Laminated dough is the perfect blank canvas for a baker. It can go sweet or savory, and you can shape it in so many ways. I’ve used this sourdough danish dough previously to make these delicious morning buns, and in this post I’m giving just a couple more ways to put this pastry to work.
While there are a ton of ways you can shape danishes, I’m partial to the pocket and diamond shapes because they accommodate a good amount of filling. I almost always fill my sweet pastries with either cream cheese filling or frangipane — both are simple to whip up and complement any number of fruits. I like using cream cheese with berries (or a dollop of jam or lemon curd) and frangipane with plums, pears, rhubarb, and apples — but experiment with what you have and come up with your own favorite combos! Enjoy!
A few notes:
The proofing time for these danishes can vary quite a bit depending on the temperature of your kitchen. For me it usually takes about 2 hours at warm room temperature (about 80F). Proof them until they’re double in size, very puffy, and jiggle when you shake the pan. The oven with the light on and a pan of warm water is a great proofing spot — just make sure to take the danishes out when preheating the oven!
To make sure the bottoms of the danishes don’t get too dark before they bake through, I bake these pastries on a two baking sheets stacked right on top of each other. If you like the bottoms extra crisp, this isn’t necessary.
I like finishing fruit danishes by brushing the fruit with a bit of simple syrup right after the danishes come out of the oven. It gives the fruit a little bit of shine and your pastries that special little bakery touch.
1 recipe cream cheese filling or frangipane filling (see below)
Fresh fruit such as berries or plums — depending on type/size of fruit, you may need several berries or several slices of fruit per danish; can also use a not-too-runny jam/preserves
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp milk or water and a pinch of salt for egg wash
Turbinado sugar, optional
Simple syrup, optional
Powdered sugar, optional
For the cream cheese filling:
113g cream cheese, softened (about half a block)
2 Tbsp sugar
Dash of vanilla extract
Pinch of kosher salt
Squeeze of lemon juice
For the frangipane filling:
100g unsalted butter, softened
100g caster sugar
1 large egg
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g almond flour
15g AP flour
For the cream cheese filling:
Combine the cream cheese, sugar, salt, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (a hand mixer also works). Mix on low until smooth. Scrape down the sides and add lemon juice a tsp at a time to taste. Transfer to a pastry bag. Filling can be prepared up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated; bring to room temperature before piping onto danishes.
For the frangipane filling:
In a small bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until well combined. Add the egg, salt, and vanilla, and beat until combined. Add the almond and all purpose flour and fold in using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Transfer to a pastry bag. Filling can be prepared up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated; bring to room temperature before piping onto danishes.
For the danishes:
On a lightly floured surface, roll the danish dough into a large rectangle about 10″ x 14″. Trim the edges so you have a neat rectangle measuring 9″ x 13.5″. Cut dough into six 4.5″ inch squares. Stack, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 10 minutes to relax the gluten.
Stack two large baking trays together (see notes above) and line the top tray with parchment paper. Remove the pastry from the refrigerator (I like to work with 2-3 squares at a time, leaving the rest refrigerated). Shape into pockets or diamonds as desired and transfer to prepared baking sheet. (See below.)
Brush the shaped pastries with egg wash and cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Place in a warm area of the kitchen (around 78-80F — no hotter than 80F or the ) to proof until doubled in size and layers are very visible — about 2-3 hours. Prepare your filling of choice while the pastries proof, if you haven’t already.
When the pastries are nearly finished proofing, preheat oven to 425F with a rack in the middle. Pipe desired filling into the center of the pastries, about 1-2 Tbsp each. Top with fruit, pressing lightly to adhere. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar if desired.
Bake at 425F for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375F and bake for another 10-20 minutes, or until well risen and browned. Brush the fruit with simple syrup after removing from oven, if desired. Cool for about 10 minutes before dusting with powdered sugar and serving. Danishes are best eaten the day they’re baked, but reheat well the day after in a 350F oven for 5-10 minutes.
For the “pocket” shape, dab a little filling or egg wash in the center of the square. Fold the two opposing corners into the center, pressing fairly firmly to stick. Repeat with the opposite corners. If the corners pop open during proofing, gently press them back down before adding filling.
For the “diamond” shape, gently fold the pastry square on the diagonal to form a triangle, making sure the corners line up. Using a sharp knife, make two cuts parallel to the sides of the triangle, leaving about 1/4″ of pastry on the edges. Don’t let the cuts meet or you will end up with two pieces of pastry! Unfold the dough and orient the square so it is like a diamond. Fold one edge over so it meets the cut you just made. Repeat with the other edge to form a diamond. You can watch me forming this shape in my Instagram stories — look for the Diamond Danish highlight.
One of the first recipes I ever posted on this site was Chinese Cocktail Buns, or gai mei baos. These soft, fluffy buns with a buttery coconut filling were a favorite from my childhood and definitely the first item I reach for in any Chinese bakery.
It’s hard to improve on a classic, but for a long time I’ve thought that my ideal Chinese bun would have the luscious filling of a gai mei bao and the sweet cookie topping of another favorite, pineapple buns (or bo lo baos). (These buns don’t actually contain pineapple — they’re named such because of the crackly topping that vaguely resembles a pineapple.) I finally had a chance to test this theory by making these hybrid pineapple coconut buns, and let me tell you — Best. Idea. Ever. I honestly could eat these for breakfast every day! They were just divine slightly warm from the oven, but lasted very well for several days, just needing a few seconds in the microwave to restore the soft texture.
A few notes:
As written, making these pineapple coconut buns is a two day project. I prepare the levain for the bread in the morning, mix the dough in the afternoon, and shape/fill/bake the buns the next day. If you don’t have a sourdough starter or want to make this a shorter project, you can use the dough in the original Chinese Coconut Cocktail Buns post — just divide into 12 pieces and shape/fill/bake as directed below.
I highly recommend using caster (or superfine) sugar for both the filling and topping for the best consistency. I make my own by just grinding regular granulated sugar in the food processor for about a minute.
Pineapple Coconut Buns
Makes 12 buns
For the sourdough milk bread:
For the levain:
57g bread flour
Mix together and let ripen at room temperature until mature (6-12 hours, depending on environment).
284g bread/AP flour
52g unsalted butter, at room temperature
21g milk powder
All of the levain
For the coconut filling:
180g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
80g caster sugar
50g cake flour
60g milk powder
90g unsweetened desiccated coconut
For the pineapple topping:
125g cake flour
55g caster sugar
40g lard or shortening, at room temperature
7 g milk power
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp cream (plus more, if needed)
1 tsp condensed milk (optional; use extra cream instead)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 egg yolk, beaten
For the sourdough milk bread:
Mix together all final dough ingredients except the salt and butter until just combined. Cover and autolyse (rest) for 30-60 minutes.
Add salt, and knead dough until gluten is moderately developed (about 5 minutes on medium speed, using the dough hook on a stand mixer). The dough will start out sticky and rough but should gradually come together and feel quite smooth and stretchy. Add butter in two batches, mixing the first completely before adding the second. Continue kneading at medium speed until the gluten is very well developed and the dough passes the windowpane test as demonstrated here. The dough should be smooth and supple (and quite lovely to handle!). This will take quite some time, especially if done by hand. Consider it your arm workout for the day!
Transfer to a clean and lightly oiled bowl, cover, and bulk rise at room temp for 2 hours. The dough will be noticeably expanded, but not doubled. Fold, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 8 hours, or overnight.
The next day, take the dough out and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Divide into 12 equal portions and shape into loose rounds. Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and rest for 1 hour.
While the dough is resting, prepare the filling and topping. To make the filling, cream together the butter and sugar until combined. Add the cake flour, milk powder, and coconut and mix to combine. I like to chill my filling for 20-30 minutes to make it easier to handle.
To make the topping, combine the flour, sugar, milk powder, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Add the lard or shortening and rub it into the dry ingredients. Whisk together the egg yolk, cream, vanilla, and condensed milk and pour over the dry ingredients. Stir to combine, then knead until a dough forms. If the mixture is too dry to hold together, add cream a tsp at a time until everything is hydrated. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature.
When the dough has rested, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Take the filling mixture and divide it into 12 equal portions (I like to roll it into rounds, then flatten slightly). Take a piece of dough and roll it into a circle, making the edges a little thinner than the middle. Place a portion of filling in the center, then fold the edges up and over the filling and pinch tightly to seal. Place seam side down on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough.
Cover the buns with lightly oiled plastic wrap and proof at room temperature until about doubled in size, about 5-7 hours. When the buns are nearly ready, preheat the oven to 400F.
Just before baking, top the buns. Divide the topping dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece between your hands to form a ball. Working one at a time, flatten a piece with your hand. Using a rolling pin, roll into a thin round big enough to cover a bun. (I find covering the dough with a piece of plastic wrap while rolling makes this easy to do.) Brush the top of the bun with a bit of water, then carefully place the topping round on top, using a small offset spatula. Repeat with remaining buns.
Brush the top of each bun with the beaten egg yolk. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375F and continue baking until the tops are golden brown and buns sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, about 10-15 more minutes. As soon as the buns come out of the oven, brush with simple syrup. Leftover buns store well for a few days in an airtight container. Microwave for 15-20 seconds to soften.
March is just around the corner but here in Toronto we’re still firmly planted in winter, with a good foot of snow outside our front door. Hailing from a part of the world where daffodils often start blooming in February, I often start feeling a little color-deprived this time of year. Thank God for winter citrus! Just having a bowl of lemons, limes, and oranges around provides a truly welcome splash of color.
Since I usually get a little citrus-happy and stock my grocery cart with a few too many lemons or limes, I inevitably make some type of citrus poppyseed cake or two this time of year. My go-to recipe is the lemon pound cake from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible (one of my all time favorite cookbooks), but this time around I had some sour cream that needed using so I decided to try a different Rose recipe, her Triple Lemon Velvet Cake from Rose’s Baking Basics. It didn’t disappoint, with a lovely velvet crumb that keeps nicely for days. I swapped out lime for lemon since that’s what I had the most of, and added a little bit of hibiscus powder for a pretty pink glaze. Definitely a cure for the winter blues!
A few notes:
I used my favorite 6-cup Heritage bundt pan and it worked fabulously. Just be sure to grease and flour it well, and don’t wait too long to turn the cake out (about 10 minutes works for me). This cake can also be baked in a regular loaf pan; the baking time should be roughly the same.
The original recipe calls for either cake or all-purpose flour. If you use all cake flour the crumb will be a bit more fluffy; with all-purpose a bit more dense. My personal preference is a a mix of the two (50/50).
I found hibiscus powder at my local bulk/health food store, but it is also easily found on Amazon.
Preheat oven to 350F with a rack in the lower third of the oven. Grease and flour a 6-cup bundt pan (or grease and line a loaf pan with parchment paper).
In a glass measuring cup, whisk together the egg yolks, vanilla extract, and 1/4 (30g) of the sour cream.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the sugar and zest. Use your fingers to rub the zest into the sugar until fragrant. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds to combine.
Add the butter and remaining sour cream (90g). Mix on low until the dry ingredients are moistened, then increase the speed to medium and beat for about a minute to aerate the batter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and paddle.
Add the yolk mixture in two portions, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until springy to the touch and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
While the cake is baking, prepare the lime syrup. In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the lime juice and sugar until the sugar has completely dissolved. Cover and set aside.
As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, transfer to a wire rack. Poke the bottom of the cake all over with a skewer and brush the bottom with about 1/3 of the syrup. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto a serving plate. Brush the top and sides of the cake with the remaining syrup.
When the cake has cooled completely, make the hibiscus glaze. Whisk the hibiscus powder into the lime juice. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Whisk in the hibiscus-lime juice, followed by the butter. Pour or drizzle the glaze onto the cake.
A few months ago, my husband casually mentioned that one of his favorite breakfasts was a bagel with cream cheese. How did I not know this, after five years of marriage??? After bemoaning that fact for awhile, I decided to get to work on a house bagel recipe.
I’ve posted a bagel recipe before, which is definitely delicious and worth making. But this time around I really wanted to put my own spin on bagels, incorporating my favorite features of New York (chewiness) and Montreal-style (a touch of sweetness and enrichment from eggs and oil) bagels and adding sourdough. After test batch after test batch, here we are!
A few notes:
There are many ways to shape bagels, but I prefer the rope method. It makes for a nice even crumb and the center hole stays a bit more open. If you need a visual, this video is similar to what I do.
This recipe calls for a couple special ingredients — vital wheat gluten and barley malt syrup. I can get both easily at my local bulk food / health food stores. In a pinch, you can sub in more bread flour for the VWG and honey or brown sugar for the barley malt syrup, but I really do feel like these two ingredients make bagels more….bagel-y! The VWG adds extra chew and the barley malt syrup has a unique flavor that is so distinctive.
This dough is quite stiff so it’s easiest to mix it in a stand mixer with a dough hook. If you do it by hand be prepared for a good workout — it’ll probably take a good 15+ minutes of hand kneading.
Bagels are best enjoyed soon after baking. You can toast them on the second or third day (store them in a plastic bag), but any longer than that I’d recommend splitting and freezing, then reheating in the toaster.
Makes ten 3 oz. bagels / Adapted from many sources
340g bread flour (I have subbed in 15% whole wheat flour with good results)
10g vital wheat gluten (makes bagels extra chewy — sub more bread flour if you don’t have it)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the bread flour, vital wheat gluten (if using), milk powder, sugar, and salt.
In a large glass measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the water, olive oil, egg, barley malt syrup, and starter.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, then turn the mixer on low to combine.
Turn the mixer up to medium-low and mix until the dough is very smooth and strong (about 8 minutes, but depends on the strength of your mixer).
Turn the dough out onto an unfloured work surface and form into a smooth ball. Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap or a large mixing bowl and let rest for 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into 10 equal portions, about 85g / 3 oz. each. Round each piece into a ball (it doesn’t have to be too tight) and let rest another 10 minutes.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and dust with semolina.
To shape the bagels, roll each piece into an even rope (not tapered) about 10 inches long. Wrap the rope around your hand, with the ends overlapping by about 2 inches in your palm. Roll your palm firmly on your unfloured work surface to seal the ends together. Use a bit of water to help the ends stick together if needed. Transfer shaped bagels to the prepared baking sheet.
Once all the bagels are shaped, cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for about 4 hours, or until noticeably puffy (they will not double in size). To check if the bagels have risen enough, fill a bowl with warm water. Place a bagel in the water and if it floats within 10 seconds, the bagels have risen enough. If not, keep checking every 15-20 minutes until a bagel passes the float test. (Pat the water off the test bagel before returning to the sheet pan.)
Place the bagels in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
When you are ready to poach and bake the bagels, preheat the oven to 500F with a rack in the middle. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare a large cooling rack with a dishtowel underneath and carefully transfer the bagels to the rack, brushing the semolina off the bottoms. Redust the sheet pan with more semolina.
Once the water comes to a full boil, add the honey/barley malt syrup and baking soda. Stir to dissolve.
Drop as many bagels as will comfortably fit in your pot (usually 3 or 4) and poach for about 45-60 seconds. Flip the bagels and poach for another 45-60 seconds. Remove the bagels with a slotted spoon and transfer to the cooling rack. Let drain for about 30 seconds, then transfer to the sheet pan and sprinkle with desired toppings. Repeat with the remaining bagels.
Bake the bagels at 500F for 5 minutes, then turn the oven down to 450F and bake another 10-15 minutes, or until you reach the desired color. Cool bagels on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before splitting, slathering with cream cheese, and devouring. Bagels are best enjoyed the day they’re baked, but leftovers can be stored in a plastic bag for a couple days or split and frozen, well wrapped, for up to a month.
Is there anything more comforting than the smell of buttery pastry baking away on a cold winter’s day? Winter is definitely my favorite time of year to make puff pastry and laminated doughs, so here we are with another way to use that rough puff pastry from the raspberry palmiers recipe. But this time we’re going savory with these curry beef puffs, inspired by the Asian pastries often found on dim sum carts or in Chinese bakeries.
Crisp and flaky with a luscious curry filling, these little hand pies make a great portable snack or light lunch, and are a welcome addition to any party. The best part about making these guys at home is that you can really pack that filling in, because IMO there’s nothing worse than ordering one of these and getting only half a bite of curry. To be honest I probably overstuff mine just a bit, but as long as you can seal and crimp the edges well you shouldn’t have too much problems with overflow.
A few notes:
I really like using boxed curry roux blocks instead of curry powder for the filling; to me the flavor is better and they contain cornstarch which also helps thicken the filling. Curry roux blocks are easily found in Asian supermarkets. You can probably substitute curry powder (I’d start with 3-4 Tbsp), but you may need to add a cornstarch slurry to help thicken the filling.
For best results, make sure to thoroughly chill your pastries before baking. The pastry should be firm to the touch — about 10-15 minutes in the freezer for me.
While these are best the day they’re made, they recrisp well in a 350F oven or the toaster. I suspect you could also freeze some unbaked ones and bake straight from frozen; you may need a little longer on the baking time.
Curry Beef Puffs
Makes about 18-24 puffs
One full recipe rough puff pastry (or one box/two sheets, storebought and defrosted in the fridge overnight)
1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water or milk, for egg wash
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium high. When the oil is hot, add the onion, garlic and ginger. Season with a little soy sauce and sugar and saute until onion is softened, about 3-5 minutes.
Add the ground beef, using your wooden spoon or spatula to break up the meat. Cook until the beef is no longer pink, stirring frequently.
Add the grated carrot, curry cubes, and 1/2 c water and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the onions are completely soft and the mixture is thick, about 30 minutes. If the mixture starts to look dry or the onions don’t seem to be breaking down, add a tablespoon of water (I usually add about two more tablespoons during the simmering process).
Turn off the heat and check for seasonings, adding salt / sugar / pepper to taste. The filling should be just on the edge of too salty in order to cut through the rich pastry.
Cool to room temperature, remove the ginger slices, then cover and refrigerate until cold.
When the filling is cooled and you are ready to assemble, preheat the oven to 400F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
Remove one half (or one sheet) of puff pastry from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry into a large square about 12-13″ on each side. Trim the edges to neaten, then cut the sheet into 9-12 equal pieces, depending on what size puffs you want (I like to cut each sheet into twelve 4″ squares, which makes a nice appetizer size).
Transfer the squares to one of the parchment-lined sheets and chill while you repeat step 7 with the remaining pastry.
Remove the filling and 2-3 squares of pastry from the refrigerator (keep the rest of the pastry chilled — I find it’s easiest to work with only a few squares at a time). Brush the edges of one square with a bit of egg wash. Place a heaping Tbsp of filling in the center of the pastry. Fold the top left corner down to meet the bottom right corner to form a triangle (or you can fold them in half for rectangular pastries, if you prefer). Use a fork to crimp the edges.
Once you’ve completed half the pastries, transfer the sheet of filled pastries to the freezer while you finish filling the rest.
Once the first sheet of pastries is chilled (the pastry should be firm), remove from the freezer. Brush the tops with egg wash and prick with a fork to create steam holes. Transfer the second sheet of pastries to the freezer.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking, until pastries are golden brown and puffed. Allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes before consuming. Repeat with second sheet of pastries.
This is one of those cookies that ticks all the boxes for me: it’s intensely chocolatey, fairly simple to make (with minimal chilling time), and bakes up with the most beautiful shiny, crackly tops. The original recipe comes from Tartine No 3. I make just a few changes — mixing light and dark brown sugars as muscovado is hard for me to source, and adding a little cocoa and espresso powder for even more chocolate punch. The finishing salt really is essential on these guys — it tempers the sweetness and intensity of the chocolate and adds a touch of crunchy texture.
A few notes:
I find the best way to get those coveted shiny, crackly tops is to bake the cookies as soon as the dough is firm enough to scoop. If you wait too long the dough dries out a bit and the tops aren’t quite as shiny.
I like to scoop the dough using an OXO 1.5 Tbsp cookie scoop. Once all the dough is portioned, I go back and roll the each until they’re perfectly round. This helps the cookie bake into nice, uniform circles. If any are a little wonky after baking, you can nudge them into shape right when they come out of the oven using a small offset spatula. Or not. They’ll still be delicious.
When eaten warm, the cookies will be very soft and molten inside. Let them cool and they’ll be a bit more chewy and brownie-like (which is what I prefer). Cookies keep well for a few days in an airtight container.
227 good quality dark (70%) chocolate, chopped (I use Callebaut 70%)
30g unsalted butter
2 large eggs, at room temperature
60g light brown sugar
60g dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp espresso powder
43g whole rye flour
6g (1 Tbsp) dutch processed cocoa powder
Flaky or smoked salt, to finish
Bring a saucepan with an inch of water to a simmer. Combine the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl on top of the simmering water (making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water) and melt, stirring occasionally. Once melted, remove from water and set aside.
Whisk together rye flour and cocoa powder in a small bowl.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the eggs, sugars, baking powder, salt, espresso powder, and vanilla. Turn the mixer on low to combine, then turn the speed up to medium-high and whip until the mixture is thick, foamy, and roughly tripled in volume (about 6 minutes).
Turn the mixer speed to low and slowly drizzle in the chocolate-butter mixture, mixing just to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the flour mixture and mix just to combine. Use a spatula to scrape up and over a couple times from the bottom to make sure the batter is well-mixed.
Cover the bowl and refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes, until the dough is firm enough to scoop but not hard.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Once the dough is sufficiently chilled, use a 1 1/2 Tbsp cookie scoop or spoon to portion the batter into about 15 even balls. Roll each one between your hands to make perfectly round — this will help them bake into lovely, perfect circles. Place the balls about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets and sprinkle with a generous pinch of flaky or smoked salt.
Bake one sheet at a time for about 9-11 minutes, until the cookies are puffed and beginning to crack. Cool on the sheets for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
These little confections have been five years in the making. Pretzel salted caramels were part of the dessert menu at our wedding reception. We didn’t manage to eat them during the actual party, but some kind soul tucked some in a to-go box for us.
And and enjoy we did. And by “we” I mean “I.” Somehow within the next 12 hours I polished all of them off without giving poor David even a sniff of them. (One might say it was a sign of things to come — the running joke is that David has to take chocolate to work if he wants to have some, because I will gradually take care of at anything left at home.)
Anyways, ever since that first day of marriage I have been intending to reverse-engineer pretzel salted caramels so I could make David his own batch. It took me half a decade, but finally — just in time for our 5th anniversary — I did it!
Part of what kept me from making these sooner was, honestly, the fear of candy-making. It’s not something I do too often, so I’m always a little worried that my caramel will be the wrong consistency or my chocolate won’t temper correctly. I really shouldn’t have worked it up so much in my mind because honestly, it’s not that scary. Sure, there are things I could do better but overall, I am thrilled with how these pretzel salted caramels turned out! The caramel has the perfect amount of chew, and the buttery pretzel layer helps balance out the sweetness. A dip in dark chocolate and an extra sprinkle of flaky salt help pull everything together. Make a batch for your Valentine — or for yourself, I won’t tell.
A few notes:
The success of the caramel layer depends on an accurate thermometer (I have this one). Make sure the probe is submerged in the syrup but not touching the bottom of the pot to get an accurate reading.
Before starting the caramel layer, I recommend having all your ingredients measured out and all your tools in place. You don’t want to be rummaging around for your flaky salt or whisk with a hot pot of sugar bubbling on the stove.
The caramel recipe is adapted from David Lebovitz. I’ve used it once before and followed it to a T, and the caramel tasted great but was just slightly too chewy for my tastes. So this time I stopped dropped the final temp by 5 degrees and it was just right for me.
When cutting the caramel block into individual candies, I like to use a large chef’s knife. Between cuts I wipe it down with a hot towel and lightly grease it with a neutral vegetable oil.
If you’re pressed for time, you can skip the chocolate dip and just wrap the caramels with wax paper or cellophane. (Or do what I did and go half and half.)
About the chocolate dip: after tempering, I would recommend just working with about 1/3 of the chocolate at a time (keep the remainder in a warmish spot so it doesn’t set). You will inevitably get little pretzel bits in the chocolate as you dip, so it’s nice to switch to a fresh dish every so often so your candies stay nice and neat. Any leftover chocolate you can spread out and dry, then chop and add to your next batch of brownies or chocolate chunk cookies!
About tempering: I am not an expert. At all. I usually avoid it, but because I wanted to store these at room temp I decided to go for it. I used the sous vide method outline on Serious Eats which was fairly straightforward.
Pretzel Salted Caramels
Makes one 8×8 pan, about thirty-six 1 1/4″ candies
For the pretzel base:
200g mini salted pretzels (if using unsalted, add a generous 1/2 tsp kosher salt)
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line an 8×8 square pan with foil and lightly grease the foil.
In the bowl of a food processor, grind the pretzels (and the salt, if using) into a fine powder. Add the melted butter and pulse until combined. The mixture should hold together easily when squeezed, but shouldn’t feel overly greasy.
Press the pretzel mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan (I like to use the bottom of a measuring cup or shot glass to really press it down evenly).
Bake until firm and golden, about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while you prepare the caramel layer.
To make the caramel, heat the cream in a small saucepan with half of the butter (30g), vanilla and fine sea salt until the mixture just comes to the boil. Remove from heat, cover, and keep warm while you continue.
In a medium heavy duty saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, combine the corn syrup with the sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring gently, to make sure the sugar melts smoothly. Once the mixture is melted together and the sugar is evenly moistened, only stir is as necessary to keep it from getting any hot spots. If you notice any sugar granules on the side of the pot, brush them with a pastry brush dipped in water.
Cook until the syrup reaches 310ºF (155ºC).
Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the warm cream mixture until smooth. (The mixture will bubble up furiously, so be very careful!)
Return to the heat and cook the mixture, without stirring, to 255-260F (124-127C — see notes above).
Remove the pan from the heat, lift out the thermometer, and whisk in the remaining 30g butter until it’s melted and the mixture smooth.
Pour the mixture over the pretzel layer. After ~5 minutes, sprinkle the surface with 1/4 tsp flaky salt. Allow to set at room temperature for at least 4 hours, or overnight. (Do not cover while the pan is still warm; once it has come to room temperature you can cover it with a piece of foil.)
Once the caramel is set, use a large, sharp knife to cut the slab into 6 long equal strips. Cut each strip into 6 equal pieces. If not coating with chocolate, wrap each caramel in a piece of wax paper.
To coat caramels with chocolate, temper the chocolate according to your preferred method (I prefer the sous vide method — see notes above). Place a caramel on a fork and submerge in the chocolate. Lift out the caramel and tap the fork several times to remove any excess chocolate, then scrape the bottom of the fork along the rim of the bowl and transfer the coated caramel to a piece of parchment paper. Allow to set for a minute, then sprinkle with flaky salt. Let chocolate cool and set completely at room temperature before transferring to an airtight container.
This post is sponsored by Président® brand. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.
If you’re looking for a way to spread the love this upcoming Valentine’s Day, might I suggest you do it through crisp, buttery cookies? Homemade palmiers, to be precise. Traditionally, these French cookies (also known as elephant ears or French hearts) are made by dusting and rolling puff pastry in sugar, then baking until beautifully crisp and caramelized — a simple but addictive treat that goes down perfectly with an espresso or cup of tea. Today we’re jazzing palmiers up by adding some freeze-dried raspberries, which add not only a bright flavor but also the prettiest natural pink color!
Palmiers don’t require many ingredients, so it’s important to use the good stuff: namely, high quality butter. I used Président® unsalted butter, a rich European-style butter made from cultured cream. It’s a dream to work with as far as pastry-making is concerned: it rolls out easily and doesn’t crack or melt as easily as lower-fat butters tend to do. And of course, the taste is just next-level delicious — ultra-creamy with a slight tang from the cultured cream!
My version of palmiers start with rough puff pastry. If the thought of laminated pastry makes you want to run for the hills, fear not! Rough puff is classic puff pastry’s laid-back cousin. While there’s still rolling and folding and chilling involved, the process is quicker and a lot more laid-back compared to classic puff — and the result is still wonderfully flaky. Once you’ve got the technique down, you’ll be wanting to whip up batches of rough puff for hand pies, turnovers, galettes, and other delicious delights.
A few notes:
For best results, keep your pastry cool but pliable. It should be fairly easy to roll out, but not sticky or soft. Chilling times are approximate but can vary greatly from kitchen to kitchen. If you live in a warm climate or have hot hands, you may want to chill your flour before starting and/or chill longer between folds. And if your kitchen or fridge is exceptionally cool, you may need less chilling time.
Once you’ve added the raspberry sugar to the pastry, you’ll want to bake your palmiers as soon as the dough is chilled — don’t keep the pastry in the fridge too long, as the sugar will draw moisture from the dough and create a sticky mess. If you want to bake your palmiers later, you can store the uncut log in the freezer well-wrapped, and slice and bake directly from frozen. Frozen palmiers will likely need a few extra minutes to bake.
Keep a close eye on your palmiers as they bake, as they can quickly go from golden brown to scorched! You do want to get them as caramelized as possible for the best flavor and lasting crispness (underbaked palmiers tend to go soggy faster).
Makes 20-24 cookies
For the rough puff pastry (makes enough for a double batch of palmiers):
250g cold water (optional: replace 10g water with freshly squeezed lemon juice)
For the raspberry sugar:
100g granulated sugar
15g freeze-dried raspberries
To make the rough puff pastry, combine the flours, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.
Add the chilled butter to the flour mixture and use your fingers to flatten the cubes of butter. Toss with the flour so that all the butter pieces are coated.
Add the liquid and gently stir with a spatula just to combine. At this point the dough should be quite shaggy, but if you squeeze a bit in your hand it should hold together.
Cover and chill for 15-20 minutes, or until cool but not too stiff.
Lightly flour a work surface and rolling pin and turn the chilled dough out. Roll the dough into a long rectangle about 8″ x 20″, roughly 1/4″ inch thick. The pastry will seem rather patchy and not quite cohesive — this is normal; it will come together with the folds. Try to keep your edges and corners as straight and square as possible, but don’t stress too much about it.
Using a bench scraper, fold the top third of the dough down and the bottom third of the dough up like a letter, brushing off excess flour as you fold. Rotate your dough 90 degrees so the opening is on the right. This is your first fold.
Repeat steps 5-6 for a total of 4 folds. Depending on the temperature of your kitchen, your pastry may stay cool enough for you to do two folds back to back. But if at any point your dough starts to feel warm or sticky/soft, transfer it to a sheet pan and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes or so to chill.
After the final fold, wrap the pastry well and chill for at least 45 minutes, or up to 2 days. (For longer storage, freeze well-wrapped dough for up to a month. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using.)
While the dough is chilling, make the raspberry sugar. In the bowl of a food processor, grind the freeze-dried raspberries into a fine powder. Mix with the 100g granulated sugar.
When you’re ready to shape your palmiers, remove the chilled pastry and cut in half crosswise. Wrap and return one half to the fridge, or freeze for longer storage. (You’ll only need half the pastry for this recipe.)
On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry into a rectangle about 10″ x 13″, between 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick. Rotate and flip the pastry and flour your surface as needed to avoid sticking. When you’ve reached the correct size/thickness, use a pastry wheel or a sharp knife to trim the edges to neaten.
Sprinkle an even layer of the raspberry-sugar mixture on one side of the dough. Use your rolling pin to gently press the sugar into the dough. Flip and repeat with the other side.
Fold the long edges of your pastry in so they meet exactly in the middle, then fold one half over the other half as if closing a book (you’ll have a total of 4 layers). Transfer the log to a sheet pan and chill for about 10-15 minutes to make cutting the palmiers easier.
While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 425F with a rack in the middle and line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cut the chilled pastry into 1/2″ thick slices. Dip each side in the raspberry sugar before laying 2″ apart on the prepared sheet pans. (The palmiers will puff significantly in the oven, so be sure to leave plenty of space between each.) If the dough is soft at all, return to the fridge or freezer to firm up before baking (see notes above).
Bake the palmiers one sheet at a time for 20-30 minutes, lowering the heat to 400F halfway through baking. (Keep the remaining unbaked palmiers chilled.) Check the bottoms of the palmiers after ~12 minutes; if they are brown and caramelized, flip them over for the remaining baking time. If not, keep checking every 1-2 minutes until they are. Bake until both sides are a rich golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining cookies.
Once the palmiers are cool enough to handle, dip each side into the remaining raspberry sugar. Palmiers are best served the day they’re baked, but will keep for about 3 days at room temperature in an airtight container.
A classic cheesecake recipe is something every baker should have in his or her repertoire. It’s one of those crowd-pleasing desserts that can be tailored to fit the season or whatever you have on hand. However, finding the perfect cheesecake base can be a bit of a Goldilocks situation: this one’s too dense, that on’es too soft, too tart, too sweet… Well, friends, I think this one is juuuuust right!
The actual cheesecake portion is adapted from my friend Fanny’s cookbook, Oh Sweet Day! (You may remember this cranberry lime tart from there as well.) To me, it is cheesecake texture perfection: beautifully smooth and creamy but with a lightness as well, thanks to folded in egg whites and a long, gentle bake in a low oven. I love the textural contrast of a cookie crumb crust, so that’s what I’ve gone with here. And because it’s currently citrus season and I always seem to have a jar or three of lemon or lime curd in the fridge, this version is gussied up with a smooth lime glaze, the perfect tart foil for the creamy dreamy cheesecake base.
A few notes:
The cookie crust is fairly straightforward; you can really use whatever dry cookie you like or have on hand: graham crackers, gingersnaps, shortbread, Oreos without the middle, etc. You can even sub in some nuts if you like. Depending on the type/brand of cookie you use, you may need to adjust the ratio of butter to crumbs. I usually start with the amounts listed and go from there. I’m basically looking for a mixture that holds together when squeezed but doesn’t feel overly wet or greasy.
One key to a successful cheesecake is room temperature ingredients. This helps everything combine easily and smoothly for the most even, creamy texture. Make sure to take out your cream cheese, sour cream, and eggs ahead of time! Cream cheese especially needs a bit of time to get to temperature — I like to take it out at least a couple of hours before mixing and baking.
While Fanny doesn’t instruct to use a water bath, I’ve always used one and have never had a dry or cracked cheesecake — so I always do it! Instead of putting the cheesecake pan directly in the water, I just put a large roasting or 9×13 pan with a couple inches of hot water on the rack below the cheesecake.
I don’t have many springform pans so I usually bake cheesecakes in regular cake pans — in this case, I used an 8×3 round cake pan. Just grease your pan well and line the bottom with parchment, and don’t try to remove the cake until it is thoroughly chilled and set. To release, have ready a flat, large plate or cutting board covered with plastic wrap and your eventual serving plate. Warm the bottom of the pan on a burner and run a thin offset spatula all around the cake. Overturn onto the plastic lined plate/board, peel off the parchment, and flip back onto your serving plate.
Glazing is easiest when your cheesecake is completely chilled and the glaze is just barely warm. If some glaze drips over the edge, no big deal — just wipe it off!
500g cream cheese (2 blocks — not the tub kind; I use Philadelphia brand), at room temperature
240g (1 c) sour cream, at room temperature
200g (1 c) sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp lemon or lime juice
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
For the lime curd glaze:
100g lime curd (homemade or store-bought), at room temperature
5g powdered pectin
Preheat the oven to 350F with one rack in the middle and one below. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan (springform or regular works) and line the bottom with parchment paper.
In a food processor, combine the cookie crumbs, salt, and melted butter. The mixture should hold together if you squeeze it in your hand, but shouldn’t feel overly greasy. If the mixture doesn’t hold together, add more melted butter a teaspoon at a time until it does. If overly greasy, add more cookie crumbs a teaspoon at a time until you get the right texture.
Press the cookie crumbs into the bottom of the pan and slightly up the sides, if desired. Use a measuring cup or shot glass to press the crumbs in firmly and evenly.
Bake until just set, about 12 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack completely before filling.
Lower the oven temperature to 250F. Combine the cream cheese, sugar, salt, vanilla, and lemon/lime juice in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until combined. Scrape down the sides, add the sour cream and pulse until smooth. Add the egg yolks one at a time, pulsing after each yolk just to combine. Scrape the batter into a large bowl.
Using a hand or stand mixer, whip the egg whites on medium low until frothy. Turn up the speed to medium-high and whip until soft peaks.
Fold the meringue into the cream cheese batter in three stages. Fold just until the batter is homogeneous and no white streaks remain.
Pour the batter into the pan with the prepared crust. Tap the pan on the counter several times to dislodge any large air bubbles.
Transfer the cheesecake to the middle rack in the oven. On the rack below, place a roasting pan or 9×13 baking pan filled with a couple inches of hot water.
Bake for about 80-90 minutes, or until the edges of the cheesecake are set and puffed but the very center still looks wet and wobbly. Turn off the oven, crack open the oven door (I use a wooden spoon to prop it open) and allow the cheesecake to cool completely, at least an hour.
Remove the cooled cheesecake from the oven. Run an offset spatula around the edges to loosen (but keep the cake in its pan) and refrigerate at least 4 hours (preferably overnight).
To make the lime curd glaze, bring 100g water to a boil over medium heat. Whisk together the sugar and pectin.
When the water reaches a boil, slowly add the sugar and pectin, whisking continuously. Cook the mixture, still whisking, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool until barely warm.
Remove the cheesecake from the pan and transfer to a serving plate / cake stand. Use an offset spatula to smooth the sides if needed.
Gently whisk together the 100g of room-temperature lime curd and 50g of the barely warm pectin simple syrup (the remainder of the syrup can be refrigerated for another use). Do this slowly so as not to introduce air bubbles into the mixture, which could show up in the final glaze.
Carefully pour the glaze into the center of the cheesecake and use a small offset spatula to gently spread it to the edges. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
I’ve been dreaming of making this cake for some time now: soft, fluffy layers of chiffon sandwiched with citrus curd and mango frosting. I’ve tried once or twice in the past, but it was never as good as I wanted: cake layers were too dry, or the frosting was too heavy. But this time around it was just right! This is the perfect style of cake to serve to people who don’t like desserts that are too sweet, or as a light ending to a large meal.
A few notes:
If you’ve never made any type of sponge cake before, I recommend reading through the tips on my mom’s sponge cake recipe before starting. Same principles apply.
If you make your own lime curd for this recipe, I definitely recommend saving your lime rinds and making some fresh lime syrup to use as your cake soak. I followed the directions here (substituting limes for lemons) and just let the mixture sit overnight before draining.
The mango whipped cream frosting uses a game-changing food processor method by Stella Parks (which she learned from a Japanese bakery), and it’s the perfect accompaniment to chiffon — light but flavorful from the addition of freeze-dried fruit. I really don’t recommend using a butter-based frosting with this cake as it’s just too heavy.
I got my freeze dried mangoes from Trader Joe’s, but you can also source it online.
To decorate this cake, I dehydrated some lemon and lime slices by baking them at 200F for a few hours until dry (flipping them every hour or so). I also added a bit of chopped freeze-dried mango.
~4 Tbsp lime curd (I use David Lebovitz’s recipe: it makes a lot more than you need for this cake, but you can use the rest on toast or freeze leftovers)
Dehydrated lemon and lime slices (optional, for garnish — see notes)
Chopped freeze-dried mango (optional, for garnish)
For the lime chiffon cake:
Preheat the oven to 350F with a rack in the lower third. Line three 6-inch pans with parchment, but do not grease the sides of the pan.
Sift together the cake flour, 150g caster sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl (you’ll eventually be mixing the whole batter in this bowl, so choose a nice wide one!). Whisk to combine. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add the egg yolks, lime juice, lime zest, water, oil, and vanilla to the well, and whisk until smooth.
Beat the egg whites on medium-low speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar, increase the speed to medium, and whisk until soft peaks. With the mixer still on medium, slowly add the remaining 25 grams caster sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until you have glossy firm peaks.
Using a silicone spatula, carefully fold the egg whites into the egg yolk batter 1/3 at a time. Mix just until the batter is homogeneous and no white streaks remain.
Divide the batter among the three prepared pans, about 250g each. Give each pan a couple raps on the counter to dislodge any big air bubbles.
Bake until the cakes are puffed and firm and a tester comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes (do not open the oven door until at least 20 minutes have passed or the cakes might collapse!). Allow to cool a few minutes in the pan, then run an offset spatula around the edges (this helps minimize shrinkage). Cool another 10-15 minutes in the pan, then remove the cakes from the pans and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Once cooled, Chill the cakes before frosting, at least 1/2 an hour.
For the mango whipped cream:
In a food processor, grind the freeze dried mango and sugar into a fine powder. Stir with a fork to break up any clumps.
Add the cream and pulse until very thick and creamy, about the consistency of Greek yogurt. Be careful not to over-process or the cream will turn to butter! If you spoon out some of the cream, it should hold its shape when the spoon is overturned. Use immediately, or refrigerate until needed (it should keep for about a week).
Trim the tops of the cakes to level if needed and peel the parchment paper off each one. Place a dollop of cream on a cake board / plate / cake stand and place the first cake round on top.
Brush the top of the cake generously with syrup. Spoon about 1/3 c of mango whipped cream on top of the first round and spread it on smoothly with an offset spatula. Drizzle a couple tablespoons of lime curd in the center, taking care not to go too close to the edge so the curd won’t leak out the sides.
Repeat step 2 with the second layer. Finish by placing the last cake round top side down (soak it with simple syrup before placing it on top).
Spread a thin, even layer of mango whipped cream over the sides and top of the cake to lock the crumbs in. Refrigerate for about 15-20 minutes until set.
After the cake has chilled, spread a thick, even layer of cream on the top and sides. I used an offset spatula to create some texture. Decorate with dehydrated citrus slices and freeze-dried mango pieces, or as desired. Chill until ready to serve.