Category Archives: Bake-In Fillings

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 | 12 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

Prune Filling

Another fantastic kolache filling that works just as well in Danishes. Funny how that works, isn’t it? You need:

2 cups dried prunes
water or prune juice to cover
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch ground cloves

Place the prunes in a small saucepan and add water or prune juice to not-quite cover. Bring the mixture the boil, turn off the heat and let stand for 20 minutes. Cool the prunes and remove any pits. Here I’m working a half quantity.

Remove the prunes to a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and blend to a slightly chunky paste.

Done!

Filed under:  Pastry, Prune Filling | 9 Comments

Poppy Seed Filling

This is a classic kolache filling, but also works well with Danishes and various kinds of sugar cookies.

1 cup poppy seeds
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon cornstarch or flour

Bring the water to the boil and add the poppy seeds. Simmer covered for 20 minutes. Let the seeds stand about 15 minutes, drain them well (pour off any excess water and press them with the back of a spoon…or pour the while thing through a very fine med strainer or cheese cloth). Stir in the sugar, lemon zest and cornstarch (or flour).

If you can’t find poppy seeds in bulk anywhere, canned filling works fine. I stir in some fresh lemon zest to brighten the flavor.

Filed under:  Pastry, Poppyseed Filling | 6 Comments

Cottage Cheese/Farmer’s Cheese Filling

Great for kolaches or blintzes, this recipe would certainly have been a farmer’s cheese recipe back in the Old Country. In the States fresh country cheeses like that are harder to come by. Cottage cheese a a reasonable facsimile. Either need to be combined with cream cheese to keep them from weeping. If you’d like a lighter fat version of this, use all cottage cheese/farmer’s cheese and stir in 1/4 cup of tapioca powder.

8 ounces (1 cup) small curd cottage cheese or farmer’s cheese
8 ounces (1 cup) cream cheese
1.75 ounces (1/4 cup) powdered sugar (optional)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

Combine all in a small bowl and stir! You can 2 egg yolks if you like a more custard-ish result (assuming the filling is going to be baked).

Filed under:  Cottage Cheese/Farmer's Cheese Filling | 2 Comments

Sweet Potato Filling

Sweet Potato Filling

1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” cubes
1 medium onion, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons milk
Salt and pepper to taste

A great New-World twist on a classic potato blintz filling. Preheat your oven to 350. Toss the sweet potato cubes with the olive oil in a baking dish and and bake for about 1 hour, until the potatoes are tender. Meanwhile, chop the onion, and sweat them in a sauté pan with the butter until translucent but not brown. Mash the potatoes with the milk in a medium bowl and add the onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Meat Filling

Meat Filling

2 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil
1 small onion
1/2 pound ground beef or finely chopped brisket
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon tomato paste
salt and pepper pepper to taste

This classic blintz filling can be customized as you see fit. Chop the onion finely and sweat it in a sauté pan with the butter until translucent but not brown. Set aside. Add the meat to the pan and sauté until browned. Strain the fat, then add the onion back to the pan along with the parsley and the tomato paste. Stir to combine, adding and salt and pepper to taste.

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