Millefeuille

This is a recipe I would never have thought about sharing. In fact, I didn’t used to like it at all until I made my own.
It’s a very impressive dessert to serve, it has a very nice patisserie look, if you can say that.

It’s not a hard recipe but it’s quite time consuming as you will get a lot of dirty bowls and dishes to wash up.

There are also a couple of tricks to the recipe that will make it look very professional.

For a dozen millefeilles, you’ll need:

– 1 1/2 shop bought puff pastry packs (750g)
– 800g to 1kg of cooled stiff custard (just add 40g of cornflour instead of 10 and add 30g of butter when the custard is still hot)
– 100g of icing sugar
– 20g of chocolate

Preheat the oven at 180C.

Cut your unrolled pastry into 3 identical rectangles.
Roll them as thin as you can, place them on trays (one for each sheet) layered with baking paper.

Stab the whole sheet of pastry with a fork, put another sheet of baking paper on the top and then another tray. This will help your pastry to stay flat, don’t worry, the pastry will still be flaky.
If you don’t follow that trick, your pastry will rise far too much.

Put them in the oven for about 25min, or until golden.

When your 3 sheets of pastry are cooked and cooled down, place the first one on a rack and spread it evenly with half of the custard.

Then place a second sheet, push on it a tiny bit and spread with the rest of the custard.

Put the last pastry sheet on the top and press a little.

For the icing:

Mix the icing sugar with a couple of teaspoons of hot water until you get a runny paste. If you make it too runny, you can always add more icing sugar to it.

Melt the chocolate and pour it in a little piping bag.

Next, you need to be quick!

Spread the icing on the top layer of pastry and pipe lines of chocolate over the top.

Take a cocktail stick and run it across the lines of chocolate in opposing directions. You can freestyle a bit on that part.

Keep the whole thing in the fridge to set for at least 3 hours.

Trim the edges with a bread knife and cut your mille feuille into 12 slices or serve it whole.

It only keeps 2 days in the fridge as the pastry gets soggy. I recommend making it the same day if you’re planning to eat it in the evening or the day before if you’re eating it for lunch.

Mylène

Eclairs au chocolat

As this week is national chocolate week, I’ve decided to post one of my favourite chocolate recipes everyday.

Today is Chocolate eclairs, or éclairs au chocolat.

If by that name, you imagine a long choux pastry filled with whipped cream and topped with chocolate icing, let me tell you, you’re making a big mistake!
The real french éclair is filled with crème pâtissière, flavoured with chocolate, coffee, vanilla… It gives that french touch you’ll never get with cream, so forget about the whipped cream, really.

In my family, we’ve never been great choux pastry lovers. My mum never used to make it so I suppose it’s why I don’t make it very often.

My first attempts weren’t quite right so I decided to try again until I got it perfect. All the recipes I tried didn’t live up to my expectations, so in the end I made a mix of two recipes and it worked perfectly.
In fact it worked so well we are going to sell them locally.

See the product page here

For the filling, I used my favourite crème pâtissière recipe, just with chocolate in.
For the icing, I found a couple of recipes but chose the one I thought would be the most like the one they use in French boulangeries.

Anyway, enough of the talking, here’s the recipe.

For 6 éclairs, you’ll need:

For the filling:

– 2 egg yolks
– 10g of cornflour
– 100g of sugar
– half a liter of milk
– 70g of chocolate, chopped

For the choux pastry:

– 2 eggs,beaten
– 70g of flour
– 60ml of water
– 65ml of milk
– 55g of butter
– 5g of sugar

For the icing:

– 50g of chocolate
– 20g of butter
– 40g of icing sugar
– 1,5 tbsp of water

The filling

Make the filling at least 2 hours before making the pastry.

Boil the milk, meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, cornflour and sugar together until nearly white.

Carefully pour the milk, a bit at a time, onto the mixture, whisking constantly.
Put the whole thing back on the hob at a low temperature and stir for 2min or until it has thick texture
Put it aside and sprinkle with the chopped chocolate.
Leave it a minute and stir the chocolate, until totally melted.
Leave to cool in the fridge.

The pastry:

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Boil the butter, milk, water and sugar together. Then take the pan off of the hob and stir in the flour.

Put it back on the hob to dry it out, you’ll get a ball of paste.
Take it off the hob again and whisk in a bit of the beaten egg with an electric whisk.
Then add the rest of the eggs a bit at a time. You should get a smooth glossy mixture, not too runny.

Pipe that mixture onto a baking tray, lined with baking paper. Pipe long lines of it.

Put it in the oven to bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven up to 220°C and bake for a further 10 minutes.
Take your long choux out of the oven and leave until totally cool.
With a very thin knife, cut into the choux, make a big enough cut for the nozzle of your piping bag to fit in. Fill each one with the chilled crème pâtissière.

The icing

Start the icing by melting the chocolate. When it’s melted, add the butter and icing sugar, your pan still on the hob.
Stir until the butter is totally melted. Put it aside and stir in the water a little at a time.

Wait five minutes and then you can ice your éclairs.

Keep them in the fridge.

Enjoy!

Mylène

Praliné

It’s been a quite exciting last few weeks; we’ve done summer fairs, created new biscuit designs, got a new toy (an air gun to give an edge to my biscuits and macarons), worked a couple of days in a deli (St Giles cheese), been approached by companies to sell our stuff…
Everything is going very well!

I didn’t have much time to try new recipes to share with you but I have that old classic that I’m going to write about: praliné!

It’s something very versatile that I use in a lot of things. It gives a nutty, caramel and vanilla flavour.
I use it in macarons with buttercream, home made chocolates, in ice-creams, chocolate spreads, flavoured crème brûlée, cakes, muffins… It can basically be used in any sweet thing.

It’s very easy to make, the main difficulty is in the grinding as lots of food processors can’t make it right. If you’ve got a fairly new one that can resist ice cubes, it would work fine. If you’ve got a coffee grinder, it’s even better, you just have to make sure you can wash it under the tap afterwards otherwise you’ll hate me forever for that recipe.

For 500g of praliné, you’ll need:

– 250g of sugar
– 250g of roasted hazelnuts (or almonds)
– 1 vanilla pod, scratched

Heat the sugar and vanilla seeds in a pan on their own until it melts and becomes golden.

Never stir the sugar, especially when it’s just starting to melts, you will ruin the caramel.

When you have your caramel, take it off the heat and mix the nuts in.

When they’re all covered in caramel, pour the mixture onto a tray layed with baking paper.
Let it cool down for 2 hours or until cool.

Break the nutty caramel in medium pieces by chopping it. Put everything in your food processor or grinder and grind until it makes a paste or, even better, a liquid mixture.

That step will take you a while, depending on how powerful and tough your equipment is.
Your praliné should now be ready to use! It will keep a while in a jar in the fridge or in the freezer, just take it out when needed and mix the desired amount into your preparations….

Mylene

Iles flottantes

The other day, I got given a vanilla pod by the owners of St Giles Cheese in Northampton. They wanted me to try their new arrival of vanilla pods. It was a big fat one, very fragrant.

I absolutely adore fresh vanilla, it’s so delicate in the taste but so strong in the smell.

Anyway, I had to use it but I didn’t really know what to make with it. I wanted something which would make the flavor of the vanilla pod shine and not be overtaken by other ingredients. So I decided to make some Iles flottantes (floating islands).

I’d never made it myself, you can find quite decent ones in supermarkets in France so I never really tried. When I was little, I used to be mad about them (my mum is delighted to tell the stories of me and Iles flottantes).

If you never ate it, it’s something you have to do. It’s a very impressive dessert for dinner parties.

For 6 people, you’ll need:

– 4 eggs, yolk and white separated
– 80g of sugar (for the crème anglaise)+ 90g for the meringue + 50g for the caramel
– 1 vanilla pod, scraped
– 500ml of milk
– 1 tablespoon of water

Make the crème anglaise (runny custard) by heating the milk and the scraped vanilla pod until boiling.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and gently pour the hot vanilla milk while still whisking.

Put it back on a low heat and stir for 5 minutes without boiling. Put it aside and in the fridge for cooling.

For the meringue, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until firm.

Fill a pan with water, simmer it and poach blobs of meringues, 1 minute on each side and put them aside.

Make the caramel by heating sugar and water together until golden brown. Leave it to cool in the fridge.

When you’re serving your dessert, pour some crème anglaise in your serving bowls, then one or two poached meringues and then a tablespoon of caramel, which is going to give the sweetness.

You can make the Iles flottantes the day before you want to eat them and leave them in the fridge

Mylène