Friday, February 11, 2005

SHF #5: Layering is so in right now!

This month's Sugar High Friday theme was puff pastry, hosted by Clement at A La Cuisine!. I have to admit that it put me in a bit of a tight spot.
When I am looking to make something sweet, I tend to shy away from things that seem to be already put together (read: puff pastry, I'm just trying to phrase it nicely). To me, it has always seemed like your options are fairly limited with this stuff. Granted, you can combine it with lots of fruits, creams and... uh, different fruits? I have used it many times to make napoleans, turnovers and dumplings and it never crossed my mind that puff pastry had much use beyond fruit and cream in a dessert. Tart shell? Cream and/or fruit. Strudel? Fruit. Don't get me wrong, I like the stuff - I just wanted something more original to do with it for my SHF entry.

One of my favorite sites to waste time at is UKTVFood, the website for a British food network. It doesn't air (to my knowledge) in the US, however it does offer video feeds of many of its shows and recipes. My favorite is Good Food Bites, hosted by Jeni Barnett, and I'm not saying that just because most of the video recipes are from that show.
I was arbitrarily watching dessert recipes - what a surprise - when I luckily stumbled upon one that used PUFF PASTRY! A simple italian recipe from Gino D'Acampo with a gorgeously long name: the recipe from the show almost exactly (I even weighed my ingredients instead of making conversions) and I suggest you watch the video. Here is the recipe with my slight variations, based on personal preference and the video instructions.

Sfogliatine con Crema di Mascarpone
2 eggs , separated
100 g caster sugar
250 g mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese)
200 ml whipping cream
3 tbsp almond-flavoured liqueur, such as Amaretto
100 g Cocoa Powder , plus extra for dusting
400 g frozen puff pastry , defrosted at least 2 hours
1. First make the mascarpone cream. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar together , using an electric beater or a whisk, for 3 minutes until thick and pale.
2. Beat in the mascarpone until mixed through then gently fold in the whipped cream with a metal spoon.
3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold the egg whites quickly but gently into the cream mixture while also adding in the Amaretto, taking care not to lose volume. Keep refrigerated until ready for use.

4. Dust 40g of the cocoa powder on a clean, dry flat working surface and flatten the puff pastry on top with the help of a rolling pin.
5. Dust 40g of cocoa powder on top of the flattened pastry and very gently fold three times. Roll the pastry flat into a large rectangle. Refrigerate for 1 hour before cooking.
6. Preheat the oven to 170ÂșC/gas 7. (350F)
7. Place the pastry on a lined baking sheet. Cover with a second baking sheet.
8. Bake the pastry in the oven for 15 minutes. Let cool for several minutes before removing top sheet. Let pastry cool completely.
9. Gently transfer the pastry on a flat surface. Cut in 20 rectangular shapes, roughly 4 x 8cm (~2x4 inches).
10. Place a puff pastry rectangle on a serving plate, smooth over 2 tablespoons of the Amaretto cream mixture, then top with another rectangle of pastry. Repeat the process, making a three-tier pastry tower. Dust each pastry with cocoa powder and serve.

The chef says that they eat this for breakfast in Italy. I don't know if I could handle a country that does this for breakfast.