Sunday, February 17, 2013

Red Bean Puff Pastries

Happy Chinese New Year and Happy (Belated) Valentine's Day!  Last weekend, I drove down to Vancouver to spend Chinese New Year with family.  It was such a wonderful trip!  Yes, I drove all by myself with the three kiddies.  It was about 5-6 hour trip.  We had great music, the weather was gorgeous and the road conditions were clear.

Red Bean Palmiers (middle) and Dumplings (right)

Yesterday, it was "Everyone's Birthday".  Day 7 of the Chinese New Year Celebrations.   Chinese New Year is a 15 day celebration, where traditions dictate certain days for different activities.  We had another feast.  

Red bean pastries:  braided strudels, palmiers, dumplings and twists.

For dessert, I was inspired by traditional Chinese style deep fried dumplings with a sweet filling.  At a large chain Asian grocery store, they were filled with coconut, sugar and peanuts.  My grandmother always made them filled with red bean paste. 

Instead of deep-frying dumpling dough, I decided to use store bought puff pastry dough filled with red bean paste.  It was so much fun to play around with puff pastry!  

At my local grocery store, you can find frozen puff pastry in the frozen pie crust section.  I bought the red bean paste at an Asian grocery store.  I have also made red bean paste by cooking some dried aduki beans, mashing it up and then sweeten to taste, much like this recipe.   

Don't have red bean paste on hand?  You can use cinnamon sugar (3 Tbsp sugar + 1 tsp cinnamon), your favourite jam, chocolate hazelnut spread (Nutella), or anything your heart desires!  This is the beauty of puff pastry:  you can be as creative as you like with the filling of your choice!

Red Bean (Heart) Palmiers

Spread red bean paste in a thin layer on a square piece of puff pastry.  Don't worry about being exact.  I made 6"x 6" for tiny and cute little cookies. 

Roll both sides to the centre of the square.   Make sure both rolls are equal in size.  It's not perfect, but it's still fun! Slice each cookie in 1/4" thick slices with a sharp knife.  

In the spirit of Valentine's Day, I tried to make them heart shaped.  I pinched the bottom part together and made each "half" look more like a heart.  

They didn't really look like hearts, but that was OK.  They were so yummy! 

Red Bean Crossover Braided Strudels

Cut a rectangle of desired size. In the middle of the rectangle, spread or pipe a strip of red bean paste (or desired filling) down the length.  On both sides of the filling, make 1/4" slanted cuts cuts down.  Take each strip and cross over the filling, alternating sides like a braid.   I forgot to make measurements of the rectangles I cut, but the method is quite straightforward.  Brush with egg wash (optional) for golden colour and bake for about 10 minutes or until golden.   

Red Bean Puff Pastry Twists

Spread a thin layer of red bean paste on a rectangle sheet (I made 6" x 12").   Cut strips 1/4" to 1/2" apart. 

Twist each strip around to get the spiral effect and place on a cookie sheet.  Bake around 7-10 minutes or until golden brown.  

Red Bean Puff Pastry "Gok Jai" Dumplings

My grandmother used to make deep fried sweet chewy dumplings for Chinese New Year.  I remember how she used her wok to deep fry these pieces of nostalgia.  She is approaching 90 years young with macular degeneration (no central vision).  She doesn't cook anymore and I miss her feasts.  

Using puff pastry, I tried to make similar shaped dumplings.  They were the same size as a perogy.  No, it didn't taste the same, but still delicious.  I'll bet children will look back at Chinese New Year with the same nostalgia when I make this again.    

These were a hit!  My son ate at least 4 of these last night in one sitting!  He proclaimed that they were "SO GOOD!"

Red Bean Puff Pastries

1 400g package frozen puff pastry, thawed*
1 cup (approximate) red bean paste, chocolate hazelnut spread, cinnamon brown sugar mix (3 Tbsp sugar + 1 tsp cinnamon)
Egg wash, 1 egg yolk + 1 tsp water, optional

*The amounts of these ingredients are approximate.  Be as creative as you like with your choice of filling and just go with it!  

Preheat oven 400F.  Dust work surface with flour.  Roll thawed puff pastry thin, about 1/8" to 1/4" thickness, in a square or rectangle shape.  I was able to roll it 1/8" (2mm) thin.  The thinner you roll, the more pastries you can make.  

Spread red bean paste (or desired filling) thinly with a knife or spatula.  Cut and shape pastries as desired.  Brush with egg wash for golden colour.  

Bake in oven for 7-10 minutes until golden brown.  Cool on rack.  Store in airtight container. 

Leftover red bean paste can be easily frozen and re-used again.  

- Adapted from What About Second Breakfast?: Cinnamon Sugar Puff Pastry Twists  

Happy Chinese New Year!  
Wishing you all Good Health, Happiness and Prosperity in the Year of the Snake!  
I think these pastries almost look like a snake!  

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  1. wow that looks fun! so many ways to use the paste, how creative!

    1. Thanks, Lara! It was so much fun! and yummy too. :)


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