Ube Cream Puffs w/ Craqueline Topping

Ube (pronounced OO-bay), is a purple yam native to the Philippines and other areas of Southeast Asia. Ube is a very versatile ingredient. It is not a purple sweet potato or taro, it is a purple yam. Its special taste reminds one of vanilla, pistachios or chestnuts. The vibrant purple color inside and out is uniquely photogenic.

Ube has been used for decades in Filipino cuisine and has now caught on in North America, especially in the form of desserts. In fact, one of the world’s top 10 food and beverage flavor manufacturers has identified the official 2024 Flavor of the Year as Ube. The 2024 Food and Beverage Flavor Trends Report is an annual summary by California-based T. Hasegawa USA.

Globally recognized for its innovation and expertise in flavor development and proprietary flavor enhancing technologies, T. Hasegawa remains at the forefront of consumer trends and shares these developments and research findings throughout the food and beverage industry.

Today, I’m making some ube cream puffs with a craquelin topping. Cream puffs start with choux pastry, a heady mixture of butter, milk, water, eggs & flour. When you combine these ingredients, they become so dense and sticky that it seems impossible they’ll come together as soft, puffy, light, tender. Heat is what initiates the expansion of the dense paste. Steam from the milk and water expands the pastry’s edges, puffing up its capacity until the oven heat provides just enough crispness and structure to hold the puffs’ boundaries. A cream puff expands so dramatically in the oven that it creates a cavern inside to hold any number of things—whipped cream, pastry cream, ice cream or savory fillings.

Cream puff pastry (or choux pastry) is the base for profiteroles (smaller puffs filled with ice cream), éclairs (elongated puffs filled with pastry cream and glazed), croquembouche (a tower of cream puffs held together and drizzled with caramel) and savory appetizer puffs called gougeres with cheese and herbs.

Craquelin (pronounced kra-ke-lan) is a thin biscuit layer that can be added over choux pastries before baking them. It is used to create a crackly appearance, crunchy texture and a buttery sweet taste as well as helping the choux pastry bake evenly to form hollow rounds. It certainly dresses up ordinary cream puffs and the taste is so unique.

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Ube Cream Puffs w/ Craqueline Topping
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Servings
CREAM PUFFS
Ingredients
Ube Pastry Cream
Craquelin Topping
Choux Pastry
Servings
CREAM PUFFS
Ingredients
Ube Pastry Cream
Craquelin Topping
Choux Pastry
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Instructions
Ube Pastry Cream
  1. In a medium saucepan whisk together sugar, cornstarch & salt. Pour the milk & egg yolks into a bowl & whisk until combined then add liquid mixture to the saucepan slowly & whisk together.
  2. Add butter, bring mixture to a boil whisking constantly for one minute before removing from heat then mix in the ube extract.
  3. Transfer the pastry cream to a separate container (optional: first strain it through a mesh sieve to ensure the cream has a really smooth consistency) Cover the pastry cream with plastic wrap, ensuring that the plastic wrap touches the top of the pastry cream to discourage the formation of a skin on top of it.
  4. Place in refrigerator & chill for at least 2 hours before using.
Ube Craquelin
  1. Soften the butter then mix the ube extract into it. Add in the flour, brown sugar & salt. Mix together until thoroughly combined. Place the dough between two sheets of parchment paper & flatten until the dough reaches about 1/4 inch thickness. Freeze the dough until ready to use.
Choux Pastry
  1. Pour the water, sugar, salt & butter into a saucepan & heat over medium heat. Stir the mixture together until the water is boiling & the butter is melted. Remove the saucepan from the heat & add the flour.
  2. Vigorously mix the flour into the butter/water mixture so that all the water is absorbed. Once the dough is formed, return the saucepan to the heat. Continue to mix & cook down the dough until it pulls away from the sides of the saucepan, about 2-5 minutes. You should be able to place a spoon into it & have it stand straight up.
  3. Transfer the dough to a bowl & allow it cool down for a couple minutes. Crack in the eggs one at a time, ensuring the previous egg is fully incorporated into the dough before adding in the next egg.
  4. Transfer the dough into a piping bag.
Assembly
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Remove the craqueline topping from the freezer & cut out disks of a desired size to put on top of the choux pastry.
  3. Pipe out mounds of choux pastry onto the prepared baking tray & top each mound with a craqueline disk.
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes depending on the size of the choux mounds. DO NOT open the oven for the first 25 minutes of the baking process of the steam will release & the choux won't puff up properly.
  5. After about 25 minutes, open the oven & prick each choux with a toothpick, then return to the oven to cook for another 5-10 minutes depending on the choux size (this helps to dry out the insides to maintain a firm choux).
  6. Remove from oven once the choux is nice & golden brown. Prick each choux again with a toothpick to allow them to dry out even further while they cool.
  7. Remove the pastry cream from the fridge & fill a piping bag with it. Slice each choux pastry in half keeping them connected slightly on one side. Divide ube pastry cream between the 'cream puffs'.

Manchester Tarts

The Manchester tart is an English baked treat with its roots tracing back to none other than the vibrant city of Manchester, England. This retro tart has a shortcrust pastry base that’s layered with raspberry preserves, custard, desiccated coconut and sometimes glace cherries. The combination of sweet preserves, creamy custard, and coconut creates a wonderful balance of flavors and textures.

The Manchester tart was a staple on school dinner menus until the mid-1980s and is now a staple in bakeries and home kitchens, cherished for its simplicity and delicious taste.

Over the years, the Manchester Tart has undergone numerous adaptations and variations, with some recipes incorporating different fruits, toppings, or pastry bases. However, its essence remains rooted in the tradition of British baking, symbolizing comfort and nostalgia for many who have enjoyed it throughout generations.

For my adaptation of these tarts I made a pastry cream to give a lightness and added some fresh raspberries to give some tang to balance the sweetness of the preserves. Instead of using the traditional glace cherry on top, I went with a few more fresh raspberries.


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Manchester Tarts
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Course dessert
Servings
TARTLETS
Ingredients
Tart Base
Pastry Cream
Raspberry Preserves/Fruit
Topping
Course dessert
Servings
TARTLETS
Ingredients
Tart Base
Pastry Cream
Raspberry Preserves/Fruit
Topping
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Tart Base
  1. Combine the flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, salt, & vanilla in a large bowl. Add the butter and mix with your hands until the butter is broken down into pieces the size of peas and the ingredients are well combined. Add the egg and mix with a spatula until the dough is smooth and the egg is fully incorporated. Don’t overmix.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap and gently shape it into a ball. Wrap the dough in the plastic wrap and flatten it into a disc. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight, until cold but still pliable. It should have the texture of clay.
  3. When the dough has chilled, unwrap the dough and place it on a silicone baking mat on your work surface. Roll it out into a rectangle about 1⁄8 inch thick, using a second silicone sheet on top. The silicone mat makes it easier to lift the rolled-out dough onto the sheet pan later. Make sure to work quickly so the dough doesn’t get too warm.
  4. Place the silicone mat with the dough on a baking sheet.
  5. Using the tart rings, cut out 18 circles of dough. Remove the rest of the dough from around the rings.
  6. Reroll remaining dough between 2 sheets of parchment. Using a sharp knife, slice strips about 10 inches long & 1- inch thick. These strips will make the sides of each tartlet.
  7. Working with one at a time, transfer a strip of dough to one of the tart rings and press it to the sides. Use your fingers to slightly push the bottom of the sides to the dough circle (to seal it). Repeat with the remaining strips of dough. Use a small knife to cut the edge to the rim of the rings.
  8. Transfer the baking sheet containing the tartlet shells to the freezer & freeze for at least 20 minutes.
  9. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  10. Bake tart rings for about 15 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven & take off rings to allow them to cool.
Pastry Cream
  1. Heat the milk over medium high heat & bring it to a simmer, almost to a boil.
  2. While heating the milk, place the sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch, vanilla & salt in a bowl. Whisk until you have a thick, smooth mix then set aside until the milk comes almost to a boil.
  3. As soon as the milk starts to steam or simmer, remove it from the heat. Slowly pour about a half of the hot milk in a thin stream into the egg mix, WHILE WHISKING CONSTANTLY to temper the egg mix. When the eggs have been tempered, add the egg mix back into the hot milk in the saucepan.
  4. Heat the custard base, over medium heat, while whisking vigorously until it starts to thicken – this should take about 1 – 2 minutes. Make sure to reach the corners of the saucepan so that the custard does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  5. While whisking, let the custard come to a boil (the custard will release bubbles). You may need to stop whisking from time to time for a few seconds to see if the custard is ‘bubbling’. Look for big bubbles breaking the surface of the custard.
  6. Lower the heat and cook for a further 1 – 2 minutes after you see the first bubbles break the surface, and make sure to whisk constantly.
  7. Remove from the heat & add the butter. Whisk in the butter, until it’s completely mixed in.
  8. Pour the custard into a bowl & immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic wrap is touching the whole surface. This is to prevent a custard ‘skin’ from forming on top. You can also choose to pass the custard through a sieve to remove any lumps.
  9. Let the custard cool down to room temperature & then let it chill in the fridge for a few hours, until it’s completely chilled.
  10. The custard will have ‘set’ after chilling. So, it is important to whisk the pastry cream to make it smooth before using.
Assembly
  1. Once the base & custard have cooled, spread raspberry preserve over the bottom of pastry cases. Spoon in the custard, then sprinkle with the coconut & chill. Decorate with raspberries and a final sprinkle of powdered sugar on the berries. Serve.
Recipe Notes
  • I used two sizes of tart rings - 2 1/4 + 2 1/2" for these.

Christmas Cookie Wreaths for Gifts

While certain holidays such as Christmas, lend themselves to giving food as gifts, gift-giving should be thoughtful and sincere.

We give gifts during the holiday season to express gratitude, love, or friendship to those near and dear throughout the year. But the custom of giving gifts goes all the way back to the first Christmas when the wise men brought Jesus three gifts — gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Many of the gifts we give and receive at Christmas time, especially ones related to food, have symbolic meaning and tales of folklore behind them. Others are just fun to make and share with family and friends. Sometimes those food gifts become an anticipated tradition that the gifter enjoys making and the receiver looks forward to every year.

These Christmas cookie wreaths seem like the perfect gift for our neighbors. Hope they like them because they where a lot of fun to make.

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Christmas Cookie Wreaths for Gifts
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
WREATHS
Ingredients
Spicy Wreath Base
Cranberry Lemon Pistachio Cookies
Persimmon Linzer Cookies
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
WREATHS
Ingredients
Spicy Wreath Base
Cranberry Lemon Pistachio Cookies
Persimmon Linzer Cookies
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Spicy Wreath Base
  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix until dough forms. Divide dough in half for 2 separate wreaths. Roll each half into a long strip about 43-inches long. On 2 sheets of parchment paper, draw 2 round circles each about a 13-inch circumference. Place on baking sheets. Following the circle outline, place a strip of dough on each circle. Press with the back of a spoon to flatten to about a 1/2-inch thickness.
  2. Preheat oven to 310 F. Bake cookie bases for about 15 minutes. They should be baked but not overdone so that the centers are soft. Remove from oven & cool on a wire rack until ready to assemble with cookies.
Cranberry Lemon Pistachio Cookies
  1. In a bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder & salt. Place butter & sugar in a bowl & beat with a mixer until pale & fluffy. Mix in egg yolks, lemon zest & vanilla. Reduce speed to low & gradually mix in flour mixture. Shape into a disk; wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Roll out to 1/8-inch thick. Using a 2 1/2-inch round fluted cutter, cut out wreaths. Cut out centers using a 7/8-inch round or star cutter.
  3. Space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. bake until just golden, about 12 minutes. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes before icing.
  4. Stir together powdered sugar & lemon juice in a small bowl. Spread each cookie with icing & sprinkle with pistachios and/or pepita seeds & cranberries. Yield: 24
Anise Shortbread Stars
  1. In a bowl, sift together cornstarch, powdered sugar, flour & anise powder. Blend in butter with a spoon, mixing until a soft, smooth dough forms. If the dough is too soft to handle, cover & chill about 1 hour.
  2. Between 2 sheets of parchment paper, roll dough out about 1/2-inch thick. Using a star cookie cutter, cut out stars & sprinkle with coarse white sanding sugar. Transfer to ungreased baking sheets spacing 1 1/2-inches apart. Place baking sheets in refrigerator & chill 30 minutes. Halfway through, preheat oven to 300 F. Bake for about 20 minutes or until edges are just barely browned. Yield: 18
Persimmon Linzer Cookies
  1. In a bowl, sift together flour & salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar & vanilla until light & fluffy. Beat in as much of the flour mixture as possible. Mix the rest & gently knead until dough comes together. Wrap in plastic wrap & chill for 30 minutes.
  2. Prepare persimmon puree. In a saucepan over medium low heat, combine persimmons, sugar, cinnamon & salt. Simmer until thick, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, cool slightly then transfer to a small food processor. Puree mixture until smooth. Set aside to cool.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into rounds with a 2-inch fluted LINZER cookie cutter with a star attachment in the center. Place on lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or just until edges begin to brown. Allow cookies to cool to room temperature.
  5. Spread persimmon puree on the flat side of each solid cookie. Dust & decorate cookies with cut outs using powdered sugar & some more puree. Place decorated cookie tops on bottoms spread with puree, making a sandwich.
Assembly
  1. Arrange cookies on wreath base to your liking. You can either 'fasten' them with an bit of icing that will harden (see notes) or just place them on top base. That way they are easy to pick up by guests without to much trouble. The base can be cut into pieces after the top cookies are eaten for some more cookie goodness.
Recipe Notes

ICING FOR ATTACHING COOKIES TO WREATH:

  • 2 Tbsp warm water
  • 1 1/2 tsp corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • Mix together the warm water, corn syrup and icing sugar for the icing. Make it on the thicker side, so add more icing sugar if needed.

Rhubarb Curd Shortbread Cookies

Rhubarb is an easy-care plant that lasts for decades in the same spot. Hardy rhubarb thrives in our cool northern climate and is the base for many truly delicious desserts. It’s the plant you’ll see still thriving amidst the tall grasses beside long-deserted old prairie homesteads, along with a lilac bush and a peony plant.

Curds are in a category all to themselves when it comes to the world of preserving fruits. Yes you can make jams, jellies, and butters ~ but when you really want to treat yourself to something special, make curd. Fruit curds are a centuries old treat that goes back to traditional tea time in Britain. Usually made with lemon or other citrus fruits, curds can be made with any almost any fruit, even rhubarb!

Rhubarb varies a lot in color, from beautiful garnet to stalks some that are more yellowy-green than red. When the eggs are blended with the fruit the color sometimes goes a bit beige due to basic color mixing principles. A drop or two of food coloring brightens it back up. You can use regular or gel food coloring, or if you want to go more natural, use some dehydrated strawberry or raspberry powder.

Tart rhubarb makes a great substitute for citrus in curd but rhubarb also has a beautiful fruity and floral taste to complement its tartness. Use curd to dress up toast and shortbread swirl it into ice cream, fill crêpes and layer cakes, or just eat it by the spoonful.

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Rhubarb Curd Shortbread Cookies
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Servings
Ingredients
Shortbread Cookies
Candied Rhubarb for topping
Servings
Ingredients
Shortbread Cookies
Candied Rhubarb for topping
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Instructions
Shortbread Cookies
  1. Sift cornstarch, powdered sugar & flour together. Blend in butter with a fork, mixing until a soft dough forms. Wrap in plastic wrap & chill for at least an hour. When ready to bake, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out 80 circles. In 40 of them, cut out a small circle in the center.
  2. Preheat oven to 300 F. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack until ready to fill with curd.
Candied Rhubarb
  1. Prepare rhubarb & place in a small saucepan along with sugar & water. Bring to a simmer & cook until rhubarb is soft but still holds its shape. Strain rhubarb & reserve for topping on cookies.
Rhubarb Curd
  1. Prepare rhubarb & place in saucepan with the 'syrup' that was stained from the candied rhubarb. Cook until rhubarb falls apart & there are no whole pieces left. If rhubarb starts to stick to bottom before it is finished cooking, add a Tbsp or 2 of water. Once cooked, use an immersion blender to puree the mixture.
  2. Using a double boiler pot, add some water to the bottom & set over medium heat. In the top pot, add egg yolks, butter, sugar, lemon zest & lemon juice & whisk to combine. When sugar has dissolved completely, add the rhubarb puree by the spoonful, to temper the eggs. When all rhubarb has been added, set pot over bottom pot, the water should be simmering. Continue stirring the rhubarb mixture; after about 5 minutes the mixture will be warm & slightly thickened. Remove from heat & blend with blender to achieve a pudding-like texture. Set aside to completely cool until ready to use.
Assembly
  1. Fill a piping bag with cold rhubarb curd. Lay out 40 of the 'solid' cookies. Top each with a dollop of rhubarb curd. Top each cookie with the remaining cookies. Divide candied rhubarb between the filled cookies giving them a nice garnished look. The idea of making the holes in the top cookie helps to give the candied rhubarb something to stick to with that bit of curd pushing out.

Flapper Tarts

Flapper pie is a traditional dish from the prairies of western Canada. The name seems to stem from the fact that the pie originated in the era of the ‘flapper girl’. Flappers were modern, young girls in the 1920s, often with a slightly immoral behavior. Precursors of the 1920s flapper were both, the late Victorian ‘new woman’ and the Edwardian ‘Gibson girl’.

Unlike their Victorian grandmothers, 1920s flappers cut off their long hair and wore a bob instead. They also wore makeup, smoked and drank alcohol in public. And like all 1920’s women, flappers wore short (knee-length) dresses. However, unlike more conservative women, flappers wore only the bare necessities under their dresses, often just a slip and rolled stockings.

Flapper pie was served in every café that graced small, Canadian prairie towns. Some foods are so regionally specific that people outside of a certain geographic area have never even heard of them, let alone tasted the dishes. Such is the case with flapper pie.

Flapper pie is a decadent combination of three components: a cinnamon-y, graham cracker crust, a creamy vanilla custard filling and a meringue topping. Instead of a pie I decided to make individual tarts.

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Flapper Tarts
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword flapper tarts
Servings
Ingredients
Crumb Crust
Filling
Meringue
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword flapper tarts
Servings
Ingredients
Crumb Crust
Filling
Meringue
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  2. Combine crust ingredients; reserving 1/3 cup for topping. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners. Place 2 Tbsp of crumbs in each one, gently pushing up the sides & over the bottom. Try not to press to firmly to avoid them becoming to hard after baking.
  3. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or just until crumbs stick together & brown slightly.
Meringue Stabilizer
  1. In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup water & 1 Tbsp cornstarch (listed in meringue ingredients); bring to a boil & thicken. Set aside to cool.
Filling
  1. In a heavy saucepan, heat 2 cups milk until it boils. In a small bowl, combine sugar & cornstarch, then add salt, egg yolks, 1/4 cup milk & vanilla. Whisk into boiling milk; continuing to whisk until mixture returns to a boil & thickens. Pour into baked tart shells.
Meringue
  1. Adjust oven temperature to 350 F. Beat egg whites & salt until frothy then gradually add sugar, beating until stiff. Add vanilla & MERINGUE STABALIZER, beating until stiff peaks form.
  2. Pipe the meringue over the custard in tart shells making sure it touches crust to seal & prevent it from shrinking after browning. Top with reserved crumbs.
  3. Bake tarts until golden, about 10-12 minutes. Cool completely set away from drafts.
Recipe Notes
  • The meringue stabilizer is used to ensure there is no 'weeping' as the meringue cools & sets.
  • If you prefer to make pie instead, this amount of ingredients will make a 9-inch pie nicely.

Pineapple Meringue Tarts

There’s just something incredibly refreshing about pineapple tarts with their tangy, bright, acidic flavor nestled in shortbread crusts. Adding meringue puts a tropical twist on the classic meringue pie making them a perfect summer treat.

When it comes to making meringue, simple ingredients and instructions can lull you into thinking preparation is quick and easy. Make it once under the wrong conditions, however, and you may quickly change your mind.

Meringue is temperamental. Getting it right can be a tricky process. Weeping meringues aren’t very pretty. The meringue pulls back from the crust, moisture beads on the topping, and a clear liquid forms below the crust. It doesn’t hurt the pie but it’s not presentable.

Years ago, when I worked in the commercial food industry, I started using the idea of adding cornstarch to meringue to help stabilize it. Cornstarch is especially helpful in hot, humid weather when a meringue is most likely to absorb extra moisture.

The science behind this ‘secret ingredient‘ is that cornstarch is composed of long molecules that it is believed insert themselves between egg white proteins to prevent them from clotting too much while meringue is baking. Corn starch molecules also provide more hold for meringue. It will be easier to cut and is less likely to weep.

Brion & I are not crazy about meringue but do enjoy it for a treat once in a while.

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Pineapple Meringue Tarts
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Shortbread Crust
Pineapple Filling
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Shortbread Crust
Pineapple Filling
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Instructions
Shortbread Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a bowl combine butter & sugar; beat until light & fluffy. In another bowl whisk together flour & baking powder; add to butter/sugar mixture. Blend together. Divide pastry between 6 individual tart pans. Using your fingertips, evenly press the dough into pans. Place on a baking sheet & blind bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven & allow to cool.
Pineapple Filling
  1. In a saucepan, combine cornstarch & sugar. Gradually add water, stirring until mixture is smooth. Add lemon zest & undrained pineapple. Stir constantly over medium heat until mixture starts to boil. Reduce heat, boil 2 minutes while continuing to stir. Remove from heat, quickly stir in butter & egg yolks blending well. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
Meringue
  1. In a small saucepan, combine water & cornstarch. Heat & stir until it boils & thickens. Cool thoroughly.
  2. Beat egg whites & salt until a stiff froth. Add sugar gradually, beating until stiff & sugar is dissolved. Add vanilla & cornstarch mixture. Beat until blended & stiff.
Assembly
  1. Divide pineapple filling between tart shells. Pipe meringue over tarts sealing to edges. If not sealed well, meringue will shrink when cool. Bake in 350 F. oven about 10 minutes until golden. Cool away from drafts.

Berry Custard Tart

Glazed fresh fruit tart looks so elegant and summer-ish. They are the perfect dessert, whether your meal is casual or formal. In some ways, I guess its a version of a fruit pizza.

Apart from the fresh fruit and glaze, pastry cream adds a nice base to the tart. A custard pudding hybrid, pastry cream is used for ‘filling’, in the cold form, not as a pudding. Widely used to fill desserts like napoleons, cakes, cream puffs, tarts, etc.

To define, pastry cream is basically custard thickened with cornstarch and has a higher stability as compared to custard puddings which use just eggs to achieve their creamy texture. Vanilla is the classic flavor because it has to complete other flavors of the dessert. Pure vanilla is always best as the artificial flavorings add bitter taste profiles. In addition, some alcoholic desserts use pastry cream mixed with rum.

This tart has a layer of vanilla pastry cream, topped with raspberries and blueberries then brushed with an apricot glaze.

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Berry Custard Tart
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Course dessert
Cuisine American, French
Servings
Course dessert
Cuisine American, French
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Pastry Cream
  1. In a heavy saucepan, stir together the milk & 1/4 cup sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks & egg. Stir together the remaining sugar & cornstarch; then stir them into the egg until smooth. When the milk comes to a boil, drizzle it into the bowl in a thin stream while mixing so that you don't cook the eggs. Return the mixture to the saucepan; slowly bring to a boil, stirring constantly so the eggs don't curdle or scorch on the bottom.
  3. When the mixture comes to a boil & thickens, remove from the heat. Stir the butter & vanilla, mixing until the butter is completely blended in. Pour into a heat proof container & place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled then beat until smooth with an electric mixer before using.
Other Prep Work
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Line an oblong tart pan with thawed puff pastry. The short ends of the pastry should be even with the bottom of the pan but the long sides should come up to the top of pan sides. With a sharp knife, score the long sides where the sides meet the bottom of pan. Do not cut all the way through. Pierce the center of the pastry with a fork. Whisk together the egg and milk. Brush the edges of the pastry shell with the egg wash.
  3. Bake the pastry shell for 15-20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Remove to a rack to cool completely. If needed, press the center down lightly to create an indentation. Cool while preparing filling.
  4. Rinse & carefully dry fruit on paper towels. In a small blender, puree apricot preserves with water or liqueur until smooth.
Assembly
  1. Place smooth pastry cream in a piping bag with a large flat tip. Carefully pipe pastry cream in long strips to cover the bottom ONLY of the puff pastry shell.
  2. Arrange a row of raspberries down both sides of the tart; close to the edge & close to each other. Using a long straight edge helps to place the fruit in an even line.
  3. To 1/3 of the apricot glaze add some red food coloring to help accent the natural color of the raspberries. Apply a couple of light coats of the glaze carefully to the raspberries.
  4. Fill the center of the area with blueberries, being careful to distribute evenly in rows. Using the remainder of the un-colored apricot glaze, give several light coats to blueberries. Chill until ready to serve.

German Marble Cake

The idea of lightly mingling two different batters in one cake seems to have originated in early 19th century Germany. The earliest version of marble cake consisted of a kugelhopf (sweet yeast bread), one half of which was colored with molasses and spices to achieve a dark colored batter. Bakers next began to do the same thing with sponge cake batter.

The marble cake came to North America with German immigrants. It wasn’t until the late 19th century, when chocolate gained a greater hold on the North American public, that ‘marble cake‘ as we know it today really took shape. The first known recipe to appear in an American cookbook went with the spice and molasses variety, though the base was a butter cake rather than a sponge or yeasted cake. Jewish German bakers eventually introduced the idea of using chocolate to create the darker batter in marble cakes.

Of course, there is no right or wrong way to create the marbling effect. The only thing to know is that you should not overmix the batter. The colors are supposed to mingle but stay separate creating the distinct marbling design.

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German Marble Cake
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Course dessert
Servings
Ingredients
Course dessert
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Either butter or line with parchment paper, (2) 5-inch mini springform pans; set aside.
  2. In a bowl, melt butter, in microwave. In a small bowl, sift flour, baking powder & salt; add to butter & combine.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolks, milk & vanilla then add to butter mixture. Whisk until combined.
  4. Beat egg whites until foamy then gradually add sugar; beat until stiff peaks form. Fold into batter.
  5. In a small cup with a spout, place about 1/2 cup of the batter & add cocoa powder. Fold in to combine.
  6. Divide white batter between 2 prepared pans. Pour chocolate batter onto each cake forming circles with it. Using a wooden skewer, make lines from the center out making a spider web design.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes on bottom rack of the oven or until cake tests done with a wooden pick. Remove from oven, allow to cool for about 5 minutes on cooling rack. Flip over & cool in pans for at least 30 minutes. We enjoyed a small bit of raspberry puree with the cake.

Kiwi Curd Cupcakes

After the winter months with its cold weather, covid restrictions & lots of comfort food, hopefully spring is on the horizon. With it comes lighter baking options like lime and kiwi pastries, lemon slice and strawberry cake.

Although kiwi fruit is available year round, doesn’t make it less appealing. I realize the lack of interest in kiwi curd is probably due to the enzymes in this fruit not willing to play nice with gelatin.

As a recent curd-convert, I started to wonder what other fruits I could incorporate. I’ve made mango curd, passion fruit etc. but have never tried a kiwi curd. Today, I’m going to pursue it with a different idea and see what happens ?!

Print Recipe
Kiwi Curd Cupcakes
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Kiwi Curd Filling
Cupcake Batter
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Kiwi Curd Filling
Cupcake Batter
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Kiwi Curd Filling
  1. Peel & chop kiwis. In a saucepan, combine kiwis, sugar & lemon juice. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Beat the egg yolks in a separate bowl. When kiwi mixture reaches a boil, very slowly add it to the egg yolks, whisking vigorously. Pour it back into the saucepan & allow to gently simmer about 8 minutes. The mixture should be thick enough to cover the spoon (it will thicken a little as it cools also). Remove mixture from heat & allow to cool until needed. If you wish, pulse curd in food processor for a couple of seconds.
Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk flour, oatmeal, sugars, baking soda, spices & salt.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, eggs & extracts until smooth. Stir wet ingredients into dry mixture until combined.
  4. Bake 20-25 minutes. Remove to a wire rack & allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  5. Top with about 1 Tbsp of the kiwi curd & serve.
Recipe Notes
  • This recipe will make about 18 mini cupcakes if you like smaller ones.

Mandarin Orange Cream Puffs w/ Craquelin Topping

Cream puffs start with choux pastry, a heady mixture of butter, milk, water, eggs & flour. When you combine these ingredients, they become so dense and sticky that it seems impossible they’ll come together as soft, puffy, light, tender. Heat is what initiates the expansion of the dense paste. Steam from the milk and water expands the pastry’s edges, puffing up its capacity until the oven heat provides just enough crispness and structure to hold the puffs’ boundaries. A cream puff expands so dramatically in the oven that it creates a cavern inside to hold any number of things—whipped cream, pastry cream, ice cream or savory fillings.

Cream puff pastry (or choux pastry) is the base for profiteroles (smaller puffs filled with ice cream), éclairs (elongated puffs filled with pastry cream and glazed), croquembouche (a tower of cream puffs held together and drizzled with caramel) and savory appetizer puffs called gougeres with cheese and herbs.

Craquelin (pronounced kra-ke-lan) is a thin biscuit layer that can be added over choux pastries before baking them. It is used to create a crackly appearance, crunchy texture and a buttery sweet taste as well as helping the choux pastry bake evenly to form hollow rounds. This topping reminded me of a similar cookie-like topping used on Mexican sweet bread called ‘conchas’. It certainly dresses up ordinary cream puffs.

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Mandarin Orange Cream Puffs w/ Craquelin Topping
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
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Servings
Ingredients
Mandarin Orange Pastry Cream
Choux Pastry
Servings
Ingredients
Mandarin Orange Pastry Cream
Choux Pastry
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Craquelin
  1. In a food processor, process sugar & butter pieces until it forms large crumbs. Add flour, salt & vanilla; process until a dough forms. Bring the dough together to form a disk.
  2. Roll the dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper until 1/16-inch thickness. Place covered in the freezer for at least an hour then cut the dough into (18) 2-inch circles & keep circles in the freezer until ready to use.
Pastry Cream
  1. In a bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar & cornstarch until it turns pale yellow. In a saucepan, combine milk & orange zest; bring to a boil. Remove from heat, slowly add the egg mixture a little at a time, whisking well until fully incorporated.
  2. Return mixture to heat & keep whisking over medium heat until it thickens. Stir in orange juice. Transfer to a bowl & cover with plastic wrap, making sure the wrap touches the surface of the pastry cream. When it comes to room temperature, refrigerate.
  3. When cooled & you are ready to use the pastry cream, whisk with an electric mixer for 15-20 seconds to a smooth texture.
Choux Pastry
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a couple of cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a saucepan, combine milk, water, butter & salt; bring to boiling. Add flour, all at once, stirring vigorously. Cook & stir until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat & add eggs & egg white, one at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon after each addition.
  3. Place dough in a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe (18) 1 1/2-inch circles. Cover each with a frozen craquelin round circle.
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden & firm. Transfer to a wire rack & allow to cool.
Assembly
  1. Carefully slice puffs. Fill a pastry bag with mandarin orange pastry cream & gently fill each puff. Place on serving platter & sprinkle with powdered sugar if you wish.