Tag Archives: icecream

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.

Further edited after an intense testing weekend!

Choux Au craquelin

Craquelin cookie top

  • 100g unsalted butter, soft (room temperature) and cubed
  • 120g brown sugar
  • 120g plain flour
  • 5g (1/2 tsp) vanilla bean paste

Choux Pastry (same for puffs or éclairs)

  • 120g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 125g water
  • 125g full fat milk
  • 5g (1/2 tsp) vanilla bean paste
  • a pinch of salt
  • 10g sugar
  • 160g plain flour
  • 240g eggs, well 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 160 °C. Place butter, water, milk, vanilla paste, pinch of salt and sugar into a medium size saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a big boil, till the butter melts completely. Take pan off the heat, and immediately add, liquid to 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 dough to pan.
  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 stop when it starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. 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. The dough should have a nice sheen, thick and drops like a V shape for 5 seconds when lifted up.

Choux Au craquelin

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 rounds of batter onto a lined baking sheet, well spaced apart, matching the cookie cutter size for your craquelin discs. I can fit 16 on my standard sized baking sheet. There should be enough to pipe 3 sheets.
Choux Au craquelin

Note: To save time, I often prepare the pastry to this step a day in advance. Freeze the piped choux and use as below when ready.

  • Take the sheet of craquelin from the freezer and peel off the top piece of baking paper. Using a cookie cutter, cut 45 discs. Place a craquelin disc on top of each dome just before baking.

Choux Au craquelin

  • Bake at 160°C for 40 minutes. It should be all puffed and golden Don’t be tempted to open the oven door before, it will prevent it from fully rising and risk collapse (if using a commercial oven, start at 170°C and reduce oven heat at 20 min mark to 160°C and bake a further 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown all around.)
  • Remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack. Prick each of the puffs with a sharp skewer or toothpick to release steam.
  • If your oven produces beautifully even heat throughout, and the puffs aren’t too brown when you check at the 20 minute mark, you can probably keep it cooking at 160°C throughout. Otherwise drop it to 155°C.

Choux Au craquelin

  • When completely cool, cut a lid off the top of the puffs 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.
  • You can also freeze baked puffs. Just refresh in 150C fan oven for 8 mins. It will further draw moisture out from puffs, making it super crunchy.

Choux Au craquelin
Choux Au craquelin

Dr Feelgood: Humble beginnings


Have you ever wondered how the ice pop brand “Dr Feelgood” came to be?  We certainly have. Imagine our excitement when we were invited to tour their workplace and see the operations of the humble ice pop brand that launched into the food scene two and a half years ago.
Lomo. Tree lined path. Treehouse.

As we drove down the leafy path of their long driveway, passing sheep and horses roaming leisurely around, we wondered how in the middle of the rural countryside, could there be a magical ice pop factory?

We were greeted by some Arapawa sheep with twin, 3-day-old baby lambs (now go by the name of Thelma and Louise) and a nudge from Louie, the friendly dog of none other than Dr FeelGood himself, or Jacks.

Meeting Fred.

With much excitement and curiosity, we geared up for the tour. Not even the downpour could dampen our visit as Jacks spiritedly told their story.

It all started with an attempt to make probiotic drinks, mid 2014. They couldn’t keep the drinks stable enough and it was all looking like a destined fail. They were ready to move on, until Mel, his partner, made pops from the drinks for the kids and their new product was born.

During early testing, the pops were made in Zoku moulds. Today, they are made on a much larger scale. Master pop maker Jane, who has been with the company from the beginning, showed us how the Chocolate Jelly Tip was made. Jane is meticulous about quality control – sticks were checked for smoothness, and ensured they were lined upright to avoid wastage.

Dr Feelgood factory tour. Ice pop making.Dr Feelgood factory tour. Ice pop making.

We were given the task of inserting wooden sticks to the holders before they were fastened to the ice pop moulds. This was then placed in a large industrial freezer at -30C.

“The faster they freeze, the smaller the ice-crystals. That’s what makes it creamy and delicious.” Jacks told us.

Dr Feelgood factory tour. Ice pop making.Once done, the pops are released from the mould carefully. The sound of that was music to my ears!

Dr Feelgood factory tour. Ice pop making.

There were other flavours when the brand started, slowly replaced by the current flavours, always trying for the perfect pop.

After careful market research and advice from key influencers like Lewis Road Creamery’s Peter Cullinane who can always find just the right Winston Churchill quote, in this case “When going through hell… keep going.”

“It’s been a steep learning curve and at times a bumpy journey but a lot of fun, getting the good Dr to the world.”

The first thing that catches your eyes is their colourful design and witty tag lines.  I think it’s pure creative genius at work. Both Mel and Jacks have 25 years each in advertising working on brands for others. It was time to try something on their own. Jacks credits the award winning design to his partner Mel Bridge, who has a day job as an award winning commercial director. Together they are building a brand that is gaining popularity with each passing week.

When you pick up the pop, there is a certain nostalgic feeling evoked from their brown paper boxes. Something about it brings me back to happy memories of the olden days and some degree of familiarity.

The boxes are made in a local factory, just 3.5km from Dr Feelgood’s factory, with eco-sourced materials that are tracked through the PEFC system (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, the international non-government organization dedicated to promoting Sustainable Forest Management), making it sustainable and trackable. They are also compostable.

These artisan, handmade frozen treats of delight came at a time when people were becoming more aware of food ingredients and eschewing foods with refined sugar.

“We value eating good honest food and feeding our kids things that haven’t got weird stuff in it, and like it to be fun.”

New Zealand ingredients are used as much as possible.

Organic milk from Lewis Road Creamery, the premium dairy company that has grown a cult following is used for all dairy pops. The creaminess is just beyond exceptional.

You will not find refined sugar, artificial flavourings or colourings in the frozen pops. Instead, natural sweeteners such as coconut sugar and brown rice syrup are used. Beetroot powder is used for colour. Everything is kept as close to nature as possible. Just like the natural, rural setting we found ourselves in.

Dr Feelgood frozen pops
This premium product is stocked far and wide: Farro Fresh, Moore Wilsons, an ever growing number of New World and Countdowns, select stores in the South Island and some Four Squares. They are also in places like the Waitakere Arataki Visitor Center and Shot Over Jet, Queenstown.

Jacks’ passion and creativity is infectious. It is obvious to us on our short visit that he loves his product and is proud to have created a sweet treat that doesn’t invoke guilt.

In fact, I am no longer surprised by the rural nature of their creative space; it is precisely that which is the source of inspiration for the all natural, “no weird stuff” pops.

“Dr Feelgood isn’t just a name, it should also be the outcome of everything we do.” – Dr Feelgood

Now the only thing to do is to choose which flavour to lick first.