Passion Fruit Caramel Choux Buns & a Choux-Choux Train

I used to think that Choux pastry was complicated.  Until one day I opened up “The Black Book“. This was the recipe notebook my Scottish Granny kept, filled with simple, classic recipes from the neighbours, scribbles from the Jimmy Young Radio Show cooking program and bulging with cuttings from magazines and newspapers.

Today it’s encrusted with spatters with the proof that the recipes in her Black Book were tried and tested. I’m honoured that I was passed on her book to keep her recipes alive within the family. It’s amazing how my Granny had such a sweet tooth.  There is only ONE recipe that is savoury out of the whole repertoire. I’m particularly intrigued by newspaper cuttings of the latest trendy 1960’s hairstyles.  Why this is in a recipe cutting book beats me. Is there a recipe on the other side of this hair tinting advert? No.

Twice as fascinating? Control yourself.

Granny’s kitchen was the centre of the house and so her recipe book acts more like an agenda, telling a wee story. The only problem is it’s all scattered about and difficult to make out. I wonder if she tried this hair recipe to impress Grandpa, then? 😉

Granny had several entries for the classic Choux pastry in different forms, as they are the basis for many pastries such as éclairs, profiteroles, réligieuses, chouquettes, waffles and these choux buns.  The recipe (like many wartime recipes) used margarine instead of butter and just 250g water. Here, I’ve replaced some of it with milk and added a touch of orange blossom water.

CHOUX BUNS

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

150g water
90g milk
2 tbsp orange blossom water
4g salt
1 tbsp sugar
90g unsalted butter
150g flour
4 eggs
4 sugar lumps, crushed (optional for chouquettes)

1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Boil the water, milk, orange blossom water, salt, sugar and butter in a large saucepan.

2.  Once boiling, remove from the heat and quickly add the flour. Whisk until the dough is smooth and comes away from the sides of the pan.

3.  Transfer to a mixing bowl (or electric mixer) and gradually add the eggs until you have a lovely smooth, sticky paste.  At this point, you can seal the pastry in a bag and keep refrigerated for up to 5 days.

4.  Using a piping bag, pipe out small heaps on baking trays covered in greaseproof/baking paper (or Silpat) Leave a good space between each mound, as they will spread out during baking.

5.  Brush with a glaze of one egg yolk mixed with a tablespoon of water.  If you’re making chouquettes, then sprinkle on crushed sugar lumps.  Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

TipDon’t open the oven door.  Wait until they are cooked enough, light to dark brown – otherwise they could collapse if not fully baked.

Passion Fruit Cream

(based on Manu’s filling recipe for Genovesi Ericine, Manu’s Menu):

2 egg yolks
150 g sugar
60 g cornflour
250 ml milk
juice of 3 passion fruits

1.  Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a saucepan.  In a bowl, dissolve the cornflour in a quarter of the milk and then add the remaining milk.  Stir well, add the milk to the beaten egg yolks little by little and incorporate it while whisking continuously.

2.  Gently heat the cream, whisking continuously for about 12 minutes or until it thickens.  It needs to become as thick as a pudding.  Set aside to cool for 15 minutes, covering with cling film so that no skin forms on the surface.

3.  Seive the seeds out of the passion fruits and whisk into the cooled mix.

4.  Transfer to a piping bag and, gently piercing a hole in the side of each choux bun, fill each bun with the passion fruit mixture.

Now make a salted caramel sauce (caramel au beurre salé), but instead of adding a touch of water to the sugar at the start of cooking, mix together the juice of 2 passion fruits to form a syrup with the sugar and proceed as in the caramel recipe. Dribble over the choux buns and prepare to float off to passion fruit heaven.

For some fun, why not decorate your choux buns for a different kind of birthday cake?  In this recipe, I made 12 choux buns for an adult stack above plus 12 buns below for my daughter’s fun ‘cake’:

Choux-choux!

See related post in Le Blog
on
Choux Celebrations

Lime Macarons with Marinated Mango, Coconut, Vanilla, Lemongrass & Passion Cream (gluten free dessert)

 

 

 

 

lime macaron with mango, passion fruit, coconut and lemongrass cream

 

This photo does not do justice to the flavours of this dessert.  Lighting awful, not enough time and a dinner party to serve these tout de suite!

Enough of the excuses; this gluten-free dessert was inspired by one of my favourite chefs in Paris, William Ledeuil, from Ze Kitchen Galerie.  He has a remarkable touch of fusioning Asian flavours with French cuisine.  His spectacular dishes are not too heavy and they’re typically infused with lemongrass, lime, ginger, wasabi, coconut and vanilla, to name a few.  My favourite part of his Michelin-starred restaurant is the large glass screen separating the diners from the kitchen.  The last time I was there, I was so carried away in awe watching the chefs working harmoniously together in such a small kitchen that I nearly forgot my friends at the table!

When it comes to light desserts, this is my kind of end to a meal.  It’s also dead easy to prepare so you can enjoy your guests instead of spending ages in ze kitchen.   Even easier, prepare the giant macarons in advance: the day before or reach for your stock from your macaron bank in the freezer!  It’s perhaps not the prettiest dessert to look at but believe me, the taste is divine!

Giant lime macaron shells

Prepare the giant macarons using the basic recipe in the book, adding green colouring (perhaps a bit less here than I did!) and the zest of an untreated lime to the batter.  Then pipe out in giant spirals, leave to dry as usual and bake for up to 15 minutes.

Adapted from William Ledeuil’s recipe for Marinated Mango & Pineapple in Vanilla and Coconut.

Serves 4

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 + 1 hour

4 giant green lime macarons
2 mangoes (sweet yellow varieties)
15cl coconut milk
1 vanilla pod
1 stick of lemongrass
30g sugar
250g tub of mascarpone
1 passion fruit
1 untreated lime

1.  In a saucepan, heat the coconut milk.  With a sharp knife, split the vanilla pod down the middle, scrape out the seeds and add to the milk.  Take off the outer shell of the lemongrass and cut each hard end off the stem.  Cut the lemongrass in two horizontally and also add to the coconut milk plus the sugar.  Bring to the boil then take off the heat and leave to cool.

Infuse the lemongrass with the coconut & vanilla

2.  Peel and chop the mangoes into chunks.  When the coconut infusion is cool, strain off the lemongrass, add the mangoes.  Top with cling-film and leave to marinade in the fridge for an hour.

Marinade the mango in the coconut mixture

3.  Remove the mangoes from the coconut infusion and set aside.  In a bowl, mix the mascarpone, the grated zest and juice of a lime plus the seeds and juice of a passion fruit.  Then mix in the coconut infusion.

4.  Spoon out the cream onto each giant macaron shell and top with the marinaded mangoes.  Chill for another hour until ready to serve.

Serve this with a late harvest Gewürtzraminer for a special end to a meal.

Scotch Corsican Pancakes with Chestnut Flour

Wanting something a bit different for pancake day?

Scotch Corsican Pancakes with chestnut flour

 

Scotch pancakes are also known as drop scones or griddle cakes.  To keep Corsican hubby happy, I came up with an Auld Alliance version, merging the two nations in a simple pancake. Here I’ve made them slightly different with the addition of chestnut flour, which is a typical rustic flour used in Corsican cuisine.  It just adds a nutty, rich texture and goes beautifully when paired with orange.  Serve warm with plenty of honey and/or warmed marmalade for something special. Adding a touch of Corsican liqueur just gives a subtle kick to the flavour.

Scotch Corsican Pancakes

Makes 12 pancakes

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Resting Time: 30 minutes (put your feet up & have a cup of tea..)
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

70g plain flour
45g chestnut flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
30g butter, diced & softened
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp Corsican Chestnut Liqueur (or Grand Marnier), optional
150ml milk

  1. Sift the flours, sugar, baking powder & salt in a large bowl.  Add the butter and rub into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  2. Make a well in the centre.  Whisk in the egg, the liqueur (if using*) and gradually add in the milk until thick and creamy.  Set aside the mixture for 30 minutes so that the glutens in the flour expand.  This will make your pancakes light and fluffy (which I didn’t do for the photos here.  I was in a rush to run the kids back to school at lunch and you can see they’re as flat as a pancake.  30 mins rest does make a difference).
  3. Lightly grease a griddle/pancake pan or heavy frying pan and preheat it.
  4. Cook in batches.  Drop the equivalent of 4 spoonfuls of the mixture spaced apart over medium heat for 3 minutes until bubbles rise to the surface and burst.
  5. Turn the pancakes over and cook for a further 2 minutes.

* If you don’t want to use alcohol, replace the liqueur with orange flower water.

 

Scotch Pancakes

Turn over the pancakes once you see the bubbles bursting

Scotch Corsican Pancakes

Scotch Pancakes (Drop Scones) with Corsican Chestnut Flour

Update: I’m still learning: I should have just lumped these Scotch Corsican Pancakes with the blethery blog post on one page. So if it’s the chatter you’re after, see le blog: Chestnuts! From Pancakes to Ice Cream to Macarons…

Salted Caramel Sauce (Caramel au beurre salé)

This has to be one of the most satisfying of homemade sauces: it’s so handy to keep in the fridge. Ever since my sweet French friend, Emmanuelle, showed me how to make it, I have been in salted caramel heaven; in Autumn and Winter there’s now a constant supply of this sticky nectar in the fridge. And I mean it’s so constant, it’s on a drip!

It can jazz up scores of desserts, adding an extra wow factor to the most simplest of sweet treats. What’s more, it keeps for up to a month sealed in the refrigerator.

When ready to serve, transfer to a small milk jug, reheat gently in the microwave and dribble or zig-zag over vanilla ice cream (see p125), waffles, profiteroles, chocolate fondants, crêpes, rice puddings, poached pears, apple crumbles, apple fritters, etc.

It also makes a perfect Autumn/Winter treat served with giant caramel macarons “tatin-style” (see p113 of the book.) You can also use this sauce for filling salted caramel macarons. To make the sauce more manageable for macarons, make a ganache using 80g white cooking chocolate (I love using Valhrona) and melt together in a saucepan with 30g of whipping cream. Add half of the caramel sauce (save the rest for further pleasure) and leave to cool for a good couple of hours until an easy consistency to pipe on to your macarons.

Salted Caramel Sauce

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

160g sugar
200g single cream, warmed
120g salted butter

1. Put the sugar with a few drops of water into a small saucepan. Using a wooden spoon, stir it now and again over a medium heat until a golden syrupy caramel forms.  This should take about 10 minutes maximum.

2. Turn down the heat and add the warm cream gradually, stirring constantly.

3. Mix in the butter, still over the gentle heat and keep stirring until thickened.

Pour the caramel into a serving jug at room temperature and set aside until needed.

The caramel can last up to 3 weeks if stored in a sterilised sealed jar in the fridge – so why not make double? 😉

UPDATE !

Passionfruit Caramel: Sieve out the seeds of a passion fruit and stir the juice in with the sugar in step 1 instead of the water.
Coffee Caramel: Add a tablespoon of granulated coffee to the caramel for a perfumed coffee caramel.
Orange Caramel: Add the zest of an orange for extra zing – or why not limes, kumquats, meyer lemon…


Rose & White Chocolate Panna Cotta with Cherry & Cardamom Coulis

Love is in the air. I have fallen in love with this dessert for St Valentine’s Day.

rose pannacotta and cherry cardamom coulis

rose & white chocolate panna cotta with cherry cardamom coulis

What I love about the Panna cotta is it’s so simple.  It’s the kind of dessert you can rattle out when in a rush and don’t have time to think of anything over the top or fancy.  It does the job.  Once you have the basic recipe you can make all sorts of flavour combinations – even savoury.

Informal? Serve them in funky little yogurt pots or shot glasses for parties with some fruit or purée dolloped on top. Something more formal? Pour into silicone moulds and turn them out on serving plates surrounded with a fruit purée and be creative on decor.  For a touch of Parisian elegance, mes amis, add a rose macaron or two, serve with a glass of bubbly and feel the toes curl…

Talking of bubbles, I needed a flute of pink Champagne just for the sake of a romantic shot.  In the end, the bottle and stem of the flute are barely visible.  I tried to get the Champagne in view but the angle was wrong; drank some more to see if a lower level would work.  No use.  Drank the whole lot and it still didn’t show.  In fact, there’s maybe a bit of camera shake?  Never mind.  It was deliciously fun!

rose, cardamom and white chocolate panna cotta

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Chilling Time: 2 hours

Panna Cotta:

3 gelatine leaves @ 2g each
400ml single cream (min 30% fat)
100ml rosewater*
few drops of red colouring
80g white cooking chocolate
3 tbsp caster sugar

Coulis:

2 cups cherries, pitted
2 tbsp water
4 tbsp sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
Seeds from 2 cardamom pods

1.  Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes.

2.  Heat together the cream, rosewater*, colouring and sugar in a saucepan and gradually melt in the white chocolate.  Stir until smooth.
(* Rosewater: I normally use half litre bottles of light rosewater from North Africa that I get in France.  When I was in Scotland this week I could only find small 60ml bottles, which was so much more concentrated.  I would suggest the smaller the bottle, the smaller the dose needed. Ideally it should be water with essence of rose no more than about 6%)

squeeze gelatine

3.  Squeeze in the gelatine and stir to dissolve into the warm cream.

4.  Pour into non-stick silicone moulds.  Here I used briochette moulds but you could use muffin moulds.

5.  Leave to cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

cherries and cardamom

6.  Meanwhile, make the coulis: place the cherries in a saucepan with water (no need for water if your cherries are frozen since not in season), sugar, lemon juice and the cardamom seeds.

7.  Cook for about 10 minutes until the cherries are soft.  Transfer to a blender and blitz to a smooth sauce.

cherry and cardamom sauce

8.  When ready to serve, run the underside of the moulds briefly under hot water then carefully turn them out directly on to the serving plates and pour around the coulis.

rose and white chocolate panna cotta with cherry and cardamom coulis

Et voilà !


 

This dessert recipe was featured as a Guest Post for St. Valentine’s on Kate’s blog at Diethood.com


Chocolate Beetroot Flourless Fondants

Why is it that most people pull a face when you mention chocolate-beetroot and ask, “Can you taste the beetroot?” Well in a carrot cake, can you taste the carrot? Well no, you can’t really taste the beetroot as such, but it gives the chocolate a luxurious, natural red velvet colour, adds that perfect moisture and gives a fudgy sensation to the fondants.

Chocolate beet flourless fondant cakes and praline macarons with chocolate-beet fondants

 

I just love the combination of dark chocolate and beetroot (beet).  I’d read about it a couple of years ago in my aunt’s health book for beating cancer. I never noted the recipe down as the cake seemed a bit too dry and not good quality chocolate – but the idea stuck with me. As a Scot, we love our beetroots. As a gourmande, I love my squidgy chocolate cake.  This is based on a simple, classic French flourless chocolate cake but the added beetroot gives it that moist, extra squidginess.

They can be served warm as a dessert with vanilla ice-cream; or add a touch of ginger or orange to some Chantilly for alternative combinations. I personally love them on their own without any extras: served at room temperature with a noisette (espresso coffee with a dash of milk). Don’t forget they always taste better after some maturing, just like wine and macarons…

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15-20 minutes
Maturing Time: Minimum 24 hours

225g dark chocolate (min 64% cocoa solids)
few drops of coffee essence
200g butter, softened
175g caster sugar
150g pre-cooked beetroot, grated (but not cooked in vinegar!)
4 eggs
1 tbsp ground almonds

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Set a bowl with the broken chocolate pieces over a pan of boiling water. Add the coffee essence and melt in the butter.
  2. Continue to stir then add the sugar. Squeeze out any excess liquid from the beetroot then add the grated beetroot to the mix. Gradually break the eggs into the mixture, stirring well after each addition, then mix in the almonds.
  3. Pour the mixture into non-stick silicon mini muffin moulds and bake for 20-25 minutes. The cakes should still be quite moist in the middle but cooked enough on the outside to come clean out of the moulds when cool. Leave to cool completely before turning them out.
  4. Now the hard part! Wrap the cakes in foil and set aside for at least a day to mature them.

See? It’s not just macarons that need maturing time. Patience…

This recipe accompanies the blog post, “Blushing Beetroot Flirting with Chocolate