A Belated Anniversary with Vanilla Choux

Blogging is a great leisure that I can't afford much at the moment, not that I'm complaning, because I'm very busy these days doing things I enjoy a lot, but I do miss coming here, writing a few lines and sending it into the world wide web.
The funny thing is that I actually cook and bake quite a lot, but I just forget to take pictures, or tried recipes that I would like to improve, and I don't always find the time to give it a second go.

The belated birthday mentionned, is actually of this blog, which celebrated it's third birthday on the 1st of May. It didn't slip my mind, but it didn't fit into my schedule either. My pupp got neutered and I had to put her a pyjama on and feed her her medicine, which believe me, was no piece of cake! (no pun intended)

As my first love goes to baking, I prefer to celebrate anniversary with a dessert. I've been practising my choux pastry skills these days, and wanted to share this recipe with you.

Making choux pastry isn't that difficult, the difficult part is more about cooking them right. Haven't we all seen our choux rise in the oven beautifully, thinking they are done, taking them out of the oven, to see them crumble and flatten miserably (raise your hand if this sounds familiar *raising hand*).

The choux pastry really needs to dry out, to be able to hold well even out of the oven. The recommended cooking time on the recipes are never enough with my oven, I sometimes have to double it. So once again, know your oven!

Choux Pastry with Vanilla Filling (from chefsimon.com)

for about 40 choux

choux pastry

25cl Water
80gr Butter
3 Eggs
150gr Flour
A pinch of salt

In a sauce pan, on a medium heat, put the water and the butter with the pinch of salt. When the butter is melted, take the pan away from the fire and pour in the flour in one go. Using a wooden spoon, start combining both until you get a ball of dough. Put the pan with the dough back on the fire, and "dry" it out a little more, until it leaves some "traces" at the bottom of the pan.

Preheat your oven to 200°C (no fan).

Now starts the hard work if you don't have a standing mixer. You have to incorporate the egg, one by one, and wait until it's smooth again to add the next one. Normally 3 should do, but check by putting one finger on the dough, it should come out with some dough on it, with the shape of a beak.

Pipe your choux while the dough is still luke warm, don't place them to close to one another. You can press down the little beak you get from piping with a wet finger.

Place your choux in the oven for about 20 minutes (in my oven it's more 35) until they have risen nicely and have a golden color, at that point you can open the oven door (to let the steam out) lower the temperature to 170°C, close the oven door again and cook for 5 more minutes.
Check in the oven, I personnaly turn a choux up side down, to check if the bottom is dry, if so I take them out of the oven to let them cool.

Using a smal sharp knife, pierce a hole at the bottom of each choux to fill them more easily later.

Vanilla Cream (crème Diplomate)

1/2 Liter of Milk
1 Vanilla Bean
5 Egg Yolks
3 Sheets of Gelatin
50gr of Flour
20gr of Cornstarch
100gr Sugar
20cl of Cream

Heat up the milk with the vanilla bean split in half and its seeds scratched out into the milk.

In a bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until you have something smooth. Had the flour and cornstarch that you have sieved into this. Combine well, you don't want lumps.

In a bowl of cold water, place yout sheet of gelatin.

Add half of the milk (with the vanilla bean taken out) to the egg mixture and whisk together. You can pour that back into the sauce pan with the rest of the milk and place it on a medium heat and keep whisking. After a few minutes it's going to thicken to a consistant cream.
Add the soften sheet of gelatin that you have pressed in your hands to remove as much water as you can, keep stirring for the galetin to disolve and set aside.

In order not to have a "skin" on top of you cream, you butter the surface or put saran wrap right on top of it. Let it cool down a little.

In the mean time, take the cream out of the fridge (it has to be cold) and whisk it to whipped cream, that you can add carefully to the previous preparation, just be carefull that it's cool enough.

Using a pipping bag with a "seringue" nozzle, you can fill each choux individually and place them in the fridge a couple of hours to let the cream set.

As on the picture you can serve with a chocolate sauce, or a caramel one, depending on your taste.


Pear Almond Tart, a come back to blogging

Yes, I'm still alive (in case you were wondering) and I'm sorry I've been quiet for so long. A lot a things have been happening since the end of last year, some include me moving boxes, painting walls and building up swedish furniture. Normally this shouldn't prevent me from blogging, but there's been an additional factor: I've got a new partner in crime, let me introduce you to Einstein, my lovely, very fast growing girl puppy.

To anyone who has ever got a puppy, you know how it is: getting up at night, cleaning up a lot of mess and trying to teach the little one a few things as she grows. Don't worry this blog is not going to be about all the cute stories about my dog (though you might get to hear a few) or recipe of what to cook to your dog. This is still a cooking blog, and I did spend only little time cooking, but I'm still in charge of sunday's dessert, so there's been some (easy) baking going on.

This recipe has been done once before and works really well, it has a funny name in french "tarte bourdaloue" (based on the name of the street where a baker created this recipe in Paris, apparently) and it's a pear pie with an almond cream called "frangipane", you can serve it just like that, but I'm sure a version "à la mode" (with ice cream) would be lovely too.

Pear and Almond Cream Tart

For a 27cm pie dish

Pie dough

200gr of Butter at room temperature
300gr of Flour
A pinch of Salt
4 Tablespoons of Sugar
Cold Water

Almond Cream

120gr of Butter at room temperature
2 Eggs
120gr of Sugar
160gr of Ground Almonds

1 Can of Pears

In a bowl, place the flour and make a well in the middle, add the sugar, salt and cut the butter in little cubes and place it in the well aswell. Start rubbing the flour with the butter together to combime them, add the cold water slowly to make a dough. Place on your working surface with a bit of flour and work quickly to combine and set aside for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C.

To make the almond cream, in a bowl combine the eggs and the butter, beat with the sugar to make it smooth and than add the ground almonds. Set side.

Roll out the dough (you will have some extra left) and place it in your pie dish. Spread out the almond cream evenly on top. Cut the pears in slices, but not all the way to the top to fan them out on the almond cream.

Place in the oven for 30 minutes. Leave it to cool before serving.