|CREAM HORNS EVOKE NOSTALGIA|
When the roti man (a bread vendor who sells his wares from a motorcycle) came by, children would drop everything and run to him as if he was the pied piper. He would summon the people in the vicinity with an old-fashion bike horn (with the long trumpet, rubber bulb and parp-parp sound), and while the adults would come by for a loaf of sliced bread and perhaps some buns, the children would be drawn by the colourful snack cakes and crisp packets hanging from every inch of space on his bike.
|Rock on, roti man!|
The snack that I liked the most was the cream cone. We know them now as cream horns, but they've always been cone shaped, so the name was apt and to this day I still refer to them as cream cones.
I know now that the cream in the centre of the snail-shell swirl of puff pastry wasn't really whipped cream – how could it be when the cones were packed in plastic bags and lasted a long time at room temperature. As a child, I thought it was the most delicious thing I would ever taste and that it would be my favourite snack forever.
You know what? I still think it is one of my favourite snacks. I don't think I've seen them in bakeries, and I haven't bought anything from a bread vendor in a long time, but that just means I have to make them at home. The metal cone-shaped moulds are available at baking supply shops.
If making these pastries for "finer" dining, Chantilly cream (cream whipped with icing sugar) can be used, but I wanted to replicate the cream cones of my childhood as much as possible and have used mock cream, made with whipped butter and with gelatine added to stabilise it. It was a little too sweet, but as my sister (one of the tasters) said, that amount of sugar is probably need to get the butter stiff. I'm going to try with just a little less next time. She thought the pastry (which is homemade) was exactly how it should be.
As for the shaping, I initially thought that I had to hold the cone in one hand and wind the strip of pastry around it with the other (the cone in the picture, top right, foreground, shows the technique before I found out the right way to do it). But that just creates a mess because the pastry gets stretched and it looks awful in the end. Then I came upon a video on how to shape the cones. Every day, I find new ways to love the Culinary Institute of YouTube ;-)
|Moulds and uncooked shells (top); filled for your pleasure|
400g puff pastry (block), preferably homemade
2 tbsp caster sugar
Mock cream (recipe below)
1-1½ tbsp smooth berry jam (optional)
Preheat oven to 200°C. Lightly grease metal cones with oil or melted butter. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone sheet. Place sugar on a plate.
On a floured surface, roll out the pastry into a 40m by 20cm rectangle. Using a sharp knife or pizza wheel, cut out 10 long strips, 2cm wide.
Separate a strip from the rest of the pastry. Lightly brush water along the whole length of the strip. Place the tip of a metal cone at one end of the pastry. Turn the cone with one hand to roll the pastry around it, overlapping the edges of the pastry strip slightly until the end.
Brush water on the top side of the cream horn. Sprinkle with sugar. Place sugar side up on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then carefully remove the metal cones and bake a further 5 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
To assemble, spoon a little jam (if using) into the base of each horn. Using a piping bag (fitted with a star nozzle, if desired), fill horns with mock cream. Serve cream horns dusted with icing sugar.
110g caster sugar
1 tsp gelatine (powder/granules)
1 tbsp milk
80ml (⅓ cup) water
125g butter, softened
½ tsp vanilla extract
Combine sugar, gelatine, milk and water in a small saucepan; stir over low heat without boiling until sugar and gelatine dissolve. Cool to room temperature.
Beat butter and vanilla extract with electric mixer until white and fluffy. With the motor running, gradually beat in sugar mixture until fluffy; this will take up to 15 minutes. Mock cream thickens upon standing.
Note: The next time I make mock cream, I will try using about 90g of sugar instead so it isn't as sweet. I actually used salted butter this time, but it didn't help cut through the sweetness. But like I said above, the taste does remind me of the cream cones of my childhoo.