Christmas Pavlova Wreath

For the past few Christmases, my family and I always have a pavlova.  So it has now become our tradition. This time, I decided to switch things up by making a wreath rather than our usual pav (see here). It only adds to the Christmas spirit.19-3.jpgLike most pavlovas, do expect some cracks. Due to the addition of cornflour and vinegar as well as the substantial amount of air in the mixture, it will deflate slightly as it cools. So it is difficult for cracks to be prevented.1.jpgFor the meringue, it is important to add the sugar gradually. I like to put the sugar into a ziplock bag, cut the corner off and pour it into the eggs with a steady stream. When all of it is added, the meringue should hold stiff peaks and be very glossy.2.jpgThe trick to a perfect pavlova is baking it long and slow. This will then result in a crunchy exterior but soft and marshmallowy interior. Once it is cooked, it must be left in the oven and cooled with the door ajar. 10.jpgThen you want to decorate. I like to use the traditional  whipped cream and fresh fruit – like strawberries, blueberries and passionfruit. Since the pavlova already contains a lot of sugar, I prefer to leave the cream unsweetened. I also added some chopped pistachios. 24In my opinion, it tastes the best after the day its made. It just allows everything and all the flavours to properly develop.  I actually have a funny story about pavlova. My mum, brother and I never used to like it for some reason.  Then one day, my auntie did something a little different and added banana (as well as fresh berries) to the top, and we really enjoyed it. I don’t know why, but somehow the banana changed everything. 16.jpgThis will be the last post of the year, because my family and I are going to Melbourne and Tasmania in a couple days. If I don’t see you till then, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. It is one of the most important times of the year; gathering as a family and remembering to appreciate everything that life has given you (not just presents).15.jpgI’m also sorry if you don’t like the photos, they are a bit different to my usual style. Despite the photos, this pavlova is literally so delicious. I hope you’re all having a wonderful holiday. Sometimes, you don’t have to go to some crazy destination to have a great time. After all, it’s the people not the place. So here is one of my favourite quote of the week: (which I may of talked about before on a blog post): “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes ” – Marcel Proust.

 

Pavlova

Ingredients
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cup (300g) caster sugar
  • 3 teaspoons cornflour, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp vinegar

To decorate:

  • 500mL thickened cream, whipped
  • Seasonal fruit of your choice (blueberries, strawberries, passionfruit etc.)
  • Pistachios, optional
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 150°C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and draw a 20cm (8 inch) circle, then draw a smaller 15cm circle inside. Flip the paper over.
  2. Using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites on low speed. Gradually increase the speed until soft peaks form.
  3. Very gradually add the sugar whilst beating on medium-high speed.
  4. Once all the sugar is added, beat on high speed for 4-5 minutes until stiff peaks form.
  5. Add sifted cornflour, vinegar and vanilla seeds (or vanilla extract). Gently fold until completely combined.
  6. Spoon the mixture onto the baking paper in a wreath shape, using the circle as a guide.
  7. Place into preheated oven (on bottom rack) and reduce temperature to 120°C. Bake for 70 minutes.
  8. Turn oven off. Leave pavlova in the oven with door ajar to cool completely.
  9. When cool, take it out of the oven and transfer onto a plate.
  10. Decorate with whipped cream and fruit of your choice.
  11. Refrigerate until cool and ready serve!

 

 


Chocolate and Salted Caramel Cake

It’s been a while since I last posted a layer cake recipe, and I’ve seen so many pictures of caramel drips on Pinterest I just had to try it. So this is, no doubt, one of the prettiest cakes I have ever made. 26.jpgThe inside features 4 layers of chocolate cake and a really interesting chocolate frosting. My original idea was to do a whipped chocolate ganache, but it is really hot here in Brisbane so I don’t think it cooled down enough to be properly whipped. 22.jpgSo when I tried to beat it, the ganache didn’t hold its shape and was quite runny. Instead, I made an American buttercream frosting and combined half of it with the ganache and a bit of cocoa powder. 19.jpgApparently it turned out really fluffy and wasn’t too sweet. Really surprising. So over the past few weeks I’ve been waiting for an email about this collaboration, then I completed a blog post with a YouTube video, posted another YouTube video and now this blog post. Tomorrow I’m making shortbread to give away to family members.9-5v2I’ve been pretty busy basically.  We’re going to Tasmania in exactly a week and I”m trying to get as much done as possible. How cool are these process shots as well? I turned it into a stop-motion video for Instagram9-22v2It’s crazy to think that the year is almost over. I feel like I’ve done so much, more than I ever had before and I hope you have to.  It’s always important to step out of your comfort zone and continue growing as a person.20.jpgLets talk about these macarons for a bit because they actually worked. I’m getting so much better and more consistent at making them. They are literally so finicky!text.jpgSorry if my writing is a bit of all over the place. I am so tired. We got these beautiful flowers from the Brisbane Flower Markets in Rocklea; simply stunning and the light orange compliments the cake so well. 36.jpgI just wanted to say that I am so grateful for the opportunity to do what I love every single day. Hearing what you guys say about my work and how it inspires you means the world to me, because that is why I blog. 85.jpgI want this to somehow to impact yourself like how it has effected mine. If Beyond Our Sky does that to you, then I can’t explain how blessed I am. Someone once asked me, how did I get into all of this? I usually say it just happened; by that I mean the dream found me. This cake is really delicious. Its very moist and the flavours go together really well. I hope you make it, have a wonderful rest of the week, and please enjoy the recipe!

 

Chocolate and Salted Caramel Cake

Chocolate Cake

Adapted from Live Love and Sugar.

  • 2 cups (260g) flour
  • 2 cups (414g) sugar
  • 3/4 cup (70g) cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking bowder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk*
  • 1 cup (240ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 cup (240ml) boiling water
  1. Grease and line four 6 inch cake tins with baking paper. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt).
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil and vanilla bean paste.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and whisk until just combined.
  5. Add the boiling water, and mix well. The batter will be very thin.
  6. Divide batter evenly between cakes pans and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.
  7. Remove cakes from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.

Macarons

  • 220g icing sugar
  • 110g almond meal
  • 4 egg whites
  • 80g caster sugar
  • Gold sprinkles, optional
  1. In a food processor, combine the icing sugar, almond meal and instant coffee. Process until smooth and there are no obvious lumps. Alternatively, sift the ingredients 3 times. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the egg whites and whip to soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar in a steady stream and whip to stiff peaks. It should appear be very glossy and if you turn the bowl upside down, no meringue should fall out.
  3. Add the dry ingredients into the meringue mixture and fold until it reaches a “lava-like” consistency (should be slowing falling off the spatula).
  4. Transfer mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm-round nozzle. Pipe macarons shells approximately 2-3cm in size onto a lined baking tray (optional: use this template). Make sure you leave about 3cm of space in between each one.
  5. Then sprinkle the shells with gold sprinkles. Bang the tray the 3 times on the bench to remove any air bubbles. Let macaron shells sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour to form a dry skin.
  6. Bake in preheated oven at  160° C 10-12 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool completely on baking tray then transfer onto wire rack.
American Buttercream Frosting

This chocolate frosting is a bit unconventional, but it actually turns outreally well! It combines a semi-whipped ganache and american buttercream frosting.

  • 100mL cream
  • 200g dark chocolate (I used Cadbury Original)
  • 250g butter, room temperature
  • 530g icing sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 2-4 tbsp milk
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  1. For the ganache, combine the cream and dark chocolate in a medium bowl. Microwave on high at 30 second intervals, mixing well in between, until the chocolate has melted. Set aside to cool at room temperature for a minimum of 4 hours to thicken. Once it is cooled, beat on high for 5 minutes or until medium peaks form.
  2. In a stand mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until pale in colour – about 6 minutes. Add the icing sugar a half cup at a time, mixing on high between each addition. Make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally.
  3. Once all the sugar is combined, add the vanilla and required amount of milk. Beat on high for a further 3 minutes.
  4. Divide the frosting in half. To one portion, add half of the semi-whipped ganache (save remaining ganache for macarons) and cocoa powder – then gently fold. Leave the other portion vanilla.
Salted Caramel Drip
  • 200g sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 100g butter
  • 120g cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and water over high heat. Cook for 6-7 minutes, swirling occasionally but no stirring, until it becomes a golden, amber colour. Remove from heat, then stir in butter until melted. Add the cream, vanilla and salt. Set aside to cool completely.
Assembly
  • Fresh flowers, to decorate
  1. Pair the macaron shells with ones of similar size. Pipe remaining ganache onto one shell and sandwich together. Repeat with remaining shells.
  2. Trim and level the cakes with a serrated knife or cake leveller so that the the top is completely flat/even.
  3. Put the first layer of cake onto your cake stand/platter and spread a generous amount of  chocolate buttercream.
  4. Place the next layer of cake on top, and continue until all layers are complete.
  5. Spread a thin amount of vanilla frosting around the cake to secure any crumbs (this is called a crumb coat). Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from the fridge, and this time – spread a thicker layer of vanilla buttercream as the final coat. Gently run a cake scraper around the sides to make the frosting completely smooth.Refrigerate again for 30 minutes.
  7. Then remove the cake from the fridge and pour the caramel glaze on top it. Spread it to the edges and allow it to drip down the sides. Refrigerate to let the glaze set.
  8. Transfer  any remaining buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a french star tip. Pipe onto the cake, then decorate with macarons and fresh flowers.

 

 


Praline Cream Puffs

I’ve got some exciting news. I just filmed my FIRST cooking tutorial for YouTube (see below). These praline creme puffs do have a lot of elements, and I’m so happy that these actually turned out and was able to do a video on it.6.jpgThese involve craquelin, choux pastry, and praline mousseline cream, chantilly cream. You may have seen an old blog post for Coffee Eclairs (and an even older one on Chocolate Profiteroles) which also use choux pastry. It is just so versatile, and once you master it, you can make so many other crazy french desserts.14.jpgThe craquelin is a mixture of softened butter, brown sugar and flour. It creates a crunchy and crackly topping since it is a cookie placed on top of the choux pastry before it’s baked. The dough has to be frozen, and in Australia it gets quite hot so when taken out of the freezer, it becomes soft very quickly. I recommend rolling the dough, cutting out circles then freezing to make this process easier.  So these cream puffs can also be called choux au craquelin. 10-2.jpgThe choux pastry, or pate a choux, involves very basic ingredients including water, milk, butter, sugar, salt, flour and eggs. It is a different type of dough to most because the batter is cooked before baking it in the oven. It is important that the moisture in the dough is cooked out through stirring it over medium-high heat and beating the paste before adding the eggs , otherwise the dough will not rise and subsequently collapse.

The praline mousseline cream is essentially a pastry cream (creme patissiere) enriched with praline paste and butter. The result is super silky and creamy. You can use store bought praline paste, but it is quite easy to make it yourself; the recipe is below. The final element is chantilly cream is a whipped cream sweetened with icing sugar, and has an addition vanilla bean seeds. So here is the video, I hope you like it…

Also, I have more news, Grade 11 finished last week and it is still so surreal saying that. A massive thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout this journey. It’s because of you that I’ve had the privilege of doing some of my first collaborations. 30In a couple weeks, my mum, dad and I will be going to Melbourne and Tasmania. My brother can’t come unfortunately. I plan to release a YouTube video on our trip, and I’ll try to do as much blogging as possible before we leave. Grade 12 is next year, and I don’t know if I’ll get a lot of blog posts out because we might have to do work during the holidays apparently. 45.jpgSo thank you for reading and watching the video if you did. Don’t be afraid of these praline cream puffs, it may seem difficult but life’s all about overcoming challenges. I understand if you don’t want to make it though, although you can just do a few elements. For example, make the choux pastry and fill it with the chantilly cream. I would like to finish with a quote: “You drown not by falling into a river, but by staying submerged in it” – Paulo Cohelo, The Alchemist.

 

Praline Cream Puffs

Makes 11-14 depending on size. 

Craquelin
  • 85g unsalted butter, softened (room temperature)
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 100g flour
  1. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until smooth and pale in colour. Add the flour and fold until a soft dough forms, ensuring not to over mix.
  2. Place the dough between two pieces of baking paper, and roll the dough until it reaches a 2mm thickness.
  3. Place it in the freezer for 1 hour or until ready to use (will be needed before the choux pastry is baked).
Choux Pastry
  • 125g water
  • 125g milk
  • 100g butter
  • 6g sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 150g plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper (optional: draw circles of desired cream puff size then flip paper over).
  2. In a large saucepan, combine the water, milk, butter, sugar and salt. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and immediately add the flour. Stir until there are no more streaks of flour and a dough begins to form. Place the saucepan back over medium-high heat, and cook for 1-2 minutes until the paste is pulling away from the sides of the pan.
  3. Transfer the dough into a stand mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, then mix on low-medium speed for 3 minutes to cool down the dough and evaporate the steam/moisture. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well in between each addition. Depending on the consistency of your choux paste, you may not require all the eggs. So you are looking for a dough that is loose but still able to hold its shape when piped. It should be very shiny and smooth.
  4. Transfer the paste into a piping bag fitted with a plain, round nozzle (such as a Wilton 1A). Pipe the choux onto a lined baking tray (mine were 6cm in diameter).
  5. Remove the craquelin from the freezer, and using a cookie cutter that is the same size as the choux, cut out circles. Place them on top of the piped choux pastry and gently press down.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven at 350°F/180°C for 25-30 minutes. Then turn the oven off and allow the choux puffs to cool for 20 minutes with the door ajar. Set aside to cool completely.
Praline Paste
  • 125g hazelnuts
  • 125g almonds
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 15g water
  1. At 350°F/180°C, roast the hazelnuts and almonds for 10 minutes. Then, using a clean kitchen towel, rub the skins off the hazelnuts (not all of it will come off, but do the best you can).
  2. In a saucepan, mix together the sugar and water. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, swirling the pan occasionally but not stirring, until it reaches an amber colour (or desired darkness). Then add the nuts and mix to coat the nuts in the caramel (do not touch this mixture, it is very hot!)
  3. Pour the caramelised nuts onto a lined baking tray then spread evenly. Allow to cool and set until hard.
  4. Break up the praline, and reserve approximately 50g of it.  In a high-powered blender/food processor, process the remaining praline for approximately 10 minutes to form a liquid paste. Add 1-2 tbsp of a neutral oil if the mixture isn’t smooth. Set aside until ready to use.
Praline Mousseline Cream

Adapted from Home Cooking Adventure

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 40g cornstarch
  • 10g flour
  • 480g milk
  • 1 vanilla bean pod, split lengthwise and scraped
  • 15g butter, cold, cubed
  • 200g praline paste
  • 150g butter, softened (room temperature)
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale in colour. Add the cornstarch and flour, then mix until smooth and well incorporated. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, add the vanilla bean pod and scaped seeds. Then bring it to a simmer, and it is ready when small bubbles form around the edge of the pan.
  3. Temper the egg yolks, by gradually pouring the hot milk over the egg mixture. You want to add this about 1/4 at a time to ensure the egg yolks don’t scramble. Remove the vanilla bean pod.
  4. Once all the milk is added, return the mixture to the stove and place over medium-high heat. Whisk continuously until thickened, then whisk for a further 2 minutes to fully activate the cornstarch and cook out the flour.
  5. Remove from the heat, and add the cold butter. Mix until fully melted. Pour the pastry cream into a bowl, and cover with cling film ensuring it touches the surface so a skin doesn’t form. Refrigerate to cool completely.
  6. Once cooled, transfer the creme patissiere into a standmixer bowl fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat the mixture to break up the set pastry cream, then add the praline paste and mix until well combined. Make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  7. Add the softened butter, a little at a time, beating well in between each addition. Once all incorporated, it should be very shiny and creamy, then transfer into a piping bag fitted a plain, round nozzle (such as a Wilton 1A). Refrigerate until ready to assemble.
Chantilly Cream
  • 300ml heavy cream, cold
  • 1.5 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean pod, split lengthwise and scraped
  1. In a medium bowl, whip cream until foamy. Then add the icing sugar and vanilla bean seeds. Whip to stiff peaks. Transfer it into a piping bag fitted with an open star tip (such as a Wilton 1M). Refrigerate until ready to assemble.
Assembly
  • Icing sugar
  • Caramelised nuts (reserved from praline paste)
  1. Cut the tops of the choux puffs. Then pipe the praline mousseline cream into the bottom cream puffs, and smooth it off with an offset spatula. Pipe the chantilly cream on, starting from the outside. Place the cut-off cream puff on top.
  2. Finish it them off with a dusting of icing sugar and decorate with the caramelised nuts. Then serve and enjoy!