Category Archives: Fillings

Sfogliatelle Filling

This filling is mostly used for sfogliatelle riccia, but works nicely as a bake-in filling in other applications. It’s a touch on the fussy side, but the results are worth it. You’ll need:

2 cups whole milk
pinch salt
5 ounces (generous 3/4 cup) semolina
7 ounces (1 cup) ricotta cheese
4 ounces (generous 1/2 cup) sugar
2 egg yolks
3 ounces (about 1/2 cup) candied citrus peels or candied cherries, finely chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pour the milk into a medium saucepan and add the salt.

Bring the mixture to the boil. Sprinkle in the semolina, whisking gently all the while to keep lumps from forming. Cook the mixture for 2-3 minutes until it thickens to a paste-like consistency.

About like so. Remove it from the heat, pour it into a bowl and allow it to cool.

Meanwhile, press the ricotta through a fine mesh strainer, again, to eliminate lumps.

Like this. Huh. Looks pretty much the same. Oh well.

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl…

…and stir them together.

Cover the filling with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. It will store up to two days.

Filed under:  Pastry, Sfogliatelle Filling | 6 Comments

Making Crème Mousseline

Crème mousseline — also known as German buttercream — is a silky and decadent combination of pastry cream and butter. It’s often used as a filling, though it works just as well as a frosting, as the “buttercream” moniker implies. The proportions for crème mousseline are 2 cups pastry cream to one cup very soft butter. Yeah, I know. Wow.

Here I am adding one cup of unsalted, cultured butter to 4 cups of pastry cream that I made with the full amount of sugar and twice the vanilla. I’m getting light-headed already.

I beat that in for about three minutes and it’s looking a little curdled, which is OK. So I’m pressing on with the second cup. Steady me.

After another three minutes or so of beating, this is the result:

A perfectly smooth and glossy mousseline/buttercream. Should yours still be lumpy, it could be because the butter was too cool when you started. That’s not a problem. Just let the mixture sit and warm until the butter softens completely, then beat — or whip — the mixture some more. In extreme cases where you have lots and lots of cool butter pieces, it’s OK to heat the mixture a little. Put it in a microwave-safe container and zap it for five seconds, stir, zap another five seconds until the mousseline is slightly warmed and the butter is utterly softened. Some butter may separate out when you do that, which is completely fine. Just dump the whole mess back into your stand mixer and apply the whip until it fluffs up as seen above.

For those who are curious about buttercreams but worry about syrup making, crème mousseline makes an excellent intro to the genre. You just combine everything and beat it. It’s also a nice way to recycle leftover pastry cream because the addition of lots of butter makes crème mousseline freeze-able. You’ll need to re-whip it once it thaws, but that’s no big deal. Overall it’s an eggier taste than a standard buttercream, but since when was that ever a problem?

I should add that some German buttercream recipes call for double more butter, up to double. That’s too much for me. You’d need to revive me with smelling salts.

Filed under:  Crème Mousseline, German Buttercream (Crème Mousseline), Pastry | 30 Comments

Making Adzuki Bean Paste

This staple Asian pastry filling is best made from scratch, since store bought is not only hard to find, it’s of highly variable consistency, texture, color and sweetness. Make it yourself and you can control all those factors, and it’s not difficult. Think of it as a sweet Asian version of refried beans, though now that I think about it, adzuki paste’s starchy sweetness reminds me more of thick mashed sweet potatoes. Excellent! Begin by soaking about a three cups of dried adzuki beans (available at Asian markets and/or your nearest Whole Foods in the bulk section) in water for about six hours.

Put the pot on the heat and bring it to the boil. At that point strain the whole mess, pour cold water over them and start again. Bring the beans to the boil a second time, then turn the pot down to a simmer and cook them about one and a half hours, adding water when needed, until the beans can easily be squished to paste between your fingers.

Strain them (your batch will produce more than this…this photo just turned out well)

Now comes the laborious part. That is unless you have one of these strainer attachments for your stand mixer. We used this to make baby food when the girls were younger, but it’s great for making a smooth bean paste, which you have to press through a strainer with the back of a spoon otherwise. That’s not the end of the world, but it’ll take you a good ten minutes of pressing.

Me, I just poured the beans into the insert, attached the little flat blade to the stand mixer, and turned it on. It pushed the beans through the screen in about 3 minutes, leaving a residue of skins (note: this is the remains of a bout six cups of uncooked beans…I made extra in case of mooncake disaster).

The bean starch just got pushed through and ended up in the bowl like so. Nice! You can of course skip this step to make a rustic, chunky bean paste. Me, I like my adzuki bean paste smooth like my (imaginary) Chinese grandmother made it.

So then. Once the paste cools completely it will be quite firm, again, like leftover frijoles refritos. These are cold as I refrigerated them while went out of town over the weekend. To make the finished paste, put four cups of mashed beans in a saucepan add about 3/4 teaspoon of salt…

…and 1 1/4 cups cup of golden syrup or refiner’s syrup to the beans. You can add more or less. The syrup not only keeps the mixture thick, it adds caramel and/or molasses notes to the paste (it also works as a preservative). You can use brown sugar or granulated sugar if you like, though you’ll get a somewhat thinner consistency.

Bring the paste up to the boil. Now then, since this paste is going into mooncakes and I wanted a nice purply sunset color for my cooked egg moons — rather than gray/red — I added some red food coloring. Do as you will!

Then I turned the paste out onto a sheet pan for faster cooling.

After about half an hour it was ready to be used or refrigerated again until the time was ripe!

Filed under:  Adzuki Bean Paste, Pastry | 14 Comments

Chocolate Chantilly Cream

Think of chocolate Chantilly cream as a really thin ganache — whipped. Yes, you can make chocolate Chantilly cream with cocoa instead, however the cocoa butter in the chocolate makes a nice stabilizer, helping the whipped cream hold its shape. If you wish to supplement the real chocolate with more cocoa powder to boost the chocolate flavor, you can.

Begin by combining a cup of heavy cream with about two ounces of chocolate. These are 70% chips, but just about any chocolate will do.

Zap the mixture in the microwave for about 30 seconds on high and stir, then use as many more zaps of 15 seconds as you need to melt the chocolate completely (stir between each). The mixture will start out looking grainy…

…then smooth out as you re-establish your emulsion. Be advised, the darker the chocolate the more you’ll need to blend the mixture to avoid flecks. I got some as you can see above, but they were small enough that I really didn’t mind them. Use a stick blender to get a perfectly smooth emulsion. Refrigerate the mixture for about 4 hours until it’s quite chilly.

Pour the whole thing into the bowl a mixer fitted with a whip.

And whip to soft or stiff peaks, whichever you prefer. If you want to sweeten the cream along the way, you can do that as well.

Filed under:  Chantilly Cream (Chocolate), Chocolate Chantilly Cream | 30 Comments

Making Diplomat Cream

Diplomat cream is what you use when you want the flavor of pastry cream but in a lighter, fluffier package. It makes an outstanding filling for all sorts of things that aren’t baked afterward (or are only finished in the oven or broiler, like brioche polonaise). The whipped cream it contains can’t take heat.

I know what you’re thinking: just how much whipped cream is in this, Joe? Well that’s up to you. Diplomat cream can be as light as 1-1 pastry cream to whipped cream. My ideal is 2-1 pastry cream to whipped cream. But you can go heavier or lighter as you see fit. I generally go with a less-sweet pastry cream and a slightly sweetened whipped cream, so the overall effect isn’t too sweet. If both components are just barely sweet enough, the finished product will be about perfect. Put the two in a bowl:

Fold gently together.

And bingo, you’re done! Use it right away.

Filed under:  Diplomat Cream, Diplomat Cream, Pastry | 17 Comments

Making Chocolate Filling

Bake-in chocolate fillings are strange animals because no matter what you do the chocolate is going to seize and go grainy, at least to some extent. Bar chocolate, chocolate sticks, ganache, chocolate chips, chocolate pastry cream…none of them will be the same after all that high oven heat. Which means a bake-in chocolate filling will never be creamy. Assuming you can accept that, and I have a feeling you can, proceed.

You’ll want to use a dark chocolate since that will bring the most chocolate flavor to the party. Start by chopping it as finely as you reasonably can. There’s nothing wrong with a few larger chunks in there.

Next combine the sugar and cinnamon. Why the sugar when chocolate is so delicious by itself? Because fillings are like sauces, they’re meant to add flavor to something larger than themselves. Thus their flavor profile often needs to be exaggerated. But on we go…

Add the butter and stir.

Then pour in the chopped chocolate. Stir thoroughly and it’s ready to use.

Filed under:  Chocolate Filling, Pastry | 7 Comments

Chocolate Filling

I can see the demand for chocolate kringle is high enough that I need to take some action here! Also I don’t have a bake-in chocolate filling on the site anywhere. The time is now! This is basically a chocolate rugelach filling, but use it however you see fit!

6-7 ounces (about a cup) cup finely chopped dark chocolate
4.5 ounces (2/3 cup) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons melted butter, cooled

Stir together the butter, sugar and cinnamon, then stir in the chocolate. Alternately you can chop everything up together in a food processor. Me, I’d rather not get the machine dirty if I don’t have to!

Filed under:  Chocolate Filling, Pastry | 10 Comments

Making Raisin Filling

The method for this extremely sweet, ultra-aromatic filling is a little unorthodox, but if you can suffer through a little stirring, it’s a snap. Start by rehydrating your raisins. Place them in a microwave-safe bowl and pour in water to cover. Zap them for 3-4 minutes until the water boils, then set them aside for half an hour. This, by the way, is a great technique anytime you want to add raisins that can actually be chewed easily to a filling.

While the raisins are steeping, beat the soft butter in a bowl, add the cardamom and beat everything together.

Add the warm cream and repeat.

Next comes the powdered sugar. Stir it in steadily. This mixture will be very stiff at first, but will shortly come together into a paste.

The paste will loosen up quite a bit when you finally add the drained raisins. In fact, since just a little water really loosens up anything that has powdered sugar in it, it’s a good idea to press the raisins while they’re in the strainer to get out as much residual moisture as you can. Add them in along with the chopped nuts and you’re ready to go!

Filed under:  Raisin Filling | 4 Comments

Raisin Filling Recipe

This filling is great for kringle, but also a lot of other things. I love cardamom and raisins together. Talk about a classic Scandinavian flavor, this is it!

1 cup golden raisins
4 ounces (1/2 cup) very soft butter
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 tablespoons cream, warm
8 ounces (2 cups) powdered sugar
1/2 cup chopped almonds

Place the raisin in a small microwave-safe bowl with water to cover. Zap on high for 3-4 minutes until the water is close to boiling. Let the raisins steep for half and hour, then drain. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat together the butter and cardamom. Stir in the warm cream, then stir in the sugar steadily. Last, add the raisins and almonds.

Filed under:  Pastry, Raisin Filling | 14 Comments

Making Ricotta Cream

For those who aren’t big fans of cream cheese fillings or frostings (I’m one of those), ricotta cream is a terrific alternative. It’s lighter and fresher tasting, especially when you make it with homemade ricotta. Yet it’s utterly delicious. Served with some sort of crisp cookie garnish, it makes a dessert all by itself. And of course it’s the classic filling for cannoli. Start by placing the ricotta in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle (you can do this by hand if you’d rather).

Beat it up for about three minutes until it’s creamy looking.

Add the powdered sugar and beat that in for about 30 seconds.

Scrape the bowl and add the vanilla.

Beat it another 10-15 seconds until it’s like so.

Lastly fold in any inclusions you like (mini chocolate chips or bits of candied citrus rind are the classics).

Done! Now where’s that spoon…

Filed under:  Pastry, Ricotta Cream, Ricotta Cream | 6 Comments