Category Archives: Pies and Tarts

Vanilla Cream Pastry Puffs

This is a dessert that has been in my mind ever since I took the pastry course in September. The original recipe uses a choux pastry.  I used a store-bought puff pastry instead. The textures of the two pastries are quite different, but they both go really well with the vanilla cream. 

Makes about 8 puffs

For the vanilla cream

  • 500 mL milk (preferably full fat, but 2 % works too)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 to 1 vanilla bean
  1. Whisk egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and 1/2 cup of milk together until no more lumps
  2. Cut vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape seeds out of bean pod, do not throw away bean pod
  3. In a pot, heat remaining milk, vanilla beans and the pod over medium heat until just boiled
  4. Whisk 1/2 of boiled milk slowly into egg mixture to temper, then pour everything back into the pot
  5. Heat until just starting to bubble, whisking constantly
  6. Take pot off the heat, remove vanilla pod 
  7. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool

To make the pastry puffs

  • 1 box frozen puff pastry (two 10 inch x 10 inch sheets), thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 -2 tablespoons granulated sugar or vanilla sugar 
  • Icing sugar and fruits for toppings
  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF
  2. Spread two sheets of pastry flat on a floured surface separately (if your pastry comes in a block, cut and row into 2 sheets of about 1/8 inch in thickness)  
  3. Brush one sheet with egg wash, then sprinkle evenly with granulated or  vanilla sugar
  4. Place the other sheet on top, pressing gently
  5. Cut with a round cookie cutter into circles, about 2 -3 inches in diameter
  6. Prick a few times with a fork in the middle, so they won’t puff up too much
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden
  8. Let cool, then gently cut puffs in half horizontally
  9. Spoon or pipe vanilla cream in the middle
  10. Top with icing sugar and fruits


Original recipe of vanilla cream by Chef Marco Ropke at Vancouver Pastry Training Centre


Pumpkin Tart

It’s Thanksgiving tomorrow. My daughter drew a picture and wrote a list at school about what she is thankful for. She made a long list, but the one I like the most was “I am thankful for my hilarious brother!” For myself, I am most thankful for having two lovely kids….they make me laugh, cry….they give me the energy to keep going but they also burn me out……Hope everyone have a good Thanksgiving!
This is actually my first time making pumpkin pie.  I wasn’t sure how it would turn out.  So I decided to make a mini version to experiment.  And I have some tart shells left in the freezer, so it’s a perfect time to use them up! I prefer a sweeter and milder taste, so I didn’t use too much spices.  But you can adjust the amount to your own taste.

Makes about 24 tarts

  • 1+1/2 cup pumpkin puree, preferably homemade (420 g)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 24 store-bought small tart shells
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF
  2. Whisk pumpkin and eggs
  3. Add brown sugar, spices, salt and cornstarch, mix until blended
  4. Add whipping cream and vanilla, mix well
  5. Pour into tart shells and bake for about 25 – 30 minutes 
  6. Top with whipped cream when cooled

Mini Apple Pie

Can’t believe fall is already here ! I love fall, I love the colours and all the tasty goodies… pies, apple cider, pumpkin pies, pumpkin spice latte, squash soup, etc.   And of course the Halloween candies !  Hey, candies are not just for kids,  for adults too……OK, Let’s get back to the pie first !  

Makes two 4+1/2 inch pies

For the crust

  • 1+1/2 cup (225g) pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 100 g unsalted butter, diced and chilled
  • 110-120 mL cold water
  1. Mix flour and salt 
  2. Using a pastry cutter or 2 forks, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, butter chunks should be about the size of a pea
  3. Add cold water, mix gently
  4. Transfer onto a floured work surface and press dough together to form a ball (Do not knead, dough should contain lumps of butter)
  5. Cut dough in half, wrap each one tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight

In order to make a flaky pie crust, your butter and water has to be cold, very cold. This will prevent the butter from melting when you are working with the dough. When the pie is baked, the butter will melt, water inside the butter will evaporate giving its flaky texture.  I used all butter because I love the flavour.  You can use half butter, half shortening to make the pie more tender but shortening doesn’t have any flavour.  So, it’s your choice.   

For the fillings

  • 2 apples
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 + 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of lemon zest
  1. Wash, peel and core apples. Cut into slices or chunks
  2. Mix apples with all other ingredients

To make the pie

  1. Preheat oven to 380 ºF
  2. On a floured work surface, roll and flatten 2/3 of one dough to fit pie tin
  3. Fill with apple fillings
  4. Brush rims with water
  5. Roll the other 1/3 of the dough to make top of pie, trim and decorate, leaving at least one hole on top to vent
  6. Brush top with melted butter
  7. Bake for about 45 minutes

This is a modified recipe from the one I learned at my pastry course.  Original recipe by Chef Marco at Pastry Training Centre of Vancouver 


Mini Apple Tarts

I was looking into my freezer this morning, trying to plan for dinner. Then I realized I still have half a box of phyllo pastry ! So, I came up with the idea of making these mini tarts.  As for dinner tonight ?  I still don’t know what to make?????

Makes about 8 tarts

  • 4 sheets of phyllo pastry, thawed
  • 2 apples
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Wash, peel, core and cut apples in small pieces
  3. Put 1 tablespoon of butter, apples, brown sugar and cinnamon in a non-stick pot over medium heat
  4. Cook until apples are tender, about 6-8 minutes, set aside
  5. Place 1 sheet of phyllo sheet flat, brush lightly with remaining melted butter, put a second sheet on top and brush again with butter. Repeat with 2 more sheets of phyllo
  6. Cut phyllo stack into squares, (about 4 inch x 4 inch each), place each piece into a muffin cup
  7. Bake for about 5-6 minutes or until golden
  8. Spoon apple fillings into tart shell, serve warm

Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Gala or Macintosh apples would work well.