Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Matcha Macarons with Shiro-an – Kuro Goma Filling

I've been neglecting this pastry journal of ours for a long while, but at last I'm bringing it to life again.

The last few months have been busy and lazy in the same time. We visited my sister in France but this wasn't the usual trip to Paris since she moved to a small village near La Rochelle.

 Although I do missed Paris and all the rumpus there I found the sojourn extremely relaxing and quite charming.

What a shame, the region was really lacking good patisseries, but there were other goodies that more than made up for this nuisance.

The markets in La Rochelle were exuberant with oysters, greatly appreciated by Ivan who even bought an oyster knife and became impressively proficient in using it. We devoted ourselves to decadent delights such as wine, pineau des Charentes, cognac, walks in the fields, wandering about the small paths between the villages, kisses in the rain...

It was autumn but the pastures and fields were so green and vivid, just like these macarons.

Although a typically French treats these macarons have somewhat of a Japanese sound.

Matcha Macarons with Shiro-an – Kuro Goma Filling Recipe:
  • 35 gr egg whites;
  • 95 gr almond meal;
  • 95 gr confectioner's sugar;
  • 8 gr matcha tea powder;

  • 35 gr egg whites;
  • 95 gr granulated sugar;
  • 30 gr water.
Sift the confectioner's sugar, almond meal and matcha powder into a large bowl then add the first portion of egg whites, no need to mix it.

Make the Italian meringue. In a saucepan combine water and granulated sugar and bring to a boil. When the syrup reaches 115ºC, in a separate bowl, start beating the second portion of egg whites to soft peaks. Once the syrup reaches 118ºC, pour it slowly on to the whites, beating all the time. Keep beating till the mixture cools to 50ºC. Remove the beaters.

Fold the Italian meringue into the confectioners' sugar-ground almonds-egg whites mixture.

Line 2 baking sheets with silpat. I prefer silpat to paper regarding the end result – I find that macarons baked on silpat have better feet, but this is only according to my humble opinion.

Pour the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (we use № 7) and pipe about 3 cm large rounds leaving 2cm space between them. Tap the pan on the counter several times to bring up any air bubbles.

Let the macarons rest to form a skin. At the end they should not be tacky on touch.

Preheat the oven to 160º C. Bake for around 13 - 14 minutes. During baking quickly open and shut the oven door twice to let the steam escape.

Remove from the silpat and let cool on a wire rack. Store the shells in an airtight container.

For the White Bean – Black Sesame Paste Filling:
  • 60 gr kuro goma (black sesame) paste;
  • 100 gr unsweetened shiro-an (white bean paste)*:
  • 25 gr butter, room temperature;
  • 15 gr honey.
Mix all the ingredients until homogenous. Fill a pastry bag with the cream and couple the macaron shells with a good twist of it. Store the macarons in an airtight container in the fridge. Let them rest for 24 hours before eating.  

* I find the shiro-an (white bean paste) too sweet, so I made it myself. I soaked lima beans in water for 12 hours, then boiled them till soft, drained the water, peeled the beans and discarded the skins. Then I passed the beans through a mesh strainer and that was it.

However, on the Wagashi Maniac blog there is a wonderful article and recipe regarding the making of shiro-an.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Safflower Buns with Prunes

Who would have thought that an exotic spice as saffron would be a staple in a traditional English recipe. The history behind this is an intriguing matter and should you want to know more about it don't hesitate to nip across to My Custard Pie. I love calling in at Sally's site for a regular pie of an extremely good and amusing read.

Saffron buns with raisins were chosen from Sally from My Custard Pie to be this month's Fresh from the Oven challenge. Through the saffron these buns represent the connection between Sally's present home Dubai and her home country England.

It's funny to know that saffron buns are also known as ‘revel buns’, but the more I like how they are called in West Cornwall - ‘tea treat buns’ as (quoting Sally) "they were often baked for events known as Tea Treats, which were organised by Methodist churches and chapels for the local community".

Unfortunately we had no saffron and I don't know why but raisins of a good quality are rare to find this season. This is why we opted for what we had on hand – safflower and the last of our home dried prunes.

We ate the buns with sour cream, sprinkled with flakes of sea salt.

Tea: We would suggest black tea for these buns but currently we are very short of black tea so we had them with Long Zhu - a very pleasant and mild Chinese green tea. Although almost any tea would be fine here.

Go to Purely Food at the end of the month where Claire will post the round-up and you can see how everybody coped with the challenge.

Safflower Buns with Prunes Recipe
Makes 10 buns
  • 300 gr all purpose flour;
  • 4 gr safflower, reduced into a fine powder (a mortar comes in hand here);
  • 5 gr salt;
  • 60 gr butter, melted;
  • 45 gr sugar;
  • 15 gr fresh yeast;
  • 1 medium egg, beaten;
  • 70 ml milk, lukewarm;
  • 50 ml water;
  • 100 gr pitted dried prunes, chopped;
  • 1 egg, beaten – for glazing.
Combine flour, safflower powder, salt and sugar. Set aside.

Dissolve yeast in the water and mix together with the milk, egg and butter in the bowl of your stand mixer equipped with the dough hook. Add in the dry ingredients and let the mixer knead the dough for 15 minutes, then knead in the chopped dried prunes. Cover the bowl and let the dough become double in bulk.

Give the dough a quick knead, divide it into 10 balls, shape them and arrange on a lined with paper baking sheet. Cover the buns with a towel and let them prove. We baked the buns in rectangular silicone muffin cups. The buns were supposed to be rectangular but they expanded way more than expected.

Glaze with egg and bake in a preheated to 190ºC oven for about 20 -25 minutes or until golden brown.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New York Cheesecake

This cheesecake recipe uses no water bath and this is why I like it so much. Plus, I've made it at least a dozen times at home and the result is always satisfactory. We used to make it at the pastry course last year and I think this was one of their bestsellers since we had it on the to-do list quite often.

Tea: Because of the sour cherry jam the cheesecake goes well with smoked tea like Lapsang souchong – it gives depth of the flavour and profoundness of the taste sensation.

New York Cheesecake Recipe:

  • 460 gr cream cheese;
  • 120 gr confectioner's sugar;
  • 3 eggs;
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract; 

  • 400 sour cream;
  • 40 gr confectioner's sugar; 

  • home made sour cherry jam, or any other jam or jelly.

Place a 20 cm cake ring on a lined with paper baking sheet. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 170ºC. Use the “fan forced” function. Apparently every producer calls this function differently, sometimes it is named as “fan oven cooking” or “circulaire”. What I mean here is – use the fan function without the upper and lower heaters.

Place the graham crackers into the bowl of the food processor equipped with the metal blade and pulse several times until the crackers turn into crumbs. Add crumbs to melted butter and mix well to combine. Press firmly and evenly the buttered cracker crumbs at the bottom of the prepared ring.

Using a hand or stand mixer equipped with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and the sugar, then add in the eggs and vanilla and beat until homogenous. Pour over the pressed cracker crumbs. Bake for 20 minutes – this was the time we used to bake the cakes into the professional ovens, but in our home oven it takes 25 – 30 minutes. The cake should be set, just a little bit jiggly in the center and there shouldn't be any traces of browning on top(this is just for visual reasons). Let the cake cool completely before the next step.

Whisk sour cream and sugar and spread the mixture over the cooled cheese layer. Bake into preheated oven (the same settings as before) for 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool, then refrigerate for 6 hours before slicing and serving.

I prefer to add the jam at the last moment when the cake is already sliced and served.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Caramelized Phyllo Napoleons with Vanilla Pastry Cream and Raspberries

There are times when a certain dessert occurs to be a great hit amidst our friends and simultaneously extremely easy and non-demanding for completing. Here's one such case. Apparently everybody fell in love for the crunchy caramelized phyllo.

These Napoleons turned out also to be very photogenic and we just couldn't restrain ourselves of snapping a shot of them of any possible angle. So. please, excuse the exuberance of similar photos.

Tea: Any Japanese green tea would be relevant to this dessert. We enjoyed it with Tamaryokucha Imperial

Caramelized Phyllo Napoleons Recipe:

Idea inspired from Baking Obsession

Makes 6 mille-feuilles

Caramelized Phyllo:
  • 4 phyllo sheets;
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted;
  • 4 Tbsp sugar.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Prepare another baking sheet and a sheet of parchment paper. Set aside.

Gently spread a phyllo sheet on the counter top. (Keep the rest of the phyllo sheets under plastic wrap to prevent them from drying.) Brush with melted butter and sprinkle some sugar on top. Cover with the second phyllo sheet, brush with butter and sprinkle some sugar. Repeat. Layer the fourth phyllo sheet, press it slightly against the other layers and using a 7cm ring cutter cut out rounds - it makes about 20 rounds.

Sprinkle a thin layer of sugar on the lined with paper baking sheet. Arrange the phyllo rounds on top of the sugared paper. Sprinkle some sugar on top of the rounds. Cover with parchment paper then place a baking sheet or other baking pan on top to press down the rounds. Bake for around 8 minutes or until golden brown.

Bake the scraps as well, they don't look like a great matter but they are delicious and could be used as decoration, although we ate them plain.

Vanilla Pastry Cream:
  • 2 egg yolks;
  • 300 ml whole milk;
  • 25 gr corn starch dissolved in a couple of spoons cold water;
  • 60 gr sugar;
  • vanilla seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod;
  • 30 gr butter.
Combine yolks, sugar and starch and beat until pale.

In a small saucepan bring milk and vanilla to a simmer then pour it in a thin stream over the yolk mixture beating all the time. Return the mixture into the saucepan and cook to 85ºC (until it thickens). Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Place the cream in a bowl and cover tightly with stretch foil in order not to form skin. Let cool, then refrigerate for several hours or overnight.


Assemble just before serving.

Pipe vanilla pastry cream in the middle of a caramelized phyllo round then arrange raspberries to encircle the pastry cream. Pipe a drop of pastry cream in the core hollow of each raspberry in order to steady them. Repeat until there are 3 layers of caramelized phyllo.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Grape Must Bread

This month the recipe for the Fresh from the Oven challenge was quite intriguing – mosbolletjies(honestly I have no idea how is this supposed to be read), a.k.a. grape must buns. It was Tandy from Lavender and Lime who stirred our bread baking enthusiasm for new experiments. Tandy makes her own grape must so if looking for a recipe, go to her post. We, however, had grape must in the freezer. Last year during the wine making season we froze some crimson grape must for baking purposes and to use it as a natural colourant.

We made 2 small loaves of bread instead of buns and they turned out extremely delicious. Besides they had a naturally purple hue.

The round-up with everybody's mosbolletjies would be published on Utterly Scrummy Food For Families, so go there to see what the other FFO members have baked.

We are sending this loaves to Yeast Spotting.

Grape Must Loaf Recipe:
For 2 20x10 cm loaf pans
  • 20 gr fresh yeast;
  • 80 gr grape must;
  • 420 gr all purpose flour;
  • 8 gr salt;
  • 50 gr sugar;
  • 60 gr butter, melted;
  • 125 gr milk;
  • 1 egg.
Dissolve yeast in grape must and leave it to feed on must sugars for 10 – 20 minutes till you prepare the other ingredients.

In a bowl combine together dry ingredients - flour, salt and sugar.

In the bowl of the stand mixer, equipped with dough hook, combine all liquid ingredients – butter, milk, egg and the yeasty must. Add dry ingredients and knead for 15 minutes.

Cover the bowl and let the dough become double in bulk.

Give the dough a quick knead, shape and place the loaves in buttered loaf pans. Leave it to prove.

Bake for about 30 minutes in a preheated to 180ºC oven.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Apricot Frangipane Tartlets

Apricot season has come and gone but it was so short that I couldn't get enough of my favourite fruits. 3 years in a row the apricot trees in Vetren didn't give fruits, this is why this year I was overexcited about the apricot abundance. I was shuttling around under the apricot trees stalking for just fallen overripe fruits. This is exactly how I like them – overripe, just fallen from the tree, sweet and hot from the sun.

Unfortunately this was not the case with the apricots I used for these tartlets since they were store bought and were not ripe enough, but surprisingly their vapid taste mellowed and evolved after baking.

We paired those tartlets with autumn flush Darjeeling tea for its woody-fruity-honey flavour.

Apricot Frangipane Tartlets Recipe:
Makes: 8 - 10 tartlets 8,5cm in diameter

For the Crust:
  • 200gr all purpose flour;
  • 60 gr confectioners' sugar;
  • 1tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary;
  • 115 gr butter;
  • 1 egg;
  • 3 gr salt;
  • 1 Tbsp rum.
In the bowl of your food processor, equipped with the blade, place flour, sugar, salt, rosemary and pulse a couple of times to combine all. Add in cold butter, cut into pieces and pulse several times to make it into small chunks. Add in egg and rum and pulse several more times to combine.
Gather the dough, wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or even overnight.
Take the dough out of the fridge. On a lightly floured counter top, roll the dough out to 3mm and line 10 tartlet rings with it. Place the rings on a lined with silpat (or paper) baking sheet.

Note: Initially I made this dough for a completely different recipe but then changed my mind, thus there is no rosemary in the crust. Instead I added it to the frangipane filling.

For the Frangipane Filling:
the same as into the Quince Frangipane Tartlets

  • 115 gr softened butter;
  • 115 gr honey;
  • 100 gr ground almonds;
  • 2 eggs;
  • 60 gr heavy cream; 
  • 20 apricots, halved and pitted.

Place the butter, honey, ground almonds, and eggs in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Stir in the cream, do not whisk in order not to emulsify it or it will rise while baking.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

Divide the frangipane among the tartlet rings, add a 4-5 apricot halves on top and bake for around 25 minutes until the top is golden.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pistachio – Blackberry Entremet

Cleaning the freezer I found a bowl with the last batch of last year's blackberries, and I didn't even remember it was there, lucky me. Besides, we had a small jar with insignificant amount of pistachios – only 50 grams, but it was enough to throw an entremet.

The inspiration for this one came from Hidemi Sugino again, and to be more exact – his Sicile entremet. But as always I couldn't stick to the recipe and changed it liberally to suit my products. For the original look of the recipe, head to Evan's Kitchen Ramblings. What I'm sharing here is my personal interpretation.

Raw pistachios are a rare product in Bulgaria, let alone pistachio paste, not to mention it's prize. This is why I made my own pistachio paste using this recipe just scaling down all the products to match with the 50 grams of nuts we had.

Tastewise, this was one of the best entremets I've ever made.

For the Pistachio – Blackberry entremet I chose Long Jing – one of my favourite everyday teas – for its delicate slightly sweet flavour with vegetal and nutty hints and mild, almost non-existent astringency.

Pistachio – Blackberry Entremet Recipe:
Makes 6 entremets Ø 5,5 cm, height 6 cm

Pistachio Sponge:
  • 25 gr almond meal;
  • 20 gr millet flour;
  • 40 gr pistachio paste;
  • 2 egg yolks;
  • 10 gr butter, melted;
  • 2 egg whites;
  • 50 gr sugar.
Preheat the oven to 220ºC. Line a baking sheet with silpat and place a 20cm ring on top.

Sift together almond meal and millet flour, set aside.

Combine pistachio paste, egg yolks and butter and mix till homogenous.

Beat egg whites and sugar until stiff and glossy peaks, then fold in yolk-pistachio mixture. At last fold in the flour mixture. Scoop into the ring and make it even using a spatula.

Bake for approximately 5 -6 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. When cool, use a 4,5cm ring and cut out 6 rounds.

Sugar Syrup:
  • 30 gr sugar;
  • 30 ml water;
  • 10 ml rum.
Bring water and sugar to a simmer to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and add the rum.

Blackberry Mousse:
  • 110 gr blackberry puree;
  • 1,5 gr agar agar powder, mixed with 5 gr sugar;
  • 15 ml rum;
  • 25 ml water;
  • 40 gr sugar;
  • 1 egg white;
  • 120 gr whipping cream, whipped.
In a heavy bottom saucepan, bring the blackberry puree to a boil. Add the agar-sugar mixture(stir well to prevent lumps from forming) and bring to a boil again. Keep warm till needed.

Make Italian meringue – combine water and sugar and cook to 118ºC. Beat egg white to soft peaks, then pour the cooked sugar in a thin stream while beating all the time. Beat until stiff and glossy meringue forms.

Add the blackberry-agar mixture and the rum to the Italian meringue, then fold in the whipped cream. Work quickly. Pour into silicone moulds and freeze. I used a 12 cup silicone mould, dimensions of the cups – 4,5 x 2 cm.

Note: The recipe makes more mousse than needed but it's harder to work with smaller amounts.

Pistachio Mousse:
  • 225 ml whole milk;
  • 40 gr pistachio paste;
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract;
  • 40 gr egg yolks;
  • 40 gr sugar;
  • 5 gr agar agar powder, mixed with 10 gr sugar;
  • 225 ml whipping cream, whipped.
Combine milk, vanilla and pistachio paste and bring to a boil. (Since my pistachio paste was home made, thus a bit more grainy I used the stick blender to incorporate it more homogenously into the milk.) When boiling stir in the agar-sugar mixture and cook till agar dissolves.

Whisk egg yolks and sugar till pale, then slowly pour in, while still whisking, the boiling milk mixture. Return to the heat and cook to 82ºC.

Fold the whipped cream into the above mixture. Work quickly.

  • Make the mousse when you have everything else prepared since it sets very quickly – because of the agar as soon as the temperature of the mousse drops bellow 45ºC it commence to set.

  • On the photos it appears as though there are 2 different types of outer mousse. In fact, I divided the pistachio custard in two and mixed one of the halves with half of the whipped cream, in order to keep the other half of the custard warm, in a water bath, to prevent setting. I did all the divisions by eye and apparently they were not very correct – one of the pistachio custard halves got creamier than the other, although tastewise there wasn't a great difference. I don't recommend this step since it wasn't very useful, besides there is always a chance to end up with colour variations in the mousse.


Blackberries and pistachios.

Honey Glaze:
  • 100 ml water;
  • 1 tsp honey;
  • 1gr agar agar powder, mixed with 5 gr sugar.
Bring water and honey to a boil. Add agar and bring to a boil again.

To Assemble:

Arrange six rings, Ø 5,5 cm, height 6 cm, on a tray. Place a pistachio sponge round at the bottom of each ring. Brush the sponge with some syrup, but don't be over exuberant because the sponge will absorb some moisture from the mousse too.

Fill the rings with pistachio mousse to ½ full, then place the frozen blackberry mousse in the middle of each ring, press it to almost sink into the pistachio mousse, then cover with the rest of the pistachio mousse. Place in the fridge to set.

Decorate with blackberries and pistachios, then glaze using a silicone pastry brush.


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