These adorable animals are perfect for your next party... if you're up for the challenge!
For the croustillant, cream the butter and sugars in mixing bowl of a stand mixer using a paddle attachment. Add the flour and beat to combine. Divide the dough out into 12 even portions. Knead in few drops food colouring (6 different colours for the animals): Rat – Cocoa powder (1 tablespoon), Cow – Black , Tiger – Orange, Rabbit – “white” pearl sugar and snow sugar, Dragon – Red, Snake – Matcha power (1 tsp), Horse – Cocoa powder (1 tablespoon)
Ox – Cocoa powder (1 tablespoon), Monkey – Cocoa powder (1 tablespoon), Rooster – Red, Dog – Black, Pig – Pink. Roll out the coloured dough between two sheets of cling film and freeze until set. Cut out rounds using round cookie cutters – one round same diameter for the “head” and one same diameter for the “body”. Place on top of the piped choux pastry and press down slightly.
Black sesame crème pâtissière, toast the sesame seeds: Dry toast the sesame seeds in a large pan over high heat for three minutes, constantly mixing. Once the seeds start popping, remove from heat and cool completely. Prepare the black sesame seed paste: grind 80g of the toasted black sesame seeds, oil, and sugar in a mill until smooth. Heat milk in a saucepan along with the vanilla pod seeds. Bring to the boil. In a stand mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy and sugar has dissolved. Add flour, cornstarch and whisk until paste forms. When milk is at boiling point, slowly add to the egg paste mixture. Mix thoroughly with a whisk and place the mixture back into the saucepan to heat. Heat over a medium heat and whisk constantly. Once the mixture thickens and bubbles appear, keep cooking the mixture for an additional minute to cook out the flour. Whisk together the crème pâtissière, black sesame paste, and the remaining toasted black sesame seeds until smooth. Transfer mixture to a large shallow baking pan or glass dish. Spreading the mixture out will assist to cool the mixture. Chill until needed. Before using, whisk the crème pâtissière until smooth and add the whipped cream to lighten the crème pâtissière mixture. Place in a piping bag with a round nozzle to use. Pipe into 12 of the choux – 6 medium and 6 large choux.
Caramel “glass” rounds, melt the sugar over a low-medium heat in a large saucepan.
As the sugar caramelises, gently gather the caramelised sugar towards the middle to ensure even caramelisation. When the sugar has caramelised to a golden colour, take off the heat and pour into a lined baking pan. Leave to set. Once set, break into pieces and place into a food processor to mill into a fine powder. Using a round cookie cutter as a guide, spoon some of the finely ground praline into the cookie cutter and lift the cookie cutter leaving the sugar in the round shape. Repeat to make 12 round shapes with the ground praline. Bake in the oven at 180°C – watch it as it will burn. Remove when the praline has melted. Set aside to cool and set.
For the choux pastry, preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease 4 cookie trays. Combine butter, water, sugar, salt and milk in a large saucepan and bring to the boil, mixing to help melt the butter. Remove from the heat and quickly beat in the flour with a wooden spoon. Return the mixture to the heat and beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together and pulls away cleanly from the sides of the pan. Keep beating until a light film forms on the bottom of the pan. Take care not to scrap the bottom of the pan with the wooden sppon. The film indicates that the panade has dried. Transfer the panade to the stand mixer bowl. Using a paddle attachment, beat the mixture on a medium speed to release heat and steam from the mixture (approximately 5 minutes). Once cooled, add beaten egg to the mixture, ¼ cup at a time. Beat well after each addition. Stop beating and adding egg once the mixture is thick and glossy. Test if the pastry is ready by standing a spoon into the mixture. If the spoon stands upright, should be ready. Transfer some of the choux pastry to a piping bag with a large round piping nozzle. Pipe 12 medium sized mounds onto the cookie trays and 12 large sized mounds, medium sized for the “heads” and large for the “body” of each animal. Pipe to rings – paris brest, of graduating size – this will be the snake. Place the croustillant on top of each piped mound. Bake for 20 minutes until puffed and golden. Using a chopstick, poke a hole in the bottom of each choux pastry, to release steam. Place back on the cookie trays and bake a further 5 minutes to dry the choux pastry out. Transfer onto a cooling rack to cool.
For the royal icing, beat egg whites in a stand mixer until soft peaks form. Add icing sugar slowly and beat into the egg whites. Beat in all the icing sugar until stiff shiny meringue achieved. Add lemon juice. Colour a small portion of the royal icing with black gel food colouring. This will be used to pip on eyes and mouths.
Spun caramel spirals, combine the ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat until golden in colour, check the temperature using a thermometer. Take off the heat when golden. Allow to cool slightly and using a fork check the consistency of the sugar. When the sugar is cool enough to pull a ribbon, wind a “string” of caramel around a lightly greased silicon rolling pin forming a spiral shape. Cut the spirals when at the desired length, carefully remove the spiral and set aside to cool.
To assemble, place a large choux round onto a praline glass round. Pipe a small amount of royal icing on top of the large round, place and glue a medium choux on top – will resemble a snowman type shape. Make fondant details for each of the animals i.e. ears, noses, faces, scales for each of the animals. Pipe on eyes on each of the animals. Arrange on a large 3 tiered stand.
This recipe has not been edited or tested by the Bake Off Food Department
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