Dark Chocolate Creme Mille Feuille with Raspberries and Lime Zest Brittle
The dark chocolate creme mille feuille with raspberries and lime zest brittle you see here, is my entry to Paper Chef, the list of ingredients given for this challenge being chocolate, berries, bread and lime.
I thought you should know that I am not a baker by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve never entered any cooking or baking challenges before, so this is pretty daunting for me.
We’re in winter, and naturally I wanted to make a bread and butter pudding as the weather is so well suited. I was reminded of Nigel Slater’s article on Summer Berry pudding, a very English pudding using white bread slices and berries, the result a pretty pink cup that you can cut up to reveal glorious, smushed and whole berries within. Hmm, with only a few hours to spare, it sounded as if too many variables could potentially go wrong, so I had to let that pass.
I had no yeast to make my own bread, and truth be told I’m rather inexperienced in the bread baking department. A crafty compromise would have to do, but what? Sweet bruschetta? Melba Toasts? Constructing a mille feuille, was the natural conclusion.
I blame the fiddliness of this dessert on having eaten at some of the world’s best restaurants in the last month and having met Ferran Adria (also, that for another post. I’m still trying to gather my wits about me). I understand that even suggesting that what I made is fancy, in comparison to their works of art that shift the earth (really) is incredibly insulting. I wouldn’t dare! Just for me, it took a little bit of effort and planning. I must say, I quite enjoyed making it though- thanks for the opportunity!
I used the best quality white bread, thickly sliced, that I could find to make the layers and baked these the night before. There is a fair amount of wastage, with cutting of crumbs and trimming. Account that one slice of bread will yield two layers. You need three layers per mille feuille, and the end product is small but very rich.
As we’re in winter in South Africa, only Cape gooseberries and strawberries are in season. I spotted some raspberries and at the last minute substituted them for the strawberries. The cloud of guilt regarding seasonality is hanging thickly above me, but the combination of raspberries and dark chocolate is a beautiful one.
I made the chocolate creme the night before as well. I used a recipe for a thick custard and added 150g of Lindt chocolate (70% cocao) to it, probably about 50 grams more than needed. It makes a dense, lush chocolatey custard ideal to fill cakes, sandwich whoopee pies or biscuits together. I’m also terribly excited to announce that I whisked the eggs and sugar in my very brand spanking new Kitchen Aid. My empire red princess- her first job!
The lime zest brittle is a hilarious story. Now. I intended to make candied lime peel. At the end of the laborious process, just as I was about the drain the zest boiling in the sugar syrup, I took my eye off the pot. The mixture started to darken and as I tipped it out it hardened on contcact with the cold colander and turned to brittle. Tastes fantastic. But what a waste of time. And a sugary mess of scraping and washing.
Naturally, I’ll omit a recipe for the candied zest and suggest you use fresh zest.
Note, this recipe consists of 4 parts:
- the bread layers
- the chocolate custard
- the lime zest brittle/candy if you’re adventurous, and
Each part is essentially simple, but it may be best to prepare overnight or a few hours before serving if you’re doing it all in one go.
For the Mille Feuille
Makes 5 units
8 slices thick, best quality white bread, crusts trimmed
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Butter or grease a baking tray with spray n cook.
Use a rolling pin to roll each slice till about 1.5- 2 mm thickness. You will have to roll across the length and breath of the slice. Use firm pressure. It’s essential to use a dense bread that won’t crumble or stick when you roll it out.
I stacked 4 slices in a pile and trimmed the uneven edges with a very sharp knife. Cut each rectangle in half.
Repeat with remaining four slices of bread.
Lay bread on the tray and bake for 15 minutes, on the lowest shelf, turning every 5 minutes. If you want a golden melba toast, bake for a further 3-4 minutes. The toasts do start to curl. After 8 minutes, place a heavy baking tray on the toasts. If you don’t, you can still compensate as the thick custard and uneven berries are forgiving partners.
Remove and allow to cool. Store in air tight container.
5 egg yolks
90 ml sugar (1/3 cup + 1 T)
375 ml milk (1 1/2 cup)
45 ml flour (3 T)
2 ml salt
100 g dark chocolate (70 % or higher cocoa)
*note you could use white or milk chocolate too*
In a medium sized bowl (I added it to the Kitchen Aid bowl), add 1/3 cup or 80ml of milk, with the flour and salt and stir to mix with a spatula, by hand. The whisk blades may not get to the bottom, so it’s best to do this part by hand.
Add the yolks and 3 T sugar to the bowl and whisk till pale yellow. I used medium to high speeds and it took about 12-15 minutes.
In the mean while heat remaining milk in a heavy bottomed saucepan on medium heat. Add remaining sugar, and allow to dissolve.
Add chocolate and lower heat. Whisk as it melts.
Add 1/4 of milk to the yolk mixture in the bowl – this prevents scrambling of the yolks.
Immediately transfer the contents of the bowl to the pot on the stove.
Whisk over medium heat until mixture comes to the boil. It will thicken quickly and further upon cooling.
Remove from heat as soon as this happens.
Cover with cling film to prevent a skin forming on top.
Allow to cool completely.
You will need 30 small berries such as raspberries, 6 berries per unit.
Icing sugar to dust
You will use 3 bread layers for each mille feuille.
Spread the bottom layer thickly with the custard.
Spread a thin layer of the custard on second bread layer. Arrange berries on top and add/build this onto bottom layer.
Cover top of berries with another thin layer of custard and top with last bread layer.
Dust with icing sugar and top with lime zest brittle/ candied zest or fresh lime zest.
Repeat with remaining 4 units.