Conchas!!

I would like to mark down March 10th, 2019 as a very special day in my life calendar, because it was the day that I made my first Concha, and I can already tell that we will have a long and happy life together. Also called Pan Dulce, these beautiful works of art are a Mexican bakery staple known for their intricately patterned tops, often resembling the swirl of a shell. A concha consists of two parts: a sweet cinnamon roll, and a crisp, colored (and sometimes flavored) streusel-like topping, which forms the crackly pattern on top. Whenever I used to come across pictures of these, I just assumed that some kind of baking pan or stamp was required and so I never really gave it much more thought. THEN, I came across this recipe from A Cozy Kitchen, and suddenly they were so attainable!!! No stamp needed, just a pairing knife, a steady hand, and some patience, and since I have two of those things, I once again took a bread-making quest that paid of incredibly well!

Almost as soon as you start this recipe, you will start to wonder why no one has managed to make a candle that can capture this scent exactly. No offense but the combination of fresh bread and cinnamon is the only thing that matters in this world. Truly. Anyway, if you thought these treats couldn’t get any better, boy do I have news for you! Something that is very fun and special about this recipe is that it’s totally customizable! By mixing different flavors and colors into your streusel topping, you are opening up so many possibilities here! You can add cocoa powder for a hint of chocolate, lemon zest, freeze dried berries, or combine several food colors for a rainbow pattern, and it’s 100% up to you! I kept mine on the simpler side for my first try, and used a red gel food coloring to give my Conchas a bright pink finish. From there, you could follow the traditional concha shaped top by cutting a shell pattern into the top (the bun rises and expands while baking to form the crackled top that these are known for), but you can also add concentric circles, stripes, grids, or any number of patterns and see how they turn out!

Before we get started, let’s all take a moment to appreciate these 5 things to be happy about today:
ONE. Falling asleep in the car on the way home from a long day.
TWO. Using something you had been saving for a special occasion.
THREE. An evening of zero productivity.
FOUR. An evening of extreme productivity.
FIVE. Asking for a booth at the restaurant.

 

MAKES: 12 buns with topping
PREP TIME: 30 minutes
RISING TIME: 2½ hours (divided)
BAKE TIME: 18-20 minutes

DOUGH INGREDIENTS

3 Tbsp. warm water
2½ tsp active dry yeast
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/3 white sugar
¾ cup evaporated milk
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs, at room temperature
4 cups all purpose flour

TOPPING INGREDIENTS

½ cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup white sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
Gel food coloring of your choice or 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder

STEPS

ONE. Warm the bowl of your stand mixer by filling it with hot water and letting it sit for a minute. This will allow you to add warm water with the yeast and not have the heat change when it touches the cold metal bowl. Once the bowl is warmed, remove that water and add in the 3 tablespoons of warm water and yeast. Allow the yeast to bloom and get foamy, about 5-7 minutes. If it doesn’t foam up, your water was either too hot or too cold, or the yeast is no good, so you’ll have to start over.

TWO. When the yeast is ready, add in the oil, melted (and slightly cooled!) butter, sugar, evaporated milk, salt, vanilla, cinnamon, and eggs. Using the dough hook attachment, mix until the eggs are slightly broken up and everything is incorporated.

THREE. Add the flour all at once, and mix the dough on medium speed for about 5 minutes, until the dough is soft and smooth, and a little sticky. Coat a large bowl with oil or cooking spray and transfer the dough. Cover with a towel and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for an hour, or until it has doubled in size.

FOUR. While your dough is rising, you can make the buttery streusel topping! Mix all the ingredients in your stand mixer until smooth and incorporated, then decide whether you want the topping to be chocolate (add the 2 tablespoons of cocoa) or colored (add gel food coloring of your choice!), or both! I went for pink this time but you can do whatever you want! Scoop out about a tablespoon’s worth of topping for each bun, I did this ahead of time so that the topping was ready when the bread was!

FIVE. After the bread dough has doubled, turn it out onto a baking mat or countertop and section it into 12 rolls. If you want to weigh them individually so that they’re even, you can, but I just eyeballed it. Shape them by hand into uniform, round buns and place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

SIX. Take each topping round and flatten it into a disk in your palms, then lay it over the top of each bun so that the top is totally covered. Repeat for all. Using a pairing knife, cut some patterns into the top- you can research some of the more traditional patterns here, but you can also do whatever you feel like! When all designs are done, cover the whole tray with a towel and allow the buns to rise again for another 30 minutes, until doubled in size again. Preheat your oven to 350ºF halfway through this second rise.

SEVEN. Bake the buns for 18-20 minutes, until they are lightly golden and the topping has spread into the classic concha shape. Best eaten soon after baking, with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate!!

YAY! xoxoxoxD

 

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Spaghetti al Limone

If you remember last week’s post, I mentioned that I have recently been introduced to the world of Bon Appetit Test Kitchen videos, and I can’t believe I survived this long without them honestly. Aside from being incredibly informative, they’re so wholesome and everyone is super lovely and nice to each other and I love it so much.

Of the test kitchen chefs, I keep finding myself going back to the videos done by Molly Baz, because they’re simple in procedure, but packed with flavor, also I’m fascinated by her collection of cross-back aprons. So much so that I definitely also bought one and I’m in LOVE with it. But anyway, back to food because that’s why we’re here, this recipe comes from Molly herself (original can be found here), and it’s literally so good that the first time I made it I gasped out loud. I’m not kidding!! It’s rich and cheesy like a fettucine alfredo, but with a bright zing of lemon so that it doesn’t feel heavy, it’s a dream come true. Plus it’s done in under half an hour so what more could you possibly want from a pasta dish??

Because I can barely contain my excitement, we’ll get right to it, but not before I give you five things to be happy about today!
ONE. A book so gripping that you read it from start to finish in one sitting, well into the night.
TWO. Iced coffee with coffee ice cubes.
THREE. A three day weekend.
FOUR. Drinks served in mason jars.
FIVE. Clothes that you can wear from winter to spring.

Let’s cook!!
SERVES: 3-4 people
PREP TIME: 10 minutes
COOK TIME: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1 lemon
12 oz. thick spaghetti
Kosher salt
¾ cup heavy cream
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
¾ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
Fresh ground black pepper

STEPS

ONE. Before starting, place your pot of water on the stove to boil, so that it’s ready when you are. Set out all of your ingredients in their correct measurements (called a mise en place!) because once you get started, you won’t have time to stop and grate cheese or juice a lemon on the go.

Waste not! We use this whoooooole lemon!

TWO. Using a vegetable peeler, cut one wide strip of the lemon peel and slice it into thin strips and set aside (this will be a garnish for later!). Zest the remaining peel of the lemon into a dutch oven or large saucepan, then juice the same lemon and reserve 2 tablespoons of juice.

THREE. Pour the cream into the dutch oven with the lemon zest, and cook on medium heat until the cream is heated through and just about to simmer. *Start cooking your pasta now!* Lower the heat and whisk in your butter, one tablespoon at a time, until the sauce is creamy and emulsified, then remove the pot from the heat.

FOUR. When your pasta is very al dente, about 3 minutes earlier than the package instructions, scoop out 1½ cups of pasta cooking water, and add ¾ cup to the cream sauce. Transfer your pasta to the sauce pot using a pair of tongs (it’s okay if some pasta water drips in as well), and return to medium heat. Cook the pasta for 3 minutes, adding the parmesan cheese gradually until all the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth and glossy. Feel free to add more pasta water a tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached. Stir in the reserved lemon juice now, and season with salt and pepper as needed.

FIVE. To serve, swirl a generous pile of pasta onto the plate, garnish with more fresh black pepper, and the reserved lemon peel strips. Enjoy!!!

xoxoxoxoxoD

Classic Popovers

Ooooooh you guys, I can’t believe I ever forgot about how good popovers are. They are literally so simple to make and you can eat them with dinner, with a cup of tea, or several at a time while they’re warm and crisp right out of the oven. I came across this recipe from Zoe Bakes and sprang into action, immediately ordering a popover pan from Amazon. Naturally because I’m me, the pan sat on my kitchen table for several days after arriving before I did anything about it, but goodness am I glad that I did.

For those who are unfamiliar with popovers, they’re the lightest, puffiest little pastries, practically hollow on the inside (perfect for filling with jam and butter), with the most comforting crisp outside and eggy inside. They are typically baked in a pan made specifically for popovers (I bought this one here), but I have read that you can also make them in a regular muffin tin, you may just have to play around with the baking times and how much you fill each cup. They are best eaten fresh out of the oven, but I still found myself reheating a leftover until it was crisp in the oven because I couldn’t bear to let it go to waste.

On this particular baking adventure, I brought my dear friend Michelle, who I have known for years and often share a brain with, it feels like. We baked 12 popovers and then she introduced me to the world of Bon Appetit Test Kitchen cooking videos and suddenly they are the only thing I care about watching (Bon Appetit, if you’re reading this, hire me pls). It’s always so inspiring to watch professionals pulling together recipes as they go, and being able to hear about the thought process and reasoning behind certain flavor combinations or techniques teaches me so much. Also, everyone is so lovely and hilarious and I think I’ve gone through every episode of It’s Alive! with Brad Leone to exist. It’s in your best interest to head over to YouTube right now and maybe binge it, it’s better than regular binge watching because it’s informative, right?? Okay now that I’m done fangirling about that, we can get down to business, thanks for sticking with me.

Here are 5 things to be happy about today!
ONE. The half-light of evening.
TWO.
Postcard views.
THREE.
The green shoots of new plants.
FOUR. 
Frolicking.
FIVE. Cake mix.

Let’s bake!

MAKES: 12 medium (or 6 large) popovers
PREP TIME: 10 minutes
BAKE TIME: 35-40 minutes

 INGREDIENTS

5 eggs
2 cups whole milk
1½ cups all-purpose flour
Kosher salt
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
Softened butter, for pans

STEPS

ONE. Preheat your oven to 400ºF. Blend together the eggs, milk, flour, salt, melted butter, and vanilla so that it’s totally smooth and a little bubbly.

TWO. Brush your popover pan with the softened butter and place in the preheated oven until the butter is melted and the pans are hot.

THREE. Pour the batter into each cup ¾ of the way full, and bake for 15 minutes, until golden and puffed up. At this point, decrease the temperature to 350ºF without opening the oven door. Bake for an additional 20 minutes, until the color is deep golden.

FOUR. Tap the popovers out of the pan immediately so that they remain crisp and don’t steam. Best served immediately.

*Tip: it’s pretty easy to change up the flavor of these, whether you stir finely shredded cheddar cheese and some green onions into the batter, or you brush the finished popovers with melted butter and roll them in cinnamon sugar, it’s totally up to you!! Pls note that if you’re going savory, remove the vanilla extract!

 

Funfetti Macarons

I’m gonna cut right to the chase here and tell you that I’m a basic bitch who loooooves funfetti baked goods. There’s something so cutie about the rainbow sprinkles that I keep coming back to it even though it tastes literally no different than classic vanilla. And because it’s a proven fact that french macarons are the world’s cutest dessert, why not take the next step and funfetti-ify them!! Now that I type funfetti-ify I realize that it has become my favorite word and I WILL be using it as much as possible, thank you very much.

I was home alone for a handful of days this week, and because I have too much time on my hands, I made an extra large batch of these babies. If left to my own devices I would have eaten all 40 myself, but because I’m an adult and I need some self-control, I brought the rest into work, where they were GONE by the end of the day, so I think I passed the co-worker test with flying colors. But now it’s time for the reader test, so quick! First person to make these themselves wins all my love and affection.

Before we get started, here are 5 things to be happy about today- do yourself a favor and envision each one slowly for maximum happiness:
ONE. Smelling a familiar smell and having memories associated with it come flooding in instantly.
TWO. Seeing a full rainbow.
THREE. Eating cereal at 11pm.
FOUR. Winter citrus being the pick-me-up you need after a gloomy day.
FIVE. Boats with clear bottoms so that you can see the fish swimming under you.

Let’s bake!!

MAKES: About 40 macarons
PREP TIME: 1 hour
BAKE TIME: 15 minutes per batch

MACARON SHELL INGREDIENTS

2¾ cups + 1 Tbsp ground almonds
2 cups + 1 Tbsp confectioner’s sugar
6 egg whites + 1 extra (just in case)
1 cup + 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
Rainbow Nonpareils

MACARON SHELL STEPS

ONE. In a large bowl, sift together the ground almonds and confectioner’s sugar to remove any lumps. Set aside.

TWO. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the 6 egg whites until foamy. Add a third of the granulated sugar, and mix until the sugar is dissolved. Add another third and beat for another minute. Add the final third and beat until the egg whites are thick, glossy, and can stand in soft peaks.

THREE. Gently fold the ground almond mixture into the whipped eggs until everything is fully incorporated. You’ll know the batter is ready to pipe when you lift the spatula up out of the batter and it flows back into the bowl in a smooth V shape. If the mixture is too thick, beat the extra egg white until foamy and stir into the batter to thin it out. Batter should be thick enough that a piped circle maintains its shape, but thin enough that the top can be smoothed out. Transfer the batter to a piping bag or ziplock fitted with a large round tip.

 

FOUR. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and pipe 2-3 inch circles of batter about an inch apart. While the cookies are still wet, sprinkle the tops of each one with some of the rainbow nonpareils. Tap the sheet pans on the counter a few times to pop any air bubbles, then allow the cookies to sit for at least 30 minutes, or until you touch the top of the cookie and it’s dry instead of sticky.

FIVE. Preheat your oven to 300ºF. Bake the trays for 15 minutes, then allow to cool completely before removing from the parchment paper. Before filling, pair each cookie with one of a similar size to make the sandwich.

 

FUNFETTI BUTTERCREAM INGREDIENTS

3¾ cups confectioner’s sugar
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3-4 Tbsp whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Splash of almond extract
Red Food coloring
Cylindrical Rainbow Sprinkles

FUNFETTI BUTTERCREAM STEPS

ONE. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together the softened butter and confectioner’s sugar. Add in 1 tablespoon of milk at a time until the desired consistency is reached.

TWO. Add the vanilla and almond extracts, as well as the red food coloring (or any coloring that you feel like). Fold in rainbow sprinkles with a rubber spatula so that the mixer doesn’t break them, then fill a piping bag or ziplock bag fitted with a star tip.

THREE. For each pair of macaron cookies, pipe a generous swirl of buttercream on one half, then place the second cookie on top to create the classic sandwich. These cookies can be eaten immediately, but are best served after chilling in the refrigerator overnight.

YUM! xoxoxoxoxo

Buttery Double Vanilla Cake

Hello and happy Tuesday my friends, today we’re slowing things down with a simple tea cake. But when I say simple, I am referring only to the level of skill required to make this cake, and not at all to the depth of its flavor. I love recipes with a catch, and this recipe’s catch is that it’s got not one, but TWO types of vanilla in it. Classic vanilla extract is necessary, but the secret is an additional teaspoon of vanilla bean paste, which adds an extra punch of vanilla as well as flecks of vanilla bean so you KNOW what you’re getting before you even eat it. I used the very last of both my fancy vanilla extract AND my fancy vanilla bean paste, but I can’t imagine a better way for them to go. Taken from this recipe here by Posie Harwood, this cake is the perfect complement to a cup of tea- it’s buttery and dense and rich, and because the cake pan is lined with sugar instead of flour, it’s got a delicate, caramelized crunch on the outside.

To match the simplicity of this recipe, I will keep it short and sweet here as well, because we all know why you’re here and it’s to BAKE not to read! Thank you love you for reading, here we go!

But of course, before we get started, here are 5 things to be happy about today!
ONE. Hot drinks in clear glass mugs.
TWO. Teaching yourself calligraphy by practicing the alphabet over and over.
THREE. Mini succulents in individual pots.
FOUR. The idea that everything happens for a reason, and sometimes not planning is the best way to be.
FIVE. Mint green kitchen appliances.

Let’s bake!!

MAKES: 1 8-inch round cake
PREP TIME: 15 minutes
BAKE TIME: 35-40 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for the pan
3 eggs, warmed
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
1 cup flour
14 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled slightly

STEPS

ONE. Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Line an 8-inch cake pan with a parchment circle, then grease the sides and bottom of the pan with butter. Coat the buttered pan with white sugar and shake around until it’s evenly coated.

TWO. If your eggs are at anything other than room temperature, warm them in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes, this will help when you’re whipping air into them later. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the warmed eggs and cup of granulated sugar for 4 to 5 minutes, until they are doubled in size, pale yellow, and fall in thick ribbons when the mixer is turned off.

THREE. Add the vanilla bean paste, vanilla extract, and salt. If you don’t have any vanilla bean paste, just add an extra teaspoon of vanilla extract to make it three total. Sift the flour over the egg mixture and fold in with a rubber spatula. It’s important to fold gently in order to maintain the air beaten into the eggs and not deflate them!

FOUR. Drizzle the melted butter into the batter and mix, again gently, but until it’s totally incorporated. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. The cake will puff in the oven and then sink a little when it’s removed, but that’s normal!

FIVE. Remove the cake from the oven and run a knife around the edges, then allow it to cool for 5 minutes before removing it from the pan. Turn the cake onto a wire rack and continue to cool completely.

This cake is best enjoyed slightly warm with a cup of tea!! xoxoxoxoxoD

Valentine’s Day Cookies Year II

Hello and welcome to my second ever Valentine’s Day post!! Inspired as I always am by Molly Yeh, I have been making variations on these cookies ever since I came across the original recipe. They are versatile and greatly exceed any other sugar cookie you will ever make with the addition of lemon zest and almond extract, and that’s not even the HALF of it. These babies aren’t complete without a mirror-shiny glaze and a bit of buttercream on top, and the best part is you can do as little or as much as you want!

So because I have too much time on my hands and I’ve been trying to improve my piping skills, I set out to cover these cookies in some good old fashioned buttercream roses. I wore my comfiest clothes, put on my headphones and got to work. And, 2 hours later, I couldn’t flex my right hand out of piping position, but I ended up with some GOOD rose cookies and I was very satisfied. They were almost too pretty to eat….almost.

I’ll be honest, Valentine’s Day is not really my ~thing~, and although I can always count on a mini box of chocolates from my mom (LOVE YOU MOM!!), it’s easy to feel sad or simply indifferent on a day focused so much on love and relationships. My solution? Bake it out! Whether or not you have a Valentine to share the day with (@Harry Styles, call me), why not make the day that much cuter! (P.S. you can see last year’s version here, slightly different, just as cute!)

Before we bake, here are 5 things to be happy about today:
ONE. A rainbow of ribbons.
TWO. Chocolate covered cherries.
THREE. White on the evergreens.
FOUR.
Breaking out of an old routine.
FIVE. Bacon frying in cast iron skillets.

 

Let’s bake!

MAKES: About 3 dozen cookies
PREP TIME: 1 hour + decorating to your heart’s desire
BAKE TIME: 10 minutes

SUGAR COOKIE INGREDIENTS

4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
zest from ½ a lemon
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

SUGAR COOKIE STEPS

ONE. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and the sugars until the butter is pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the lemon zest and mix to combine, then the vanilla and almond extracts. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix between each. Finally, add the flour mixture and mix until combined.

TWO. Turn the mixture out onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and form a disc of dough. Tightly wrap the disc and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before proceeding. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375ºF and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

THREE. Cut the disc of dough in half (it’s easier to work with a smaller batch at a time), and roll out on a lightly floured surface until about a quarter to a half inch thick. Cut out your desired shapes and lay them on your prepared cookie sheets about 1 inch apart.

FOUR. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, until they’re just turning brown, and cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Processed with VSCO with al1 preset


GLAZE INGREDIENTS

4 cups confectioners sugar
¼ cup corn syrup
5 Tbsp whole milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract
pinch of salt
1 tsp maraschino cherry liquid or food coloring (optional)

GLAZE STEPS

ONE. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl until thoroughly combined and smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add a little more milk at a time, if it’s too thin, add a little more powdered sugar.

TWO, Once the cookies are cooled, carefully dip each cookie face down in the glaze, making sure the whole surface is coated, and then allow the excess to drip back into the bowl before placing the cookie back on a wire rack over a sheet of parchment paper (this will catch the drips and make cleanup soooo much easier). If you’re continuing with buttercream on top, let the cookies dry slightly, but if you’re just adding sprinkles, add them now before the glaze dries and you’re all set!

 

BUTTERCREAM INGREDIENTS

3¾ cups confectioner’s sugar
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3-4 Tbsp whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Food coloring

BUTTERCREAM STEPS

ONE. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the softened butter and confectioners sugar together until incorporated- you may want to drape a dish towel over the bowl at the beginning, the mixer tends to throw a lot of loose sugar.

TWO. Add the milk a tablespoon at a time until the desired spreadable consistency is reached, keeping in mind that a slightly softer frosting will be easier to pipe with. Add the vanilla and food coloring (if using) and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

THREE. Fill a piping bag fitted with a coupler and decorating tip (the coupler allows you to switch tips without using multiple piping bags) and decorate away!! (Read here for some buttercream rose tips!)

Happy Valentine’s Day!! xoxoxoxoD

Passion Fruit Napoleons

Well well well, as you can see this week I really went for it, and baked a twist on one of my favorite bakery pastries. You know those GOOD Italian bakeries where all the pastries are lined up in rows upon rows of joy and they somehow get everything from eclairs to sfogliatelle just perfect? If I could live in one of those I would, and whenever I go, I’m faced with a choice between two things: the eclairs and the napoleons. Similar components, and yet so, so different, I have an almost impossible time deciding if it’s going to be an eclair day or a napoleon day.

BUT! Today, for all of you, is a glorious napoleon day. And not just any napoleon day, PASSION FRUIT napoleon day. It’s been so cold and sad this week and what better way to cheer up than with the fresh, sunny, summery flavor of passion fruit curd? If you close your eyes, you can almost feel the beachy breeze, can’t you? Well, maybe not quite. But anyway, as if that wasn’t enough, this passion fruit curd is mixed with a generous helping of pastry cream, sandwiched between buttery, crisp layers of puff pastry, then topped with a silky, chocolate ganache glaze. I know, I’m crying just typing this. Petition to change all wedding cakes to passion fruit napoleon stacks, who’s with me??

2 quick notes about this, I know that some people make their own puff pastry dough but I, however, did not. I am lazy and like to sleep late on Saturdays, which does not match with dough prep, so I am using the good old frozen, pre-made kind and I promise it’s good. If you feel like making your own, I admire you and your determination, best of luck. Also, I’m sure in a pinch you could buy pre-made passion fruit curd, but this recipe is pretty quick and easy, so 10/10 would recommend making your own.

Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here are 5 things to be happy about today:
ONE. Soft pile rugs.
TWO. Piping hot biscuits.
THREE.
A kettle on a wood burning stove.
FOUR.
Someone who makes you happy by loving you, being alive with you, filling up your life.
FIVE. 
A hazy metropolitan skyline growing out of the horizon.

MAKES: 16 individual napoleons
PREP TIME: 1 hour, 30 minutes
BAKE TIME: ~20 minutes per tray

PASTRY CREAM INGREDIENTS
adapted from ZoeBakes

4 cups whole milk
1 cup white sugar, divided
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
½ tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla bean paste/ extract, or 1 vanilla bean (pod and scrapped beans)
6 Tbsp cornstarch
2 eggs
6 egg yolks

PASTRY CREAM STEPS

ONE. Bring the milk, ½ cup sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt to a gentle boil in a saucepan on medium. Remove from heat.

TWO. In a medium heat-safe bowl, whisk together the remaining ½ cup sugar and the cornstarch to remove any lumps. Add the eggs and egg yolks, and mix until smooth.

THREE. Whisking constantly, carefully drizzle some of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture- this will bring the eggs and milk closer in temperature without cooking the eggs. Once the eggs are warm to the touch, transfer the entire egg mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk and return to a boil, stirring constantly. The mixture will thicken quickly, but continue to cook for an additional 2-3 minutes to stabilize it, this will set the custard and keep it from separating later.

FOUR. Strain the custard through a sieve to catch any stray cooked egg, then transfer to a glass bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap to the custard’s surface to prevent a skin forming. Chill the custard for 15 minutes in the freezer, then place in the fridge to cool completely before using.

 

PASSION FRUIT CURD INGREDIENTS

8 egg yolks
½ cup passion fruit juice
1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1¼ sticks (10 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

PASSION FRUIT CURD STEPS

ONE. In a heavy-bottom saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, passion fruit juice, and sugar until smooth. Cook on medium-high, stirring constantly and scraping the sides of the pot, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 8 to 10 minutes.

TWO. Remove the pan from the heat and add the salt and the cold butter, one piece at a time, stirring until all is incorporated. Strain through a sieve into a medium-sized bowl, and just like with the pastry cream, press a sheet of plastic wrap to the surface to prevent a skin forming while cooling. Chill in the refrigerator until completely cooled and set, at least 1 hour.

THREE. When both the curd and the pastry cream are cold, mix the fruit curd into the pastry cream until fully incorporated, then return to the fridge until you’re ready for assembly.

 

NAPOLEON PASTRY INGREDIENTS

2 packages frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed

NAPOLEON PASTRY STEPS

ONE. Preheat your oven to 425ºF. Prepare your baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper. Cut each sheet of puff pastry into 6 equal pieces (3 vertical cuts, then horizontal halfway through) and lay out on the prepared baking sheets evenly.

TWO. Prick holes in each piece of pastry using a fork, then put a second sheet of parchment paper on top. Place another baking sheet of the same size (or a cooling rack) on top of the pastry to weigh it down. This will keep everything from puffing up too much and resulting in uneven heights. Bake until the strips are lightly golden, about 14 minutes. You’ll have to bake the pastry in batches to ensure even browning, one tray at a time.

THREE. At this point, remove the top tray and parchment paper, and bake for an additional 4-6 minutes until fully golden. Allow the pastry to cool completely. Once the pastry is cool, you may want to slice each square in half, the second baking tray weighs the pastry down but it still puffs up slightly and may be too thick to stack whole. 

 

NAPOLEON ASSEMBLY INGREDIENTS

 2/3 cup heavy cream
5 oz. dark semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1 tsp corn syrup
Fresh raspberries, for garnish

NAPOLEON ASSEMBLY STEPS

ONE. Bring the heavy cream to just barely a boil, then remove from heat. Place the chopped dark chocolate into a bowl and pour the hot heavy cream over it and allow the chocolate to melt. Whisk in the corn syrup and set aside to cool.

TWO. To make each individual napoleon, we’ll be using 3 pieces of puff pastry, with 2 layers of pastry cream. If your puff pastry sizes aren’t all the same, feel free to trim them with a serrated knife to make them even and easier to stack. Start with a piece of puff pastry and carefully spread a layer of passion fruit pastry cream on top, leaving a half inch border on all sides.

 

THREE. Top with a second puff pastry and repeat with more pastry cream, again leaving a half inch border on all edges. For the final piece, spread a thin layer of the chocolate glaze on top and carefully place on top of the pastry cream layer. Top with raspberries.

FOUR. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the remaining pastries, then chill in the fridge for at least an hour to set. Now go open the bakery you were always meant to!

YUM! xoxoxoxD