27 Mar 2011

tiny tropical explosions

A simple weekend was well spent with mini friands filled with flavour. Filled friands, inspired by hot jam doughnuts and a sponge muffin filled with orange cream from a street bakery savoured while walking through the bustling streets in Malaysia's pasar malam.

I'm at home celebrating (although stuck with a few university assignments due the coming week) a cloudy and windy day with a summery feel bake. Just to bring back a little colour and warmth to a dull coloured day.

The friand itself has three components; the white chocolate and coconut friand itself, a tangy tart passion fruit gel and a sweet passion fruit cream on top. The friand eaten by itself is like eating a cake like moist coconut macaroon; the passion fruit gel a tad sour to enjoy itself and the cream perhaps a tad to sweet to eat alone. However, paired together, it creates a delectable experience, a tiny explosion of tropical flavours!


passion fruit friands
friand recipe adapted from Julie Le Clerc's white chocolate, coconut and peach friands
via more simple cafe food 

makes 20 mini muffin sized friands
  • 50 g unsalted butter
  • 50 g white chocolate
  • 1/2 cup fine desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 Tb passion fruit pulp, strained

Heat the oven to 180°C. Grease 20 mini muffin holes or place mini muffin cups into the holes.

Gently melt the unsalted butter and white chocolate together. Place all ingredients into a mixing bowl. Stir until just combined. Pour mixture into prepared pans - they should be about just more than 3/4 full. Bake for 15 minutes or until pale gold and skewer comes out clean when inserted.

Allow to stand in pans for 5 minutes before turning out on to a cooling rack.

passion fruit gel
  • 1/4 cup passion fruit juice*
  • 1 1/2 tsp potato starch
  • 3 tsp water
note: to get passion fruit juice, strain passion fruit pulp in a fine sieve 


Dissolve the potato starch in the water and mix it into the strained passion fruit pulp.

Cook over over low heat until the liquid becomes thick and gelatinous. Cool before placing it into a piping bag with a 1.5 mm round piping tip.  

passion fruit cream
I suggest halving the recipe as it does create a surplus
  • 200 ml cold thickened cream
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 2 Tb passion fruit juice*
note: to get passion fruit juice, strain passion fruit pulp in a fine sieve


Whip cream until soft peaks stage, gradually add the caster sugar and passion fruit juice while beating until the cream is stiff and stays in shape when piped. Refrigerate cream until slightly firmer before placing it into a piping bag with a tip of your choice. (I used a 6 mm star tip)

 to assemble:
  • cooled passion fruit friands
  • passion fruit gel
  • passion fruit cream
  • poppy seeds (optional)
Prick a hole in the friand with the tip of the piping tip, then pipe a small amount of passion fruit gel into each one. (It doesn't matter if it comes out over the top as the cream can cover it)

Pipe a small dollop of passion fruit cream on top of the passion fruit gel and sprinkle poppy seeds if you desire.

19 Mar 2011

here's hoping for a better future

A little late into this, but I'm sure all, if not, most of you have heard the news of the recent natural disasters that are occurring in Japan right now. I have friends in Japan who I have gotten to know throughout my high school years and some recently through blogs. Unfortunately, some of them live in the affected areas and knowing I can't physically do anything to help, makes me feel helpless.

I wish I could do more to help, but I can only offer support to my friends, pray for Japan and its people whilst they conquer the crisis and slowly rebuild and of course, through voluntary donations.

A few days into the crisis, a well respected photographer on flickr, Hideaki Hamada has started a project called "Please Donate For Japan Earthquake" in order to spread the donation links through uploaded photographs. In a short period of time, there have been more than 1000 photos uploaded into the group from people around the world. 

I hope you can also join the group and help Japan and its people. 

There have been also some bloggers who are raising money to support the cause. The list does not include all the bloggers, but a few that I have been able to source.

If you prefer not to donate via internet, I have found two places in Melbourne that you will be able to make cash donations.

  • Tokuya is donating 10 cents of every product sold and have a cash donation box on the counter
  • University of Melbourne's Japanese Club fundraiser - see details here

On a side note, these portuguese tarts are one of my grandma's favourite bakes! When I was holiday-ing in Malaysia last year, my cousin and I made at least a batch of these a week and then we eventually got sick of them! That time, we used grandma's homemade shortcrust pastry, but this time round I made my own rough puff pastry (which tastes as good as the real deal!) It was kind of a like a baked creme patisserie and egg tart pastry fusion, only my pastry was thinner.

Making your own rough puff pastry beats buying the frozen pastry sheets as it smells better, crisper and lighter too! Plus it's easier than making real puff pastry :)


pasteis de nata (portuguese tarts)

rough puff pastry
from only the best by Michel Roux

makes 300g, enough for 4 x 12 cm diameter tart tins

I have quartered the amount of ingredients in the original recipe
  • 125 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 125 g well-chilled butter, cut into small cubes (I used unsalted butter)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 50 ml iced water

yolk cream
adapted from the Cooking Guide DS

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 120 g sugar (reduced to 100 g)
  • 4 tsp cornflour, sifted
  • 200 ml milk
  • 100 ml double cream (I used thickened cream)
  • dash of vanilla essence

to make pastry:

Put the flour in a mound on the work surface, make a well in the centre and add the cubes of butter and salt. using your fingertips, work the butter and flour together, gradually drawing the flour into the middle.

When the butter cubes are half-squashed and the dough is becoming grainy, pour in the iced water in a steady stream, mixing with your other hand.

Continue to mix the dough with your fingertips until all the water is incorporated.

Then gather the dough and knead it several times by pushing it away from you with the heel of your hand. It should be fairly smooth, but you will still see some small particles of butter. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Lightly flour the work surface and roll out the pastry into a 30 x 15 cm rectangle. Fold this rectangle into three. This is called the first turn.

Give the block of pastry a quarter-turn, roll it out as before and fold into three. This is the second turn. Lightly press two fingertips into the block to remind yourself that you have made two turns. Wrap the pastry in cling film and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Give the chilled pastry two more turns, rolling and folding as before. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 3 days until ready to use.

Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. 

First, put the egg yolks in the mixing bowl and add sugar, beat well.
Add cornflour to the beaten egg yolks, mix well. Stir in the milk.
Strain and transfer the mixture into a small saucepan and place it over a low heat. Stir with the wooden spatula while gently heating the mixture until it thickens.
Remove the pan from the heat and place it on a wet tea towel. I just put the saucepan over a bowl of cold water.
Stir in a dash of vanilla essence, then let the mixture cool until it reaches room temperature. Mix the cream into the cooled yolk cream.
to assemble pasteis de nata:
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Dust the chopping board and tart tin lightly with flour.
Roll out the pastry with a rolling pin until it is 3 mm thick and big enough to fit over tin with excess dough hanging out. Push the pastry in the tart tin, pressing the pastry against the edges and bottoms of the tins. Roll the pin over the tin to cut the dough and remove excess. 
Divide and scoop the cooled yolk cream into the pastry in each pie tin.
Bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until the pastry and yolk cream is puffed and is slightly golden. Increase the temperature to 250°C and bake for a few minutes until tops are slightly darker than golden brown. Watch carefully as they tend to burn easily!