Happy New Year!

I’d like to begin by wishing you all a very happy, prosperous and safe new year! Hope everyone had a great time over the holidays. 😀

2014 was a special year for me. I started to blog and met some amazing people along the way! The journey at school has been challenging and inspiring for me nonetheless. It would have been difficult without your encouragement to say the least!

I’ve made some things I would not have dared to try otherwise. I made the traditional French wedding cake, “The Croquembouche”. Apparently the name means, crunch in mouth. That’s it!
The first step in making the croquembouche is to make the chouquettes, the petit choux.
Next, making the nougatine shapes, to hold the choux tower. Working with nougatine can be quite tricky and one must be careful so as to not burn one’s fingers!

Shaping the nougatine :

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Building the tower without a cone:
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Ta Da…..

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The Christmas special buche:

Buche Coffee: Sponge with coffee butter cream

The traditional Xmas Buche

The traditional Xmas Buche

Buche Maracaibo :
Chocolate sponge with a vanilla cream, chocolate parfait and salted shorbread covered with a chocolate glaze!
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Buche Alaska:
Dacquois biscuit, with praline, lemon curd, red fruit jelly covered in milk chocolate mousse and glazed with white chocolate!

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Taking these over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday!
Bon Apetit!

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Raspberry Religieuse

Religieuse, which typically means a nun represented by two choux buns, one the head and the other the body.

The Religieuse, presented here reminds me more of a bride than a nun. I am sure you would agree. 🙂
They taste as delicious as they look pretty. I also prefer to use the crumble on top of the choux as it evens out any edges and the choux puffs up uniformly.

The choux buns are filed with a smooth, creamy, delicious pastry cream. They can be decorated as per one’s own preference. Here they have been decorated with pieces of tempered chocolate and buttercream.

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Ingredients:

Raspberry Pastry Cream:

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Raspberry Puree or any fruit puree of your choice 1000 g
Eggs 90 g (2)
Egg yolks 100 g (3)
Sugar 150 g
All purpose flour 50g
Corn Starch/Custard Powder 50g
Vanilla Bean 1
Butter 100g, softened

Instructions:
1. Boil the raspberry puree with half the sugar and the scraped vanilla bean. Keep whisking continuously so that it does not burn.
2. In a bowl whisk the eggs, yolks and the remaining sugar. Add the custard powder and flour, whisk together.
3. As soon as the puree boils, pour one-third of it over the eggs mixture and whisk quickly.
4.Put it back into rest of the puree and heat until it comes to a boil. It is important to keep whisking continuously and quickly the cream so that it does not burn.
5. Once the cream comes to a boil, cook for 1 minute ONLY and remove immediately from heat.
6. Add sofetened butter gradually to the cream and whisk continuously until smooth.
6. Remove in a bowl, wrap with plastic onto the surface of the cream and chill.

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Choux Pastry:

Recipe, click Here. Pipe small and larger choux for the top and base respectively. Egg wash the choux.

Crumble for the choux topping:

Butter 80g, softened
Brown Sugar 100g
Flour 100g
Food coloring

Mix all the ingredients like a dough. Roll it out between 2 silicon sheets or baking paper.
Freeze it.

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Cut into round shapes and place over piped choux just before baking. Bake at 180C like the regular choux.

Assembly:

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Pipe the choux with pastry cream by making a hole on the bottom.

Place the smaller choux onto the larger one and decorate with chocolate discs.

Bon Apetit!

Taking these over to Angie’s fiesta friday! 🙂

Eclairs, Chouquettes & Religeusse

Choux Pastry.

Well, it’s said that this is the basic pastry every chef must have in his or her repertoire. More or less, it is the type of pastry that can be mastered with practice. It is neither easy nor difficult to make a good choux.

Recipe for Pate a Choux:

Ingredients:

Water 250g
Salt 5g
Sugar 5g
Butter 125g
Flour 150g
Eggs 220g (4-5)

Instructions:
1. Heat the water, salt, sugar and butter in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Remove from the flame, add the sifted flour.
3. Mix well with a spatula and put it back on the flame for 20 seconds until the mass moves in the saucepan just by moving the pan.
4. Add the eggs little by little and keep mixing with a spatula until the dough is smooth and shiny.

How do you know that the pate a choux is perfect ?

Make an indentation with your finger, the dough should not fall back.
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The method i prefer to use is the hook method. Take some dough on your finger, if it curves into a hook it is ready. 🙂
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To pipe the choux use piping bag and pipe the choux onto a lightly buttered baking tray.

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For the choux to bake evenly, eggwash or brush with melted, clarified butter with a brush and push down the point of the choux without deflating the piped choux. Bake at 180C with the door open slightly.

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NOTES:
1. Water can be replaced by milk in a 50:50 proportion.
2. If the eggs are not enough, the baked product will be soft.
3. It is important to leave the door of the oven slightly open so that the steam created can escape. Else, the steam once rises will fall on the choux and it will collapse.

CHOUQUETTES :

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Pipe the pate a choux in a round shape and sprinkle with sugar grains and bake immediately.

CHOCOLATE AND COFFEE ECLAIRS:

Pipe the pate a choux into eclairs and bake at 180C.
Pierce the underside of each éclair 3 times with the tip of a pointed nozzle, and gently pipe pastry cream into the éclair as you do so.

For the recipe of pastry cream, click here.

Glaze with chocolate and coffee fondant.

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RELIGIEUSES :

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Pipe smaller and big rounds on a baking tray.

Once baked, glaze with the fondant and top the smaller ones on the bigger choux. Decorate with coffee buttercream.


There are so many things you can do with choux pastry. So many flavors to play with. I want to share with you all the things I saw and tasted at some of the top patisseries in Paris.

It’s always tricky to get a regular shaped choux and I have noticed that all the famous patisseries in Paris use a crumble topping on the choux to give it an even and uniform look. Also, checkout eclairs and religuesses at the famous patisseries in Paris :

Pierre Herme’s famous ispahan :

Rose flavored pastry cream with litchi

Rose flavored pastry cream with litchi

From top Left to Right: patisserie de l'eglise , Laduree, Carl Marletti, Carette

From top Left to Right: patisserie de l’eglise , Laduree, Carl Marletti, Carette

Eclairs covered with marzipan and neutral glaze by Arnaud Larher

Eclairs covered with marzipan and neutral glaze by Arnaud Larher

Last, but not the least Philippe Conticini’s La Patisserie Des Reves take on chocolate eclair:

Chocolate eclair enclosed in chocolate

Chocolate eclair enclosed in chocolate

Next post, I will be sharing the recipe for Raspberry Religuesse!

Mille-Feuille

Mille-Feuille which means a thousand leaves. The traditional mille-feuille is a classic pastry with three layers of puff pastry and two of crème pâtissière (pastry cream). Having said that, there are different flavors that can be used to make this pastry. We made mille-feuille chocolate praline, mille-feuille with raspberries and pistachio mille-feuille.

Before I begin with the details of the above pastries, I would love to share the full-proof way to make pastry cream at home that is creamy, smooth and luscious, full of flavor.

The recipe we use in class is given below. It makes about 1.5 litres of pastry cream.

Milk 1000 g
Eggs 100 g (2-3)
Egg yolks 60 g (2)
Sugar 250 g
All purpose flour 50g
Corn Starch/Custard Powder 50g
Vanilla Bean 1
Butter 100g, softened (optional)

1. Boil the milk with half the sugar and the scraped vanilla bean. Keep whisking continuously so that it does not burn.
2. In a bowl whisk the eggs, yolks and the remaining sugar. Add the custard powder and flour, whisk together.
3. As soon as the milk boils, pour one-third of the milk over the eggs mixture and whisk quickly.
4.Put it back into the milk and heat until it comes to a boil. It is important to keep whisking continuously and quickly the cream so that it does not burn.
5. Once the cream comes to a boil, cook for 1 minute ONLYand remove immediately from heat.
6. If using butter, make sure it is softened, then add gradually to the cream and whisk continuously until smooth.
6. Remove in a bowl, wrap with plastic onto the surface of the cream and chill.

For making different flavors, the flavoring can be added once the cream has been cooked or along with the milk when it is being boiled.

Mille-Feuille Traditionel :

MilleFeuille Traaditional

MilleFeuille Traditional

Makes 6 portions :

Puff Pastry dough 400g
Pastry cream 600g
Rum 20g
Icing sugar, for decorating

Bake the Puff Pastry dough in one thin layer. Cover  with icing sugar and caramelize in oven at 250C.

Flavor the pastry cream with rum before using.

Assembling:
Cut the puff pastry in 3 rectangles. Reserve one rectangle with the caramelized side for the top.
Place one layer of puff pastry on a cake board. Cover with a layer of pastry cream, spread it evenly. Place a layer of puff pastry over it. Cover with another layer of pastry cream and spread evenly. Place the caramelized layer on top and decorate with icing sugar. Cut into 6 portions.

Mille-Feuille aux framboises et l’anis (raspberries and anis) :

Raspberry Mille-Feuille

Raspberry Mille-Feuille

6 portions :

Puff Pastry dough 400g
Pastry cream 400g
Heavy cream 100g
Anise liquor 25 g, optional
Gelatin sheet 2g
Raspberry 250g
Icing sugar, for decorating

Bake the Puff Pastry dough in one thin layer. Cover with icing sugar and caramelize in oven at 250C.

Meuille-Feuille Cream:
Soak the gelatin in cold water for 10 minutes and drain. Beat the whipped cream to stiff peak.
Remove the chilled pastry cream in a mixing bowl and add the gelatin and the anise liquor to it and beat at high speed. Fold in the whipped cream.

Assembling:
Cut the puff pastry in 3 rectangles. Reserve one rectangle with the caramelized side for the top.
Place one layer of puff pastry on a cake board. Cover with a layer of mille-feuille cream, spread it evenly. Arrange raspberries at the edge on all sides. Place a layer of puff pastry over it. Cover with another layer of cream and spread evenly. Repeat with raspberries. Place the caramelized layer on top and decorate with icing sugar and raspberries.

Mille-Feuille Chocolate Praline :

The Meuille-Feuille Chocolate Praline has a lot of elements but it is totally worth the effort.

Makes 1 band 35cm long:

Ingredients:

Chocolate Puff Pastry Dough 450g
Feuilletine praline
Milk chocolate 75g
Hazelnut Paste 47g
Praline 47g
Feuilletine 57g

Chocolate Parfait
Sugar 30g
Water 30g
Egg yolks 30g
Dark chocolate 64% 100g
Whipped cream 200g

Mousseline Praline Cream:
Pastry Cream 250g
Butter 100g
Praline 100g

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Instructions:

Bake the Puff Pastry dough in one thin layer.

Feuilletine praline:
Melt the chocolate at 45C. Add the rest of the ingredients and keep aside.

Chocolate Parfait:
Mix the sugar, water and yolks to 85C. Whisk with a beater till the bowl feels cool to the touch.
Melt chocolate at 55C.
Whisk the cream to soft peaks.
Add the chocolate to the yolk mixture.
Add a little whipped cream to the chocolate mixture and mix with a whisk.
Pour it into the remaining cream and mix well. Pour into a piping bag.

Mousseline Praline Cream:
Beat the chilled pastry cream till it reaches the ribbon stage.
If the praline is too thick, beat with the softened butter until smooth.
Add the pastry cream to the praline butter mixture and mix until smooth.
Pour into a piping bag.

Assembling:
Cut the puff pastry in 3 rectangles.
Place one layer of puff pastry on a cake board. Cover with a layer of Feuilletine praline, spread it evenly.
Pipe small rounds of Mousseline Praline Cream in a straight line to cover the pastry.
Place a layer of puff pastry over it. Cover with another layer of Feuilletine praline and spread evenly.
Pipe small rounds of Chocolate Parfait in a straight line to cover the puff pastry.
Place the third layer on top and decorate.

Bon Apetit!

Bon Apetit!

I am taking these over to Angie’s fun Fiesta Friday for the weekend celebrations! 🙂

Spiced Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

Sometimes I crave spice and sweet together. If one adds sweetness to spicy food it may go wrong, but the other way round works just like a charm.

Hence, I made these cupcakes with the addition of spices and they tasted absolutely what I was looking for!  I’ve made two kind of frosting here, one with chocolate and the other with cocoa. Both were good but the one with melted chocolate had a richer and smooth texture to it.

Spiced Chocolate Cupcakes

Spiced Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Spiced Chocolate Cupcakes:

125 g All purpose flour
1 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Baking soda
75g Chocolate, chopped
125 g Unsalted Butter
125 g brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Salt, pinch
Coffee, 1 tbsp dissolved in 2 tbsp of hot water
4 tbsp heavy cream

SPICE MIX
1.5 tsp Ground Ginger
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
Ground Nutmeg, a pinch
Ground Clove, a pinch

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Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting 1 :

Cream Cheese 125 g, softened
Butter 50 g, softened
Semi sweet chocolate 60 g, chopped
Vanilla Extract 1 tsp
Milk 1-2 tbsp
Icing Sugar 50 g

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting 2 :
125 g, Cream Cheese softened
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1-2 tbsp Heavy Cream
50 g Icing Sugar

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Instructions:

Cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line muffin tray with cupcake liners.

Sift dry ingredients except sugar together. Set aside.
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Once melted, set aside.

Cream butter in a mixing bowl with the help of an electric beater for a few minutes.
Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until well combined.
Add eggs and beat until mixture is light and fluffy.
Add vanilla extract and coffee. Mix until well combined.
Add flour mixture and continue to beat until well combined.Do not overbeat.
Add cream and mix well.
Using a spatula, fold in the melted chocolate.

Spoon batter into cupcake liners until three-quarters full. Bake for 20 minutes.

When cupcakes are done, remove from the oven and let cupcakes sit in the muffin tray for 5 minutes.
Remove cupcakes from the tray and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting 1 :

Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Let stand until just warm.
Beat cream cheese, butter and milk until light and fluffy.
Add vanilla essence and mix well with the beater.
Gradually add the icing sugar and beat until mixture is smooth.
Mix in melted chocolate until combined.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting 1

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting 1

Using a piping bag pipe the cooled cupcakes or store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting 2:

Beat the cream cheese, vanilla essence and heavy cream together. Sift icing sugar and cocoa powder over it and beat until well combined.
Using a piping bag pipe the cooled cupcakes or store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting 2

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting 2

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Bon Apetit!

Bon Apetit!

PS: Did you notice that the frosting is definitely way more better at presentation than my previous posts. I followed Marina’s (from City-Cupcakes) advise and got pretty looking swirls. 🙂

 

Olive Straws

This is almost as good as the real puff pastry! Sometimes, well most of the times it is not possible to make your own puff pastry at home. But if you want to impress your guests at a dinner party with minimum labor and maximum oomph, this recipe surely fits the bill. This quick version of the puff pastry also called as rough puff pastry rises as much as 75% of classic puff pastry and saves a great deal of time.

These olive straws are a fun and easy snack to serve alongside pre-dinner drinks. The crisp, light, flaky and buttery pastry with olives is a great combination. You can use any kind of olives, stuffed olives too if you prefer. I made these when friends were over for brunch and I sure did not have any leftovers. 🙂

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The recipe has been adapted from Michel Roux’s Pastry.

Makes 400 g dough, 12 straws

Ingredients:
200 g plain flour
200 g very cold butter, diced
1 tsp salt
80 ml ice cold water

Olive Straws

Olive Straws

Instructions :

Put the flour in a mound on the work surface and make a well. Out in the butter and salt and work then together with the fingertips of one hand, gradually drawing the flour into the center with the other hand.
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When the dough is grainy, add the iced water gradually until the mixture is incorporated, but don’t overwork the dough. Roll into a ball, wrap and chill for 20 minutes.
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Flour the work surface and roll out the pastry dough into 40*20cm rectangle. Fold it into three. FIRST TURN.
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Roll the pastry into a rectangle again and fold in three. SECOND TURN.
Wrap the block and chill for 20 minutes or freeze for 5-10 mins.
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Give the chilled pastry another 2 turns, rolling and folding as before. This makes a total of FOUR TURNS. Wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes before using.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into a 32*15 cm rectangle. Using a knife cut into 2 pieces, one 14*15cm and 18*15cm. Place on a baking sheet and chill for 10 minutes.

Take the smaller piece and starting 1.5cm away from the edge lay olives end to end in a line. Leave a 2 cm space and make another line of olives. Repeat to make 4-5 more lines. Brush all the exposed pastry with egg wash.
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Cover with the larger piece of pastry and press the whole surface between the olives firmly with your fingertips.
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Chill for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. With a sharp knife, trim the edges of pastry, then cut it crossway into staws.

Lay the straws on the baking tray and bake for 10-12 minutes. The recipe calls for 5-6 minutes of baking time, mine took longer.

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Best served warm, not too hot.

Bon Apetit!

Bon Apetit!

White Chocolate Raspberry Muffins

Berries are so cheap these days that I bought quite a lot of them… 😀

If you have watched Donna Hay’s show you will know that most of her recipes are infact quite fast, fresh and simple. I’ve given a try at her raspberry white chocolate muffins and they are a treat indeed!

The sweetness from the white chocolate and the tartness of the raspberries create an amazing flavor.

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Ingredients: I used half of the recipe

2 cups (300g) all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¾ cup (165g) caster sugar
1 cup (240g) sour cream
2 eggs
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
⅓ cup (80ml) vegetable oil
1½ cups (225g) frozen raspberries
1 cup (175g) chopped white chocolate

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 180ºC (355ºF). Lightly grease the muffin tins or line it with paper liners.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add the sugar and stir to combine.
In a separate bowl, combine the sour cream, eggs, lemon rind and oil and whisk together.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients over and mix well until combined.Do not over mix.
Carefully fold in the raspberries and chocolate and spoon into the lined moulds.

Fill the muffin cups about 2/3rd full.

Bake for 40 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. It took me 25 minutes.

Donna Hay's White Choc Raspberry Muffins

Donna Hay’s White Choc Raspberry Muffins

Bon Apetit!

Bon Apetit!

Masala Chai Macarons

06:00 hours. 15th August, 1994
“Sonu, Monu wake up”. (That was and still is our nickname at home 😉 ) “Wake up kids, the parade is going to start soon!” This was the same routine every year where our dad with a child’s enthusiasm would wake us early morning on a holiday to watch the Independence Day parade.

68th Independence Day Parade. Pic Courtesy: NDTV

68th Independence Day Parade.
Pic Courtesy: NDTV

I remember being in awe as I would see members of the Indian Armed Forces marching in perfect rhythm. The TV Channels would screen patriotic movies and those were happy times. We would be treated to some amazing food and of course, desserts. How can a celebration be complete without sweets, may I ask?

A Ladakhi in a traditional attire performs during a full dress rehearsal for Independence Day celebrations in Srinagar.  Photo Courtesy: Nissar Ahmad, The Hindu

A Ladakhi in a traditional attire performs during a full dress rehearsal for Independence Day celebrations in Srinagar.
Photo Courtesy: Nissar Ahmad, The Hindu

Balloons in the colour of Inda's National Flag - Tiranga (Tricolour)fill the sky in front of the Red Fort in Delhi.  Photo Courtesy : Ndtv.com

Balloons in the colour of Inda’s National Flag – Tiranga (Tricolour)fill the sky in front of the Red Fort in Delhi.
Photo Courtesy : Ndtv.com

Unlike the rest of my family, I am not a tea-drinker. It is the welcome drink in many households and sometimes the hosts might get offended if you refuse to have tea. 🙂 I’ve had my share of tea rather unwilling many a times with the exception of masala chai.

Image Courtesy: Shikha Nambiar http://yellowturquoise.blogspot.in/

Image Courtesy: Shikha Nambiar
http://yellowturquoise.blogspot.in/

I thoroughly enjoy a good cup of masala chai and there’s a certain je ne sais quoi about the spicy tea that leaves my palate mesmerized.
In my endeavor to create something sweet that is inspired heavily from Indian flavors, I’d love to share with you my Masala Chai Macarons.

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Ingredients :

For the pâté à macaron :
93 g icing sugar, sifted
93 g ground almonds
1 medium free-range egg white
1 tsp Masala Chai Mix (Black Pepper,Dry Ginger,Cassia,Cardamom,Nutmeg,Clove,Black Cardamom)

For the Italian meringue :
1 medium free-range egg white
1 drop lemon juice or 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
93 g caster sugar
1.5 tbsp water
Ivory Food coloring (optional)

Tea Infused Chocolate Ganache :
100ml whipping cream
2 teabags, black tea
100g dark chocolate,  finely chopped (or white chocolate if you wish)

Instructions:

Heat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3 and line two baking trays with baking paper.

Pâté à macaron:
In a large bowl, mix the icing sugar, ground almonds, masala chai mix and egg whites to form a paste.

Italian meringue :
Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar(or lemon juice) in a kitchen mixer on a medium speed.

Meanwhile, place the sugar and water in a small pan and cook over a high heat until it has reached 117C/242F or the ‘soft ball’ stage. I do not own a thermometer so I just tell when the bubbles are almost the same size, that’s the stage we are looking to achieve here.

Reduce the speed on the mixer to its lowest setting and pour the sugar syrup from the sides of the bowl onto the firmly whipped egg whites. Increase the speed to high and continue to whisk for 1 minute.
Now add the food colouring and whisk again until the meringue is colored uniformly.

Fold the Italian meringue mixture into the pâté à macaron until it reaches the ribbon stage – this is when a spoonful of the mixture poured back into the bowl sits like a ribbon on the surface. Do not over-mix or the macaroon will crack when cooked.

Place the mixture in a piping bag fitted with a 8mm/¼in nozzle.

Pipe on 3cm/1in discs on the baking trays, at least 2cm/¾in apart. Tap the tray on a work surface to release any air bubbles. Let the macarons rest for 20-30 minutes before baking.

Bake in the oven for eight minutes.As soon as the macaroons form feet open and shut the oven door to release some steam.
After eight minutes remove from the oven and then leave on a cooling rack until completely cold.

Tea infused Chocolate Ganache:
Place the cream in a small pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add in the tea bags. Rinse the tea bags into the cream quickly so as the cream doesn’t cool down.
Remove the tea bag and strain the cream over the chocolate and whisk in the chocolate until the mixture is smooth.

Spoon about one teaspoon of ganache onto the flat side of a cooled macaroon and top with another macaroon to make a sandwich.
Repeat with the remaining ganache and macaroons and store in a single layer in an airtight container in the fridge.

Masala Chai Macarons

Masala Chai Macarons

We all enjoyed these macarons and I had some friends fighting over these. Well, you are allowed to unleash the child within you on special occasions. 🙂

Bon Apetit!

Bon Apetit!

I will be taking these over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday for the celebrations!

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day!