Category Archives: Recipes – Sweet Treats

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 of 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

  1. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat all ingredients on medium until combined.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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

Raspberry Panna Cotta


These beautiful Raspberry Panna Cottas are super easy to make! Made using Fresh As’ panna cotta mixes, it requires only the addition of milk and cream. No complicated prep or cooking at all. J’s latest favourite dessert to have and make by herself.

Thank you Fresh As for the panna cotta mixes! #gifted

Recipe adapted from Fresh As.

Ingredients

  • 150ml full cream
  • 50ml milk
  • Fresh As Raspberry Panna Cotta (one packet)
  • 2 dariole moulds or serving bowls
  • Fresh As Freeze dried whole raspberries, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Heat milk and cream in a pan to lukewarm, around 40 degrees C. Remove from heat.
  2. Gradually sprinkle the Panna Cotta pack contents over the cream mixture, gently whisking until all ingredients are well combined.
  3. Spray dariole moulds with a neutral flavour oil. Wipe away excess with a paper towel.
  4. Pour the cream mixture evenly into 2 dariole moulds. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Run a knife around the edge of the moulds and gently tip the panna cotta out to serving dishes.
  6. Garnish with raspberries.
  7. Alternatively, you can pour it directly into serving bowls to set and serve.

* If the panna cottas don’t release easily, you can dip it into a container of hot water for a few seconds to release it. Don’t do this for more than a few seconds though!

Raspberry cheesecake brownies


I adore raspberries. I find myself sneaking them into most sweet dishes: from cereals to cakes and desserts.

I love the tang of the fruit and the burst of flavour added to the dish.

It was therefore the first flavour that I reached for when sampling the new range of Spreadable Fruit by Barkers of Geraldine.

These are 99% fruit with no refined sugar added. Sweetened only with pear juice concentrate, it’s a great alternative to fruit purees. In fact, that’s even better than making my own!

I decided to make an easy baked cheesecake brownie, to keep things simple. The brownie batter was done in one bowl while the cheesecake batter was mixed with my trusty Kitchenaid stand mixer.

Just be careful when swirling the fruit – you don’t want to over do it, so that you can keep the pretty red/ white colours.

Who wants a slice?

Brownies

  • 170g unsalted butter, melted (I used Westgold)
  • 300g (1 1/2 cups) caster sugar
  • 120g (2) eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste (I used Equagold)
  • 3g (1/2 tsp) salt
  • 70g (3/4 cup) dutch cocoa powder (I used Valrhona)
  • 70g (1/2 cup) plain flour
  • 5-6 tbsp Barker’s Raspberry Spreadable Fruit

Cheesecake

  • 250g cream cheese, softened
  • 40g mascarpone cheese (I used Tatua)
  • 60g (1) egg
  • 60g (1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp) caster sugar
  • 2g (1/4 tsp) salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C.
  2. Line a 20cm square baking tin with 2 strips of baking paper. (This makes it easier to lift the brownie out of the tin).
  3. In a large ceramic bowl, melt the butter in the microwave.
  4. Mix in sugar, eggs, vanilla paste and salt.
  5. Once fully combined, fold in cocoa powder and flour. Mix till all combined.
  6. Pour the brownie batter into the baking tin, spreading evenly, careful to push batter all the way to the edges.
  7. Combine all cheesecake ingredients in a stand mixer.
  8. Whisk for 2-3 minutes on medium-high speed.
  9. Pour cheesecake batter over brownie batter, spreading evenly.
  10. Drop spoonfuls of the raspberry spreadable fruit on top of the cheesecake in rows of 3s and 2s and swirl using a palette knife.
  11. Bake for 1 hour, check in the last 10 minutes (so it doesn’t go past the golden point). Test brownie with palette knife – it should be almost clean.
  12. Leave to cool in tin before placing in fridge to cool and firm up for 1-2 hours.
  13. Cut into 16 squares, wiping down the knife after each cut for a cleaner look.
  14. Serve with a nice cup of tea!

*I received a jar of the Spreadable Fruit when I attended the NZ Foodwriters annual May Market. Post not sponsored.

Espresso Tim Tam Cheesecake with Valrhona chocolate


Sometimes, the craving to bake or make something is so bad, that I just need a recipe that is quick, fool-proof and simple. By simple I mean one or two pans, minimal utensils (i.e minimal washing as our dishwasher is still out of action) and ingredients I readily have in the house. If this isn’t your first time on my blog, you would know I use Valrhona chocolate and always have a good stash of it in the house. If you don’t have access to this beautiful chocolate, please use the best you can find. Trust me, it makes all the difference to your desserts.

This is my go-to no bake cheesecake recipe, which combines all the things I like – Valrhona chocolate, Westgold butter, Tim Tams and cold desserts.

There aren’t many seperate elements to prepare in this recipe, which qualifies it as simple. I don’t even need the oven, just some fridge and freezer space. Tick.

I have been practising my chocolate tempering techniques and love how the cut chocolate shapes can keep for a while in a cool place, so I can use it on my desserts whenever I need them. i.e. readily available.

The beautiful dome shapes are made using Silikomart molds, and the design is inspired by the stunning work of Maja Vase, one of my favourite foodies on Instagram. These molds can be purchased online and through Savour, a Melbourne patisserie school by none other than Kirsten Tibballs. I dream of the day I fly over for their many cooking classes.

I’ve just taken delivery of some new molds and am so excited with the new cake designs that I am going to do soon. (People walking past me must wonder what good news I have, with the big grin on my face 😅). But for now, I give to you this velvety chocolate goodie.

P.s. by ‘quick’, I am referring to the making time, not how long before I can eat it. That part I don’t worry so much as I am more of a maker than eater, which I leave for my tasters.

Ingredients

  • 350g Tim Tam Biscuits, Iced Coffee flavour (2 packets)
  • 120g butter, melted (I use Westgold)
  • 3 teaspoon gelatine powder
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) boiling water
  • 500g cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 150g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 400ml cream (35% fat minimum)
  • 120g milk chocolate, melted (I use Valrhona Jivara 40%, notes of caramel and vanilla enhanced with a touch of malt)
  • 120g dark chocolate, melted (I use Valrhona Manjari 64%, heavenly acidulous red fruit and dried-fruit hints. Single Origin Madagascar)

Directions

  1. Release the base of an 8cm-deep, 22cm (base measurement) springform pan and invert. (This is so that you get a sharp 90 degree bottom edge.)
  2. Grease the base disc and line with a large piece of baking paper, then secure the ring over the base disc, allowing the baking paper edges to overhang. The baking paper is now held in place by the pan. Grease the side of the pan and line with baking paper.
  3. Process the Tim Tams in a food processor until finely crushed. Add the butter and process until well combined. Transfer the biscuit mixture to the prepared pan. Use a straight-sided glass to spread and press the mixture over the base of the pan. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
  4. Place the boiling water in a small heatproof glass. Sprinkle over the Gelatine powder. Stir until gelatine dissolves and set aside.
  5. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in the bowl until smooth. Add cream and beat until smooth. Add the gelatine mixture and beat to combine.
  6. Divide mixture between 2 bowls. Add the melted milk chocolate to one of the bowls and stir to combine.
  7. Fill 12 half spheres of the silikomart micro dome molds with the milk chocolate cheesecake mixture. Place in freezer to set overnight. For the rest of the milk chocolate cheesecake, pour over the biscuit base and smooth the surface. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  8. Fold the melted dark chocolate into the remaining bowl of cream cheese mixture until combined. Fill 6 of the silikomart quenelle molds with the dark chocolate cheesecake. Place in freezer to set overnight. For the rest of the dark chocolate cheesecake, pour over the milk chocolate layer and smooth the surface. Place in the fridge for 4 hours or until set.

Assembly

Remove cream cheese micro domes and quenelles from freezer and place strategically on the cheesecake. Sprinkle over Valrhona crunchy pearls and decorate with tempered chocolate discs.


Chocolate Pâte Sablée letter tart cake


As a full-time working parent, it’s hard to find time dedicated to fulfilling all my baking desires. Often, I am drawn to desserts that incorporate individual elements, which can be separately made and assembled at a later, more convenient time. This tart fits the bill. It’s really super fun and easy to make too. All you need is a great Chocolate Pâte Sablée recipe, a meringue or buttercream and a whole host of little sweets nibbles you want to decorate (and eat) with.

This became my birthday tart cake for 2018. Loved it!

This dough is buttery, rich and most decadent. It’s different to your normal sugar dough: while the sugar dough (Pâte sucrée) is cookie-like, this has a higher proportion of butter and less egg, making it richer and more “sandy”. Almond meal is often added. Higher egg yolks ratio in the overall egg quantity also maintains that richness. You can opt to use icing sugar instead of caster sugar as well.

Ingredients

  • 420g (2 cups) plain flour
  • 80g (3/4 cup) almond meal
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (I use Valrhona)
  • 3g (1/2) teaspoon salt
  • 120g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 125g unsalted butter (I use Westgold), softened
  • 1 large egg + 1 yolk (size 7)

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. Beat the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the egg and yolk one after the other. Mix until completely combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Turn the mixer to low, beat in the flour mixture until the dough just comes together and you can’t see any streaks of flour. Do not overmix. (The dough should hold when pressed together between your fingertips. If not, lightly mix in up to 1 tablespoon milk.)
  5. Place half the dough on a piece of baking paper. Gather the dough together and press it into a round disk. Place a second sheet of baking paper on top and roll the dough out to 3mm thick. Take note of the size of the shape you wish to cut out (I just scaled up a letter M with pencil and ruler) and make sure the dough is big enough.
  6. Repeat with the remainder of the dough.
  7. Chill in the fridge for an hour or overnight.
  8. Using your paper template, cut out a shape from each of the dough sheets with a sharp knife.
  9. Carefully transfer baking paper with your shape to a cookie sheet and bake at 165 degrees Celsius for 12 minutes.
  10. Cool completely before assembling tart.

While the biscuit is baking, make the filling. Remember to leave the butter out on your work surface before you start, so that it will have softened by the time you need it.

I used my Chocolate Swiss Meringue recipe and a star tip to pipe big stripey blobs of meringue on the bottom layer. I love the lines created by this tip!

Crushed chocolate was sprinkled on before the second layer biscuit was placed carefully on top.

I also chose this meringue recipe for its body – it can withstand the weight of the biscuit and all the yummy things I piled on top!

Less is more when it comes to the goodies – for example you only need 2-3 macarons for the whole cake. Think about what you would like to eat; the colours and texture.

Here I have macarons (no brainer as you can see how much I love macarons and they are from my freezer stash), Valrhona chocolate from Easter, mini chocolate eggs, tempered chocolate discs (made by yours truly), wafer flowers, heart and mini marshmallows, Fresh As freeze dried raspberries and Gavottes feuilletine flakes.

Thank you Westgold for the butter 😊 #giftedbutnotsponsored