For those of you who don’t think I have kitchen disasters let me just put that misconception to rest. I, like the rest of you, have failures in the kitchen. Ok, so you’re looking at the featured image and thinking “that doesn’t look like a disaster to me”, well hang on because it’s all headed down hill.
Growing up Passover never had dessert. Traditionally the afikoman IS the dessert. What is afikoman? Well to take it fully out of context and make it sound as bad as possible; it’s a pice of matzo. Not even that… it’s half a piece of matzo. In short, if I were to put it into context without tying out the entire Seder it’s hugely symbolic, fraught with meaning, but lacks what many of us westerners would even consider a dessert, especially when you’re little and the symbolism is a little lost on you…
It wasn’t until we were much older that I can remember having “dessert” at Passover. I want to say it was my oldest sister who made it. It was a cake that used no leaveners and she served it with whipped cream and strawberries, kind of like an angle food cake. After that it was still a rare occurrence. It some how seemed taboo to have dessert at Passover. I am not sure why but it always felt wrong somehow.
Now I am more convinced that there’s something more like “The Curse of the Passover Dessert”. Two years ago I made a dessert, good but full of issues. This year I set out to resolve those issues and make something I knew would work and it’s been “plagued” with issues.
The idea for my dessert came from The Holiday Kosher Baker. In it she had a section on Passover and there was a dessert called a Strawberry Monaco. What is that? Well in short it’s a Charolette Royale but kosher for Passover. This is a Swiss roll cake, that is then sliced thinly, you line a large bowl with plastic and then place the slices of cake flat against the edge of the bowl. Then you fill it with fresh fruit and pastry cream. You then let it chill to “set” and then turn it out on a platter, remove the plastic wrap, and you’re left with this glorious dome of spiral cake. What could go wrong?… a lot actually…
This story begins with the version I made 2 years ago. I stuck with the recipe in the cookbook for all of it’s comments. I made mini Strawberry Monaco’s in small storage containers. They looked cute enough but I had major issues with the pastry cream. The issue? Well, it wasn’t cream. It was a dairy free version. This is fine if you’re trying to keep kosher but since this was not my intention I found the texture and flavor to be disappointing. I think if I were trying to keep kosher I would rather just figure something out that didn’t use dairy rather than trying to figure
This year I decided I was going to make a pastry cream. I recently had made one that was a recipe from Miette that turned out great so I knew it would work… Little did I know what I was in for…
Over the last month I discovered and became obsessed with The Great British Bake-off. As I would be working on menu planning or grocery lists I would have it on in the background. In season three James made a Rose, Lychee, and Raspberry Fruit Tart. This got me all jazzed to throw a few twists into my Passover dessert. I opted for a Raspberry-Rose Jam and a Lychee Pastry Cream. I started googling; I quickly found a recipe for the jam and with a little more work I found some guidance on a pastry cream. What got me even more jazzed was that it used an elderflower syrup along with the lychees! This was even more exciting as we have acres of land that are covered in elderflower so if this went well in the future I would be able to make my own syrup!
I made my Raspberry-Rose Jam. It came out quite well but was a little loose. Then it was on to the jelly-roll cake. For this I stuck with the recipe from The Kosher Holiday Baker. This was the one aspect that worked extremely well for me in the past and held true this time as well. There were no issues with the cake cracking when rolled and the flavor and texture are great… but there was a problem… I rolled it the wrong way! To fit into my small containers I needed to roll it from the long side and instead I rolled it the traditional way, from the short side. This mean my roll was too fat to fit in the container. I also used way too much of my jam so it didn’t want to hold it’s round shape. I managed to get it wrapped in plastic and in to the freezer. Once out it sliced beautifully so I got the idea to forgo the moulds and do it as a stack instead… little did I know what I was getting into.
I got the roll sliced into ¼ inch thick pieces and made stacks six so that I would have 3 slices for each stack. Since I had extra slices I thought I should do a “proof of concept” trial. I put one together only to discover that my pastry cream was so loose it was slipping out of my pastry bag and I had no control and if my whipped cream sat for too long it would deflate. All this caused the stack to slip and slide the longer it sat.
Sad that my fillings were too loose to pipe I opted to use mini trifle dishes. This was fine but it just looked a mess. The pieces of cake don’t like to be handled too much and again by the time I served it all the fillings kind of collapsed. Part of this issue was that the cake was frozen as it is easiest to handle when frozen. However, the pastry cream is best if it can “set up” piping just made it turn back into a loose mess, and then the whipped cream was best if put on just as it’s being served.
The following night I tried stocking them again but the pastry cream was too thin. You could barely taste it or see it. I also let the cake thaw for too long so the layers didn’t want to unstack. It became a hot mess super fast.
Then we get to last night… I should start with tell you I had a dentist appointment in the morning, just a routine cleaning, but it definitely killed my mojo. By the after noon I was exhausted played down on the couch to watch a TV show I enjoy only to promptly pass out. Now, I don’t mind naps if they are early enough. I need time to wake back up and be a bit more coherent. This however was NOT one of those times. I woke up right at 5pm which is when I am supposed to be putting together dinner. I got up, a bit groggy, went to the kitchen (not in the best of moods) and proceeded to get everything out of the fridge. It was quite a few things so I grabbed a few at a time… In my final trip from the fridge the tray that was holding the pastry bag full of pastry cream was sitting on the top of my stack as it didn’t have a lid on it…
Now, I am going to stop here and just tell you that I have linoleum floors all throughout with a two foot wide rug runner in the entry that runs the length of the kitchen… you have to walk over it going from the fridge to the kitchen.
So I am walking back to the kitchen island and in my groggy state something slips! Before I know it the trey with the pastry bag is falling to the floor, flipping upside down, and splat! Yup! You guessed it right on the rug! Right in the MIDDLE of the rug… I get everything else to the island, turn round, only to a very LARGE splat of pastry cream. When I go over to deal with it, trying not to loose my s**t, I pick up the bag to discover the splat was the cream coming out of the tip of the bag, or the end of the bag, but that the plastic piping bag had the seam burst and it came out the side!
Well, let’s just say it was not making me happy. I got it cleaned up the best I could. There was still a large amount of pastry cream in the bag. I was at a loss of what to do. I didn’t want to deal with dinner at all. I wanted to just go hide in a corner. I didn’t. I tried to push through. I thought if I maybe whipped up some whipping cream to stiff peaks I could fold in the pasty cream giving it more body and save dessert. Not only did that NOT work but it made it even runnier. My grogginess had passed and now I was just feeling defeated. My dogs and my husband did not want to be around me. I don’t blame them.
We recently had experimented with some xantham gum powder to thicken some fruit juice into a syrup that worked rather well so I thought maybe I could had some to this mess I had in my mixer. All I can say is I now feel bad for this poor pastry cream… It looked like it was doing something but it was still loose so I kept adding a little more at a time. It then turned into this gooey blob that was sorta sticky. It made me think of the blue goo in Better Off Dead that the mom served at one point in the movie. I tasted it and the texture was odd. There’s no word other than odd. My husband trying to help told me it tasted OK. I tried to believe him so I assembled yet another dessert. I opted for the route of the trifle glasses again. I ended up LOOKING ok but let’s just say eating it was “interesting”.
I still have 4 more nights of this dessert. I did make my husband toss the goo. I just couldn’t face it again. I gave up on even attempting dinner so we ate leftover stromboli and watched a movie. It wasn’t my finest moment and I am not proud of how I handled it but today I am going to attempt making a fresh batch of pastry cream and see if I can get it a bit thicker just to get through the rest of this holiday without incident.
If you’re wanting any of the recipes I am including them. If you happen to notice anything that might help the pastry cream set please fell free to comment!
FOR THE LYCHEE PUREE
- 1 can of Lychee’s
Using canned lychee’s puree them in the blender using the canning liquid to gain the consistency you are looking for.
FOR THE ELDERFLOWER SYRUP
- 5 ⅔ cup Granulated Sugar
- 6 ¼ cups Water
- 4 Lemons
- 15-16 Elderflower Heads
Combine the sugar and the water in a large pan and bring to a gentle boil, stirring, to make a simple syrup. Remove from heat and allow the syrup to cool.
Only when the syrup is cool, add the zest from all 4 lemons. Sliced the ends of the lemons off and discard. Slice them into 5 slices. Divide the slices between the jars.
Remove the flowers from the stems as the stems have a bitter taste. Divide them between the jars. Divide the syrup between the jars, pouring the syrup over the flowers and lemons. Cover with a clean piece of cheesecloth, securing with a rubber band, stick in the fridge for 2 days.
If you’re going to “can” the syrup:
Water-bath, ½-inch headroom, 10 minutes.
FOR THE PASTRY CREAM
- 12 fl ounces Whole Milk
- 260 grams Lychee Puree
- 80 grams Elderflower Syrup
- 7 large Egg Yolks
- 100 grams Granulated Sugar
- 2 tablespoons Cornstarch 20 grams
- 28 grams Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
Bring the milk and the lychee puree just to a boil. Set aside and let cool slightly. In a separate bowl whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, cream of tartar and elderflower syrup. While whisking, slowly add a ½ cup of the hot milk to temper the egg mixture. Gradually pour in the rest of the milk while whisking constantly.
Pour the contents into a saucepan and set over medium-heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and some to a slow boil. Removed from the heat, pour into a bowl, and press a piece of plastic wrap on the top of the custard to prevent forming a skin and chill well until ready to use.
FOR THE RASPBERRY JAM
- 2 pounds Raspberries
- 300 grams Granulated Sugar
- 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
- 6 Rose Petals or ½ teaspoon Rosewater
Toss the raspberries and the sugar together in a medium sauce pan and set aside for 30 minutes.
Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally at first and then more often as the mixture thickens. Chill a plate for 2 minutes. Dollop the jam and run your finger through it. You should have a path left where your finger.
Remove from the heat and add the lemon and rosewater. Divide into desired jars and chill.
FOR THE JELLY ROLL
- 4 large Eggs, separated
- 50 grams Granulated Sugar
- 2 teaspoons Vanilla
- 40 grams Potato Starch
Preheat the oven to 425ºF and prepare pan. Spray a jellyroll pan with non-stick spray and fit with parchment. Spray the parchment with non-stick spray. Set aside.
Beat the egg whites in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment till you have soft peaks. Turn the speed to low and add in the sugar, a little at a time, fully incorporating. Turn back up to high and beat for just a minute more.
In a separate bowl whisk together the yolks and the vanilla.
Add the potato starch and egg yolks to the egg whites and fold in until there are no more white streaks showing. Pour into the prepared pan and spread smooth.
Place in the oven and bake for 8 minutes or until the top is golden. Let the cake cool for 5 minutes in the pan. Then run a knife around the edges and turn it out onto a cooling rack. Peal off the parchment and cover with a loose piece of parchment. Turn right side up so the top is up.
Spread the raspberry rose jam over the cake, then roll. Wrap the parchment around the roll and freeze for at least 2 hours or over night. This can be done up to a week in advance.