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Chili Chocolate Tart

If you’re a chocolate lover, you would always crave a perfect chocolate tart that reminds you of why you ARE CRAZYYY about chocolate in the first place – This Chili Chocolate Tart is IT. It is simple, decadent, and rich in chocolate flavours with a slight kick of chilli. It has a tender chocolate sweet pastry filled with chili chocolate custard filling, finishing off with a shiny cocoa gaze and chocolate shards. The taste of chili is very subtle in this recipe as I personally can’t take spicy very well. However, If you aren’t a big fan of chili, simply substitute it with dark chocolate and it will work just fine!

Chili Chocolate Tart

Chili Chocolate Tart

Chilli Chocolate Tart3.jpg

Chilli Chocolate Tart

I don’t know about you but I have a thing for tarts. As simple as they look, there’s actually so much knowledge, hard work and effort behind to achieve a satisfying result. This is why the sense of accomplishment of finishing a gorgeous tart can be overwhelming (for me).

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Chilli Chocolate Tart2

In this post, I am going to tell you the tips of making the best chocolate tart in the simplest way!

    1. Use a food processor (no mess) 
      I was taught various ways of making sweet pastry i.e. cutting method, creamy method etc, but here I want to show you the easier way without getting your hand dirty – using a food processor. All you have to do is to process COLD butter cubes with dry ingredients until fine crumbs, then add in the egg and process until a smooth dough is formed. There’s minimum handling of the dough and you can avoid developing too much gluten in the dough, hence avoid pastry shrinkage when baked.

 

    1. Rest the sweet pastry dough (no shrinkage)
      One thing that you must have heard when it comes to tarts making is REST THE DOUGH. The reason is that when you need to give time for the gluten that was formed during the dough making process to relax. When making this tart, you will be resting the pastry twice – first, to rest it in a rectangular flat form wrapped by plastic in refrigerator for at least 30 mins before rolling the pastry out for lining; second, to rest the pastry lined in tart rings in refrigerator for another 30 mins to relax the gluten formed during the rolling process. Relaxed gluten won’t shrink as badly (sometimes doesn’t shrink at all) during baking, and you will have a more tender and consistent sweet pastry.
    2. Use a non-stick perforated baking mat when blind baking (no baking beans needed!)
      Have you ever experienced the frustration that even if you have poked thousands of holes in the sweet pastry and even putting baking beans on, your pastry still annoyingly puff up a lot in the oven? Here is the solution for you – use a non-stick perforated baking mat. These perforated mats are amazing that they allow air to escape underneath the pastry and provide optimal destruction of heat. They give a much more consistent baking result and that’s why people are using it for baking a lot of items such as tarts, short bread cookies, macarons etc.
    3. Bake the custard filling at low temperature 
      I know we all love ganache, I mean who doesn’t? But sometimes pure ganache filling can be too heavy as a filling. For my chocolate tart, I used a chocolate custard filling recipe that is slightly different from ganache due to the addition of eggs and milk. The eggs and milk sort of “lighten up” the ganache and make it custard-like. However if you want a smooth finish of the custard filling, you have to bake it at low temperature (120C). I baked my filling at 120C for 10mins and there were no cracks on the surface at all as the filling was cooked slowly and evenly.

 

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Ingredients:

Chocolate Sweet Pastry

  • 240g all purpose flour
  • 95g icing sugar
  • 25g cocoa powder (I used Callebautchocolate ‘s cocoa powder)
  • pinch of salt
  • 120g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 50g whole eggs (around 1 egg)

Chilli Chocolate Custard Filling 

  • 180g pure cream
  • 180g Lindt’s chili chocolate (break into small pieces)
  • 15g butter
  • 40g eggs
  • 40g cold milk

Cocoa glaze

  • 70g water
  • 65g sugar
  • 20g neutral glaze
  • 8g glucose
  • 30g cream
  • 15g cocoa powder (I used Callebautchocolate ‘s cocoa powder)
  • 1.5 gelatine sheet (titanium)
  • 40ml water

Instructions:

Make the Chocolate Sweet Pastry , put all purpose flour, icing sugar, cocoa powder, salt and cold butter cubes into a food processor (handle with care and never put your hand near the blade when the machine is on), process on medium speed until fine crumbs. Add in the egg and process on medium speed until a smooth dough is formed. Put the dough on your working surface dusted with flour, flatten it with your hand and shape into a rectangle. Wrap the dough in plastic and rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 mins.

After the resting time, flour your working surface and roll out your dough into 3mm. During the rolling process, you have to move the pastry around constantly and dust flour underneath the dough to ensure that the dough is not sticking to the bench. Poke holes into the pastries evenly with a fork and use a circular cutter to cut out circles that are around 3 cm bigger than the base of your tart rings. Fit the pastry into your tart ring and ensure to check if nice edges are formed at the base. Use a knife to cut off the excess pastry hanging out of the tart rings. Put the tart rings onto a perforated baking mat and rest in the refrigerator for 30 mins. Preheat your oven to 180C.

After the second resting time, bake the tart shells for 10mins. Take out from the oven, let cool slightly, and remove the tart rings carefully.  Brings the oven temperature down to 120C.

Make the Chilli Chocolate Custard Fillingput chocolate pieces into a mixing bowl and set aside. Meanwhile. bring cream to a boil in a sauce pan, immediately pour hot cream over the chocolate. Let it sit for one min, then stir with a whisk until completely melted. Stir in the butter butter and and stir until melted. Add in cold milk , then egg into the ganache. Mix with a whisk until just incorporated. Fill the tart shells with the custard filling until it’s just 4mm away from the tart shell top edge. Bake at 120C for 10mins. Let cool in room temperature for 10 mins then put in refrigerator while you prepare the cocoa glaze.

Make the Cocoa glazebloom gelatine sheet with 40ml water, set aside. Bring all the other ingredients to a boil in a saucepan, off heat, stir in the bloomed gelatine and whisk until completely dissolved (try to avoid making any bubbles). Cool in room temperature for 15 mins. Take out the cooled tarts from the refrigerator, pour the glaze carefully on the set custard filling until it’s just full. Refrigerate the tart for at least 1 hour to set completely. Decorate with chocolate shards and gold leaves if desired. These tarts are best to consume within three days.

 

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Ginger Passionfruit Yogurt Cheesecake With Toasted Italian Meringue
Ginger Passionfruit Yogurt Cheesecake with Italian Meringue7

Ginger Passionfruit Yogurt Cheesecake with Italian Meringue



This Ginger Passionfruit Yogurt Cheesecake with Toasted Italian Meringue is the magical dream for ginger lovers!! The contrast between the hot, spicy ginger taste and the lightness of passionfruit makes the cake interestingly exotic but very balanced in taste. I am not a big fans of over-sweet dessert so I decided this recipe in such a way that the acidity from cream cheese, yogurt and passionfruit effectively tunes down the sweetness from the Italian meringue. And did I forget to mention GO CRAZY with the meringue piping and torching? If you like the idea of the cake, do check out my Lemon Curd Meringue Mousse Cake as well.

Ginger Passionfruit Yogurt Cheesecake with Italian Meringue8

Ginger Passionfruit Yogurt Cheesecake with Italian Meringue

Ginger Passionfruit Yogurt Cheesecake with Italian Meringue6

Ginger Passionfruit Yogurt Cheesecake with Italian Meringue

The idea of this cake came from my nostalgic cravings for a traditional Chinese Dessert “Ginger Milk Curd“. It is a simple dessert that uses only a few ingredients (milk, ginger juice and sugar) that’s available hot and cold. It costs around $25 HKD per bowl and I thought that was very expensive. Oh well, if only I had known gingers in Australia would be so much pricier, I would have eaten a few more back home.

Ginger Passionfruit Yogurt Cheesecake with Italian Meringue

Ginger Passionfruit Yogurt Cheesecake with Italian Meringue

Ginger Passionfruit Yogurt Cheesecake with Italian Meringue3

Ginger Passionfruit Yogurt Cheesecake with Italian Meringue



The process of making this cake is pretty straightforward, but we have to be always careful when it comes to gelatine. Temperature control is crucial as we don’t want the gelatine to set before all ingredients are fully incorporated.  If we add the melted gelatine to a very cold mixture, what will happen is that you will “shock” the gelatine and it will set immediately. That said, if your passionfruit curd is cold and stiff (which happens when you choose to pre-make the curd the day before), I do recommend warming it up through double boiler to around 30C, before you mix it with yogurt, lemon juice, ginger cream infusion.  I hope you enjoy it!

Ginger Passionfruit Yogurt Cheesecake with Italian Meringue4

Ginger Passionfruit Yogurt Cheesecake with Italian Meringue

Ginger Passionfruit Yogurt Cheesecake with Italian Meringue5

Ginger Passionfruit Yogurt Cheesecake with Italian Meringue



Ingredients:

Ginger Infused Passionfruit Curd Yogurt Cheesecake

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 250g cream cheese, room temperature
  • 200g natural yogurt
  • 250g passionfruit curd (recipe below)
  • 1/2 lemon, juice of
  • 100g pure cream
  • 15g ginger, thinly sliced
  • 2 gelatine leaves, titanium
  • 250g pure cream, semi-whipped

Biscuit Base

  • 250g biscuit crumbs (I processed digestive biscuits into crumbs with a food processor)
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Italian Meringue

  • 160g caster sugar
  • 100g water
  • 150g egg white

Passionfruit Curd

  • 225g passionfruit pulp (before sieving out the seeds)
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 50g whole eggs
  • 100g egg yolks (around 5)
  • 125g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 gelatine leave (titanium)

Instructions:

Passionfruit Curd

  1. Sieve the seeds from the passionfruit pulp and set aside (this step is necessary as you will need to sieve the cooked curd to remove the egg strain) 
  2. Prepare a double boiler. To do so, fill a saucepan with 1-1.5 inches high of water and bring it to simmer. Find a heatproof bowl that fits in the saucepan without directly touching the water.
  3. Place the passionfruit pulp, sugar, egg, egg yolks in a heatproof stainless steel or glass bowl. Using a whisk, stir the mixture continuously but gently to slowly cook the eggs. The lemon curd is ready when it starts to thicken up (or when it reaches 80C). This process will take about 10 mins. Remove the bowl from the saucepan.
  4. Sieve the curd into another bowl to remove egg strains.
  5. Bloom the gelatine leaves with cold water. Squeeze out excess water and add it in the curd to melt completely.
  6. Stir in the cold chopped butter into the mixture. Mix until the butter completely melts.
  7. Take out 250g of the curd (for cake filling) and set aside until ready to use , and refrigerate the rest for other uses.

Biscuit Base

  1. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Put a 7inch cake ring on the tray.
  2. Process biscuit of your choice (I used digestive biscuits with a food processor) into fine crumbs. Put in a big mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. Melt butter in the microwave carefully. Try with 10 seconds intervals and check.
  4. Pour the melted butter into the mixing bowl. Mix well with a spoon until crumbs are evenly coated with butter.
  5. Press the crumbs into the cake ring and press with a spoon until flat and even.
  6. Keep in refrigerator until ready to use.

Ginger Infused Passionfruit Curd Yogurt Cheesecake

  1. In a small sauce pan, place 100g pure cream and ginger pieces and bring to boil. Turn down the heat. Simmer for 2 mins and set aside for the infusion to happen.
  2. Bloom gelatine leave in cold water. Squeeze out excess water and add to the ginger-cream. Mix until fully melted.
  3. Using an electrical mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar on high speed, while scraping the side occasionally, until creamy and smooth.
  4. In a mixing bowl, add 250g passionfruit curd, yogurt, lemon juice, ginger cream infusion and mix well with a whisk. Turn on the mixer on low speed, pour the mixture slowly into the beaten cream cheese mixture and continue beating until smooth.
  5. In another bowl, semi whip 250g pure cream. Fold into the mixture gently and evenly with a spatula.
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepare cake ring. Smoothen the top with an off-set spatula. Wrap the cake ring tightly with cling wrap and put in the freezer to set. It takes around 4-6 hours.

Italian Meringue

  1. Put sugar and water in a small saucepan and do NOT stir. Bring the water and sugar to boil at 118C. When the syrup reaches 115C, simultaneously start whisking the egg whites to soft peaks on a medium speed.
  2. When the sugar reaches 118C, turn the mixer on low speed, pour it over the egg whites slowly in a stream motion. Turn the mixer to medium high speed and continue beating for about 5mins, until the meringue is cooled down to 50C and glossy stiff peaks have formed.

To serve

1.  Unwrap the plastic covering the cake, remove the cake from the cake ring by using a hot towel to warm up the cake ring, or use blow torch safely to heat up the cake ring lightly.

2. Pipe Italian meringue on top of the cake and blow torch lightly. Enjoy!

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Easy Korean Beef and Broccoli with Garlic Pickled Cucumber

This Korean Beef and Broccoli is my new savoury favourite – the juicy beef mince takes on the perfect blend of sweet, salty and spicy and goes so well with a bowl of rice! It takes the simplest Asian cooking approach and has the aroma from garlic, ginger and spring onions. If that doesn’t sound good enough yet, let me tell you it uses the simplest ingredients (mostly staple) and takes only 15 mins to whip up as a super quick dinner! If you like simple Asian dishes like this, do check out my most popular Japanese Salmon Fried Rice.

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Korean Beef and Broccoli Rice Bowl

Born and raised in Hong Kong, I was lucky enough to try cuisines from all over the world easily in the “Food Paradise”. Korean is one of my favourite Asian cuisines as I realised that their savoury dishes tend to lean towards the sweet side, which definitely hits the spot for me. The sauce for this Korean Beef and Broccoli is intense and packed with flavours. I modified the recipe so that it is well-balanced that the sweetness, and saltiness and spiciness can work together without being overpowering. Spoon the sauce over your fragrant, fluffy rice and I guarantee you will keep coming back for more because the sauce is THAT good. To keep the beef tender and soft, try to just cook the beef just enough in the saucepan to let it absorb the goodness of the sauce without being overcooked.

Korean Beef and Broccoli Rice Bowl

Korean Beef and Broccoli Rice Bowl

Chilli Garlic Pickled Cucumber

To pair the main dish, I made a garlic chilli pickled cucumber salad that is THE perfect side dish – it is so refreshing that it got the right kick from the garlic and chilli but still cuts through the intensity of the meat. This side dish is usually available in traditional Chinese restaurants but I thought it’s a good fusion idea. All you have to do is to mix all the ingredients to make the sauce and coat your cucumber well with it. It is best to prepare this dish the night before to let the flavours sink in. I hope you will enjoy this easy recipe. Please let me know your thoughts! Cheers.

Ingredients:

Korean Beef

  • 1 kg regular beef mince
  • 3 garlic colves, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried chili flakes
  • 1 – 1.5 spring onion, thinly sliced
  • Sesame seeds, for garnishes

1 Broccoli Floret, cut into pieces

Garlic Chilli Pickled Cucumber 

  • 1 cucumber, cut into pieces
  • 2 tbsp Laoganma Chilli Sauce (you can substitute with other brand’s chilli sauce found in asian groceries store if not available) 
  • 2 tbsp chilli oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil

Instructions:

Korean Beef with Broccoli

  1. In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, water, sesame oil, light brown sugar, black pepper, dried chilli flakes. Set aside.
  2. Wash and cut the broccoli into pieces. Prepare a pot of hot water with 1 tsp of salt to cook the broccoli.
  3. In a large sauce pan, heat up 3 tbsp of oil on medium high heat and cook ginger and garlic until fragrant. Around 2 mins. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
  4. Turn the stove to high heat, add the beef mince in one go and continuously break the meat down with your spatular or wooden spoon while cooking.
  5. Add in the pre-mixed sauce and bring to boil. Turn the stove to medium heat and simmer for 2 mins.
  6. Now it’s the time to cook the broccoli. Boil the broccoli pieces in the prepared hot water for around 3-4 mins, depending on your preferences. I like to reserve the crunchiness of vegetables. Drain and set aside to serve.
  7. Add in spring onions and sesame seeds to the beef before serving.

Garlic Chilli Pickled Cucumber 

1. Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for at least 30 mins, preferably overnight.

Korean Beef and Broccoli Rice Bowl

Korean Beef and Broccoli Rice Bowl

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Baked Baileys Cheesecake with Oreo Crust

This Baked Baileys Cheesecake is literally the BEST cheesecake that I’ve ever tasted! It has the smoothest and creamiest Baileys mascarpone and cream cheese filling with an Oreo Crust. The buttery Oreo cookies base complement perfectly with velvety taste of Baileys. And the best thing is – this baked cheesecake doesn’t require a water bath and is super easy to make!

Baked Bailyes Cheesecake with Oreo Base

Baked Bailyes Cheesecake with Oreo Base

Baked Bailyes Cheesecake with Oreo Base6

Baked Bailyes Cheesecake with Oreo Base



I am always, ALWAYS, keen to add alcohol into my desserts to make them a little bit naughty and sexy to eat. Click on the links below to check them out:

– Guinness Double Chocolate Brownie 
– Milk Chocolate Banana Mousse Cake with Rum 
– Lemon Curd Limoncelle Eclair 
– Coffee liqueur Double Chocolate Hazelnut Muffin 
– Tiramisu Mille Crepe Cake

Baileys is one of my favourite liqueur (to kill my sweet cravings at night) and it goes perfectly with a cheesecake. You might want to check out my Baileys Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Mousse Cup for a party dessert idea.

Baked Bailyes Cheesecake with Oreo Base2

Baked Bailyes Cheesecake with Oreo Base7

Baked Bailyes Cheesecake with Oreo Base

Tips of making the perfect baked cheesecake!

To perfect a baked cheesecake, there’re a couple things to take note of:

  1. Bake at LOWER temperature for a LONGER period of time – baking cheesecake at a low temperature is crucial to cooking the filling steadily and evenly, which achieves the creamy and smooth texture. Last thing that we want is to overcook the filling or to burn the top.  I baked my cheesecake at 140C for 90 mins  and I think it is a good setting that cooks the cheesecake nicely and still achieve that golden colour top crust.
  2. Cream the cheese and sugar well. To make your cheesecake smooth and creamy, you don’t want to have cream cheese lumps or undissolved sugar in the batter. Therefore, do take the time to beat the cheese and sugar on medium high speed (while scraping the side of the mixing bowl once in a while) to attain a pale, fluffy cheese sugar mixture before adding the eggs.
  3. Do NOT over-aerate the eggs when mixing. One big difference between a chilled cheesecake  and a baked cheesecake, is that while gelatine usually is the setting agent, there’re eggs in a baked cheesecake to set. But make sure that you only gently fold in the eggs in the cheesecake with a spatula (not a whisk), because you don’t want to over-aerate the eggs or the cheesecake will expand too much during baking.
  4. Cool the baked cheesecake slowly after baked. When it comes to baked cheesecake, we are all so scared that the cheesecake is going to crack during the cool down process. But don’t worry! To avoid the cheesecake from cracking, you simply have to avoid sudden temperature change and cool the cake gradually. I usually would turn off the oven and leave the cake inside the oven to cool down for 30 mins, before taking it out to room temperature for another 30 mins, before putting it in the fridge.

Baked Bailyes Cheesecake with Oreo Base4



Ingredients:

For the cheesecake

  • 500g cream cheese
  • 250g mascarpone cheese
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp baileys
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 360ml sour cream

Oreo Cookie Base

  • 250g crushed Oreo (after filling removed)
  • 100g melted unsalted butter

Instructions :

  1. Put a parchment paper on a baking tray. Put a 8inch cake ring on the baking tray and set aside to use.
  2. Take out the fillings from the Oreo cookies with a butter knife (you can keep the filling for other uses), and process the cookies in a food process into fine crumbs.
  3. Melt butter in the microwave (carefully, butter explores very quickly if left unattended).
  4. Mix the butter and the Oreo crumbs well. Press it inside the cake ring as the cake base with the back of a spoon until even and flat. Put in the fridge to set.
  5. Preheat Oven to 140C
  6. Using an electrical mixer, beat cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, salt, and sugar with a paddle attachment on medium high speed (while scraping the side of the bowl occasionally) for around 5-8 mins until smooth and fluffy.
  7. Add in baileys and vanilla bean paste and beat for 30 seconds.
  8. Put the eggs and egg yolk in a bowl, use a whisk to lightly break them down. Then pour it over the cheese mixture, fold the eggs in with a spatula until incorporated.
  9. Fold in the sour cream with a spatula until incorporated.
  10. Pour the batter into the prepared cake ring and bake at 140C for approximately 90mins. Time may vary depending on your oven and other factors. A baked cheesecake is ready when the side is puffed up and turned golden brown, while the centre would slightly jiggle when you shake the baking tray. When it is ready, turn off the oven, open the oven door for 15 seconds, then close the door and leave the cake inside the oven for 30 mins. Take it out from the oven and let cool in room temperature for another 30 mins. Keep it in the fridge for at least 3 hour s for it to fully set. Enjoy!
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Banana Milk Chocolate Mousse Cake with Rum

Happy Mother’s Day! I hope all the mothers in the world get the love that they deserve and feel extra special today. I cannot be physically be there with my family so this banana milk chocolate mousse cake is dedicated to my mum who has been loving, caring and supportive to her children.

Banana Milk Chocolate Mousse Cake with Rum

Banana Milk Chocolate Mousse Cake

This Banana Milk Chocolate Mousse Cake is what I call a classic beauty – it has a soft & fluffy chocolate sponge soaked in rum syrup, layered between is a smooth milk chocolate mousse filled with fresh banana pieces and chocolate crumbs. For decorations, I used ladyfingers dipped in Milk Chocolate, Vanilla Beans Chantilly and Pistachio Praline Sprinkles (recipe can be found here). A bite into this cake, you get so many layers of taste and texture. There’s nothing too complicated about it but everything just works well together. Even if you’re just a amateur in baking, I am sure you can nail this cake (if you read the instructions well, haha).

Banana Milk Chocolate Mousse Cake with Rum
Banana Milk Chocolate Mousse Cake with Rum

I created this recipe based on the Banana Chocolate Cake recipe by the Cooking Tree with some personal twists put on it. I have been a big fans of her desserts for a while now, as she has such a clean and simple approach to cakes that I absolutely admire. If you observe closely, there’s a lot to learn even though there isn’t one single spoken instruction in the videos. Her recipes give me a lot of inspirations and I can’t thank enough for her youtube tutorials.

Banana Milk Chocolate Mousse Cake with Rum

One thing that I want to say is that making the sponge and mousse might seem easy, but they have to treated very carefully and gently. Be sure that you don’t over-mix the cake batter or over-whip the mousse, or they can turn into disaster. I hope you enjoy this Banana Milk Chocolate Mousse Cake and again Happy Mother’s Day!

Banana Milk Chocolate Mousse Cake with Rum
Banana Milk Chocolate Mousse Cake with Rum

Ingredients:

Chocolate Sponge:
– 150g whole eggs
– 85g sugar
– 20g honey
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 75g cake flour
– 10g cocoa powder
– 25g melted butter
– 40g milk

Milk Chocolate Mousse:
– 200g pure cream
– 100g milk chocolate, melted
– 1 tbsp dark rum
– 2 bananans

Chocolate Crumbs:
– 100g caster sugar
– 100g all purpose flour
– 60g cocoa powder
– 5g corn starch
– 1 tsp salt
– 85g unsalted butter, melted

Rum Syrup:
– 50g water
– 25g sugar
– 1 tbsp rum

Vanilla Beans Chantilly Cream:
– 200g pure cream
– 20g caster sugar
– 1 tsp vanilla beans paste

Decorations:
– LadyFingers dipped in Milk Chocolate
– Pistachio Praline
– Banana Pieces

Instructions:

Chocolate Sponge:
1. Preheat oven to 170C. Grease and line a 8inch cake pan and set aside.
2. Put eggs, sugar, honey, vanilla, extract in a mixing bowl and heat while whisking continuously on a Bain Marie (double boiler), until the mixture reaches 40C. With an electric mixer, whip the heated egg mixture with a whisk attachment on high speed until pale and fluffy to make sabayon (i.e. ribbon stage).
3. While the egg is whipping, sift cake flour, cocoa powder into a mixing bowl, and set aside.
4. Fold in the flour mixture into whipped egg mixture GENTLY with a spatula, until most four is not visible.
5. Put 2 tbsp of the cake batter into the melted butter, and mix until fully incorporated (this step is to let the butter attain a similar consistency with the cake batter, to ensure better incorporation). Then pour the butter mixture and the milk into the whole cake batter. Fold in gently until incorporated (do not over-mix to avoid knocking out all the air).
6. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan. Bake at 170C for 20-25 mins, until the cake spins back when you press on it gently.

Chocolate Crumbs (recipe by Christina Tosi):
1. Preheat oven to 150C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Put sugar, flour, cocoa powder, corn starch and salt in a mixing bowl. Mix with the paddle attachment on low speed for 3 mins.
3. Pour melted butter into it until buttery crumbs are just formed. Do not over-mix or it will turn into a paste.
4. Spread the crumbs evenly onto the prepared baking tray. Bake at 150C for 20-15 mins. Set aside until ready to use.

Milk Chocolate Mousse:
1. Melt chocolate on bain marie or by microwave. Let cool for 5 mins.
2. Put pure cream and melted chocolate in a mixing bowl, whisk by hand until soft peak. Set aside in fridge.

Rum Syrup:
1. Put water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring it to boil. Off heat and and add in the rum. Set aside until ready to use.

Vanilla beans Chantilly:
1. Put pure cream, caster sugar and vanilla bean paste into a mixing bowl, and whisk until medium peak. This step can be done after the cake has been refrigerated for at least 2 hours.

Assembly:
1. Cut the sponge evenly into two layers with a serrated knife. Use a 6-inch metal cake ring to cut off the edge of the cake and get two 6-inch cake sponge sheets.
2. Put one layer of cake sheet into 6-inch metal cake ring as the base. Brush some rum syrup onto the cake to make it moist.
3. Cut bananas to get 5-7 pieces of the same size (you should determine the length of the banana pieces by putting it onto the cake sheet, the top of the banana piece should be 1cm below the top of the cake ring). Place the bananas, while allowing gaps to insert the chocolate mousse, onto the cake sheet,
4. Fill up the gaps with the milk chocolate mousse and use a off-set spatula to smoothen the top. Sprinkles Chocolate crumbs onto the mousse evenly.
5. Place the second cake sheet on, press slightly to let it stick, and brush rum syrup on.
6. Wrap the cake with plastic and put in refrigerator to set for 2-3 hours.
7. When the cake is set, carefully lift up the meal cake ring. Dip Lady Fingers in melted chocolate and immediately stick on the side of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for 10 mins for the chocolate to set. Pipe chantilly cream and put on banana and pistachio praline to decorate. Enjoy!

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Paris Brest with Pistachio Praline Creme Patissiere Filling

This Paris Brest with Pistachio Praline Creme Patisserie Filling is a classic French dessert that’s made to impress – it has a airy choux pastry with a smooth, nutty pastry cream filling. For this version, I made my own pistachio praline (it’s easy, I promise!) and topped my choux with pearl sugar for some extra crunch. The fun fact about Paris Brest: it was created by chef Louis Durand in 1910 to celebrate a bicycle race from Paris to Brest with a traditional hazelnut praline cream filling. Its circular is to mimic the shape of the wheels.

I have written a detailed guide to making the perfect choux pastry for my charcoal black sesame cream puff – please refer to it if you feel like some extra help!

Hello my old friends, I AM BACK. If you’re here for the first time, welcome. This come back post means the world to me. Away from this blog for over 8 months, I have decided to come back and write about food and life. Over the past 10 months, I had been working as a junior pastry chef at a local bakery in Sydney. However hard it is to admit, I was constantly preoccupied with working in big commercial kitchens, and I gradually lost interest in pastry myself. Although I did gain a lot of skills and techniques at work (which I am incredibly grateful for), I felt stuck and I was mentally & physically exhausted; I lived like a zombie without purpose.

Good news is, my full-time work placement has come to an end lately, and I have some time to sit down and organise my thoughts. I’ve come to realise what I want for my career – I want to teach people how to make desserts, overcome their fears in the kitchen and essentially bring positive influence to the world through food.

Paris Brest with Pistachio Praline Creme Patissiere Filling

A little secret: Starting my own cake business and Youtube Channel has been my goal for quite some time, but somehow I constantly let self-doubt got the best of me. There’re millions of talented pastry chefs out there, and I realised my fear of failing had been my biggest obstacle. A friend of mine recently reminded me that EVERYONE FAILS at some point in their life, and it’s merely part of the process to be successful. It’s time to set aside all my worries and just start doing it. What I am going to gain in the coming months is totally unknown, but I hope to experiment as much as I can, fail as much as I need to, and just grow as I go. And I hope you all will here to witness and be part of my journey. 🙂

Ingredients:

Choux Pastry

  • 200g water
  • 200g milk
  • 8g sugar
  • 8g salt
  • 180g unsalted butter
  • 220g all purpose flour
  • 400g eggs

Pastry Cream

  • 450ml milk + 50ml milk 
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • 100g egg yolk
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 60g corn flour
  • 40g unsalted butter

Pistachio Praline

  • 1 cup pistachio
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water

Instructions:

Choux pastry 

  1. Preheat oven to 220C. Prepare a baking tray sprayed with cooking oil. Remove excess oil with a tissue paper. Set aside.
  2. Bring water, milk, salt, butter and sugar in a saucepan to a boil.
  3. Turn off heat, add all purpose flour all at once.
  4. Turn back on the stove to low heat, keep cooking while vigorously stirring with a big spoon for around 2-3 mins. It is ready when it forms a shiny, smooth dough that pulls away from the sides of the saucepan. You should see a skin forming at the bottom of the pan.
  5. Transfer the dough into a mixing bowl, and use paddle to beat on medium-high speed for around 10 mins to let cool.  Meanwhile, fully beat the eggs in a measuring cup and set aside.
  6. When the dough is cool to touch, beat the dough on medium-high speed and slowly add the eggs (only add around ¼ of the egg mixture each time). When the mixture is well combined and the eggs have been incorporated, add gradually another batch of the eggs mixture and continue beating. Repeat the process until the mixture is thick, shiny and it falls nicely when you lift it up with a scraper. (The amount of egg that you add will vary, depending on the weather or how much the flour absorbs moisture. You might have to add extra egg, or you might have some eggs to hold back.)
  7. Transfer the mixture into a piping bag topped with a star nozzle. Massage the bag with your hand to remove any air bubbles. Hold the bag and nozzle perpendicularly to the prepared tray, and pipe rounds of the desired size. Leave at least 4 cm in between each choux to allow space for expansion. Sprinkle chopped pistachio and pearl sugar on top if desired.
  8. Bake at 220C for 15 mins until risen up and golden. Lower the temperature to 160C, and open the oven door to release the steam for 15 seconds. Close the oven door and continue baking for 10-15 mins until the choux feels firm and dry.
  9. Place the choux in another tray to cool for 10 mins.
  10. Cut the top of the choux with a serrated knife, as the “cap” of the Paris brest. Do this step once your choux is cooled and firm enough to cut as it helps the moisture trapped inside to escape and prevent the choux from becoming soggy.
  11. Leave them at room temperature until ready to assemble.

Pastry Cream 

  1. Put 450ml milk and vanilla bean paste in a sauce pan and bring to boil. 
  2. While milk is being heated, add the remaining 50ml milk, egg yolks, caster sugar, corn flour in a mixing bowl, and mix with a whisk until a smooth paste is formed. 
  3. As soon as the milk starts to bubble, pour 2/3 of the milk, while continuously whisking, to the egg mix to temper the egg mix, then pour everything back to the sauce pan. 
  4. While whisking vigorously, heat the custard base over medium heat until it starts to thicken. Turn off the heat when the custard comes to a boil and starts to bubble. This should take around 2 mins. 
  5. Remove from heat, and whisk in the butter until completely incorporated. 
  6. Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cover the surface with plastic cling wrap (to prevent the formation of skin on the surface). Set aside in fridge until ready to use. 

Pistachio praline

  1. Line a baking tray with parchment paper, and spread pistachio evenly in a single layer on it. Set aside. 
  2. Put sugar and water in a small sauce pan on medium-high heat. Mix with a spatula to ensure no sugar lumps are stuck at the bottom. Boil the syrup over high heat without any stirring until it reaches a golden amber colour. (To avoid crystallisation of sugar, run a wet pastry brush around the inside of the pot once in a while) 
  3. Immediately pour the hot syrup (It’s extremely hot, be careful) over the pistachio. Set aside for 15-20mins for the caramel to set. 
  4. Break into small pieces and put in a food processor. Process the praline to a coarse crumb. Store in airtight container. 

Assembly:
To prepare the pistachio praline pastry cream, beat 500g pastry cream with a paddle on low speed until smooth, and add 50g pistachio praline. Mix until incorporated. To assemble, pipe cream in circular motion onto the base of the choux pastry and top it gently. 

5 comments
Yuen Yeung – Hong Kong Style Milk Tea & Coffee Panna Cotta with Flourless Chocolate Cake and Feuilletine

This stunning Hong Kong-inspired Milk Tea and Coffee Panna Cotta with Flourless Chocolate Cake is a winner – smooth and creamy in every bite as it harmoniously combines the flavours of coffee and milk tea!   

Yuen Yeung - Milk Tea Coffee Panna Cotta with Flourless Chocolate Cake3

 

The inspiration of this dessert comes from the famous, humble Yuen Yeung well beloved by all Hong Kongers. Yuen Yeung (in Cantonese pronunciation), commonly known as Kopi Cham in Malaysia, is a popular beverage in Hong Kong’s cha chaan teng. Mixing strong coffee and Hong Kong style milk tea in the right ratio, you get a sweet and creamy drink that’s perfect served either hot or cold.

I transformed the concept into a two-layer panna cotta with the addition of flourless chocolate cake and some golden feuilletine. I always like the idea of making panna cotta in a wine glass, well, maybe because to me the shine of the glass automatically elevates the look of the final result.  Am I right? 

Yuen Yeung - Milk Tea Coffee Panna Cotta with Flourless Chocolate Cake

Just a little update of my recent life – I’ve been working hard for my placement and my body apparently wasn’t used to the high physical demand from work and it crashed… So here I am, snuggling up in blanket resting, while writing this post after much delay.

 

Yuen Yeung - Milk Tea Coffee Panna Cotta with Flourless Chocolate Cake2

My friend mentioned the word “adulting” when we chatted a few days ago, and the word just hits me. I guess “adulting” is something that can only be understood when experienced yourself. After I got my full time job, my life has been so preoccupied that my days seem to be set on repeat. Workplace is so much different from school – at school, when you screw up, it is all expected and there’ll be teachers to correct you and show you the right ways to do things; but in workplace, you got more responsibility on your shoulders and when you screw up, you screw up. It makes me feel the need to pay more attention to details while multitasking in the kitchen. Well.. at the end of the day, one thing that doesn’t change is that pastry fuels me.

P.S And you might have noticed that the styling of this series of pictures is different from the rest. It is all thanks to my newly bought “photography box” with its own LED lights. It is an immense help to me with my busy schedule, in the sense that I no longer have to solely rely on the sunlight as my light source for my photoshoot! But obviously I still need to learn more about how to use it properly. I hope you will enjoy the recipe!

Ingredients:

Milk Tea Jelly

  • 20g caster sugar
  • 250g water
  • 5 black tea bags
  • 250g evaporated milk
  • 2 tsp gelatin
  • 50g cold water

Coffee Panna Cotta

  • 50g brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp instant coffee powder
  • 300g cream
  • 100g full-cream milk
  • 2 tsp gelatin
  • 50 g cold water

Flourless Chocolate Cake

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 60g brown sugar
  • 80g egg yolks
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 120g egg white
  • 140g almond meal

Notes:

  1. I created the layer effect by positioning the glass on a circular cutter in a way that the glass tilts. Therefore, before you start doing anything, make sure you have the right glass and a cutter that serves the purpose.
  2. The bottom layer has to set completely (which takes about 4 hours) before the second layer is poured in. So you need to plan ahead.

Directions:

Milk Tea Jelly

  1. Bloom the gelatin with cold water.
  2. Put caster sugar and water in a saucepan and bring it to a light boil. Turn the heat off. Put in the bloomed gelatin and mix with a whisk until completely dissolved.
  3. Put the tea bag into the water-gelatin mixture, and let the tea infuse for 20-30 mins. After the infusion, squeeze out all the liquid inside the tea bag before throwing them away.
  4. Add evaporated milk and mix gently.
  5. Pour the mixture into the glasses, and put the glass onto a circular cutter, and tilt it to an angle that you want. Keep in fridge to set for around 4 hours. (you can prepare the flourless chocolate cake meanwhile)

Coffee Panna Cotta

  1. Bloom the gelatin with cold water
  2. Put brown sugar, coffee powder, cream in a saucepan and bring it to a light boil. Turn the heat off. Put in the bloomed gelatin and mix with a whisk until completely dissolved.
  3. Add in the milk and mix gently. 
  4. When the milk tea jelly is set. Remove the cutter and pour the mixture into the glass. Keep in fridge to set for another 4 hours.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Note: as we are just using pieces of this chocolate cake as the topping, you can use whatever cake mould you want to suit your purposes. I used a 23cm square cake tin.

  1. Grease and line your cake tin. Set aisde. Preheat oven to 160C.
  2. Using a double boiler, melt butter. Add dark chocolate and whisk until completely melted. Remove from heat.
  3. Add in brown sugar and egg yolks. Whisk until incorporated. Set aside.
  4. Make meringue (soft peak) with egg whites and caster sugar.
  5. Fold ⅓ of the meringue into the chocolate mixture and combine well.
  6. Fold in the almond meal.
  7. Fold in the remaining ⅔ meringue into the mixture and combine well.
  8. Pour into the prepared cake tin. Bake at 160C for 45-50mins, or until a skewered inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Assembly:

  1. Take out some pieces from the flourless chocolate cakes with your hand and carefully put on top of the panna cotta. If desired, put some Feuilletine coated with gold lustre powder like I did.
  2. Enjoy the dessert cold.

 

2 comments
Golden Cube – Pistachio Petit Gateaux with Passionfruit Jelly and Milk Chocolate Coating

This indulgent Golden Cube is a dream come true (edible tho)- it has a nutty pistachio bavarois mousse, tangy sweet passionfruit jelly, and fluffy sponge, all covered with a layer of smooth milk chocolate coating dusted with gold powder. 

Pistachio Petit Gateaux with Passionfruit Jelly and Milk Chocolate Coating

Pistachio Petit Gateaux with Passionfruit Jelly and Milk Chocolate Coating3

After my school has officially finished, I recently went back home to relax and recharge myself before the commencement of my industry placement. I didn’t really bake much back home due to limited resources so I was so ready to storm the kitchen as soon as I am back in Sydney! In case you’re wondering, I will be working full-time for six months at Baked by Keiran, an Artisan Bakery/Patisserie in Dulwich Hill, Sydney. I have been working there part time for over a month now and I simply enjoy every moment of it despite the early hours. I guess getting up earlier than everyone else is just an inevitable part of being a pastry chef, right? Anyway, working there substantially equips me with knowledge about French patisserie as they make almost everything from scratch, which I absolutely respect. 

 

Pistachio Petit Gateaux with Passionfruit Jelly and Milk Chocolate Coating2

Back to the dessert itself, pistachio is my second favourite flavour (right behind mint chocolate) because of its unique exotic, nutty, sweet taste. To be honest, I don’t even know how to describe the taste of pistachio to do it justice. I personally think that the combination of pistachio and milk chocolate works well, because the creamy and milky note of milk chocolate complements the delicate flavour of pistachio. And the acidity of passionfruit jelly insert perfectly balances out the sweetness of other elements.

Pistachio Petit Gateaux with Passionfruit Jelly and Milk Chocolate Coating4

Pistachio Petit Gateaux with Passionfruit Jelly and Milk Chocolate Coating5

Making this kind of dessert, like many other instances in the pastry world indeed, requires a lot of patience because it requires a lot of chilling time for things to set properly in the freezer. Sometimes you simply can’t rush things to go quicker because you will risk ruining everything. Make sure you plan everything ahead so that you will have enough time to finish the product. When I made this, I also tried to multitask by making another dessert at once so I don’t get bored with the waiting time. Hope you enjoy the recipe. Cheers! 

The specific tools that I used for this recipe include:

  1. 15cm cake ring 
  2. 4cm circular cutter 
  3. 4cm half sphere silicone mould
  4. 5cm cube silicone mould 
  5. Toothpick 

Ingredients:

Sponge
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 45ml full-cream milk
  • 40g melted butter 
  • 4 egg white
  • 100g sugar 
  • 110g cake flour, sifted 
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder 
Passionfruit Jelly
  • 170g passionfruit pulp
  • 100ml warm water 
  • 4 tsp gelatine powder 
  • 100ml cold water (for blooming the gelatine powder)
Pistachio Bavarois
  • 100g egg yolk
  • 80g caster sugar 
  • 240ml milk
  • 240ml cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g pistachio paste 
  • 2 tsp gelatine powder 
  • 50ml cold water (for blooming the gelatine powder)
  • 400 pure cream, semi-whipped 
Milk Chocolate Pistachio Coating 
  • 400g milk chocolate
  • 80g vegetable oil (I used canola oil) 
  • 80g shelled pistachio, coarsely chopped 

Instructions:

Sponge
  1. Grease and line a 15-cm cake ring and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 175C.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine egg yolks, milk and melted butter with a whisk.
  4. Prepare sifted cake flour and baking powder in another bowl and set aside.
  5. Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk egg white on medium speed until foamy, then turn to high speed while slowly adding sugar. Continue whisking until the meringue reaches stiff peak.
  6. With a spatula, gently fold in the prepared cake flour and baking powder into the meringue. Try to retain as much air as you can while folding.
  7. Take out a little bit of meringue mixture and mix it with the egg yolk-butter mixture that you prepared earlier. Then fold it back to the whole meringue mixture. Gently mix with a spatula until everything is combined.
  8. Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake mould. Bake at 175C for 35-40 mins, or until stick inserted into centre comes out clean.
  9. Leave it in room temperature for 10 mins before handling. Take the cake from the cake mould and let cool completely. Using a serrated knife, cut the cake into 1-cm slices and put in freezer for 15 mins to firm up. You will need to use the slices from the middle part because they are softer and don’t have the skin.
  10. Using a 4-cm circular cutter, cut out 10 sponge circles from the cake slices for assembly.
Passionfruit Jelly
  1. Prepare a 4cm half-sphere silicone mould and set aside.
  2. Bloom gelatine powder with water and set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, bring passionfruit pulp and warm water to boil. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 mins.
  4. Stir in the bloomed gelatine and stir with a whisk until fully melted.
  5. Pour the jelly mixture to the silicone mould carefully.
  6. Put in freezer for 2-3 hours until completely set before unmoulding.
Pistachio Bavarois
  1. Bloom gelatine powder with water and set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, bring milk and cream to boil.
  3. While the milk and cream are heating up, whisk together egg yolk and sugar in a mixing bowl.
  4. As soon as the milk and cream are boiling, slowly pour them over the egg-sugar mixture while whisking it continuously.
  5. Pour the whole mixture to the saucepan and cook it like an anglaise on low heat while continuously stirring with a spatula (remember to scrap the bottom of the pan to prevent any sticking & burning).
  6. Once the mixture reaches 85C, remove from heat and strain it to another bowl to prevent further cooking.
  7. Stir in pistachio paste and vanilla with a whisk until fully incorporated.
  8. While the mixture is still hot, stir in the bloomed gelatine and mix until fully melted. Let cool.
  9. While the mixture is cooling, semi-whip the cream.
  10. Gently fold in the semi-whipped cream when the mixture is cooled to 40C.
Milk Chocolate Coating
  1. Using a double boiler or microwave, melt the milk chocolate. (If you’re using a microwave, please check every 15 secs and stir to avoid burning the chocolate)
  2. Whisk in vegetable oil until fully emulsified. You can use a stick blender for better emulsion.
  3. Add the chopped pistachio and mix.
  4. Transfer it to a rather narrow container that is deep enough to dip the bavarois in later on. Cover with cling wrap and set aside in room temperature until ready to use.
Assembly

Note: Mind that because I used a cube silicone mould, I could do it in the normal order instead of the upside down way because it wouldn’t affect the result. However, if you desire to use a different silicone mould, you may have to do it the upside down way. 

  1. Put the sponge circle in the centre of the silicone mould. 
  2. Then, put the passionfruit jelly on top of the sponge. Carefully pour in the pistachio bavarois into the mould until full. Remove any excess mousse with a small palette knife. Keep in the freezer for 6-8 hours or preferably overnight before unmoulding. 
  3. After all bavarois is unmoulded, place two toothpicks at either end of the bavarois and dip it in the milk chocolate coating until evenly coated. Gently place the bavarois to a cooling rack to allow the excess coating to drip off. Remove the toothpicks very carefully by twisting them. Store in fridge for 10-15 mins until the chocolate coating is set. Before serving, garnish with gold lustre powder. 
3 comments
Charcoal Dark Chocolate Cream Puff with Black Sesame Chantilly Cream and Tofu Creme Patissiere

It’s been a while everyone! I’ve spent some time to come up with this recipe with choux pastry,  because I want to make a cream puff, aka profiterole, that is out of the ordinary and surprise the person who eats it. This charcoal dark chocolate cream puff with black sesame cream chantilly and tofu creme patissiere is the one to impress your guests – it has a monochrome exterior with a multitude of flavours and textures layered between.

Charcoal Dark Chocolate Cream Puff with Black Sesame Chantilly Cream and Tofu Creme Patisserie4

Black sesame is one of my favourite asian flavours to use on desserts. It is used extensively in Asian sweets and sometimes savoury, as apparently its nutty and rich taste is quite addictive. Check out my Charcoal Black Sesame Cake Roll if you are also a fan of black sesame like me!

Charcoal Dark Chocolate Cream Puff with Black Sesame Chantilly Cream and Tofu Creme Patisserie5

 

To pair with the black sesame chantilly, I decided to use silken tofu for my creme patissiere that has a smooth texture and a subtle soybean note. If you don’t have immediate access to silken tofu, you may consider using soy milk instead. Also, I sneakily incorporated chocolate elements in my choux and craquelin (the “cracked skin” on top of the choux) because it is chocolate, period. And I may or may not have added some oreo biscuit at the bottom for some extra crunch as well.

Charcoal Dark Chocolate Cream Puff with Black Sesame Chantilly Cream and Tofu Creme Patisserie7

Making choux essentially involves two steps:

  1. Cook while constantly stirring flour, butter, water/milk, salt and sugar in a saucepan to form a panade.
  2. Add BEATEN eggs gradually until the right consistency is reached

If you aren’t experienced in making choux pastry, it can be a little bit tricky to pull off. You need to have enough practice to know how much eggs you should add to the panade to reach the desired consistency of choux pastry. When I first learnt how to make choux for eclair, I was told to incorporate the eggs by hand as I could have more control. However, I would say adding the eggs by hands is only suitable for a small recipe as it can be really exhausting. That said,if you are confident enough, feel free to use the machine right away! Just be mindful that a tiny extra amount of egg can make the choux too wet to pipe properly, and you might have to start all over again.

In short, your ideal choux pastry should have:

  1. A pipeable consistency, not too stiff or runny
  2. Proper sheen due to the additions of eggs  

If you are looking for a detailed explanation of how to make a perfect choux pastry, I recommend The Favour Blender’s How to Make Perfect Choux Pastry .

Charcoal Dark Chocolate Cream Puff with Black Sesame Chantilly Cream and Tofu Creme Patisserie2

Charcoal Dark Chocolate Cream Puff with Black Sesame Chantilly Cream and Tofu Creme Patisserie3

Another key to making choux is proper baking method. You need to be careful with temperature and time in order to get the signature “puff”.  The reason why cream puff got a hollow structure is that the liquid in the choux paste evaporates and the steam causes the choux to expand and puff up. To attain this result, I find it the best way is to bake at high temperature (180C) for around 25-30 mins to let it puff up, then lower the temperature (160C) for 10-15 mins to dry the cream puff. If the cream puff aren’t dry enough, they will absorb the moisture from the inside and become soggy after a while, which is obviously not ideal.

For me, a perfectly baked choux pastry should be:

  1. Deep golden brown in colour
  2. Crispy, light shell on the outside
  3. Soft and custard-like inside

Charcoal Dark Chocolate Cream Puff with Black Sesame Chantilly Cream and Tofu Creme Patisserie6

 

One more thing I should mention is the craquelin, i.e. the famous crunchy topping of choux pastry. A well made craquelin has a few purposes:

  1. it give additional texture to the choux pastry
  2. It is a way to introduce other colours and flavours
  3. It acts as a cover to control how the choux pastry expands in the oven upon heat, thus helping the choux to maintain the desired round shape  

You should remember that craquelin is always the first thing you should prepare, because it needs time to chill and firm up so it can be easily to handle and manipulate afterwards.

Charcoal Dark Chocolate Cream Puff with Black Sesame Chantilly Cream and Tofu Creme Patisserie

If you love making choux pastry please give this recipe a go! Otherwise, it is always a good thing to practise as practice makes perfect. I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

Ingredients: (make around 15 medium size cream puffs)

Charcoal Dark Chocolate Craquelin

  • 115g unsalted butter
  • 145g brown sugar
  • 145g all purpose flour
  • 25g almond meal
  • 25g melted chocolate
  • 1 tsp charcoal powder

Charcoal Dark Chocolate Choux Pastry

  • 125ml water
  • 125ml full cream milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 100g unsalted butter, chopped into small cubes
  • 75g all purpose flour
  • 75g baker flour
  • 30g dark chocolate, melted
  • 250g eggs (+/- 10%, variable)
  • 2 tsp charcoal powder

Black Sesame Chantilly (black sesame whipped cream)

  • 250ml pure cream
  • 40g black sesame paste
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp charcoal powder

Tofu Creme Patissiere (tofu pastry cream)

  • 300g silken tofu
  • 100ml milk
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 25g corn flour
  • 1 egg (50g)
  • 20g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp charcoal powder

Instructions:

Charcoal Dark Chocolate Craquelin

  1. Mix all ingredients together to make a short crust pastry.
  2. Flatten it into a rectangle. Cool in refrigerate for 15 mins.
  3. Roll out at 2mm thick and cut circles using a round cutter*
  4. The size of the cutter depends on how big you pipe your choux. Ideally, when placed on the uncooked choux puff, the craquelin should cover the whole choux to form a “hat”.
  5. Keep in refrigerator to firm up until ready to use.

Charcoal Dark Chocolate Choux Pastry

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Prepare a baking tray sprayed with cooking oil. Remove excess oil with a tissue paper. Set aside.
  2. Boil water, milk, salt, butter and sugar in a saucepan.
  3. Add all purpose flour, baker flour.
  4. Over low heat, keep cooking while vigorously stirring with a big spoon for around 3-4 mins. It is ready when it forms a shiny, smooth dough that pulls away from the sides of the saucepan. You should see a skin forming at the bottom of the pan.
  5. Add melted chocolate and charcoal powder. Mix well with a whisk until incorporated.
  6. Let cool in a mixing bowl for around 5 mins. Meanwhile, fully beat the eggs in a measuring cup and set aside.
  7. Using an electric mixer with a beater attachment, beat the dough on medium-high speed and slowly add the eggs (only add around ¼ of the egg mixture each time). When the mixture is well combined and the eggs have been incorporated, add gradually another batch of the eggs mixture and continue beating. Repeat the process until the mixture is thick, shiny and it falls nicely when you lift it up with a scraper. (The amount of egg that you add will vary, depending on the weather or how much the flour absorbs moisture. You might have to add extra egg, or you might have some eggs to hold back.)
  8. Transfer the mixture into a piping bag topped with a round nozzle. Massage the bag with your hand to remove any air bubbles. Hold the bag and nozzle perpendicularly tover the prepared tray, and pipe circles of the desired size. Leave at least 4 cm in between each choux to allow space for expansion.
  9. Take out the prepared cut craquelin and place gently onto the choux.
  10. Bake at 180C for 30-35 mins until risen up and golden. Lower the temperature to 160C, and open the oven door to release the steam for 15 seconds. Close the oven door and continue baking for 10-15 mins until the choux feels firm and dry.
  11. Place the choux in another tray to cool for 10 mins.
  12. Cut the top of the choux with a serrated knife, as the “cap” of the cream puff. Do this step once your choux is cooled and firm enough to cut as it helps the moisture trapped inside to escape and prevent the choux from becoming soggy.
  13. Leave them at room temperature until ready to assemble.

Black Sesame Chantilly Cream (black sesame whipped cream)

  1. If your black sesame is refrigerated and too stiff, microwave it for 10-15 seconds to make it soft. Otherwise, go straight to step 2.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the pure cream and sugar to soft peak.
  3. Fold in black sesame paste and charcoal powder until well mixed.
  4. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Tofu Creme Patissiere (tofu pastry cream)

  1. Drain water from silken tofu. Blend the tofu until completely smooth. Mix in milk, set aside.
  2. Beat caster sugar, egg, and corn flour with a whisk in a mixing bowl, until pale.
  3. Heat the tofu-milk mixture in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Bring to a boil.
  4. Gradually add the tofu-milk mixture while whisking into the egg mixture until incorporated. This step is to temper the egg.
  5. Pour the whole mixture back to the saucepan to continue cooking. Add charcoal powder. Stirring with a whisk all the time until the mixture starts to thick and form bubbles. Heat off, whisk in butter. 
  6. Let the pastry cream cool in a mixing bowl. Use a plastic wrap to cover the surface of the pastry cream to avoid skin from forming.

Assembly:

  1. Whisk the tofu creme patissiere until smooth and transfer it to a piping bag topped with a round nozzle. Pipe into the cream puff until full. Smoothen the surface with a small palette knife.
  2. Transfer the black sesame chantilly cream to a piping bag topped with a star nozzle. Pipe on top of the cream puff.
  3. Cover with the craquelin “cap” that you previously cut. Do it gently so not to squash the chantilly crema underneath.
  4. Optional: chocolate decoration with black lustre powder.  

 

3 comments
Honey Lemon Cupcake with Yuzu Swiss Meringue Buttercream and Honeycomb

These honey lemon cupcakes with yuzu swiss meringue buttercream are heavenly –  light, refreshing and full of citrus flavour – and the additional homemade honeycomb on top gives you a perfect sweet crunch when you bite into it.

Honey Lemon Cupcake with Yuzu Swiss Meringue Buttercream and Honeycomb2

Honey Lemon Cupcake with Yuzu Swiss Meringue Buttercream and Honeycomb3

 

 

I’ve always wanted to try to make desserts with yuzu because i just find it has a floral, citrus aroma that makes it so special among all the citrus. It might still not be a popular item in western countries, but it has always been part of asian culinary culture, especially in Korea and Japan. Yuzu fruits are not readily available in Australia, and I had been on the search of yuzu puree/juice for a while. That said, feeling exhilarated is probably an understatement the moment i saw it on an asian store’s shelf a couple of weeks ago. In this recipe, the subtle incorporation of lemon and honey is just to complement, if not enhance, the yuzu flavour, which is the hero of these cupcakes.

Honey Lemon Cupcake with Yuzu Swiss Meringue Buttercream and Honeycomb1

Honey Lemon Cupcake with Yuzu Swiss Meringue Buttercream and Honeycomb5

So I guess I should do a little update of my school life here.

TIME DOES FLY. I am now in the superior level – the third and final stage of my certificate III of Patisserie @ Le Cordon Bleu Sydney. During this term, we are focusing more on marzipan, mousse-based cake and entremets (basically, entremet refers to multi-layer mousse cake of various flavour combination and textures). I used to feel terrified of making entremets as the timing was so tight to complete an entremet within a 3.5-hour practical class and my cakes were usually not frozen solid enough for the final glazing. However, as I got to practise more, I’ve learnt to organise better and work faster in the kitchen and I start to feel more in control of things. The cakes that I share below are two of my favourite entremets made at school. The first one is passionfruit and white chocolate entremet that taste luxurious from top to bottom, and the second one is gianduja entremet bursting with tropical flavours.

passonfruit and white chocolate entremet

passionfruit and white chocolate entremet

gianduja entremet1

gianduja entremet

Next week, we are going to have a trial of making our own entremet for our final assessment. It’s the time for all students to show what they’ve learnt in the past nine months and I can’t wait to test my ideas and bring my design into life! Enjoy your weekend!

Honey Lemon Cupcake with Yuzu Swiss Meringue Buttercream and Honeycomb4

Ingredients:

For the cupcake

  • 190g all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 130g butter, softened
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 30g honey
  • 2 whole eggs, room temperature
  • 120ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 lemon, zest of

For the yuzu swiss meringue buttercream

  • 150g egg whites (around 5 eggs’ worth)
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 280g butter, softened and chopped into small cubes
  • 3 tbsp yuzu juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For honey comb

  • 300g granulated sugar
  • 150g honey
  • 80ml water
  • 50g golden syrup
  • 1 tbsp baking soda

Instructions:

For the honey lemon cupcake

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175C) . Line pans with cupcake liners.
  2. In a mixing bowl, sift and combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. These are your dry ingredients. Set aside.  
  3. In another mixing bowl, using a hand-held mixer or an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, beat butter, honey, sugar, and lemon zest on medium high speed until creamy and smooth. This will take around 4-5 mins.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, and continue beating for 1 min. Add milk and vanilla. Continue beating for 30 secs.
  5. In 3 batches, pour the prepared dry ingredients into the mixture, and gently stir with a spatula until incorporated. Don’t overmix.
  6. Fill cupcake liners to nearly full and bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the cupcake’s centre comes out clean.

For the yuzu Swiss meringue buttercream

  1. Add  egg whites and sugar to an oil-free bowl. Using a double boiling method, gently heat the egg whites mixture up, while whisking constantly, until temperature reaches 140F (60C).  The sugar should have completely dissolved at this stage.
  2. Add the hot egg white-sugar mixture to your electric mixer mixing bowl (oil-free). Whip on high speed until the meringue is thick and glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels cool (this is very important, otherwise the butter you’re about to add it will melt). This will take about 7-10 mins.
  3. Turn to medium-low speed, gradually add the softened butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated. Continue beating until a silky smooth texture is reached. Add yuzu juice and salt, and beat until well combined. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

For the honeycomb

  1. Line a flat, big tray with parchment paper. Set aside until ready to use. And you will need a sugar thermometer.
  2. Put sugar, honey, water, and golden syrup in a large saucepan with enough depth. Cook, while stirring continuously with a spatula, on low heat until all sugar dissolves.
  3. Increase the heat to medium high and bring to boil. Cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 154C on the thermometer. Immediately remove from heat and let the bubbles subside.
  4. Add the baking soda and mix thoroughly to let the reaction occur. Many bubbles will form and the mixture will rise so please be careful. Pour the mixture onto the prepared tray and set aside to cool completely.
  5. Break the honeycomb to pieces to your preferences.

Assemble

  1. Pipe the buttercream on top of each cupcake with your favourite nozzle, and top with honey comb pieces.

 

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