changed here is the addition of a cookie crumble layer that closely resembles the skin of Hong Kong style pineapple bun. After our second night in a row having the same dessert, we agreed that this is the best dessert of 2019 (well two months in): ice cream in choux au craquelin puff: crunchy, fluffy, sweet and creamy alllll in the one bite. So simple and yet so heavenly! I love the craquelin, creating this sweet crumble hat on top of the choux, allowing it to rise evenly (honestly have you ever seen choux that are this round in shape?)

The best thing about these puffs are that once made, you can easily store them in the freezer, and refresh them in the oven for 5 minutes before your next round. Our ice cream selection today is the Appleby Farms Ipanema Coffee, so dreamy.

Post-publish note: Erin noted our recipes were very similar and I must say this is pure coincidence! My choux pastry recipe dates back 20+ years (with tweaks here and there) and the Craquelin recipe is a scaled up version from one I had in a pastry class, similar to the HK tiger skin on breads for pineapple buns. In the interest in full transparency, you can find her recipe on her cloudy kitchen website.

Choux Au craquelin

Craquelin

  • 100g unsalted butter, soft (room temperature) and cubed
  • 120g brown sugar
  • 120g plain flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Choux Pastry (same for puffs or éclairs)

  • 125g full fat milk
  • 125g water
  • 100g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 5g vanilla bean paste
  • a pinch of salt
  • 20g sugar (omit if you prefer a neutral flavour choux to make way for a sweeter filling)
  • 160g plain flour
  • 240g eggs, lightly beaten (this equates to about 4.5 size 7 eggs which are about 55g each. I beat them in two bowls, one with 4 eggs and the other with 1 egg. You will see why in the instructions following)

Making craquelin

  • Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat all ingredients on medium until combined.
  • Tip the dough onto a large piece of baking paper, and place a second sheet over it. Flatten dough and roll out to 2mm in thickness.
  • Place the baking paper-sandwiched dough in the freezer for an hour, or until ready to use (this step can be done in advance of baking day).

Making the choux pastry

  • Preheat a convection oven to 190 °C. Place milk, water, butter and pinch of salt into a medium size saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, till the butter melts completely. Take pan off the heat, and immediately add, all at once, the plain flour, and mix vigorously with a spatula or wooden spoon. Mix till there are no lumps of flour visible and the dough is smooth and shiny.
  • Return to a low heat and cook for another minute to dry the dough slightly. The dough should pull away from the sides of the pan and the bottom of the pan should be clean. Remove from heat and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or a bowl if using a hand held mixer).

Adding the eggs

  • Beat the dough (while still hot) and add in the main lot of eggs in a stream. It is important to gradually pour the eggs into the mixture, and allow it to be incorporated before adding more.
  • After you’ve added the first lot of eggs (4 eggs) stop the mixer and check the consistency. At this point, the batter should still be too stiff. The batter would not stretch down like a V shape before breaking off. Slowly add half of the 5th egg (your second bowl of whisked egg), which should be just enough to bring it to the right stretchy texture. If not, then add a bit more from what’s left of the 5th egg.

Choux Au craquelin

Note: To save time, I often prepare the pastry to this step a day in advance. On baking day, leave in room temperature for at least 10 minutes before piping.

Piping

  • Fill batter to three quarters of a piping bag with has a large round tip fitted (or just use snip the ends off the piping bag and use without a tip). Pipe large round domes, 58mm (2 1/4 inch) size rounds, matching the cookie cutter size for your craquelin discs. I can fit 12 on my standard sized baking sheet. There should be enough to pipe 2 sheets full.

Choux Au craquelin

  • Take the sheet of craquelin from the freezer and peel off the top piece of baking paper. Using a cookie cutter, cut 24 discs. Place a craquelin disc on top of each dome just before baking.

Choux Au craquelin

  • Bake at 190°C for 18 minutes and switch the trays around for even baking. It should be all puffed and golden (don’t be tempted to open the oven door before it rises). Reduce oven heat to 175°C and bake a further 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown all around (if your oven produces beautifully even heat throughout, and the puffs aren’t too brown when you check at this point, you can probably keep it cooking at 190°C throughout. My 1994 recipe says that but my current oven is on the hot side, hence the reduction in temperature half way).
  • Remove from the oven and cut a small vent in the side of each puff using a sharp knife to release some of the steam. Cool on a cooling rack.

Choux Au craquelin

  • When completely cool, cut the puffs from the earlier slit you’ve made to three quarters of the way, so that the lid still attaches to the bottom of the puff.
  • Fill with a scoop of your favourite ice cream and serve immediately.
  • Alternatively, fill with whipped chocolate ganache (like a creameux) and fresh whipped cream.

Choux Au craquelin

Choux Au craquelin

HelloFresh…hello delicious (+ NZ $50 discount code!)


HelloFresh upcoming menu

HelloFresh upcoming menu

HelloFresh upcoming menu

Over the years, there has been a steady increase in the number of online companies delivering meal kits to households NZ-wide. From a simple but fulsome range of veges and fruits from the farm to your door, fresh pasta delivery, budget meals aimed at young school leavers, meat boxes, fresh fish (literally still swimming in the sea the morning of delivery day) to full variety meal plans for small to large family and also meals that have been part preped with sauces already made for you.

They all brought something different, points of difference. Many of my friends regularly use them. However, it wasn’t enough to keep me on.

Note: This post isn’t sponsored, and I did not receive a meal kit in exchange for writing this post (as I sometimes do, I thought it proper to make the distinction.) The reason I wanted to write a post [tell the world] about it is because I have finally found a service that allows me to choose what I am going to have for dinner.

This has been the main niggle I have with other services: On a week night, I simply don’t have the energy or patience to persuade the family to eat a dish, designed albeit by chefs and nutritionists alike, that is new or with ingredients that has rarely graced our dinner tables for one reason or another.

Don’t get me wrong, we are all for adventures and trying new things, but on weeknights, I choose the path of least resistance.

To me, this is the beauty of HelloFresh: I showed J the upcoming weeks’ menus (three weeks’ worth are available to preview) and she decides what she would like to try. Amazingly, she picked things that I didn’t think she would.

Our delivery is still a week away, and I can’t wait to share our meals with you when I get to cook it.

They have a large market presence overseas in Europe and US, and has only just launched in NZ. Have a look over on their website, and enter in my code MICTSA at check out for a $50 discount off your order. (With such a generous discount, it is definitely worth trying!)

I will share our thoughts about the meals later too! Follow me here on the blog and over on Instagram for more delicious adventures.

xxx

ps. photos here are screenshots of their menu, not my photos, as I have yet to cook them!!!

Pork and chinese cabbage dumplings


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J’s favourite dumplings are pork and chinese cabbage filled.

They require an extra step than their Pork and Chives cousin (check out that post and see how sweet J looks when she was a little younger).

Here, the Wong Bok (Chinese Cabbage) needs to be sliced, blanched in hot water and drained. Once cooled, I squeeze any water out of them. Don’t under estimate the amount of cabbage here, a whole cabbage goes into making 120 dumplings.

They are the perfect partner to beautiful pork mince, as their flavour is more neutral than chives. You also wouldn’t feel the need to brush your teeth and gargle with mouthwash 3 times after eating them.

J and I enjoy this time together, wrapping the little parcels . Below are photos with her showing you how the pleating is done. (scroll to the bottom for the recipe itself).

They are perfect for freezing (on a tray, dusted with a bit of flour); boiling, steaming and pan frying. I have included two cooking methods in the recipe below. Now, time to roll up your sleeves and get ready to wrap!

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Pork and Chinese Cabbage filling

  • 1kg lean pork mince
  • 1 large Chinese Cabbage (Wong Bok)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp chicken stock powder
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp shao xhing wine (or sherry)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp corn flour
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

Wraps

  • 2 packet of dumpling wrappers (120 pcs), these can be round or square shape. (Another post coming soon with a recipe for the wrappers.)
  • Small bowl of water, for sealing
  • Extra flour, for dusting

Directions

  1. Mix all of the filling ingredients together and let it marinate for 20 minutes.
  2. In the mean time, take the dumpling wrappers out of the fridge and let it return to room temperature before starting to make the dumpling. They are more pliable i.e. if you are greedy you can fit more into each dumpling.
  3. Take a little spoonful of filling and place it in the middle of the wrapper.
  4. Dip your finger into the bowl of water and wet the edge of the wrapper.
  5. Fold the wrapper over the filling, forming a moon shape.
  6. Hold the dumpling in your left hand, like holding a taco.
  7. With your right index and middle fingers, flex the dough towards the left to form one pleat.
  8. Press the dough down together against your left thumb, which is just supporting the other side of the dumpling.
  9. Repeat 5 times. (There’s a short video on my Insta stories, under Recipes – Salty.)
  10. For boiled dumplings: Fill half of a large pot or saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. (note not to fill over two- thirds of the pot as you will be adding more water later on.) Add 1 tsp salt to the water and add the dumplings in, be careful not to over crowd the pot.
  11. When the water returns to a boil, pour in half a cup of cold water and wait for it to return to a boil. At this point, you add a second half cup of cold water. This is repeated until you have added water three times in total and the water has returned to a full boil. The dumplings are ready!
  12. For pan fried dumplings: heat a large pan with 2 tsp of oil. When the pan is hot, place dumplings in, flat bottoms down, in a circular pattern. Cook on medium high for 1-2 minutes till the bottom is nicely crisp. Pour in hot water that goes to to a third of the height of the dumplings. Note: it will bubble like mad! Cover with lid and let it cook for 2-3 minutes in medium heat. Keep an eye on it to make sure the water hasn’t evaporated too quickly. Once the water has evaporated, a lattice skin will form on the bottom of the pan. Take it off the heat, and carefully place a plate over the dumplings. Flip the pan while holding the plate with the other hand so that the cooked dumplings are transferred over to the plate entirely, without breaking the lattice skin. (Imagine flipping an upside down cake on a plate.)
  13. Serve with chilli oil, a tiny bit of soy sauce, sesame oil and Chinese vinegar.

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The Wong Bok was kindly gifted by The Fresh Grower. Thank you!

Swedish seed cracker “KNÄCKEBRÖD”


knäckebröd – literally knäcke to break and bröd, bread.

I have them for breakfast with butter, tomato, cottage cheese and loads of pepper. I can totally see these on the next party platter with the best Chicken and Sage Terrine by L’authentic, smoked salmon or salmon gravlax and cream cheese. That’s if I manage to keep some for home after my husband tried them and said he’s taking them to work! They are so easy to make and so easy to make flavour variety too.

This version takes a bit longer to make (baking time) compared to another recipe I sometimes make, without oats and less water. I prefer this one more, as it creates crackers with less uniformity and texture, giving it more personality.

Ingredients
  • 220 g flour
  • 220 g rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 100 g sunflower seeds
  • 100 g sesame seeds
  • 75 g chia seeds
  • 70 g pumpkin seeds
  • 700 ml water
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Fennel seeds (optional)
  • 1 tbsp Cumin seeds (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 130C.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and add the liquids. It should have a porridge-like consistency.
  3. Line 3 cookie sheets with baking paper and pour the mixture onto the sheets.
  4. With a large spoon, spread the mixture as thin as possible (like 2-3mm) and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove sheets from oven and slide the baking paper onto a chopping board. Cut each sheet of cracker into rectangular pieces – small cracker size (for dipping) or larger rectangles (for serving). Having different sizes are good! Put back in the oven and bake for 1-2 hours until they are golden and crisp.

Chocolate mousse dome entremet with Valrhona and Ponthier fruit puree


My ultimate favourite chocolate is Valrhona. Recently I had a mini sampling of the range at Sabato. I thought I would be persuaded to fall for a different type (hello Azelia – hazelnut) and Itakuja (passionfruit)) and was surprised to find myself steadfast in loving Manjari. The fruity notes first captured my love for Valrhona and it’s still my favourite.

I paired the Manjari with Caramelia (think caramel and salted butter), added blackberry and raspberry fruit puree to make a mousse.

I have already made this 3 times in as many weeks!

In order to facilitate the making of the domes, several of the elements had to be made in advance. The beauty of this is that I can break up the prep work over the weekend or nights, only spending a little time for each step. You can do this in one go, but this is how I managed the prep:

  • Chocolate brownie – baked in a square pan, cut rounds out of the pan (making sure that the diameter of the rounds is less than that of the silicone mold), and horizontal cuts were made to get thinner discs.
  • Fruit jelly – puree and gelatin were used to make these. They are freezeable.
  • Mousse – the last of the element and the day you make the mousse is the day you need to have enough space in the freezer for them to chill.
  • Mirror glaze – the drips can be saved if you prewrapped the catch tray with plastic wrap. You can safely reuse this for 1-2 weeks.

Makes 6 domes with extra mousse for about 4 smaller flat shapes.

There will be enough brownies, jelly and glaze for another round of mousse domes at least. For the second batch, I only needed to make up more mousse as the other elements were already complete! How easy is that 🙂

I’ve written the recipe below with the instructions immediately following the ingredients. This was easiest for me while making them as I did the elements separately.

Ingredients and instructions:

Brownie:

My chewy chocolate brownie. Usually entremets have a sponge dacquoise layer. Since I was making brownies, I thought maybe I should try it with my chocolate brownie? It gives a deep caramel flavour and chewey texture to the dessert. I had really good comments about this from my tasters 😉

Fruit jelly:

  • 125ml fruit puree
  • 1.5 sheets of gold strength gelatin

Soak gelatin sheets in cold water for at least 5 mins. Heat the fruit puree till it begins to boil. Squeeze water from gelatin sheets and add to puree. Stir to melt and pour into silicone moulds. Place in freezer to harden. Try different moulds for different presentation.

Here I’ve used a mini half sphere dome as an insert for the sphere dome shapes and also a spiral as the topping for the flatter round shapes like below.

Mousse:

  • 110g Caramelia (milk)
  • 40g Manjari (dark)
  • 40g Ponthier Blackberry puree
  • 40g Ponthier Raspberry puree
  • 170g whipped cream

Chop chocolate to small pieces. Bring puree up to a boil and pour over chocolates. Leave for a minute before mixing until smooth and shiny. You may have to heat this bowl over a water bath to melt it all.

Whip cream to soft peak, and add half to chocolates. Mix well, and add the rest of cream.

Here comes the fun part. For the silikomart domes, choose shapes that don’t have sharp edges. Pipe mousse into the silicone mould, filling halfway. Push a jelly dome in, which will squish some of the mousse to the rim. Fill with a bit more mousse and add a brownie disc on top. Freeze over night. Big tip: Only remove from freezer and unmould when your glaze is ready to be poured.

Mirror glaze:

  • 23g glucose
  • 53ml cream
  • 62ml water
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 26g dutch cocoa powder (I use Valrhona)
  • 2 gold gelatin sheets

Presoak gelatin sheets in cold water. Cook glucose, cream, water and sugar to 103 degrees C. Add in cocoa powder and mix well. Squeeze water from gelatin sheets and add to the glaze mixture. Use a stick blend to blend the glaze till smooth. Place a piece of cling wrap directly on the surface of the glaze (touching it to reduce contact with the air), store for use later. Reheat to around body temperature (37 degrees C) and pour over mousse domes that has just been taken out of the freezer and unmoulded.

Can be kept in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. Reheating will darken the glaze. It’s so shiny you can even see my reflection if you zoom in!

Overtime, you’ll find yourself pouring more confidently. The operative word is confident. Pour from the centre and then outwards, and aim to cover it quickly. If you want to see this in action, go to my Instagram stories and look for the Sweet Recipe highlights. Give this a go and let me know if you like it or any flavour combos 🙂 Try different shapes too and don’t forget to decorate with Fresh As freeze dried raspberries and a bit of gold 😉