Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Pastries with Baker's Ammonia

While trying to come up with different ways to use my baker's ammonia, these individual desserts emerged from my childhood memories. In those days, almost every patisserie had them. I must say that they do not appeal to me as much today as they did then, but it was a delightful process to guess the recipe, execute it and conjure a long-forgotten taste that took me back many, many years.

Baker's ammonia is perfect for the biscuit-like, thin and crispy layers of this dessert. Given a night's rest, the layers draw enough moisture from the pastry cream softening to a cake-like texture, yet the pastry is firm enough to be eaten by hand. A nicer variation might be to use chocolate pastry cream in between the layers, and to finish the sides with finely ground nuts.
  • 18 3" pastry rounds with baker's ammonia (recipe below)
  • About 40 tbs of your favorite pastry cream (it should still be warm)
  • 5-6 tbs unsweetened grated coconut
  • Chocolate Glaze (recipe below)
I used my 3" dessert rings both to cut the pastry rounds and to mold the desserts. (The rings certainly made things easier, but they are not essential to the success of this recipe. You can cut the rounds with a biscuit cutter, or even an inverted glass cup. Just make sure that the assembled desserts look even as they cool.)

I placed a pastry round at the bottom of each mold and topped it with about 3 tbs of warm pastry cream. I repeated with the 2nd round and pastry cream layer, and topped each stack with the 3rd pastry round. Then I put them in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to cool.

After I slid the desserts from their molds, I finished the sides with a thin layer of cooled pastry cream. A quick roll on their sides in coconut, and some chocolate glaze on top completed the assembly. After a night's rest in the refrigerator, they were ready to be served.

Pastry Rounds with Baker's Ammonia

With the quantities given below, you can make approximately 48-50 3" pastry rounds. I used 18 of these to make 6 mini desserts. I rolled the remaining pastry in larger rounds and used in other projects. Although I did not try it, I strongly suspect that the baked discs can be frozen as well.
  • 3/8 c milk
  • 3/8 c melted and cooled butter
  • 3/8 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of baker's ammonia
  • Enough flour to make a dough of rolling consistency
Put the eggs and sugar in a medium-sized bowl and beat with an electric mixer until combined. In a seperate small bowl, mix the milk and melted butter. Stir ammonia into some of the flour. Add this to the whipped eggs alternately with the milk-butter mixture as you mix on low-speed to form the dough. Continue adding flour and mixing until the dough holds together and is just firm enough to roll. Shape it into a log and cut into 8 equal pieces. You will only need 3 of these for this project. (You can roll each of the remaining 5 pieces into a 9"-round and use them to make a layered cake.) Divide each of the 3 pieces into 6 equal balls, and let them rest covered with a kitchen towel for 10 minutes or so. Meanwhile, flour your rolling surface. Roll each ball of dough to an approximate 3" round. Use your ring molds to cut neat rounds of pastry. You can gather the leftover scraps of dough and roll them again to make more rounds. Prick each round of pastry with a fork like you would a pie crust. Place as many rounds as you can fit on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 350F oven until the biscuits are light golden in color. Bake all the rounds in this manner. Cool and use in your project.

Chocolate Glaze
  • 1 c confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tbs (or more) water
Mix confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder. Add water and stir until you reach the desired glazing consistency.