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MagicalCustardCake_FIRST

Yesterday, December 6th was Hungarian Mikulásnap (Santa’s Day). This date was very important in our house because it was the date that Mikulás visited our home to pick up the letters we would write to him…the Christmas wish list! It was always our tradition to put the letters into freshly polished, shiny boots on the windowsill just before we went to bed. In the morning, we would find our boots filled with European chocolates (if we were good) or the dreaded virgács (thin branches that our parents could use to slap our bottoms with, if we were bad). To the best of my memory, we only received the virgács once; that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I am always nostalgic this time of year, particularly in my neighbourhood of European delis that stock the same delicious chocolates we used to receive as kids.

Although chocolate treats in the form of Santa (or Mikulás) would be a lovely dessert, recently I decided to make an unusual cake that has been making the rounds on the blog-o-sphere for some time. Surprisingly, there is nothing unusual about the ingredients and the recipe is pretty much like a jelly roll or genoise sponge, but what’s really unusual is that the cake separates into a custard portion and a cake portion during baking. I suspect this recipe came about as a mistake someone made a long time ago and it baked into this amazing and delicious surprise (like so many recipes out there). The history really doesn’t matter, it is a delicious cake that is a cross between a custard and a cake and I think you should try it.

Since I’m not much of Pinterest person, I only saw this cake on the blogs I follow and the very first one was Bizzy Lizzy, my Hungarian bogging friend down under and then Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella made a pumpkin version — I knew I had to make this unusual dessert. We loved the Hungarian Custard Squares (Krémes Szelet) so I suspected that this recipe would be a winner too. I used Liz’s recipe but I halved it because there were only four of us for brunch; I topped it with baked pears (I scored the pears at $1.96 for 10 because they were not perfect specimens!) and a drizzle of coconut sugar caramel sauce. The dessert received rave reviews and as a bonus, it stores well in the fridge for a couple of days (unassembled). It’s definitely going into my dessert repertoire…now to figure out a gluten free version!

What Christmas/holiday traditions do you have?

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Soft custard, baked pears, fluffy cake and sweet earthy caramel sauce garnished with a toasted walnut. May I cut you a slice?

Magical Custard Cake with Baked Pears and Coconut Caramel Sauce

Original Recipe from Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things

Serves 4

Ingredients for the Magical Custard Cake:

  • 60 g unsalted butter
  • 240 mL low fat milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs, room temperature, separated
  • 60 g icing sugar, sifted
  • pinch, cream of tartar
  • 57 g unbleached AP flour, sifted
  • 4 walnut halves for garnish, toasted

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 330° F (165° C).
  2. Prepare a 21 cm x 11 cm(4″ x 8″) loaf pan by lining it with parchment paper.
  3. Melt the butter and cool to room temperature.
  4. Warm the milk combined with vanilla until lukewarm (should not be hot).
  5. Beat the egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar until stiff but not dry, set aside.
  6. Beat the egg yolks with the icing sugar until light and fluffy (about 5 – 7 minutes). Set the mixer speed to the lowest and slowly drizzle in the melted butter until entirely combined.
  7. Slowly fold in the flour alternating with the warm milk until it is fully combined.
  8. Fold in the beaten egg whites a spoon at a time until fully incorporated but not deflated. This is quite a runny batter, so don’t worry.
  9. Bake for 40 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Allow to cool completely and then refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Ingredients for the baked pears:

  • 10 small pears, peeled, cored and cut into cubes
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Directions for the baked pears:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350° F (171° C).
  2. Toss cubed pears with sugar, cinnamon and salt and pour into a casserole dish. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until soft. Set aside.

Ingredients for Coconut Sugar Caramel Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup Grace coconut sugar (or regular granulated sugar)
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/8 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup hot cream
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter

Directions for Coconut Sugar Caramel Sauce:

  1. Heat cream in a microwave proof container until very hot but not boiling, set aside.
  2. Mix sugar, water and lemon juice in a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup.
  3. Microwave for 15-60 seconds (note that in 2016 I doubled the recipe and it took 3 minutes 25 seconds of microwaving to get the amber colour I was looking for), until sugar bubbles up but does NOT BURN, sugar crystals should be completely dissolved and you should begin to see it turn to a light amber colour. Remove and set on a dishcloth for 30 seconds and slowly pour in the hot cream, being careful as this will bubble up.
  4. Stir well and then add the butter  and stir until completely incorporated. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Assembly Directions:

  1. Remove cold ‘cake’ from the fridge and set on a cutting board. Cut into 4 slices and set each slice on the centre of a plate.
  2. Reheat the baked pear cubes until steamy (microwave for a minute or so on high).
  3. Spoon equal amounts of the pears onto each slice, then drizzle with the coconut caramel. Garnish with a toasted walnut half.

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Hi Everyone, hope all my lovely readers in the North East fared well through that huge storm the other day. I watched it on the Weather Network radar and it looked absolutely brutal.

I have one more thing to ask of you lovely readers (in fact, my friend Smidge from Just a Smidgen also requested it). Kindly link your Gravatar to your blog, otherwise we have no way of knowing where you came from and we cannot comment on your blog. It’s in Gravatar.com, you’ll have to sign in and Edit your Public Profile, update your link to your blog in My Links. Thank goodness Smidge asked me to do this because believe it or not mine WASN’T linked! Thanks Smidge!

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A friend dated a guy with whom we became close. They broke up, so we asked her if she would mind if we kept him; she said not at all. So we did. He came for dinner a few weeks ago and I made a Hungarian themed dinner party; Hungarian Cheese Sticks (Sajtos Rud), Celeriac Velouté with Caramelized Onion Focaccia Croutons (recipe to come), Chicken Paprikas with Nokedli (I updated the nokedli part as Barb mentioned to me that her’s didn’t turn out), a nice Hungarian Cucumber salad (recipe to come) and Krémes. I was looking for a new dessert that would finish off the evening in style so I ‘traveled’ all the way to British Columbia to my good Hungarian friend Zsuzsa’s blog and found these wonderfully delicious Custard Squares. She spoke very highly of the recipe so I knew they would not disappoint. They are labour intensive but well worth the effort. They totally remind me of Mille Feuille that was my favourite when I was a child. The pastry is fantastically flaky.

I divided the recipe into a third of the original as I didn’t need quite as many. JT said I should have made the entire batch (that’s a testament to how good they are!). Thank you Zsuzsa for a tremendous dessert. I turned the most of the measurements into weight because it was easier to divide into 3 that way! You should get yourself a digital kitchen scale (I have this one), it is essential for baking.

Although these squares sound rich, they really are not. Really.

Although these squares sound rich, they really are not. Really.

Hungarian Custard Squares (Krémes)

Makes 8 squares in a 5″ x 9″ loaf pan (if you want more, please see Zsuzsa’s original recipe, she has excellent photos on the process of making the pastry too).

Custard Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup skim milk
  • 1/3 vanilla pod
  • 3 eggs separated
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 6 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 pk gelatin
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • dash of lemon juice

Pastry Ingredients:

  • 72 g all purpose flour
  • 76 g butter
  • 1 tbsp and 1 tsp cold water
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • pinch of salt

Pastry Directions:

  1. Heat the milk in a saucepan or microwave, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk with a paring knife, and add the bean pod to the milk. Cover, remove from heat and allow the vanilla to infuse for one hour. Set aside.
  2. Next make the flaky pastry. In a food processor with metal blades, combine the flour and chilled butter until it resembles a fine crumble. Add the salt and pulse to distribute. Combine the vinegar and the water and stream into the processor until a dough ball forms.
  3. Generously flour a board and roll out the pastry into a rectangle and divide into 4 equal parts. Stack the four rectangles on top of one another and chill for twenty minutes.
  4. Once chilled, separate each part and roll the dough into 4 very thin rectangles, roughly bigger than your loaf pan. Place in the bottom of your loaf pan, allowing the dough to form creases to fit into the pan. Repeat for the second rectangle, this will be the top. Bake in a preheated 400° F oven for 14-18 minutes keeping watch as the pastry burns easily.
  5. When the pastry is golden brown, remove pan from the oven and immediately cut pastry into 8 squares (4 by 2). Wait a few minutes and carefully remove the squares and set them aside in the same order as they were in the pan, set aside.
  6. Repeat with the other two rectangles and bake, this is the bottom layer (do not cut this layer). Allow to cool, and remove from the pan, and put a good layer of plastic wrap into the pan with a generous amount coming up the side (this will help you lift it out). Return the bottom layer into the bottom of the pan, smoothing out the side of the plastic wrap.
  7. Next make the custard layer.
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It’s misleading because it has cream in the name, but there is no cream in the recipe.

Custard Directions:

  1. In a medium sized bowl beat the egg yolks and 2 tbsp sugar for 8 minutes (they will become thick and pale). Add the vanilla
  2. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and gelatine. Gradually add the flour mixture to the beaten egg yolks and continue to beat until smooth.
  3. Remove the vanilla pods from the vanilla infused milk and gradually add the vanilla infused milk to the bowl with the eggs and the flour.
  4. Over a simmering bain-marie cook the custard stirring it constantly until it reaches 80°C or 176° F with a candy thermometer (be careful as it can burn easily). As soon as it reaches 80° C remove immediately from the heat stir in the butter and set aside to cool.
  5. While the custard is cooling whip the egg whites until soft peaks form, add the lemon juice and continue beating until almost stiff. Add 2 tbsp sugar and beat until shiny and stiff. You are trying to beat the sugar into the egg whites so they are no longer grainy (this takes several minutes).
  6. Once the custard has cooled, press it through a fine sieve (my custard got a bit lumpy because I didn’t stir well enough as it was cooking)
  7. Take about 1/3 of the egg whites and fold it into the custard to loosen it up. Then fold the remaining egg whites into the custard very slowly
  8. Pour this custard onto the bottom layer of the pastry and even out using a spatula, pushing it into the corners and sides. Add the top layer of pastry in the same order that you removed it from the pan, leaving a little space between each one to allow your knife to slide through to make the squares. Refrigerate until the custard has set.
  9. Once set, using the plastic wrap, lift the pastry dessert out of the pan onto a cutting board. Generously sprinkle with icing sugar. Using a wet knife, slice the custard into 8 equal squares, using your top pastry as your guide.
  10. Serve cold, perhaps with a dollop of whipping cream.
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Those little dots are from the vanilla bean that was infused in the milk

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A little fresh raspberries would have looked awesome in this photo. The forks are from Hungary, my Mom bought them for me.

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I posted a quick picture of this recipe on Facebook and Pinterest and received overwhelming response so instead of putting it in-line with my Christmas 2012 baking, I thought I would interrupt regular programming and post the recipe today. I did a search and found that I might indeed be the first person to make these all-time Canadian favourites into a truffle instead of their normal bar form. Every year JT asks me to make this bar, which personally I find just too sweet. I got to thinking a smaller, bite sized version might be the answer I was looking for so I came up with this idea and only had to marginally modify an existing recipe. I hope you enjoy it. And if you make them, please do let me know how it worked out.

Almost as teeth tingly as the regular Nanaimo Bars

Not nearly as teeth tingly as regular Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo Truffles

For the original recipe, please click here.

Makes about 36 truffles

Inside Layer Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla custard powder
  • 1 cup icing sugar

Inside Layer Directions:

  1. Cream butter, custard powder and icing sugar together well. Scoop out about 1 tsp and roll into a ball. Freeze for 30 minutes.

Second Layer Ingredients:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 5 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 ¼ c graham wafer crumbs
  • ½ c finely ground almond flour
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup (spray your measuring cup with non-stick spray and it will slide right out)

Second Layer Directions:

  • Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat.
  • Stir in graham crumbs, coconut, almond flour and the corn syrup. Set aside.

Assembly Directions:

  1. Take about 1 packed tbsp of the second layer (crumb layer) in the palm of your hand and press to flatten to a large circle about 2mm thick.
  2. Put one custard ball into the centre and wrap the circle around the custard so that it totally covers it. Squeeze the crumb layer to form a tidy ball. Repeat until you have made all of the balls. Freeze for 30-60 minutes.

Chocolate Layer Ingredients:

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter

Chocolate Layer Directions:

  1. Melt chocolate and butter over low heat and mix well. Without allowing the chocolate mixture to cool down, take a frozen ball and carefully stick a toothpick or skewer into it and dip into the melted chocolate to cover. Remove the stick and allow the chocolate to set on parchment paper (you could dip a finger into the chocolate to hide the hole, or not). The frozen balls will help set the chocolate faster. Store in refrigerator. Allow the balls to come back up to room temperature to serve.
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The centre is creamy and smooth which is a nice texture to the outside

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Yum.

;

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