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Just a quick post of a nice simple dessert. They are nice because they don’t take all that long to do, and the individuality of each one means if you have a varied crowd you can tailor to individual tastes/preferences. These I made a chocolate cream and then a quick homemade cream to top with a strawberry slice.
This falls under the list of one of my favorite pastries I’ve had from growing up. I remember years ago when my grandfather was still around it was one his favorites so that desire got imparted onto me. The problem these days though is, where exactly in Southern New Jersey can you find a “legit” fresh version of one. Well, I haven’t come across one, so I did the next best thing…I consulted my Bouchon Bakery cookbook and started from square one.
Now, I am sure there are manyb recipes and ways of creating this pastry- for everything from how to make a nice laminated dough variations in making the cream(s). But, like anything else, if you want the best, you may have to put in quite a bit of time and effort.
The laminated dough concept is not too difficult to start up. There are some tricks and things to look out for. When doing the turns you want to make sure the dough is nice and solid as the butter block in the middle if it gets to soft will make it harder to fold and get the distinct layers you want when it bakes. Overall, the process is not difficult, but to do ir properly to “Bouchon perfection” takes quite a bit of time.
For the cream, which the end point is a nice mousseline cream, there are two bases- start off with a buttercream and also a pastry cream and then blend the two together. As it is something I had not necessarily seen in the grocery stores (I had purchased on Amazon) for the pastry cream go with using custard powder). Upon completion of blending these items, then spread out on a sheet pan and freeze the rectangular block.
After the dough is baked, it gets cut into strips which then the frozen cream is cut to fit and then it is alternating layers. Personal preference for topping, I made a fresh whipped cream as well as a nice chocolate-cream sauce.
At the beginning of the month my older brother had turned 30. We had a nice little get together (had a surprise as my parents came down as well) and we had a nice little meal (crab stuffed shrimp, filet mignon, and a good amount of homemade Sangria, champagne, wine…). It all ended with a cake I had made. It is an Italian style cheesecake in 3 different sections: plain, chocolate glaze, and cannoli.
This particular dessert has combined elements from a few traditional pastries. The choux pastry and the shaping style come from the Paris Brest which has its shape to represent a wheel to commemorate the Paris-Brest bicycle race. The chocolate cream I had made would be more reminiscent of an eclair style filling versus the traditional praline flavored cream used in the pastry.
For the top, I had also made a chocolate glaze as well as piping on some fresh sweet cream and threw on some crushed hazelnuts. The rich chocolate bodes well with the complimenting flavor of the cream as well as the added element of the hazelnuts.
Going way back to sometime in the early Spring when I had first done macarons (click here) you can find my general recipe and it takes you through the process from food processing and sifting ingredients to folding in and eventually pouring the batter and cooking in the oven.
This post is more into the aspect of filling flavors and being how we are almost, sort of in between seasons, I figured I could go in either direction (though more fall flavors will come deeper into the fall).
In some cases, I made a white chocolate gnache with simply using a Ghiradelli White Chocolate bar and some heavy cream in a sauce pan and constant stirring (followed by cooling in the refrigerator. In these cases I placed a thin layer on both sides of the macaron and then either places in between some fresh raspberry that I had cut into smaller pieces or a whole blueberry. Optionally, some of the raspberry ones are topped with flaked coconut.
Another fruit based cream filling I had done involved fresh cantaloupe, mascarpone cheese, heavy cream, and some basil. These were all heated and blended together to make a nice thick cream. Some of the shells for these were topped with crushed mint leaves.
A fall seasonal flavor I tried was utilizing apples and fresh ginger. These ingredients were chopped finely and mixed together in a light homemade caramel until soft enough to become a more homogenous caramel cream.
Finally I ended with filling some with the traditional chocolate gnache (utilization of bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolates by Ghiradelli). In all, a nice variety of flavor combinations, was pleased with flavors as well as the way the shells cooked and came out. They developed nice feet and there were no issues with air pockets of any sort.
Later to come in the fall, when I do find some fresh pumpkin, going to be experimenting with that. Also looking into other apple combinations as well as doing something with poached pears.
One of the many things I love about having the blog is interacting with fellow bloggers and coming across many ideas which may be good as they are to try or in some cases tailoring recipes to your own liking/cravings.
In this particular case, I had borrowed the recipe by Liz over at MY FAVOURITE PASTIME and made some tweaks to an already amazing apple strudel.
If you are following the original recipe, nothing really changes with the dough except I added a little vanilla extract at that point. To make it easier for you, here is the original dough:
- 225g (13/4 cup, 8oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 30ml (2 tablespoons) vegetable oil
- 4-5 tablespoons tepid water (I added 4 tablespoons water)
- ½ teaspoon cider vinegar—
I did not use the vinegar instead I just poured in some vanilla extract.
The major changes in my version came a little but in the way of making the filling. To make it easier for you here is Liz’ original filling:
- 450g (1Ib) cooking apples (I used 4 apples, granny smith)
- 75g sugar (⅓ cup, 3oz) If you want it sweeter, please suit your palate and double or triple
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 40g (1½oz) flaked almonds
- 50g (⅓ cup, 2oz) seedless raisins
- I tablespoon grated lemon or lime rind (I used lime rind)
In my case, I went with Granny Smith apples as well (they are by far my favorite) and in the realm of sugar I did a combination of plain old sugar and some brown sugar. I’m also not a big raisin guy but I do love cranberries so I switched to Craisins. My next major change is how/when I prepared my filling. The original recipe called for making it as close to filling time as possible. Me, I like things to marinate and ferment, so before letting the dough rest for an hour, I prepared the apples (put in bowl with some lemon juice so they do not brown), added the craisins, the almonds, and besides cinnamon I added some ground clove and some nutmeg. To really strengthen what I will call my “fall flavors” I added in a few teaspoons of pot-distilled rum, mixed well and set covered in fridge for close to an hour and a half. I then took the recipe through to the end from that point with using melted butter to close up the strudels and to baste before cooking in the oven.
Thanks again Liz for a creation worth remaking. Looking forward to many more.
*Post Edit: Forgot to mention, after the baking time, I knocked off the roasted almonds off the top, brushed with honey and stuck them back on. Yes I know I could have roasted them on the side however, it was a post baking thought that popped to mind. 🙂