tuile sandwiches w/ strawberry ganache

IMAG0695[1]Life doesn’t get any better than free chocolate. Add that to one of the reasons why Tuesdays are ∞ better than Mondays. It was as if the goddess of replenishment took pity on my post-gross-anatomy-prac hunger and arranged for a fateful meeting between me and the lolly buffet stand.

Recall that I wanted to make Milan cookies a few days ago, I still did but was reminded of my abysmal piping skills and was sure they would not resemble the ones I so liked and would single out of engagement biscuit tins. So I went for tuiles – they can be more freeform and use more or less the same ingredients. But I still wanted to fill them up with sinfully sweet ganache, in this case a strawberry-white chocolate combo. I can’t seem to refuse this match made in heaven, of the way the tartness of the strawberries cut through the intense sweetness of white chocolate.

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I literally stuffed 10+ tuiles straight into my mouth as soon as they came out of the oven and crisped up some. How can something made only with butter, sugar, egg whites and flour taste so good!? Addictive doesn’t even cut it.

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Tuiles with strawberry-white chocolate ganache

For the tuiles:
65g butter, room temperature
118g pure icing sugar, sifted
2 (80mL) egg whites, room temperature
43g plain flour, sifted
1/2 tsp almond (or any other) extract, optional

For the ganache:
130 white chocolate
34g butter
23g cream
86g strawberry puree, sieved

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line baking trays (I use teflon-coated baking sheets which are way cheaper than Silpats and have lasted for years).

Beat the butter until creamy then add in the sugar and beat some more on mid-high speed until white in colour. While mixing on low speed, pour in the lightly whisked egg whites little by little to emulsify completely. Then add in flavouring if desired and fold in the flour either by hand or on low speed.

Fill a piping bag with a <1cm round tip with the batter and pipe out 2cm diameter rounds, at least 3cm apart as they will spread very thinly. Bake for approx. 10 minutes or until golden all the way through (not just edges). They will be quite soft and malleable straight out of the oven, so if you like you can shape them while they’re warm. Otherwise let cool to crisp up completely before lifting them out.

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To make the ganache, melt the chocolate gently in warm water/over a bain marie/in the microwave and set aside. Boil together the cream and strawberry puree, then pour into the chocolate. Let the mixture sit for a minute then stir together to incorporate. While it’s still warm add in the butter (in small pieces) and stir to melt and combine. Let it come to room temperature to firm up to pipeable consistency and pipe/spoon it on half of the cookies. Sandwich similar sized pieces together and enjoy!

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rare cheesecake w/ caramelised white chocolate

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Today I backed out of two things I originally had semi-plans for. It seems to be a recurring pattern in my behaviour to look forward to a set due date then lose interest in the wait and regret not doing it in the future. Initiative I have, resolve no.

Initially I wanted to make Milan(o) cookies, like those I used to pick out of biscuit tins. On second thought, cheesecake sounded even better and I decided on one of my favourite blogs dailydelicious’ recipe for a rare yogurt cheesecake. For all the effort saved on breaking out the stand mixer and baking, I wanted to go the extra mile and adorn the top with caramelised white chocolate swirls.

All through the mixing of the batter, everything was running smoothly (literally). I baked the base, poured in the batter, gave it my blessings and sent it off to the fridge. Then I started to caramelise the white chocolate, something I’d heard endless raves and praise about but had yet to experience the euphoria myself, things went slightly downhill. Near the 20 minute mark, instead of gaining a deeper colour uniformly, it started seizing and clumping and caramelising at random spots.

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I gave it more time, and could not revive it back to the smooth glorious caramel I’d seen on others’ blogs even after a whole hour. I was sad and wanted to cry and tasted a bit of the clumpy mess. It was exactly as the name promised, a lovechild of white chocolate and caramel. It was awesome and took all my will not to go in for more spoonfuls. I added a bit of cream, sprinkled in salt and sieved out the clumps and out came yummy-golden-gooey caramel.

Now that that’s been rescued, by the time it look for me to confirm that it definitely wasn’t going to smooth out in the oven the cheesecake itself had mostly set. So adieu to swirlage. What difference did it make if I just spread it all on top? After all when it’s eaten the elements would combine anyway. So I proceeded and let it set up completely. Then the second bit of disaster happened when I tried to unmold it from the tin, the cake slipped off and landed upside down on the countertop. Yup. I may have cursed out loud. Thankfully the cheesecake itself was set and didn’t fall apart too much and only a part of the topping was sacrificed.

It tasted great, despite all the misfires. Light in texture and taste with a slight tang of the orange zest I decided to add in to complement the almondy base. Quite a departure from the sticky mouthfeel and guilty pleasure of a baked cheesecake.

Rare cheesecake w/ caramelised white chocolate

For the cheesecake:
Follow dailydelicious’ recipe and instructions

For the caramelised white chocolate:
Follow Poires au Chocolat’s tutorial

For the biscuit base:
18g almond meal
25g granulated sugar
47g flour
40g cold diced butter

Preheat the oven to 170C/340F. Line the sides and base of a 5-6″ springform tin.

Mix the almond meal, sugar and flour together and add in the small pieces of cold butter. Rub the butter in with your fingers until no visible lumps of butter remain. Work quickly to avoid melting the butter. Alternatively use a pastry blender or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.

Tip the mixture into the prepared tin (both sides and base lined) and press into the sides and base compactly. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden and crisp.

strawberry-white chocolate éclairs

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In celebration of 3 (!!) of my classmates’ birthdays, I decided to make some long overdue choux pastry. Crisp thin shell coupled with rich creamy mousseline-like filling, what’s not to like?

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Until last year, I hadn’t had a lot of success with choux pastry. Not the actual making of it, but the baking. It would always collapse, the insides gummy and soggy, not what you’d call a picture perfect pastry. One day I accidentally left some puffs in the oven after turning it off, and when I pulled them out, dreading to see a pile of ash terribly burned puffs, they were perfect. Golden brown, hollow sound on tapping. I was ecstatic. A longer baking time was all that was required to produce these delectable treats.

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Is it weird that I always get hungry looking at gross anatomy specimens? And it’s not just me, I’ve checked. Maybe something to do with how processed muscles literally 100% resemble pulled pork. Today was the first time I held a human brain in my hands in all its slippery glory, with bonus spinal cord. Just think about it, a once alive person’s memories, all of it, preserved and sacred.

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Strawberry-white chocolate éclairs

For the choux pastry:
50g water
50g milk
50g butter
pinch of salt
1 tsp sugar
60g bread flour (for best results, but all-purpose is also fine)
2 large eggs, lightly whisked

For the strawberry-white chocolate filling:
125g strawberries, hulled & washed
20g milk
1 egg
50g caster sugar
15g cornflour
35g white chocolate, chopped finely
100g heavy cream
10g caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F and line a baking tray. Measure out the ingredients for the choux beforehand and have the flour ready by the stove.

Melt the butter with milk, water, salt and sugar and bring to the boil. As soon as it starts to boil, turn off the heat and tip in all of the flour at once. Stir it in and turn the heat back on to low, work the dough vigorously so there are no flour clumps. When a thin film is formed at the bottom of the pan, turn off the heat and set it to the side to cool completely.

When the dough has cooled, beat in the eggs a little at a time. When the egg has been absorbed completely, add in more until the batter hangs off the spatula/spoon/whisk in an upside down triangle sort of shape. (i.e. neither drippy nor stiff) You may need more/less egg depending on how long the dough was cooked, so only incorporate a little at a time and check the consistency constantly.

Fill a piping bag fitted with any > 1cm tip with the batter, and pipe out any type of choux pastry you fancy. There was enough for me to make 13 smallish éclairs and 9 profiteroles.

Bake for about 20 minutes until they are golden brown and sound hollow when lightly tapped. Leave to cool completely.

In the meantime blend the strawberries with milk and sieve out the seeds straight into a pot. Whisk the egg and 50g sugar until pale and thick, then add the cornflour and whisk to incorporate. Bring the strawberry mixture to a simmer, and pour the hot liquid a little at a time into the egg mixture, whisking the latter constantly to avoid scrambling. Once all the liquid is poured from the pot, put the entire mixture back in to the pot on medium heat, whisking all the time. Let bubble for about 2 minutes (still whisking) until thick.

In a heatproof container place the chopped white chocolate, and pour in the hot strawberry pastry cream directly on top (strain the pastry cream first if lumpy). Stir until the chocolate has melted and put clingfilm directly on top of the pastry cream before putting it in the fridge to chill completely.

Whip up the cream with 10g sugar until soft peaks form, then fold it through the chilled strawberry pastry cream. Put it into a piping bag with a small tip and fill up the hollow shells. Pretend to overfill a couple and deliver straight to your mouth (I know I did). Serve the rest as soon as they’re filled.

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