I have always been idealistic & stubborn but I think today, my stubbornness goes to an all new level. This feels like my spring roll wrapper quest (here and here) that I never really completed nor posted in between of my tries. I can only fail so much! But today, after three recipes and one short cut, I hung my apron and washed my hands. My stomach couldn’t take it anymore. I need to run right after I post this.
Several posts ago, I mentioned a little about my epic failure of making the french dessert Mont Blanc. Lesson learnt in this particular case is I should be more selective in the recipes I follow. However, the question remains: what should I do with the 900+ grams chestnut paste I have on my hand? Beside licking my wounds and gathering courage for another Mont Blanc attempt.
Leafing my fave Chinese recipe book, I recalled a classic Chinese dessert: red bean pancake. Voila! Chestnut pancake will be my french twist. How smart am I! So I started making the pancake skin using her recipe. Pretty simple: flour, egg, water.
The problem with her recipe is that it yields a thick pancake, so not the red bean pancake I like from a Chinese restaurant in Singapore. So not the red bean pancake I ate on the streets of Hong Kong. I think the skin is too thick and too filling.
Then I tried to tweak her recipe. I omit the egg and dilute the mixture further. Even my brand new carbon steel crepe pan couldn’t handle this mixture. It sticks and holy (lots of holes, mind you). The absence of egg means there’s nothing really binding the mixture together. The water-flour mixture spits the moment it touched the hot pan. There I went again to flush the mixture down the toilet.
I searched for yet another recipe. I avoided those that requires mixing the flour with hot water, knead the dough and let it rest for 30 mins – very much a flour tortilla recipe. So I know this is not what I am looking for. Finally I found a recipe resembling to what I want, completely disregarding the custard powder embellishment. And again I tweak the recipe.
Lastly, just because I’m curious.. on my last & final attempt, I made one with brick pastry (a thin pastry sheet common in the South Mediterranean cuisine like Algeria, Morocco & Tunisia, can be used for baking though usually for frying; not to be confused with filo pastry who’s inherently North Mediterranean, predominantly used in baking).
On the left is the brick pastry. Super thin, super crispy. Too crispy in fact. Not original but will do in a cinch.
On the right is the home made. Really crispy with a nice chewiness. This is my preferred skin, the closest to the red bean pancake in my memory. At last!!!
serve 4-6, as dessert
3/4 C all purpose flour – here I use flour type 55
1 1/4 C water
1 large egg
oil for frying
Chestnut paste, for filling – I don’t know how much but cannot be more than 100 gr
- In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients till you get a consistent batter. When I dip my finger, the batter is thin enough that I can still see my skin but also thick enough for the batter to coat my finger equally – I don’t know if this makes sense!
- Using a 24-cm (9.5 inch) non stick pan, brush the pan with some oil and let oil warm up over low fire. Once smoke comes out, pour and swirl 1/3 C of batter to cover the surface equally.
- Cook for about 1-2 mins, just on one side. Gently pry off the pan and transfer to a plate.
- (I don’t think it matters which side you’re working on) Dump 2 heaping tsp of chesnut paste on the bottom part of the circle, flatten/ spread the paste, fold up, fold the left and right sides as well, forming a rectangle. Right before you fold the last part, brush the skin with a little batter, if you have extra. Otherwise just a tbsp flour mixed with a little water will do equally well.
- In a wok/ frying pan, heat up 1 cm of oil. Gently drop the pancake, sealed side down. Fry for 1-2 minute till golden brown before flipping to other side.
- Transfer to paper towel and serve warm.