Category Archives: Spread-On/Pipe-In Fillings

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

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 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

Ricotta Cream

This recipe is adapted from Grace Massa Langlois’ new book, Grace’s Sweet Life. If you haven’t been to her blog of the same name, I highly recommend that you visit. It’s a treasure trove of Italian and Italian-inspired bakery. Ricotta cream can be used as a filling for all sorts of things, but is most commonly seen piped into cannoli. You’ll need:

1 lb. 6 ounces (3 cups) fresh ricotta cheese, drained overnight
6 ounces (1 1/3 cups) confectioner’s sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1.75 ounces (1/3 cup) finely diced candied citron or orange peel (optional)
2.75 ounces (1/3 cup) miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Put the cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle. Beat until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the confectioner’s sugar and beat until fluffy and smooth, about 4 minutes. Stir in the candied peel or chocolate ships if using. Transfer the filling to an airtight container and refrigerate it until you’re ready to use it.

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

Making Stabilized Whipped Cream

Sure, there are plenty of purists out there who don’t believe cream should be adulterated with stabilizers. I’m with them…some of the time. The rest of the time I’m worried about my whipped cream holding up for long periods, on warm days or in the freezer. Then I’m looking for a little somethin’-somethin’ to help me get by.

That something is gelatin. Just a little will do wonders for your whipped cream’s stability, and honestly, it barely impacts the taste or texture. Start by melting a little gelatin. For 2 cups of cream you’ll start with a 1 teaspoon of powdered gelatin and a little ice water. Yes, these are my little silicone Trudeau bowls again. I love them, that’s why I plug them. They’re wonderful:

Pour about two tablespoons of the ice water into the gelatin and let it sit for five minutes (no stirring).

What you’re doing here is creating a little protein gel. See?

To use it you need to melt it. Zap your little silicone Trudeau bowl — if you have one — in the microwave. Use short full-power bursts of 5 seconds. That should be all you need to liquify it.

With that in hand, whip 2 cups cream.

Partially. Get it part-way thickened, then add your sugar…about 1/4 cup for this much cream.

Whip it for another ten seconds, than add any flavoring you want. Here I’m putting in about 3 tablespoons of espresso syrup.

Whip another ten seconds (you’ll probably be getting close to soft peaks by now) and pour in the melted gelatin.

Whip the cream the rest of the way, somewhere between soft and stiff peaks, according to your liking.

You’ll need to use this within about half an hour, which is when the gelatin will start setting up, making smooth spreading more difficult. Consume any leftovers on scones.

Filed under:  Pastry, Stabilized Whipped Cream, Stabilized Whipped Cream, Stabilized Whipped Cream | 50 Comments

Making Chiboust

Call it chi-BOOST, call it she-BOO, it’s a sweet, light and delicate filling either way. Pastry cream lightened with Italian meringue is what it is, and it works well in just about any context where you want a large volume of filling, but don’t want to overwhelm the eater with richness or heaviness. A Paris-Brest is a good example, or a Gâteau St. Honoré. Bear in mind that chiboust — like most meringues — doesn’t like humidity. And while it can be piped, pipe it only through large-bore nozzles, since constriction and pressure causes it to deflate and go runny, depending on how light it is. A standard chiboust is 2-1 meringue to pastry cream, but this one is 3-1.

Here I have about a cup of the firmer of the two pastry creams that are up on the site.

To that I’ll add a roughly equal amount of Italian meringue

…and fold it in. Then another equal quantity of meringue…

…and finally another until I’ve got something that looks about like this.

And ze she-boo, she iz done!

Filed under:  Chiboust, Chiboust, Pastry | Leave a comment

Pastry Cream 2

This pastry cream is excellent as a filling for éclairs, Paris-Brest or any application where a silky, slightly flowing pastry cream is preferred. It’s most often made from whole milk, so it’s a bit lighter than a standard pastry cream (which is often made with half heavy cream). Even though it has the same amount of sugar it doesn’t taste as sweet. To make it you’ll need:

the seeds of 1 vanilla bean
32 ounces (1 quart) whole milk or half-and-half
8 ounces sugar (1 cup plus one tablespoon)
12 egg yolks
1.25 ounces (generous 1/4 cup) cornstarch

Start by combining the seeds of the vanilla bean with the milk in a medium saucepan and bring it to the boil.

Give it a good whisk every so often.

Meanwhile, combine the yolks and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whip.

Whip on high for about three minutes until a thick ribbon drips off the whip.

With the mixer running on medium-low, add the cornstarch in a steady stream. Scrape the bowl to make sure it’s all incorporated.

Now add the hot milk in a steady stream.

When it’s completely incorporated, pour the whole works back into the saucepan…

…and whisking steadily, bring the mixture up to boiling. Let it bubble — not violently — for about 45 seconds to a minute. There’ll be a little foam on the top, gently stir that in.

Pour it into a bowl or onto a sheet pan, and allow it to cool for about ten minutes.

Lay on some plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Cool the pastry cream (if you’re using a bowl, placing it in an ice bath works the best) for about fifteen minutes, then put it in the refrigerator. A half recipe will cool down enough in half an hour to be placed in the fridge on its own.

Filed under:  Looser, More Silky, Pastry, Pastry Cream, Pastry Cream | 14 Comments

Making Praline Paste

Perfectly smooth, commercially-made praline paste is ubiquitous in many parts of Europe. Here in the States it’s virtually unknown. However once you taste it I have no doubt it will quickly attain a place of prominence in your spread pantheon — alongside nutella, peanut butter, jam and, for you Aussies and Brits, vegemite and marmite. It’s also very handy as a pastry ingredient, obviously. Begin by assembling your ingredients. The praline comes first. Lay the nuts out on a lightly oiled sheet of parchment paper.

Then make the caramel. Combine the sugar and the water in a pan…

…and swirl over high heat until it’s the darkness you prefer. I wait until I see wisp of smoke or two since I like mine with a slightly more pronounced flavor. Most people prefer theirs a slightly lighter amber.

Anyhow…pour the caramel over the nuts and allow the caramel to cool completely.

When cool, break up the praline and put the pieces in your food processor (you can also first break down the praline by putting it in a plastic bag and hitting it with a mallet, that will save some wear and tear on your food processor blades if you decide you want to do this a lot — thanks to reader Ed for the tip!).

Start processing the praline. After about 30 seconds or so you may start to wonder if you’ve done something wrong, since it pretty much stays a bunch of crumbs.

However after another 30 seconds or so you’ll start to see that the oil is leaking out of the chopped nuts and beginning to create a more butter-like mixture.

Another 30 seconds or so and you should have something that resembles home-made peanut butter. If not, if you’re having a hard time breaking down the praline, you can prime the pump with a tablespoon or two of oil. A nut oil is ideal (walnut oil, say), though a less expensive oil like peanut will work very well too. Failing that, a neutral vegetable oil will work just fine.

To reduce the particle size still further you can take this paste for a spin in your blender. That’s what I did to get my final, barely grainy consistency. But you may decide after tasting it that you don’t need to take things to that degree. It tastes amazing either way. Oh, and did I mention that for a subtle, slightly salty taste that sets the caramel off even more, you might want to add a quarter teaspoon or more of salt? I didn’t, no. Shame on me.

Filed under:  Pastry, Pastry Components, Praline Paste, Praline Paste | 43 Comments

Praline Paste Recipe

People tasting praline paste for the first time tend to fall to their knees and weep for all the wasted years. For while it is an ingredient, it’s also a spread in its own right, a sweet nut butter with strong caramel overtones. You’ll need to resist the urge to keep spooning it into your mouth until it’s gone. The formula is elementary: 1-1 sugar to nuts by weight, but most people like to divide the proportion of nuts between blanched almonds and hazelnuts. So let’s say, for purposes of argument, you wanted to make a pound of praline paste for a mid-day snack. You’d use:

8 ounces (1 cup plus two tablespoons) granulated sugar
2 ounces (1/4 cup) water
4 ounces (1 cup) blanched almonds (113 grams)
4 ounces (1 cup) hazelnuts (peeled makes the best presentation)

Place the nuts on a sheet of lightly greased parchment paper or a silpat. Then simply add the water to the sugar in a small saucepan and heat it over high heat, swirling until the mixture turns to caramel. Dark amber is usually the degree most pastry makers cook to, though you can go darker for a stronger flavor. Pour the caramel over the nuts and allow the mixture to cool completely. Then break the praline into pieces and grind them as finely as you can in a food processor until a paste forms. It won’t be as smooth as commercially-made praline paste, but the flavor will be, well…you’ve got to try this stuff to believe it. If you want to absolutely go nuts, add in:

2 ounces melted dark chocolate

…during the final blending step.

Filed under:  Pastry Components, Praline Paste, Praline Paste | 47 Comments