Tag Archives: dessert

Craquelin Cream Puffs with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream

The basic cream puff may be dressed up in many ways.

In this post, I used Chef John‘s recipe for ‘crack’ cream puffs in which a crunchy sugar cookie type topping is placed on a larger than usual cream puff before baking.  I also made the vanilla bean pastry cream to fill the puffs but skipped the chocolate base for the puffs because, unlike my friend Dolly, from the ‘koolkosherkitchen’, I’m not that big a chocolate fan.

Cream Puff with a Craquelin Topping – Taste tested the freshly baked cream puffs filled with French vanilla ice cream as I hadn’t made the pastry cream ahead of time and it took several hours to chill and set fully.

Vanilla bean pastry cream

Preparation … craquelin topping made and the template drawn on parchment paper as a guide for piping the cream puffs.

Cream puffs with their craquelin topping ‘lids’

Baked cream puffs … I normally make a dozen cream puffs with the same amount of choux pastry.

REVIEW: Well written cream puff recipe with very good results. I did have some size issues with the puffs which were almost twice as large as I usually make. I prefer nibbling on a couple of smaller puffs with some time between rather than having to eat one giant puff at one sitting. Also, the crunchy/cracky topping gets soggy on thawing if you need to freeze any leftover cream puffs.

As to the vanilla bean pastry cream recipe … it was an easy recipe and not overly sweet which was good, but, as with many pastry cream recipes, I didn’t find it firm enough for my taste.

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Dorayaki (Japanese “Pancake” Sandwich)

Dorayaki is a delicious Japanese snack or confection which traditionally consists of a sweet red bean paste (anko) sandwiched between two ‘pancakes’. Slightly different versions of the recipe may be found on several blogs but this is the first one I ran across some time ago, on Nami’s “Just One Cookbook” site. It uses the Mochiko (sweet rice flour) that I mentioned in the previous post though I HAVE seen a recipe which used all purpose flour.

I made a half batch of the recipe, and, even though I forgot to add the water, which I figured out after the fourth pancake, I still ended up with some edible, though misshapen early results. The final six pancakes, after I added about half of the amount of water listed into the remaining batter, were perfect.

Dorayaki with Sweet Red Bean Paste

The pancakes are easy to make though you DO have to be careful about the cooking temperature (medium-low is definitely advised) since the sugar and honey can burn quite easily if you exceed the temperature suggested. Moderation in the amount of filling is also necessary. Too much and you won’t be able to shape the pancakes around it and gently ‘pinch’ the edges closed. I used a ‘coarse’ sweet bean paste with some bean pieces left in it to fill the pancakes. Definitely use the plastic wrap to help in the shaping.

  

I used red bean paste (purchased) for the filling, because I like the taste, but if you can’t get it or don’t like it, and want to try something else, a thick pastry cream, crunchy peanut butter and Nutella and very lightly sweetened whipped cream and fresh fruit are alternative fillings.

Newfoundland Jam Jams

This jam filled sandwich cookie is a copycat of a commercial cookie produced by the Purity Factories in Newfoundland. The same recipe is found on several web sites. The one I found first and used is here. Even though there’s no ginger used in the cookie dough, the finished cookie tastes similar to gingerbread cookies, probably due to the brown sugar and molasses.

I used some apricot jam inside the first tray I made.

For the second tray, I tried to emboss some cookie balls with a maple leaf. Sadly the design disappeared during the baking. They still tasted delicious.

The maple leaf ’embosser’ was lightly dipped in flour before being used. I found that I needed to refrigerate the dough balls before attempting to emboss because they softened quickly at room temperature and stuck to the embosser. I was quite happy as I placed the baking sheet into the oven.

Disappointing result … no design.

Review: Tasty and easy to make. If you don’t want to fiddle with a filling, you can just roll out and cut out the cookies. Or, shape the dough into one inch cookie balls and flatten with the tines of a fork before baking. You can also roll the cookie balls in sugar and use the base of a glass to flatten them.

Dreaming of Strawberries

A while ago, I went shopping and came home with a nice clamshell of strawberries. They were on my list. They were even on sale. Trouble, was, I had forgotten why I bought them. (I must learn to write these things down … somewhere.) So there I was, staring at these very perishable fresh fruit while the clock was counting down. I finally came up with few ideas.

I had a lone banana in the freezer so I made this Banana-Strawberry Smoothie. I’m sure I wrote down the recipe somewhere and when I find it, I’ll be sure to add it.

I know that I used a half a cup each of milk and orange juice, about a cup of washed and hulled strawberries, 2-3 tbsp plain Balkan yogurt and a tbsp of honey for sweetness. And, of course, one frozen banana broken into chunks so as not to strain my blender. An ounce of Cointreau may have found its way in there. Just sayin’.

After a bit of searching on line, I found a recipe for a barely cooked, strawberry sauce. and stirred some into a batch of mini Strawberry Cheesecakes. Less is more, as in many things, and I actually liked the marbled version of these minis better. Just a touch of concentrated flavour, and the visual was more striking.

Strawberry sauce for Cheesecake

2 pkgs (10 oz/283.5 gm each = 567 gm) sliced sweetened frozen strawberries, thawed and drained
1 tbsp corn starch

Place strawberries and corn starch in a blender. Cover and puree until smooth. Pour strawberry sauce into a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook and stir until the sauce is thick and shiny, about 2 minutes. Set aside 1/3 cup and cool. Cover and refrigerate the remaining sauce for serving.

For a fresh touch, I chopped up some fresh strawberries into small pieces and stirred them into the still warm sauce.

Strawberry sauce over French Vanilla ice cream or spooned over the mini Cheesecakes

I DID eat some plain. Oh, and I finally remembered why I bought the strawberries. I was going to make a vanilla sponge/Swiss roll and add diced strawberries and whipped cream as a filling. One day, it WILL happen.

“Jiggly” Japanese Cheesecake… Trial 1

I’ve been curious about this cheesecake for some time and finally got around to giving it a try.

“Jiggly” Japanese Cheesecake

Since some recipes called for as many as 8 yolks and 12 whites, which I didn’t want to commit to the recipe, I looked for one which seemed more restrained in its egg use, and didn’t give complicated baking instructions involving adjusting the temperature during baking.

As a final complication, I didn’t want to make a full sized recipe.

I don’t have the 7 or 8 inch diameter springform pan (mine is a 9 inch) called for, in the first place, and, secondly, a full sized cake is too much for a single person. Based on the recipe, I used, I guesstimated that a full recipe, would make about 4-6 cups of batter. So, I thought that the batter from a half recipe would distribute nicely among three or four one-cup ramekins with room for souffleing. I prepared four, to be safe, and added four inch tall parchment paper collars to accommodate the expected souffleing. (The collars didn’t turn out to be needed.) I filled each ramekin about three-quarters full and baked the ramekins in a water bath for 40 minutes, at 320 degrees Fahrenheit. A wooden toothpick inserted into the middle of a cheesecake came out clean, at this point. Even though the top was as pale as when I put the cheesecakes in the oven, I decided not to bake any further and shut off the oven, leaving the cheesecakes in the oven for another 30 minutes to cool and set fully.

ETA (03/30/19): Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours before eating. The cold temperature sets the cream cheese and improves the flavor and texture. Store any remaining cake in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. To freeze, wrap the cake tightly with plastic food wrap and then a layer of foil. Freeze for up to 3 months.

For aesthetics, I brushed some apricot glaze, made from stirring together 1 tbsp of apricot jam with 1 tbsp of warm water until smooth, over the top of the cheesecake.

I ate the first one warm because … well, I couldn’t wait until the next day to eat it cold.

Review: The recipe isn’t very challenging technique-wise, especially if you’ve ever made meringues or any cake involving folding flour etc into a fluffy egg white base to minimize deflating. It was very tasty warm, with just a bit of added sweetness from the glaze to contrast with the slight tang from the lemon juice and cream cheese. I liked the texture which was more similar to a moist pound cake than to a classic cheesecake.

NOTE: Refrigerating the cheesecake overnight transformed the cheesecake. It became more CHEESECAKEY and less ‘cakey’.

Easy Japanese Dishes Pt. 3 – Japanese Hamburger Steak (Hambagu)

The last post on the theme of easy Japanese dishes features a Japanese version of the classic Western hamburger, hambagu, or hamburger steak patty. I’m including a couple of miso soups, a vegetable side dish and some pudding (or purin, in Japanese) to finish things off.

The recipe for the hamburger comes from TabiEats and the result was meant to be used in a bento box. Instead, I used it as a topping for leftover Japanese mixed rice.

Hamburger Steak Mixed Rice Bowl

Hamburger Steak Patty – for 2 patties

100 gm /~1/4 pound ground beef or chicken
30-40 gm enoki mushroom base, shredded
1/8th finely diced onion (or 1 tsp fried onions)
1/4 tsp salt
few grinds of pepper

Ground beef and shredded enoki mushroom base

Mix all the hamburger patty ingredients together well. Shape into patty to get out the air. Divide into 2 and reshape into hamburger steak patty. Make a small depression in the center as the middle puffs up during frying. Pan fry over medium heat in 1 tsp vegetable oil for a few minutes on the first side and then turn and finish.

Since the burger on its own seemed a bit dry, I borrowed a recipe for a wine reduction hamburger steak sauce from Nami’s Just One Cookbook. Halve the ingredient amounts for the sauce, from the recipe below, if you’re only making two patties.

Hamburger Steak (Hambagu) – for 4 hamburger steak patties

1-2 tsp vegetable oil
4 hamburger patties, about 90 gm each
~1 tbsp red wine
1 tbsp unsalted butter

Sauce for the hamburger steak

3 tbsp red wine
3 tbsp water
3 tbsp ketchup
3 tbsp tonkatsu sauce (or Worcestershire sauce)

Heat a cast iron or non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the hamburger patties and fry 3-4 minutes on the first side. Flip, and add a couple of teaspoons of red wine into the pan.

After you flip, pour 2-3 tsp red wine into the saucepan and then lower the heat to medium-low. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minute, or until the inside of the patty is no longer pink. Take the lid off and increase the heat to medium-high to let the red wine cook off. When the pan is almost dry, remove the patties to a serving plate and reserve.

Combine the liquid sauce ingredients in a bowl. In the same pan in which you fried the hamburger patties, add the butter the and sauce ingredients and mix well. Lower the heat to medium low and let the sauce simmer for a few minutes to cook off the alcohol. With a slotted spoon, remove any meat bits or scum from the sauce so it’s nice and smooth.

When the sauce has thickened to your liking, pour it over the hamburger steaks.

Serve with vegetable sides and rice.

Shira-ae is a tofu ‘dressing’ made of ground sesame seeds/tahini, miso and tofu and added to shredded vegetables.

I used it to dress some blanched broccoli florettes and served it with one of the hamburger patties and a bowl of miso soup.

Two kinds of white miso soup … egg drop/egg flower and tofu or a clear soup.

To finish up … dessert. Cause you ALWAYS need to finish up with something sweet. (Ok, I like cheese and fruit and nuts too but they weren’t in my budget nor did I know any savoury Japanese afters.)

Dessert was pudding, or purin, in Japanese. Both these desserts were made with the same vanilla bean custard mixture. For the flan/creme caramel, I made a hard caramel and poured it into the bottom of the large ramekins. The smaller ramekins were turned into creme brulee and bruleed under the broiler.

Vanilla Bean Flan/Creme Caramel and Creme Brulee


Orange Curd Sponge/Swiss Roll

I haven’t made a sponge or Swiss roll in ages but was recently inspired to recreate the lemon curd roll I saw posted on one of my FB groups.

I dug out the wonky old baking sheet that’s the perfect size for the recipe I wanted to use and the result, with minimal effort since I already had some home made orange curd in the fridge, was delicious. It’s actually easier to make this cake than you’d suspect.

From left to right: ready to combine the beaten egg whites with the egg yolk/flour mixture, the greased, parchment paper lined, greased and floured baking sheet and the cake, ready to bake.

After baking – the top of the cake, the bottom, and the rolled up cooled cake ready for filling.

Ready to re-roll and sprinkled with icing sugar before cutting.

Inside of the sponge roll … nice and light and fluffy

Here are some pictures of my previous efforts at a vanilla roll filled with sweetened whipped cream, cherry jam and drained, jarred sour cherries …

… and a cocoa roll filled with chocolate buttercream.

Happy Valentine’s Day 2019

I decided to splurge on a pretty pink St. Valentine’s Day cake to brighten up an otherwise ho-hum occasion.

As you can tell, my cake decorating skills are at the novice level. (Is there something below that?) The cake was tasty though … I ate a third of it to confirm that fact.

Profile of the Pink Cherry Cake

Pink Cherry Cake – makes 2 mini cakes baked in 1 cup ramekins

Basic Vanilla Cake for Two recipe
pink gel food colouring
1 tsp Kirsch, substituted for the vanilla extract
2 tbsp finely minced red glace cherries, stirred into batter just before pouring into ramekins

Glace Cherry Cream Cheese Frosting – enough to frost 2 mini cakes including filling

2 oz/57 gm gm cream cheese, room temperature
1 oz/28 gm unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp Kirsch

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter in a small bowl until smooth. Add the Kirsch and beat in briefly. Beat in the powdered sugar.

Spread/pipe the frosting over the cake.

Vanilla Cake for One (Review) and a Variation

Sadly, you can’t just omit the cocoa powder in the previous ‘chocolate cake for one’ recipe and get a vanilla version, because the chemistry of the leavener doesn’t work, so I went net surfing for a real vanilla cake recipe.

My answer was found in a ‘vanilla cupcake for two’ recipe baked in a cupcake/muffin pan … so I buttered a couple of ramekins instead. Because a CUPcake is NOT a cake. I had some sticking in the very center of the mini cakes so on my second attempt, an orange flavoured variation, I buttered the ramekins and lined the bottom with a circle of parchment paper, cut to size, which solved the problem.

Frosting a cake at midnight does not result in the most photogenic of images but I had to snap a picture before going to bed.

Crumb/profile of the vanilla cake … yes, there’s some orange zest in the vanilla buttercream frosting in case you spotted that fleck of orange.

REVIEW: Very tasty cake. Fast and easy to assemble. Of course you can frost each ‘cake’ individually but the two layer version just has a lot more visual appeal. For a quick and easy frosting, slightly sweetened whipped cream would work.

Of course I had to take the plain vanilla cake to the next level by adding 1 tsp of orange zest and substituting orange extract for half of the vanilla extract, in the next version I made.

I also decided to switch to a less sweet filling/frosting since the vanilla buttercream that I had used, from the same web site as the chocolate cake, was just too sweet. My ideas evolved from a cream cheese/butter/icing sugar version to one that reduced the amount of sugar and substituted it with home made curd. Since I had made an orange flavoured cake, I made a batch of orange curd to enhance the orange taste. I scaled down a frosting recipe that I found here.

I used less curd than I had originally calculated but I still think the frosting was too soft, even after half an hour in the fridge, so I’d cut back even more on future attempts.

I’d also use the frosting for a filling, in the future, because the orange curd oozed out while cutting into the cake. Hopefully the frosting as filling will stand up to serving better. I’m a firm believer in not skimping on the amount of frosting used but I think the amount I made is enough to fill and frost two mini two layer cakes.

Crumb/profile of the orange cake

Orange Curd Frosting – enough to frost 2 mini cakes including filling

2 oz/57 gm gm cream cheese, room temperature
1 oz/28 gm unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tbsp orange curd *

* Start with the smaller amount and decide whether you’ll need another 1/2 tbsp. You probably won’t need the full amount

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter in a small bowl until smooth. Beat in the powdered sugar, then the orange curd.

Spread the frosting over the cake.

NOTE: The original recipe says the cake may be frosted a day before serving and covered with a cake dome and refrigerated so it doesn’t dry out.

Coffee Cake for One (Review) and a Variation

After having LOVED the chocolate cake (for one) recipe found on the same site, I thought I’d give the coffee cake for one a try as well.

It’s another winner.

I WOULD cut back on the topping though since half the amount is plenty. The excess just fell off when I turned out the cake to transfer it to a serving plate. Perhaps if I’d drizzled some melted butter over the top, as the post suggests doing, it would have “glued down” the cinnamon sugar topping.

REVIEW: The cake itself is tender and tastes just sweet enough for my taste. I used the same one cup ramekin as I had used for the chocolate cake and thought that the resulting coffee cake was a bit thin.

So, I opened a can of tuna (made a tuna salad sandwich with the tuna inside), peeled off the label and washed it out carefully. I added some home made cranberry sauce in this variation. The revised baking instructions/topping are posted below.

Cranberry Coffee Cake for One

Cranberry Coffee Cake for One

Cranberry filling

1-2 tsp cranberry sauce, home made preferred

Topping

1 tbsp melted unsalted butter
1-2 tsp rolled oats
1-2 tsp brown sugar
pinch ground cinnamon

Make the coffee cake batter as in the original recipe.

Spoon 2/3 of the batter into the prepared baking dish. Using a very small spoon place small amounts of cranberry sauce over the batter. Spread it out a bit. Spoon small amounts of the rest of the coffee cake batter over the cranberry sauce.

In a separate container, combine the brown sugar, rolled oats, ground cinnamon and melted butter. Spoon over the top of the coffee cake batter.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

The top of the coffee cake could have been a bit darker but the bottom was nicely browned.

There was a bit more height compared to the coffee cake baked in the ramekin, as well.