After-Eight oursons… oops.

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There were 2 sweets I liked a lot as a kid.
1. After-Eight : mint in dark chocolate.

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2. Oursons : marshmallow teddy bears in dark chocolate.

I can do a fusion of the two, no ? Well, in theory.

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I pounded into paste a good amount of peppermint, added marshmallows, heat them just enough to melt, stirred…

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Filled chocolate in the mold. Let dry overnight, added the marshmallow cooled, later added chocolate, waited…

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Ah.
But they taste great ! If anybody has tips to take out the bears from the mold without breaking them, I’m taking. I tried making a thicker chocolate case, but that’s not so good. I tried molding the marshmallow so I’d dip it in chocolate after, but it stuck totally on the mold too. I’m too clumsy, it seems.

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Cheese and flowers : Sakura from Hokkaido

Sakura, a cherry blossom cheese. It’s a delight.
A special offer at the local shop. It’s as costly as imported cheese, as it has no relation with the mass produced standard “Japanese cheese”.

The packaging is nice too. It’s a cow milk cheese, with the addition of a salt pickled cherry blossom and leaf.

It got a prize in Switzerland as you can see.
It is made in this farm in Hokkaido. They have cows from Switzerland. I see that they even make raclette. It’s tempting. Maybe you’ll see some here…

It’s a strong cheese, and yes, it clearly tastes of cherry blossom.

I bought the bread too. It’s a black rice bread. It’s a bit different from mine.

So now, we can have a nice tray of Japanese cheese and bread.

Rose petal and cranberry for a romantic panettone


Let’s have a bite of dolce vita

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Blog-checking lines: The December 2012 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by the talented Marcellina of Marcellina in Cucina. Marcellina challenged us to create our own custom Panettone, a traditional Italian holiday bread!

Yes, the flavor has just been invented. Sweetened dry cranberries, soaked in a little Christmas tea and dry rose petals. I added a little orange blossom water to the dough and that’s all.

Yep, broken. I tried to hang it to dry. Well, never again. LOL.

It’s very “cake-like”, maybe next time, I’ll use bread flour. But besides, it’s delicious for me. I wouldn’t trade it for those industrial ones like M*tt*.

My recipe. I mix in my home-bakery :

For 3 mini panettoni

A
25 cl lukewarm water (or skim milk)
2 ts dry yeast
350 g cake flour
1/2 ts sea salt
B
60 g black sugar
0.5 ts dry yeast
1 tbs orange blossom water
3 egg yolk
90 g softened butter
C
1/2 cup dry sweetened cranberries
prepared tea
dried roses

Day 1 : Mix A and knead. Let overnight.
Day 2 : Add B, knead. Let double. Add C. Let triple.
Bake a 160 degree Celsius.

Mango coconut restaurant millefeuille

Even if it’s not exactly restaurant grade for the shape, the freshness and the taste are here !

Yummmm…. fingerlickungud…
What make it a restaurant millefeuille is it’s prepared last minute, on the plate. The concept is different from the take out millefeuille, prepared advance by the baker. The plated version plays more on freshness.

Coconut milk and cream custard, vanilla flavored.

I’ve let it creamy and very soft.

A red mango, on sale because it’s super ripe.

Lots of fibers, but they are soft and it’s delicious, super fragrant.

Quick pastry dough.

Baked just before.

So let’s compose it : still hot pastry cookies, fresh coconut cream, mango cubes.

Finish touch : dry coconut flakes.

Thousand leaves, nearly classic millefeuille

Leaves of Autumn are not here yet, so let’s eat leaves of pastry…

Yes, this month’s it’s a millefeuille…

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Our October 2012 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Suz of Serenely Full. Suz challenged us to not only tackle buttery and flaky puff pastry, but then take it step further and create a sinfully delicious Mille Feuille dessert with it!

So I’ve made these vanilla ones, classic and also
Mango coconut millefeuille
And a while ago I made lemon ones :
Mille-citrons

Making pâte feuilletée…

The caramelized pastry, cut at the good size.

Vanilla crème with lots of vanilla powder and a hint of Grand Marnier.

Mmm… I need to train at piping the cream. That’s not pretty. Don’t watch that.

The icing is simply chocolate.

Recipe :

Source : the challenge

Pâte feuilletée /Puff Pastry

Servings: Makes 8-10 mille-feuille (yields: 675g pastry)

Ingredients
1¾ cup (250g) plain/all-purpose flour
Scant ¼ cup (55 ml) (1¾ oz)(50g) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1 teaspoon (5ml) (6 gm) salt
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (5/8 cup)(150 ml) cold water

14 tablespoons (210 ml) (7 oz) (200g) butter (for the beurrage), room temperature
3½ tablespoons (55ml) (30g) plain flour (for the beurrage)

Additional flour for rolling/turning

Directions:

1. Cut the larger quantity of butter into smallish pieces and set aside at room temperature.
2. Put the larger quantity of flour into a bowl with the salt and the cold, cubed butter.
3. Lightly rub the butter and flour between your fingertips until it forms a mealy breadcrumb texture.
4. Add the cold water and bring together with a fork or spoon until the mixture starts to cohere and come away from the sides of the bowl.
5. As the dough begins to come together, you can use your hands to start kneading and incorporating all the remaining loose bits. If the dough’s a little dry, you can add a touch more water.
6. Knead for three minutes on a floured surface until the dough is smooth.
7. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
8. While the dough is chilling, take your room temperature butter and mix with the smaller amount of plain flour until it forms a paste.
9. Place the butter paste between two sheets of clingfilm, and either with a rolling pin or your hands (I found hands easiest) shape it into a 4.5”/12cm square. You can use a ruler (or similar) to neaten the edges.
10. Refrigerate for about 10-15 minutes so the butter firms up slightly. If it’s still soft, leave it a bit longer. If it’s too hard and inflexible, leave it out to soften a touch. You want it to be solid but still malleable.
11. Once the dough has chilled, roll it out on a floured surface into a 6”/15cm square. Place the square of butter in the middle, with each corner touching the centre of the square’s sides (see photo below).
12. Fold each corner of dough over the butter so they meet the centre (you might have to stretch them a little) and it resembles an envelope, and seal up the edges with your fingers. You’ll be left with a little square parcel.
13. Turn the dough parcel over and tap the length of it with your rolling pan to flatten it slightly.
14. Keeping the work surface well floured, roll the dough carefully into a rectangle ¼ inch /6 mm in thickness.
15. With the longest side facing you, fold one third (on the right) inwards, so it’s covering the middle section, and ensure that it is lined up (see below).
16. Then, fold the remaining flap of dough (on the left) inwards, so you’re left with a narrow three-layered strip (see below).
17. Repeat steps 14, 15, 16.
18. Wrap up in clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes.
19. Repeat steps 14, 15, 16 twice.
20. Wrap up in clingfilm and chill again for at least 30 minutes.
21. Repeat steps 14, 15, 16 two final times.
22. Wrap up in clingfilm and refrigerate until needed. The dough keeps a couple of days in the fridge.

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Pastry Cream / Crème Pâtissière:

(full batch; makes enough for 8-10 mille-feuille)

Ingredients

2 cups (450ml) whole milk
¼ cup (1¼ oz)(35 gm) cornflour/cornstarch
1 cup less 1 tablespoon (200gm) (7 oz) caster sugar
4 large egg yolks (if you’re making the royal icing, reserve two egg whites)
2 large eggs
¼ cup (2 oz) (60gm) unsalted butter, cubed
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla essence

Directions:

1. Mix the cornflour/cornstarch with ½ cup of milk and stir until dissolved.
2. Heat the remaining milk in a saucepan with the sugar, dissolving the sugar and bringing the milk to the boil. Remove from heat.
3. Beat the whole eggs into the cornflour/milk mixture. Then beat in the egg yolks. Pour in 1/3 of the hot milk, stirring constantly to prevent the eggs from cooking.
4. Now, bring the remaining milk back to the boil, and add the eggy mixture, whisking as your pour. Keep whisking (don’t stop or it’ll solidify) on a medium heat until the mixture starts to thicken.
5. Remove the saucepan from the heat and thoroughly whisk the pastry cream. At this stage the pastry cream can look slightly lumpy, but a good whisking soon makes it smoother.
6. Beat in the butter and vanilla until fully incorporated.
7. If you haven’t already, pour the pastry cream into a stainless steel or ceramic bowl, and then place clingfilm over the surface to stop a skin forming.
8. Refrigerate overnight to give the pastry cream time to further thicken.

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Mille-Feuille/ Napoleon/ Custard Slice

Servings: Makes 8- 10

Ingredients
1 x batch pâte feuilletée/puff pastry (see above)
1 x batch crème pâtissière/pastry cream (see above)

2 ¾ cups (660 ml) (12⅓oz) (350gm) icing sugar
2 teaspoons (10 ml) lemon juice
2 large egg whites
½ cup (2¾ oz) (80gm) dark chocolate

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to moderately hot 200 °C /400°F/gas mark 6.
2. Lightly dust your work space with flour and remove your dough from the fridge.
3. Roll into a large rectangle, the thickness of cardboard. The recipe I followed specified no other dimensions, but I rolled mine to about 12”/30cm x 18”/46cm.
4. Cut into three equal pieces and place on a baking tray. If you don’t have space for all three, you can bake them separately.
5. Prick the pastry sheets all over with a fork.
6. Place another sheet of greaseproof paper over the top and then a heavy baking tray. This will prevent the layers from puffing up too much.
7. Bake each sheet for about 25 minutes in a moderately hot oven 200 °C /400°F/gas mark 6, removing the top layer of greaseproof paper/tray 10 minutes before the end for the tops to brown. Keep an eye on them and lower the temperature if you think they’re browning too much.
8. Remove the baked sheets from the oven and leave on a wire rack to cool.
9. Once the pastry has cooled, you’re ready to assemble your mille-feuille. Get a sturdy flat board, your pastry and the chilled crème pâtissière from the fridge.
10. Lay one sheet on the board and spread half the crème patisserie evenly over the top.
11. Take the second sheet and place it on top, pressing down lightly with your hands to ensure that it sticks to the filling.
12. Spread the remaining crème pâtissière and place the last sheet of pastry on top, pressing down again. (Don’t worry if there’s some oozing at the sides. That can be neatened later.)
13. Pop in the fridge while you prepare the icing / chocolate.
14. Melt the chocolate in a bain marie, stirring periodically. Once melted, transfer to a piping bag (or plastic bag with end snipped), resting nozzle side down in a glass or other tall container.
15. To make the icing, whisk 2 egg whites with 2 teaspoons lemon juice until lightly frothy.
16. Whisk in about (2 cups) 300gm of the icing sugar on a low setting until smooth and combined. The mixture should be thick enough to leave trails on the surface. If it’s too thin, whisk in a bit more icing sugar.
17. Once ready, immediately pour over the top of the mille-feuille and spread evenly. I found that I didn’t quite need all of the icing.
18. Still working quickly, pipe a row of thin chocolate lines along the widest length of your pastry sheet (see below). You can make them as far apart/close together as you like.
19. STILL working quickly (phew), take a sharp knife and lightly draw it down (from top to bottom) through the rows of chocolate. A centimeter (½ inch) or so further across, draw the knife up the way this time, from bottom to top. Move along, draw it down again. Then up. And so on, moving along the rows of chocolate until the top is covered in a pretty swirly pattern.
20. Once you’ve decorated your mille-feuille (no doubt far more beautifully than I did), with a clean knife mark out where you’re going to cut your slices, depending on how big you want them to be and leaving space to trim the edges. I got ten out of mine – two rows of five.
21. Chill for a couple of hours to give the icing (etc.) time to set.
22. With a sharp knife, trim the edges and cut your slices.
23. Dig in!

Fideuà con polpo – Octopus wide pan

Let’s take a culinary trip to the North of Spain…

A little fideuà, the Catalan pasta paella.

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Garnished with romaine salad, mini fava (broad beans) and jelly ear mushroom.

And small octopus (polpo).

All that in a huge flat pan on the barbecue… or a small one in a small kitchen !

Azteca gold sweet takoyaki


I didn’t want to put my takoyaki plate in the closet so fast.
Of course, that’s an invention. But with coffee and chocolate, old Mexican gods would love them.

Roughly the same recipe as takoyaki. I replaced the dashi stock and soy sauce by sweet coffee, soy milk, cinnamon and a little baking powder. Items are roast almonds and chips of 100% cocoa mass.

Ready !

With cinnamon and powder sugar on top.

Melt choco, pudding-like texture with crunchy bits of almonds. Perfect !