1001 Kitchen Tips #71 - Choux buns/ profiteroles/ eclair fails - how to rescue them if they fall flat! And gluten free vegan profiteroles?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Some of the croquembouche towers made over the past year
Time! It is everything in such a busy kitchen. With often 12 - 20 events a week preparation is everything and there is literally no time for things to go wrong!
Choux pastry, however, is something that can go wrong. Quite easily if you're not paying attention. The pastry section of the kitchen is the only one I never trained in formally, so I have taught myself everything.
Here's a few tips I've learned on choux pastry.
Piping eclairs just before the guests sit down for their starter - pressure for fresher!
1 - Always bake a tester. Once your choux pastry is ready to go pipe one out on a baking tray and bake it as a tester to see what happens. It's something I always do, apart from the day we cooked them for this midsummer night's dairy dinner when they turned out a little 'interesting'. A warm day and an aga - maybe not a good match. If the tester doesn't rise or it collapses as soon as it comes out on to the cooling rack at least you can rescue the choux mix before you've wasted all your time and ingredients.
Spreading chocolate on profiteroles (2009)
2 - If choux pastry doesn't rise I have found it is either down to 3 things:
              i   - Too much egg. The size of your eggs also makes a big difference - small eggs and you might need more, large eggs and you might need less, so in this case add less egg to begin with: you can always add more, but you can't take it out.
              ii  - You haven't beaten the mix enough. Beat it up! Air is everything with choux pastry. Once you add the flour to the hot water & butter you should let it cook out on a low heat beating it ferociously with a whisk. I used to do this by hand - but on the dairy dinner Ms Marmitelover turned the choux paste into the Kitchen Aid and beat it up fast for a few minutes that way. When I was making the gluten free profiteroles below last week I did both - starting it off by beating by hand on the heat so the gluten free flour could cook out, then transferred to the electric mixing machine to beat it for a few minutes, then added the egg, then kept beating for another couple of minutes for good measure. Maximise the air in there! Produced such a good result!
              iii - Too much flour (different brands of flour - even different batches of the same brand can make a difference. They all have different properties - for some you need less, some more to achieve the desired result. Small things like this seem to matter when you're making choux pastry.
Gluten free profiteroles
3 - How to rescue choux pastry fails. I have found 2 ways to do this:
         i - Re-beat the choux pastry in the electric mixing machine. If your choux pastry tester comes out of the oven risen, but falls flat as soon as it cools this is down to the mix not being beaten up enough. The day after the dairy meal I was baking more profiteroles for another croquembouche and this happened. Probably not enough beating by hand - tired. There was just under 1 hour to go before I had to leave for the party - really no time to give up and start again so I transferred that choux pastry to the Kenwood mixer and beat it on high power for a few minutes to get more air in it. They came out perfect that time!
Banoffee eclair (back) for an assiette of mini desserts and mini cheese courses - couldn't find a banoffee eclair recipe so made my own - was very popular!
         ii - Add in another water-butter-flour mix to your choux pastry. If your choux pastry tester comes out flat and heavy this may, quite possibly be due to too much egg. This happened to me the other day - I had overestimated on how much smaller the eggs I had were and consequently added too much egg. Again I was on a strict time limit - almost time to go out and cook for a hen party, so no time to completely throw it away and start again, and, with butter at £1.25+ a pack it's all money too! This was a triple mix (3 times recipe) so I made a single water/butter/ flour mix, beat it in the Kenwood machine and incorporated it into the too-much-egg mix to thicken it up. Did the trick!
Assiette of dessert 2009 with chocolate eclair at the back

Gluten free profiteroles? Yes you can! They turn out really well with this recipe - you can always rely on Doves Farm recipes.

Gluten free vegan profiteroles? Yes you can also do these! I did them for a couple of guests last year - one was vegan the other gluten free so I combined the 2 using this recipe but changing the flour for Doves Farm gluten free self raising flour. Then used this recipe for 'whipped cream' from coconut milk - so nice I almost prefer it over normal cream! Then a chocolate sauce made from vegan chocolate and coconut milk. Gluten and vegan people you're worth it!

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Using clementines, passionfruit, oranges and pineapple shells as serving 'bowls' for a buffet lunch delivery

Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Lunch buffets in the middle of your one day training course - same old same old right? Or maybe not. I like to try out new things on the lunch buffets we do (another one tomorrow). After baking the chocolate cake in an orange (you get a great orange flavour from the skin) I tried a few other things in the following weeks back in June last year (only just catching up with the backlog of pics).  
Chocolate cake baked in an orange
Fruit salad in a clementine shell.
Coconut and passionfruit panna cotta served in the emptied passionfruit shells - best use of ingredients?
Fruit salad in pineapple. Also want to try out a coconut cake baked in pineapple shell.... AND meringue baked in the pineapple shell. 
Lemon drizzle cake cooked in a pineapple shell


Pear and almond tart with Nutella ice cream

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Made this for a huge Nutella fan - well she said she was a huge Nutella fan but she had never heard of Nutella Day (today by the way) - so I enlightened her and gave her a link to all the Nutella Day recipes

Nutella (philadelphia style) ice cream

[Philadelphia style means egg-less by the way rather than containing Philadelphia cheese]

375ml milk
75ml condensed milk
250ml double cream
Nutella to taste (add as much as you can handle!)
pinch salt

Warm all ingredients together in a pan to incporporate the Nutella. Cool. Churn in the ice cream machine or still freeze - there's a link on a previous ice cream recipe to do that along with a tip for how to serve lots of portions of ice cream in one go & suggestions for ice cream machines. 

You can also add in toasted hazelnuts to the ice cream towards the end to make it extra nutty. I put some on top. Then piped nutella on to the plate as well - you can never have too much!

For the tuile biscuits to sit the ice cream on (saves it melting & sliding across the plate on the way to the table) see link here

Where did my love of Nutella come from? I once worked with a chef from Alba where Nutella originated. Naturally he spread the Nutella love wherever he went. Thus marmite toast was alternated with Nutella toast to keep the chefs going through the night service. We also dipped digestive biscuits in Nutella - instant comfort rush!

World Nutella Day is hosted by Ms Adventures in Italy and Bleeding Espresso - well done you!

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Nutella brioche crown

Chocolate truffles & tempering chocolate

Saturday, February 01, 2014
You want chocolate truffles to go with coffee? You've got 'em!

Made these for a special request a few weeks ago for a 40th birthday meal near Shipston-on-Stour. Finally taught myself how to temper chocolate - there's several ways here. Funny - you put these things off because they sound hard, but really they're so easy - and produce such a great result (chocolate that is crispy and doesn't bloom).


Pecan tart with honey sauce and homemade stem ginger ice cream near Painswick, Cheltenham.

From the old Nigella recipe. The original UK one seems to have disappeared into the ether.
They're caramelised apricots on there as well should you ask......
I was ably assisted by Brucie all night. So nice not to have to sweep the floor at the end of the night - he had it all under control!
Loved the shabby chic look of the kitchen dresser - very Cotswold farmhouse.